1) Cleveland's last best hope
Did the Tribe Win Last Night's Craig Gifford points out that it's been nearly 50 years since a Cleveland team won a major sports crown. December 27, 1964 was the last time it happened, when the Browns defeated the Colts in the NFL Championship Game. Gifford isn't holding his breath, but points out the the Indians have the best chance of keeping the city from reaching that sad benchmark.
2 - Don't do it, Grady!
Grady Sizemore has had discussions with Reds GM Walt Jocketty about a possible contract. No word on what type of deal might be on the table. I'd love to see Grady stay healthy and succeed again in MLB, but Cincinnati would not be my first pick of location for such a comeback.
MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo has a rundown on other rumors and possibilities from a quiet week around MLB.
3 - Expansion leads to inflated WAR
Kevin Whitaker, a writer I was not familiar with until now, has a very interesting article up at Baseball Prospectus (part of their free content), in which he shows that there is a significant bump in WAR for top players during the first five seasons after an expansion, a bump players from 1993-2002 would have benefitted from.
I'd never given such a bump any consideration, but it follows the same logic I've used to argue that players prior to integration are overrated due to a diluted talent pool. I don't think these findings do too much to change the Hall of Fame ballot mess, but it's a more compelling reason to rethink someone like Sammy Sosa's candidacy than PEDs are for me.
4 - Now they can extend Ryan Howard!
The Phillies have landed a new local TV deal with Comcast, worth "more than $2.5 billion" over 25 years, which works out to more than $100 million a year (though the fee will begin at something less than that, and grow over time). Compared to all but the biggest TV deals, this one is worth a whole lot of money.
5 - Major fire at Midwest League stadium
The home stadium of the West Michigan Whitecaps (Single-A affiliate of the Tigers), near Grand Rapids, Michigan caught fire Friday morning, leading to a good deal of damage (pictures here make clear that it was a serious blaze). Fortunately, no one was injured, and the team's owners say the stadium will be ready for Opening Day in the Midwest League.
6 - This week's off-topic topic
Friday will mark the 15th anniversary of the first episode of The Sopranos, which ushered in what many consider TV's golden age. Are we still in that 'age,' or has a new era begun? Rather than pondering that question for an hour, you could watch an episode of the many excellent dramas that aired new episodes last year. Here are my favorites:
Top TV Dramas of 2013
6) Treme - Never had the narrative drive of my favorite shows, but the character development was incredibly rich. I will especially miss spending time in the company of Albert "Big Chief" Lambreaux and LaDonna Batiste-Williams.
5) The Americans - I haven't loved other FX dramas as much as many, but this one I really enjoyed. I also appreciate that it's a period drama, without overdoing it. It was in a very close race to be named my favorite new series of 2013...
4) Orange is the New Black - ...but just barely, this one takes that crown. I didn't much like House of Cards and Arrested Development was uneven, but this one makes Netflix's foray into original programming a big success to me.
3) Mad Men - The quality remains as high as ever, and while I'm happy to get two extra episodes due to AMC's decision to split the final season into two parts, I'm annoyed at having to wait another year for the endgame.
2) Game of Thrones - I appreciate good world building, and this has got that in spades. Even the lesser story lines are enjoyable, and the best ones are as much fun as any drama I've ever watched.
1) Breaking Bad - I don't know that I've ever enjoyed any series' final season as much as I enjoyed the final eight episodes of this one, which set the bar incredibly high for other dramas.