What a difference a year makes. I know the song is “what a difference a day makes”, cuz it was in a Scrubs episode where Dr. Kelso only gives out things on his anniversary because the legend has it that is the only day he gets some loving from his wife Enid, and Turk didn’t ask for an argon laser like he was supposed to and then Dr. Kelso goes on a maybe-not-a-daydream rampage to the song in the background, but I’m not talking about a day, I’m talking about a year so bear with me.
This time last year, my wife and I were still expecting. Timehop and Facebook memories do a great job of not only reminding us of our horrible angsty status updates from 10 years ago when no one wanted to date you and you thought you could post the equivalent of an AIM away message and people would feel bad for you, but they also remind me of the prep it takes for a baby. A year ago, our little 16.4-pound nugget was the size of a cherry according to the myriad birth-tracking apps we used and we had just cleaned out our nursery in preparation for Hurricane Melody. In a short amount of time, we were gifted a crib, changing table, a two-person glider for feedings and late night cuddles, re-did the closet in that room by completely tearing out the old and building a new one, got enough stuffed animals that they are overwhelmed in a corner, and clothes that still need organizing because our little is a tank and already through 6-month pants. Now, in a years span, not only do I have this gorgeous, bright-eyed beauty in my life, but I also have the ability to cheer on the Browns and Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb and Denzel Ward, all players that just a year ago were drafted and are now almost top 10 players at their positions.1
So why does this year feel different? Let’s look at where we all were a year ago: the Browns had the 1st and 4th picks of the draft so there was hope, but those picks were being mock-drafted as Josh Allen and maybe Bradley Chubb? while the team was coming off a 1-31 two-season stretch, had Hue Jackson as head coach, Todd Haley was the offensive coordinator but also was arguing with Jackson, Gregggg Williams was barking at every and anyone he could before he got to be eventually interim head coach and give us great press conference quotes, our pets heads were falling off…you get the vibe. Now? The Browns finished 7-8-1, almost .500, with Baker Mayfield establishing himself as one of the best young quarterbacks in the league, Nick Chubb wrested the starting job away from aged Carlos Hyde and basically had a 1,000-yard season, Jarvis Landry made a Pro Bowl, Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi were making offensive lines weep, Odell Beckham Jr is in the fold as well as Oliver Vernon and Sheldon Richardson, Kareem Hunt will be pushing Duke Johnson out the door by midseason if not earlier, the team has four primetime games with the hope for more flexed out late in the season to go with the third-best odds to win the AFC Championship. What a difference a year makes for Browns fans indeed.
JRam is coming alive
I could easily say I wasn’t worried, but I was. And I’ll be the first to say four games does not a turnaround make, but I think it’s safe to say we are seeing the beginnings of a rebound for the GOAT. Ever since the return of Francisco Lindor and the move out of the second spot in the lineup and back in his third spot he was in most of last year, Ramirez has six hits in 18 plate appearances, which when walks are added is actually a .500 OBP, one of those hits being a home run which doubled his year total, and six RBI. Is it as simple as a return to hitting third? Probably not. Does the presence of Lindor help? Of course, as Ramirez now has two hitters with plus-.350 OBP-ability in front of him as opposed to one, allowing him to be more patient with the pitcher and forces the pitcher to be more selective.
An interesting bit I discovered in looking at these four games, Ramirez has actually been taking fewer pitches than normal. While it might be hard to gauge four games, his three walks in those four games were half the amount of walks he had the whole season prior. In his 80 plate appearances prior to these last four games, Ramirez was 4.13 pitches per PA, which is good! You want your best hitters to see a lot of pitches, giving them the most opportunities to either work a walk or wait out their pitch. A return to patience does not necessarily mean taking more pitches in this case, but rather not pressing and trying to do more with what’s been given. But in these last four games, Ramirez was 3.83 pitches and produced the stats above. Four games is a small sample size, of course, but with Ramirez walking more, seeing pitches more in line with what he’s wanting, seeing fewer pitches per plate appearance is not much of an issue at this point.
Not-so-Rant of the (Every Other) Week
I’m worried about my mental well being after this weekend. Normally I’d be draft deep, but with no first round pick due to the presence of OBJ, I’ve been on the outside looking in. As a replacement for my attention, popular culture will be taking my emotions and running them over with a MAC truck. Friday night I’m going to go see Avengers Endgame,2 the culmination of a ten-year, 22-movie run that will surely end in some big-time perma-deaths to the most beloved of characters. If that were not enough, Sunday brings about the Battle of Winterfell in Game of Thrones, which will also see perma-deaths as well, probably to those that have either wrapped up some seasons-long story arcs,3 attempting redemption for the umpteenth time,4 made promises to get out and enjoy retirement,5 or are trying to prove to family and Khaleesi alike that they are still relevant.6 I am not ready for all this death in my face this weekend.