67 Things Baseball Fans Can Be Grateful for in 2020

A little bit of gratitude never hurt.
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In a year as challenging as this one, it's worth looking for bright spots. To the list!

1. Mike Trout: What's not to like?

2. Inside-the-park home runs: Christian Yelich had the best one of the season, with a lot of help from Eloy Jimenez.

3. The Yastrzemski family: Decades after Carl put a bow on a Hall of Fame career, how cool is it that his grandson Mike is carving out his own career? (In his 30s, no less.)

4. MLB’s Film Room: This new tool on the league’s website is great. Adjust filters to isolate almost any at-bat in recent years, or find a few gems like footage of Ted Williams’s walk-off homer in the 1941 All-Star Game.

5. 3-0 swings: Fernando Tatis Jr. made headlines for a lot of reasons in 2020, but never more than when he homered on a 3-0 pitch with the Padres already up big. To heck with the unwritten rules.

6. Kim Ng: She continues to break barriers, finally now as a general manager.

7. Erik Kratz’s knuckleball: Good luck hitting this!

8. Expanded playoffs: For every traditionalist rolling their eyes, a Marlins or Padres fan is grateful they got to watch postseason games for the first time in 14-plus years.

9. Slam Diego: Has there ever been a better baseball-themed play on words?

10. Brett Phillips’s Airplane: The Rays’ World Series hero almost ran out of gas after zooming into the outfield following his walk-off hit. Seriously, he almost passed out.

11. Adalberto Mondesi’s speed: Even if steals aren't cool anymore, nobody swiped more bags (24) in 2020 than the Royals’ speedster. Long live the steal.

12. Ageless Nelson Cruz: Imagine being 40 and still hitting the snot out of major league pitches.

13. Polar Bears: Both the animal and Mets first basemen Pete Alonso are worth loving and caring about.

14. Hunter Pence’s graceful exit: After being cut midseason by the Giants, the outfielder retired and proceeded to celebrate by renting a boat to float through McCovey Cove while cheering on his former teammates.

15. The Padres’ left side of the infield: A space shared by Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. is one worth cherishing for any defensive-minded baseball fans.

16. Mammoth home runs: Braves phenom Ronald Acuña Jr. hit the longest home run of the year, per Statcast, measuring 495 feet.

17. Bryce Harper’s post-ejection haircut: Before 

After

18. Xander Bogaerts’s contract extension: Because in the wake of the Mookie Betts trade, Red Sox fans need something to feel OK about.

19. Mike Trout’s infant son: The countdown to Beckham Trout’s MLB debut is on. If he can make it to the bigs by 19, his dad will only be … 48.

20. Clayton Kershaw’s back: The monkey is off of it. He finally has a ring. Take that, monkey.

21. Well-timed lightning bolts: The year 2020 A.D. in one photo

22. Buried ledes: Congrats to Mike Clevinger for his new contract. Apologies to Mike Clevinger for his injury.

23. Stuffed A’s fans: All of us here at SI wish T. Bear a speedy recovery.

24. Yu Darvish’s Twitter account: There is never a better time to use the Twitter translate tool than when Darvish is gaming.

25. Fernando Tatis Jr.’s Dance Moves: The Padres phenom had a lot to celebrate this year, and he did it in style.

26. Cody Bellinger memes: Belli Bombed took on a whole new meaning this postseason as Bellinger’s cool California vibe led to plenty of memes, with the 2019 MVP taking on the persona of baseball’s Spicoli. The memes were such a hit that Belli had to clarify on Jimmy Kimmel that he isn’t high when he plays baseball; saying he’s always looked “faded,” even as a Little Leaguer. Sick.

27. Paternal backup catchers: How could you not love Erik Kratz’s fatherly relationship with Deivi Garcia?

28. Mookie Betts's ... Everything: Sorry Red Sox fans, but Mookie winning the World Series in his first season with the Dodgers was the perfect way to stick it to Boston.

29. Devin Williams’s changeup: Nothing is better than a pitch that’s so nasty it earns its own name.

30. Pitching Ninja: If you ever need a reminder of how hard it is to be a big league hitter, pull up Rob Friedman’s, aka the Pitching Ninja, Twitter account.

31. The Mud Guy: One family’s irreplaceable role in making the secret sauce for every major-league baseball.

32. Big Mets Energy: Everything about the Mets doing Metsian things! (Like former GM Brodie Van Wagenen being secretly recorded ragging on commissioner Rob Manfred)

mets

33. The Wild Boar: You can’t make this up.

34. Zack Greinke: The most interesting man in baseball remains a national treasure.

35. Jomboy: His YouTube account managed to still be both informative and wildly entertaining this season even though masks sadly rendered his lip reading skills largely unnecessary.

