If you are a baseball fan and were born before, say, 1990, the nickname “Killer Bs” should create a distinct image in your mind.
Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell and a revolving door of players made up Houston Astros’ trio of “Killer Bs” from the late-90s and early 2000s. I’m not sure why everyone felt the need to always group Biggio and Bagwell with a third alliterative surname, but that’s how it was done. I guess three bees are so much more intimidating than a measly duo of bees. I can’t say since one actual bee is enough to send this phobic man into a catatonic state.
In the ’90s, Derek Bell or Sean Berry played the role of the third man. (I think Bill Spires even snuck in there for a bit too). At the turn of the millennium, Lance Berkman fit right in. Carlos Beltran was part of the band for a few incredible weeks in 2004. But Chris Burke was never included. I don’t know what the makers of that poster were thinking. Also, the nickname shouldn’t have an apostrophe. But I digress.
Together, Biggio, Bagwell and the other guy were the “Killer Bs.”
That time has passed, and the nickname’s legacy remains pretty much in tact, at least in baseball. The Pittsburgh Steelers are using it to describe Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and, when he’s not suspended, Martavis Bryant. Honestly, the usage there makes more sense on the surface considering the Steelers’ uniform color scheme.
But it’s time for baseball to dust it off and get it to catch on across the country en masse with Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr.
Too soon? Yeah. Collectively, they have fewer than 4,000 MLB at-bats between them. Bradley looked like an overrated prospect prior to 2016, and Betts has just one full season under his belt. Biggio is a Hall of Famer, Bagwell should be one, and both were established studs by the time they were tagged with the moniker 20 years ago.
But baseball should be doing whatever it can to market its young stars — Bradley Jr. is the elder at 26; Betts and Bogaerts are 23 — and three all-around quality ballplayers in a big, diehard baseball market seems like a perfect opportunity. I know baseball is strongest at the local level; its low national ratings are commonly overrated when discussing the sport’s well-being. That doesn’t mean baseball should just ignore attempts to get fans everywhere interested in particular players. Why not make Betts, Bogaerts and Bradley Jr. poster children?
Bradley Jr. was already a spotlight player in May as his hitting streak was the top story around the league — whenever Clayton Kershaw wasn’t pitching. And when Bradley’s streak stopped at 29 games, Betts took over the lead by hitting basically every ball he saw out of the park. In the span of seven at-bats on Tuesday and Wednesday, Betts hit five home runs. Meanwhile, Bogaerts entered tonight leading Major League Baseball in hits and batting average. That’s all.
Sell that burgeoning talent, that youth, and the excitement those three create on the diamond, package it with a gimmick that ties eras together and see what happens. And yes, the fact that all three are not white should make this an even more important matter to the powers that be.
At the very least, wait a year, let David Ortiz have the going-away party he deserves and then plaster these guys all over any media outlet you have. I trust that none of them fall into a horrendous slump that sees them benched or flown back to the minors. In the near future, they may even be batting back-t0-back-to-back in the Red Sox’s order. Plus, Boston is their baseball home, so the “Killer Bs” will be playing in the “B-hive?” OK, that’s a little ridiculous. Or a lot ridiculous.
I think a committed, multi-player nationwide campaign would be fun. I’m a Yankees fan, and I have loved watching Betts, Bogaerts and Bradley Jr. this year. I think everyone outside of Boston and who doesn’t pay for the MLB Extra Innings package would love them as well. Baseball should expose them to the hilt and keep alive the charm of the “Killer Bs” nickname.
Well, I guess I haven’t written here in a while, eh? Part of that absence is due to a Las Vegas trip I took this past weekend. Good times, good times. I spent only a little more than a day in the city, but I was very ready to go home at the end. That’s when you know you’ve done Vegas right.
I don’t want to be so nonchalant about my lack of writing at More Talk. It’s just that, well … not much had happened before this weekend. Look what we had to put up with in the first two weeks of January: Gilbert Arenas’ showdown at the Verizon Center, Pete Carroll leaving what may be the most high-profile head coaching job in football for the cloudy skies of Seattle, the Tennessee-Kiffin riots of ’10, Mark McGwire’s admission and subsequent arrogant non-admissions. Not to forget some interesting NFL playoffs and the untimely fall of Colt McCoy. Every day brought about more breaking news that could have filled up two months, much less two weeks.
The sports world needed to calm down. Just get back to the games. Even out the ratio between sports stories on the field and off it. I feel like that’s what we’ve gotten in the past couple of weeks. Now for someone like me, who isn’t a huge NBA fan, flatly ignores hockey and can’t seem to keep up with all the happenings in college basketball despite much effort, that leads to a few less posts. I don’t want to come on here and express opinions to something I’m not paying attention.
But here are some things I wanted to talk about quickly:
NFL’s Championship Sunday
If not for Vegas, I would have written a full Sunday running blog over the course of both games. Alas, Vegas limited me to seeing just a quarter of the Jets-Colts game and having to listen to the Vikings-Saints game on the radio during the drive back. I hate listening to games on the radio. I’m a visual person. I need to see things develop. I don’t trust someone to tell me what’s happening because usually they are wrong or miss the small details that I need to see. But one thing I did take away from the Westwood One broadcast was James Lofton. While he is a football HOF’er, he is not cut out to be a nation-wide NFL broadcaster. He tries to be funny, but he doesn’t realize he’s just an analyst. James, stop the shtick. Analyze the game. That’s what you get paid for. Not lines such as this one during the middle of the Vikings-Saints slopfest:
“You’ve heard of “Pants on the Ground.” This game is balls on the ground.”