2018 Rapid Review

The year 2018 was a year. Here are some of our favorite things from the year that was 2018.

  • Atlanta United winning the MLS Cup, at home, in their second year of existence.
  • America’s women’s hockey team beating Canada to win gold at the winter Olympics.
  • Phish summer tour. My first time seeing them three nights in a row. That they never repeated a song during that stretch was notable but not terribly surprising. What was remarkable and never received the treatment at this site that it deserved was the overall quality of the performances, especially on Friday, August 3 but really consistently throughout the weekend, where a wide array of songs from across their thirty-five-year catalogue provided launching pads for fresh, collaborative jams time after time. It feels like the band has reached a new level.
  • Hamilton College’s Francis Baker, the American hockey goalie who stood up to Hitler. This was your most-read story posted on this site in 2018.
  • Steve McNair: Fall of a Titan. This, from Sports Illustrated, was my first foray into the true-crime podcast genre. The gist: what we were told was an open-and-shut case probably has a lot more to it than what the investigating police department allowed to meet the public eye. Story had some additional resonance for me because I had been living in Nashville at the time.
  • Maryland-Baltimore County beating Virginia to become the first-ever sixteen seed to beat a one seed in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
  • Justify‘s dominant Triple Crown achievement.
  • Baseball Hall of Fame adding Alan Trammell. Still no Cooperstown spot for teammate Lou Whitaker, though.
  • The Supreme Court clearing the way for states to authorize sports wagering.
  • J.R. Smith delivering the most memorable moment of LeBron James’ final series with Cleveland.
  • Shohei Ohtani making his major-league debut.
  • The Vegas Golden Knights reaching the Stanley Cup Final in their first year of existence.
  • Vanderbilt beat Tennessee in football again. The Commodores have won five of the last seven games in this series. (If you’d lost track of him, Derek Dooley’s currently working as the quarterbacks coach at Missouri.)
  • Baseball Prospectus revised its flagship bating metric and now concedes that Miguel Cabrera, not Mike Trout, deserved the 2012 and 2013 AL MVP awards.
  • Tiger Woods winning the PGA Tour Championship at East Lake.
  • In personal news, I published my first article at Baseball Prospectus, which took a look at whether MLB teams were colluding to depress player wages.
  • In memoriam:

Thank you for your readership this year. Look for more great content here in 2019.

Nike strikes out at bats

The PostGame reports:

Every college under contract with Nike has been let out of its commitment to use Nike baseball bats during the upcoming season.

Of the top 20 teams in home runs last season, not a single one used Nike bats.

Major schools such as Southern Cal, Miami, Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky all used Nike bats and experienced major drops in offensive production. Home runs were 20 percent lower and slugging percentages 44 percent lower for those teams than for the rest of the NCAA.

The Tuscaloosa News, which led the reporting on this story, notes the Hurricanes hit an average of more than 93 homers a season between 2008 and 2010, but last season with Nike bats they slammed just 33 dingers. That’s a staggering 64.5 percent drop in power.

Alabama’s power dropped 86.6 percent over the previous three seasons.

Nike is not an equipment company. Nike is an apparel company. They’ve done a good job of convincing us that apparel is just as important to athletic performance (and even recruiting) as equipment, but there’s a reason you don’t see players wearing Louisville Slugger dri-fits. It takes a different set of institutional knowledge and skills to make things like baseball bats. Keep reading…