36. LASIK surgery: Ever since Freddie Freeman underwent the procedure following the 2017 season, he’s won an MVP, Gold Glove and two Silver Sluggers with two All-Star selections.

37. Ramon Laureano’s arm: Hold your phone, he’s got a cannon.

38. Not Goliath: The Rays reminded us that the little guys can still make the World Series (and prevent the most villainous team in recent history from doing so).

39. Josh Donaldson’s pettiness: For gifting us the exceedingly rare post-home run ejection.

40. Hot stove season: Even if the transactions unfold at a glacial place as they did two years ago, it’s still fun to dream about your favorite team reeling in the big fish on the market. Right, Mets fans?

41. Trey Mancini’s wellness: Hopefully the outfielder, now cancer-free, can help the Orioles make a leap in the near future.

42. Juan Soto’s swagger: Have you seen him in the batter’s box?

43. Trent Grisham’s strut: No hitter puts on more of a show rounding the bases—even if it irritates his team’s biggest rival.

44. Baseball Savant’s visuals: You can spend hours looking through all these beauties.

45. Dusty Baker’s experience: The 71-year-old became the first manager to lead five different franchises to the playoffs—and pushed practically all the right buttons once Houston got there—and gave the Astros the tiniest smidge of likability. A smidge.

46. Mookie Betts's megadeal: Because baseball is not out of money.

47. Winner-take-all games: We got five of them in the 2020 postseason, none better than the last: Game 7 of the NLCS was an instant classic. We might want to get used to seeing Braves-Dodgers clash in the playoffs, and if those future series are as interesting as this year’s was, it’ll be great for baseball.

48. Rooms with a view: Even if fans couldn’t go to MLB regular season games, a few lucky souls around the country could still catch a glimpse–from afar. Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal explains.

49. Freddie Freeman’s son: Charlie is already hitting bombs at age 4.

50. Dr. Fauci’s first pitch: A rare moment of unabashed levity in 2020.

51. The Rays’ Keep-It-Simple “Coach”: Before Brett Phillips became Brett Phillips, he created a position on Tampa Bay’s coaching staff for himself.

52. Miami’s throwback Negro Leagues uniforms: Bring these back next year, please

53. Albert Pujols’s march to history: The future Hall of Famer passed Willie Mays on the all-time home run leaderboard. Does he have enough pop left to reach 700?

54. Jazz: Chisholm, that is, who had a rough debut season in Miami but is expected to be a key member of the Marlins’ young core going forward. If nothing else, he has a great name.

55. Nolan Arenado’s glove: It’s a catch-all term. Sorry.

56. Improbable journeys: Cubs starter Alec Mills went from college baseball walk-on to throwing a no-hitter in the big leagues.

57. Improbable journeys, Pt. 2: Daniel Bard’s battle back from the yips deserves its own mention, and of course its own story.

58. Triples: The most exciting play in sports, don’t @ us.

59. Steve Cohen’s Twitter account: The Mets’ new owner is endearing himself to fans quite well. Will he put his money where his tweets are? We’ll see.

60. The A’s Kelly green uniforms: Go ahead, show us a better looking jersey.

61. Blake Snell: For bringing the phrase “slapdick prospect” into the mainstream lexicon. What will his reaction be if he’s traded for a few of those this winter?

62. Mason Saunders: Only in baseball do you get Madison Bumgarner using an alter ego so he can compete as a rodeo star. A great story from The Athletic.

63. Hall of Famers, past and present: It’s been a sad period for baseball fans everywhere as we've lost Hall of Famers this year. A reminder to always appreciate greatness–it can be fleeting.

64. The Ultimate Droughtbuster: Theo Epstein, baseball’s official Breaker of Curses, steps away from the Cubs as a Hall of Fame executive. Now what will his ‘third chapter’ entail?

65. Gary, Keith and Ron: Few broadcast crews capture their teams as well as this trio does with the Mets. For every “It’s Outta Here” from Gary, there’s Keith’s quintessential sigh.

66. Minor League Baseball: It’s uncertain what lies ahead for MiLB, but this much we know: It’s the lifeblood of baseball and brings the game to millions who wouldn’t otherwise see it.

67. Baseball: That we got to watch this great game at all in this awful year is something to be grateful for. Here's to a better, brighter 2021.