The Last Dance is the only thing getting us through corona. We haven’t gotten to the baseball part yet in the doc but I’m sure it’s coming. I find it odd that Michael Jordan is bashed for playing baseball. He’s remembered as Tim Tebow before Tebow playing baseball. The fact is, Jordan really wasn’t that bad. In fact, he was actually pretty good considering the circumstances.
Michael Jordan started his baseball career at age 31 and last played in high school. Yes, Jordan’s batting line wasn’t sexy (.202/.289/.266) in AA but that doesn’t tell the full story. MJ stole 30 bags and ranked 5th in the league. Yes, he was gunned down 18 times but still. The 18 errors don’t do him any favors. Just stay with me.
It’s not like MJ couldn’t play at all. It’s just not true. MJ drew 51 walks in 497 plate appearances. NOT BAD! His strikeout rate was just shy of 23 percent which is around league average in the modern era. The truth of the matter is, Jordan just needed time to settle in. The former Bulls star hit .300 during his final month in AA. Jordan also hit .252 in 123 at-bats in the Arizona Fall League after his first season. Somebody that can’t play at all doesn’t improve like that and hit for a decent average.
Imagine if Jordan would have went full force into baseball? Jordan had speed, was able to work walks, and put the bat on the ball at a average rate. MJ only played baseball for one year but I think with another year, Jordan would have turned into a capable player.
Funny enough, Terry Francona was his manager. I don’t think Tito would lie about this. He said MJ would have made it.
“I do think with another 1,000 at-bats, he would’ve made it,” Francona said, as quoted in this ESPN article. “But there’s something else that people miss about that season. Baseball wasn’t the only thing he picked up. I truly believe that he rediscovered himself, his joy for competition. We made him want to play basketball again.”
MJ was far from an embarrassment. Was he a good baseball player? For sure not. However, he was damn good for picking up the sport at age 31 after never touching it since high school. With his determination, he would have made it to the Bigs if he never played basketball.