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SnakePit Round Table: Old Year, New Year

Italian Daily Life 2022 Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images

How will 2021 in general be remembered in baseball?

DBacksEurope: Well, first of all let me start by wishing everyone the best for 2022. Let’s hope things become a bit more normal for all of us this year. I hope you have enjoyed the final moments of 2021!

Above all I, and I think many others, will remember the terrific corn field match between the Yankees and White Sox. Two historic teams, two of my favourite AL teams, great outfits, awesome setting, amazing on field intro, and an interesting match. That will stick to me for many years.

Makakilo: Twice in 2021, political correctness impacted baseball:

  • Cleveland Indians became the Cleveland Guardians. The Guardians are figures carved in the sandstone pylons of the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge. Each guardian holds a different vehicle in his hand, representing the history of ground transport — from a stagecoach, covered wagon and hay rack to a 1930s-era automobile and four types of trucks. Perhaps if it becomes politically correct to drive an electric car (I drive one) they need to add an electric vehicle Guardian to the bridge – maybe Elon Musk would pay to add it to the bridge.
  • Atlanta Braves did not host the All-Star game because the Georgia State Legislature passed the “Election Integrity Act of 2021” which was likely intended to reduce voting by specific groups of voters. The Department of Justice is suing Georgia over the law, which it alleges is racially discriminatory. Nevertheless, it is possible that instead of being politically correct, changing the location reduced MLB’s involvement in the controversy.

Steven: A successful season in the midst of a pandemic, marred with the news of the lockout to end the year. The league has been declining in popularity and the lockout is the worst thing that could happen. Usually you’d get news of signings and trades but it’s been radio silence, and the NFL/NBA are taking advantage. It’s sad really.

Wesley: A successful season after a pandemic is definitely what I think it will be remembered for. As far as moving the All-Star game being a politically correct move, I really just see it as a wise business move to avoid MLB’s involvement in any controversy. Same thing with Cleveland changing the name, really it’s just a sound business move at this point to avoid any revenue loss due to boycotts and controversy.

James: If the lockout delays the start of the season, 2021 will be remembered as the season things finally came apart. MLB managed to pull off a “whole” season in 2021, but there were numerous questionable decisions made with regard to when to cancel games and when to make teams play through COVID-shorted rosters. On top of that, we still had seven-inning double headers and the Mafred Man. The Dodgers winning 100+ games and still finishing second in the division will be remembered by some more than others.

What about from a Diamondbacks perspective?

DBacksEurope: Yeah, so my pre-season predictions were pretty low as you might remember so the bad season in itself wasn’t a shock to me. But the D-Backs 2021 season will be remembered by me as the season in which Mike Hazen’s tenure has come at a decisive moment. I don’t think the Diamondbacks are heading the right way any more and I have serious doubts that our farm is as good as we might think it is. 2022 will be an improvement, how can it not be, but I think we are on a road of much uncertainty.

Makakilo: 2021 will be remembered as the stealth beginning of a rebuild that became visible during the season because many injuries occurred.

Steven: An absolute disaster in all forms. Mediocrity at best, with overpaid veterans doing nothing to prove they deserve to even be on the field. The D-backs are lucky the Suns had a long playoff run, because I think the D-backs would be killed in local media. And don’t forget this team wants a new stadium sometime in the next couple years.

Wesley: I agree with Steven here. The last season exposed some real flaws in the organization. I’m not sure they’ll be completely addressed on a top to bottom level like they should be, though some of the changes in coaching staff look promising.

James: 2021 marks the year that the Diamondbacks were forced by circumstance to finally embark on the rebuild they should have started back in 2019.

And what were your personal high- or low-lights?

DBacksEurope: Highlight was that I got a new job and have more spare time to share with my family. Maybe some might remember I left my previous job in the summer of 2020. Low-light were some serious relationship problems with my wife but I think we resolved them. Or I hope we did. Curiously, the problems occurred after I started working again.

Makakilo: Three highlights:

  • Started writing feature articles for AZ Snake Pit. Similar to a rookie baseball player honing his skills at a higher level, I sometimes stumbled when rounding first base. The upside was greater satisfaction and joy in my writing.
  • Because of reduced class sizes at my gym, five times a week I needed to register on the internet within about a second of each class registration opening. The upside was I made close friends of those regular participants who had the discipline and skill to get in the classes.
  • Just after Thanksgiving, I spent a week on Molokai (54 mile flight from Oahu). Molokai was like Hawaii 100 years ago – no stoplights, small general stores, almost no restaurants (except a pizza place and a burger place). The upsides were friendly people, learned about the leper colony, entered a very small church built by Father Damien, walked on several nearly empty beaches, and saw turkeys, peacocks, sheep, deer, and whales. I brought back 2 orchids and a kite made on Molokai.

