Sports Illustrated's best MLB stories of 2016
The 2016 MLB season featured all kinds of incredible and jaw-dropping stories, from the Cubs' first championship in 108 years to the retirements of Vin Scully and David Ortiz to the death of Jose Fernandez. Revisit the year in baseball with our collection of the best profiles, features and stories from around the league and beyond.
Reign Men: The storm, the speech and the inside story of the Cubs' Game 7 triumph
The biggest story of the 2016 season was also its most historic: The Cubs overcoming 108 years of failure and bad breaks, as well as a 3–1 deficit in the World Series against the Indians, to win their first championship since 1908, capping it with one of the greatest Games 7 ever played. In this story, Tom Verducci revisits the critical moments of the Fall Classic finale, and how Chicago rallied to deliver the title that had been a century in the making. Read more.
The Voice of Baseball: Get to know Vin Scully, the man behind the mic
After 67 years as the Dodgers' broadcaster, the legendary Vin Scully announced that 2016 would be his final season. Perhaps the most beloved figure in the sport, Scully sat down with Tom Verducci to talk about his career, which spanned nearly seven decades and a continent and created enough memories and stories to last a lifetime. Pull up a chair and settle in with the voice of summer. Read more.
Miller Time: How Andrew Miller reinvented himself—then reinvented October
Five years ago, Andrew Miller was a former top prospect gone bust. After switching to the bullpen, he found a new career as one of the game's nastiest shutdown relievers. But the lanky lefty found a new gear in the playoffs with the Indians, emerging as the most dominant relief weapon in baseball. Ben Reiter retraces his path to becoming October's secret weapon—and perhaps a prototype for a new era of the sport. Read more.
Your Story is Our Story: How Jose Fernandez's death impacted his team, his family and his city
The biggest loss of 2016 was that of Jose Fernandez, the 24-year-old ace righthander of the Marlins who was killed in a boating accident in late September. In this touching and beautiful piece, S.L. Price talks to Fernandez's teammates, family and friends in the week after his death and finds immeasurable loss and sadness—but also the love they had for Fernandez, the exuberance and charm he brought to the game and the pride he gave Miami's Cuban-American population. Read more.
The Big Interview: David Ortiz
As he wound down the 20th and final season of his remarkable career, Red Sox superstar David Ortiz sat down with Tom Verducci to talk about the last days of his time in baseball, including the steroid allegations that have dogged him for years, what it meant to bring three championships to Boston, what was behind his incredible 2016 stats, and why he decided to retire—and why that call is set in stone. Read more.
Where Are They Now: Ken Griffey Jr.
One of baseball's biggest stars of all-time, Ken Griffey Jr. left the game quietly and stayed mostly out of it post-retirement. But ahead of his induction into the Hall of Fame, he talked to Ben Reiter about his career, his decision to walk away from the game and what he's done after baseball as he prepared for his proper sendoff. Read more.
The Best There Ever Was: Living with Vin Scully, the voice of the Dodgers
Across four generations of family and from one coast to the other, Vin Scully was a welcome and wonderful constant in Jay Jaffe's life. As the Dodgers' Hall of Fame broadcaster reached the end of his incredible career, Jaffe revisits a life spent with Scully, and how he was the soundtrack to his baseball world. Read more.
Weirdest Team Ever: The 1986 San Jose Bees
With a roster comprised of ex-cons, drug addicts, has-beens and never-weres, the independent league San Jose Bees were one of the strangest and unlikeliest collections of talent ever assembled. But as Tom Verducci writes, despite lasting just one season, the team gave its players, manager and front office memories enough to last a lifetime. Read more.
Go Cubs Go: How Chicago's victory anthem keeps a father alive for his daughters
It was the omnipresent song of the postseason: "Go Cubs Go," the 1984 song penned by lifelong Cubs fan Steve Goodman to celebrate a Chicago win that gets played after every home victory. But the jingle was more than just the soundtrack for the white W flag being raised at Wrigley Field; as Michael Rosenberg found, "Go Cubs Go" is also an everlasting memory of Goodman, who died in 1984, to his three daughters. Read more.
A-Rod, Act II
The biggest breakout star of the 2016 postseason? Alex Rodriguez, who went from tarnished MLB star to an insightful and surprisingly charming presence on FOX Sports' TV crew as part of the network's playoff coverage. During the postseason, Ben Reiter shadowed A-Rod and the FOX team (including a scene-stealing Pete Rose) as they went through a broadcast and got an inside look as to how the former superstar has made the transition to the small screen. Read more.
Everybody Loves Frenchy: Jeff Francoeur is all smiles despite his baseball odyssey
Ten years ago, Jeff Francoeur was a rookie dynamo set to become a superstar. A decade later, he's instead emerged as a kind of cautionary tale—the can't-miss prospect who missed badly. But as Jon Tayler writes, the contours of Francoeur's career—all the highs and lows—have helped the game's most cheerful man discover who he really is as a player and find himself as a person in the process. Read more.
The Revenant: How Jake Arrieta came back from the baseball dead
Before he became the 2015 National League Cy Young—before he became the borderline mythical figure who terrified opposing batters with an intimidating glare and a murderous fastball—Jake Arrieta was a lost and broken prospect seemingly on the verge of washing out of baseball. So how did the Cubs' ace turn himself into one of the league's most fearsome men? Tom Verducci digs into the reinvention of Arrieta, and what it took to resurrect his career. Read more.
• The Metrics System: How MLB's Statcast is creating baseball's new arms race (by Albert Chen)
• Watching NLCS Game 3 with—and getting stories from—the ultimate Cubs fan (by Emily Kaplan)
• Bartolo Colon is the gift (and GIF) that keeps on giving (by Jay Jaffe)
• Hitting Pay Dirt: Ian Desmond lost a big bet, but now he's a star again in Texas (by Ben Reiter)
• C of Joy: The end of the Cubs' title drought has unleashed a flood of emotions (by Tom Verducci)
• MLB expansion? These cities in the U.S. and abroad make sense (by Jay Jaffe)
• Time for Indians, MLB to get rid of ridiculous and offensive Chief Wahoo (by Jon Tayler)
• Den Leader: Slugger and cancer survivor Anthony Rizzo holds the Cubs together (by Tom Verducci)
• Inside the career that earned Mike Piazza a spot in Cooperstown (by Jay Jaffe)
• How Ichiro Suzuki got to 3,000 hits with help from Barry Bonds (by Ben Reiter)
• Alex Rodriguez's Yankees career ends in fittingly eccentric fashion (by Jon Tayler)
• From the Donald to the deadline: Inside the Indians' trade week maneuverings (by Ben Reiter)
• Let It Flip: The Blue Jays' Jose Bautista won't stop speaking his mind (by Tom Verducci)