Baseball fans just can’t help themselves. It's early April, you see.
In early April,no sample size is too small.In early April, no conclusion is too wild.Forget a 162-game season andforget ebbs and flows. In early April, it's all about emotions.
We're just a fewgames into the 2017 season and somefans are already reading way too much into everything. Just take a gander at social media or listen to sports talk radio.Undefeated teams are inflated into potential World Series contenders, while winless teams are labeled busts. Players who’ve started slow are wastes of space, while players who've started hot are MVP front-runners.
As I write this, World Series plans are being drawn up in Houston. In Arlington, thoughts are already back on the Cowboys. In Minnesota, "what if?" is on everyone's mind. in San Francisco, the season seems to be slip sliddin' away.
Ahh, baseball in April. When joy and despair haven't yet found their proper homes, withfans of every team hoping — or dreading — that one of those pesky emotions ison its way to define the local nine this season.
Whatever emotion has defined your 2017 baseball experience thus far,you should probably dial it back. But then, rationalism has no place in fanaticism.
To help bring Twitter and sports talk radio denizens back down to Earth, here’s a little perspective from baseball season’s past.
— The 1998 Yankees, one of the greatest teams in baseball history, began that season 0-3before ending up 108-54.
— Similarly, the 2003 Braves opened the season with three straight losses. They still won 101 games.
— Conversely, the 2015 Braves, a team projected to lose 100+ games that season, started the year 5-0. Were the experts wrong? No, Atlantafinished 67-95.
— The 1983 Astros started out 0-9 and looked awful. They finished 85-77.
— The 2001 Mariners began the season 1-1 (the horror!), allowing a combined nine runs. They ended up OK — to the tune of 116 regular-season wins.
— The 1987 Brewers started 17-1 (including a 13-0 start). They failed to make the playoffs, possibly because of a 12-game losing streak in May.
— The 2012 Giants started 1-4. They won the World Series.
— The 2002 Angels were 3-8 after 11 games. The season ended OK for them, too.
Forget teams, let’s talk players.
— Kris Bryant, last season’s NL MVP, started 2016 hitless in his first seven at-bats. What a bum. It’s good that Joe Maddon let him keep playing.
— Mike Trout, last season’s AL MVP, started 0 for 8 and didn’t hit a homer until the Angels’ 11th game, like some sort of regressing phony. He got better.
We could go on and on, but you get the idea. (You do get the idea, right?)
A lot's going tohappen. It’s way, way early. You know this. Resist the urge to view the early goings through a pessimist’s lens. You know who you are.
Stop trying to convince yourself that early season happenings are a sure-thing omen of what’s the come. No matter what happens in April, players and teams, more often than not, end up about where we thought’s they’d be. Good teams turn out to be good. Bad teams turn out to be bad.
Take a deep breath, dear fans. There’s a long way to go.
The beauty of baseball is that it’s often quite predictable. But another part of its beauty is that it’s often not. Therein lies the hope.
Or, I suppose, the dread.
Either way, April sure beats January.