Steven: I didn’t get COVID and I still have a job, that’s about it haha.

Wesley: I’ve started working another job and I’ve held that job down long term. I didn’t get COVID either. I went back to school. I have kept off the weight that I lost for another year. I have a much better social life now, and things are generally looking up on all fronts.

James: 2021 was an up-and-down year for me. I moved into a new home in January. It will be one year to the day on Monday. Another semester is somewhat successfully in the books.

A month into the lockout and not much seems to have changed. Do you want to review your end-date predictions?

DBacksEurope: It was a cartoon character that made the prediction in my case. I hoped he said end January but it might have been mid February.

Makakilo: I predicted that the season will start late. My prediction is unchanged.

A new development is that I anticipate the Omicron wave will peak in February. Until that peak subsides, there will be zero urgency to reach an agreement. So assuming serious negotiations start in April, perhaps the season starts in June.

Steven: I never formally made a prediction but I don’t see a solution coming to a head in time for Spring Training. Unless the owners decide to settle, which will never happen. Any agreement without supporting living wages for minor league players is a failure.

Wesley: I don’t see them resolving it without it affecting spring training or the regular season. Minor leaguers absolutely need to be given a living wage, and other things like housing during the season. I think the parties are too far off for any agreement to be reached soon

James: Late-April. I think the season suffers a minor delay.

Make a prediction - any field! - for 2022.

DBacksEurope: Padres win the World Series.

Makakilo: Diamondbacks will win more than 77 games per this AZ Snake Pit article.

How will it be accomplished? Batting swings will change to favor line drives instead of homers. Defense will improve because, with only a couple exceptions, players will focus on playing in their best position. Pitching will improve for three reasons:

  • Melacon’s positive impact will increase as the team keeps the score close in more games.
  • The new pitching coach is likely the best in the Majors at facilitating transformation of good pitchers into great pitchers.
  • The changes to the coaching system will result in better transitions back and forth between the minors and Majors.

Steven: Another 100 loss season, and the team cleans house with Mike Hazen taking another job elsewhere, leaving Amiel Sawdaye as interim GM. The team continues to claim they need a new stadium, and rumors of a move to Las Vegas and Portland pick up steam.

Wesley: The Diamondbacks will post another losing season, but will improve from the 100 games lost. A few games under .500 is what I’m expecting.

James: The Dodgers will once again return to the top of the NL West. The Mets will actually be good in 2021. The Angels will still be looking for pitching.

What is the most massively overrated film of all time and why?

DBacksEurope: Godfather Trilogy. I have it at home but explain to me why A Bronx Tale doesn’t own those three movies. I remember more American Pie movie scenes than Godfather movie scenes.

Makakilo: Of the four (eventually to be five) Indiana Jones movies, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was the worst. It is the only one I did not watch twice. It was vastly overrated. The upside of being overrated was that the series continued with better movies.

  • Indian government denied permission to film in North India and Amer Fort, due to the offensive script. Instead, location work went to Kandy, Sri Lanka, with matte paintings and scale models. 80% of the film was shot in sound stages. About that award for special effects, I’d prefer shooting at the best locations.
  • Harrison Ford was acting while in severe pain after he was injured while filming. He had a hospital bed on the set so he could rest between takes.
  • “I wasn’t happy with Temple of Doom at all.” – Steven Spielberg

Wesley: I actually have never watched an Indiana Jones film all the way through, so I can’t comment on that, but I agree the Godfather trilogy is massively overrated. They’re good films but not the best ever. Although I do think part two does earn its reputation.

Personally, I’d go with 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s incredibly boring and dated at this point, and is really only interesting if you’re high as a kite while watching it. I’d also add in the original Spider-Man films, just as a fan of the comics, they really just feel off in terms of characterization to me.

James: I can think of entirely too many films that could fit in that category for one reason or another. Since I am really tired right now and am about to go to bed, I’ll pluck one from the short list of 100-greatest films - Annie Hall. It’s not even Allen’s best personal film, yet it is regularly rated among the all-time great films. The humour was still there, but in a way that simply does not hold up. I cannot put my finger on it right now. I just find the film rather uninspiring and do not understand the massive appeal.