So on most Mondays, I am tasked with writing the News and Notes post. Usually, this means recapping two or three articles, and during the season linking to game recaps, but here’s the thing—we just had what is almost certainly the dullest weekend of the year for baseball.
There are no games. There are no transaction-motivated front offices. Nothing was expected to happen, and that is exactly what happened.
On a non-baseball note, the world was saddened to learn last night of the passing of singer/songwriter George Michael at the age of 53. The legendary British pop performer, who came to fame with the group Wham! and later as a solo artist, was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayioto, and sang lead or co-lead vocals on ten United States #1 singles, three as a member of Wham! and seven on his own. Apropos of little, here is my favorite of the ten.
It’s amazing to me how a song can simultaneously sound so incredibly dated and yet still be such an enjoyable listen. Now, when famous musicians die, people tend to exaggerate their fandom of the artist in retrospect, and I will fully admit that, for me, George Michael ranks behind Prince and David Bowie in the late 2016 musician pantheon (and behind some others, too, but these are the three that seem to have gotten the most attention, with all due respect to Leonard Cohen and Glenn Frey). But he means a lot to a lot of people and even if I hated his music, I would have to acknowledge that impact.
But, since the one article I’m going to be linking to has very little if any baseball connection, I am now tasked with making the death of a man who has very little connection to baseball about baseball in some superfluous way.
Anyway, George Michael (the stage name) has two names that can work as a first or a last name, so I was going to do a list of the top Georges or Michaels in baseball history by Wins Above Replacement (as a throwback to when I did this with Brett Cecil, and amazingly, there is overlap here). Turns out they’re all dudes with the first name “George”, so here’s the list. I don’t know why Babe Ruth isn’t on the list (George Herman Ruth, after all) and I stuck with guys named “Michael” hence the exclusions of Mike Schmidt and Mike Trout and such, I just used Baseball Reference Play Index, it’s Christmas for me too, don’t @ me, etc.
- George Brett—88.4 WAR
- George Davis—84.7 WAR
- George Uhle—56 WAR
- George Sisler—54.5 WAR
- George Mullin—47.6 WAR
- George Foster—43.9 WAR
- George Van Haltren—40.9 WAR
- George Gore—39.8 WAR
- George Burns—39.3 WAR
- George Kell—37.4 WAR
George Michael, of course, was English, and thus not exactly synonymous with baseball, but the United Kingdom has produced a few Major League Baseball players. Here’s a quick list of the best of that group.
- Jim McCormick—75.8 WAR
- Bobby Thomson—33.3 WAR (you may be familiar with him)
- Jimmy Austin—22.6 WAR
- Ted Lewis—18.4 WAR
#5 is a tie between two guys I had never heard of, so instead I’m going to note a couple of British ex-St. Louis Cardinals pitchers born in England—Danny Cox (born in Northampton) and Lance Painter (born in Bedford). So there.
Anyway, here’s the links. Well, link. It was Christmas. While I was busy sleeping, the red baron was writing about wrapping presents and drinking whiskey and It’s a Wonderful Life. I was wondering while writing the preceding sentence if Donna Reed was still alive so I searched her name on Google, accidentally searching under Images, and one of the first images to come up was a picture of her grave. I...do not know why this is the case.
Hope everybody who has today as their Christmas holiday has a great day. I also hope everybody who doesn’t have today as their Christmas holiday has a great day. Basically, just have a great day regardless of what I say.