MLB Roundtable: What we're most thankful for in baseball

The last few months have been rough for Major League Baseball. There’s no other way to put it.

Between the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal, an Astros employee confronting female reporters in the postseason, MLB proposing to eliminate 42 minor league teams, not to mention the on-going labor strife, it’s been nearly impossible to find positive talking points.

If only for one day, we’d like to change that.

And what better day than Thanksgiving Day?

While everyone celebrates what they’re thankful for in their every day lives, we’ve asked the Yahoo Sports crew to dig beneath all the negative that has overwhelmed baseball to find what still brings us joy.

Here is what we are all thankful for in baseball.

NL Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso and the entire 2019 rookie class gave us something to be thankful for. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger, File)
NL Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso and the entire 2019 rookie class gave us something to be thankful for. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger, File)

The 2019 rookie class

I'm most thankful for the 2019 rookie class. The arrivals of Pete Alonso, Yordan Alvarez, Fernando Tatis Jr., Vladimir Guerrero Jr., among many others, provided a lift that was sorely needed. Baseball is supposed to be fun. These guys were all fun and then some. They brought a level of excitement and energy that's difficult to find in today's game. Just as importantly, they looked like franchise cornerstones that if marketed correctly can reach superstar status. (Mark Townsend)

The potential of Ohtani

Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani was cleared to throw Tuesday. While the 25-year-old has shown elite flashes as both a hitter and pitcher, he hasn't been at full strength since coming to MLB. Tommy John surgery has limited Ohtani to just 10 starts over the past two seasons. Now fully healthy, Ohtani should finally be in line for two-way work with the Angels. Ohtani has already succeeded as a dangerous hitter, but was regarded more for his ability on the mound when he entered MLB. If he can combine those talents and stay healthy over the course of the full season, Ohtani could be the first legitimate challenger to Mike Trout's title of "best player in baseball." (Chris Cwik)

The Underdogs

I’ve always had a thing for the underdogs. I’m not unique in that way. A lot of people who watch sports want to root for the scrappy, shouldn’t-be-there team against the Goliath. Modern baseball doesn’t have as many underdogs because the game is so smart these days and so divided between the haves and the have nots. (Or the triers and the tankers, whatever you want to call them). But every so often, an underdog comes out of nowhere — like the Washington Nationals. Inside that World Series-winning team, you had Howie Kendrick and Ryan Zimmerman, sure-fire underdogs in the sense that modern baseball has passed a lot of veteran players by. Baseball still has a way of finding these players and these teams, of uncorking a little bit of October magic when you think there’s no way the Astros or Yankees don’t win the World Series. I’m thankful for that. (Mike Oz)

A splash of authenticity

Spend enough time on the periphery of baseball, watching batting practice from behind a rope, watching games from a stadium’s third (or fourth) deck, speaking to ballplayers from arm’s length, and what registers is the occasional splash of authenticity. A bullpen catcher in Los Angeles who can’t wait to reveal what his infant child has been up to lately. A scout in the Midwest who texts dumb-ass jokes because he, too, has done time on the periphery. A retired manager in Florida who won’t get off the phone, because he misses it and needs to hear about everything. A player out of the game a year or two, finding his way, a little afraid for what’s next, laughing over a beer. A kid from the Dominican Republic or Venezuela or Mexico, struggling for the right words in his second tongue, and courageous enough to try, and trusting enough of the world to believe it will understand. Sometimes it’s good behind the rope. (Tim Brown)

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