Hannah Keyser – Yahoo! Sports: The Tampa Bay Rays are a good baseball franchise. The Rays have proven themselves to be great at developing prospects and getting the most out of players who floundered with other teams. They win, even when it seems like they shouldn’t win, and they have limited the years in which they are not competitive. All the same, Rays ownership and management are notoriously cheap. Ownership is unwilling to spend to keep great players, sign big name free agents, or to build a new stadium for the team. Now they are putting an unrealistic dual-city proposal in the works. The Rays are a good baseball franchise, but they are also one of the worst.
Shakeia Taylor – Baseball Prospectus ($): We always remember the first, good or bad. The last, well, the last is not something we always make time for in our memory banks. That is one of the reasons why all baseball fans remember the name of Jackie Robinson, but very few can recall, or have even heard, the name, Pumpsie Green. We really should, because Green playing for the Boston Red Sox meant that Major League Baseball was finally completely integrated. Green endured many of the same hardships as Robinson, but he did so without the notoriety or fame that followed for the Los Angeles Dodgers standout. He may have been the last, but Green was just as important as the first.
Tommy Birch – Des Moines Register: The belief that most fans have is that things come easy for professional athletes. Those who are first round draft picks, number two overall, are especially familiar with the albatross of fans expectations. It doesn’t always work out that way though, especially in the sport of baseball. Even the best athletes who have known nothing but winning their entire lives can fall upon hard times. Most fade away and dive headlong into a lifetime of stories of what should have been or what once was. Others are like Danny Hultzen and keep trying to fight back and overcome any obstacle put in their way.
Lead photo courtesy of Harold Filan – Associated Press