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Last Year in Baseball: A Trivial Review of 2019

First of all, I would like to say hello to all of you, as this is my first article here at Diamond Digest. Allow me to briefly introduce myself. As you could see in the byline, my name is Sean Huff; obviously I’m a huge baseball fan (why would I be writing here otherwise?). Yet I have another interest that takes up about as much of my thought and time as baseball does: trivia.

I’m sure many of you have played the board game Trivial Pursuit, or its electronic kindred spirit Trivia Crack, but if you haven’t, or if you need a refresher, here’s an overview. The game consists of six different categories from which players are asked questions. Each turn a player rolls a die—I’m sticking with describing the board game—and moves along the board, landing on a spot that indicates one of the six categories. They are then asked their question, and the process repeats until the player gets one wrong. There are more detailed rules involving how one actually wins the game, but those are irrelevant to my following exercise.

What follows is quite simple. I will ask one 2019 baseball related question to fit in each Trivial Pursuit category. The question will be asked first, after which will be a short discussion of the information it contains. Then on to the next category and question. At the end of the article all six answers will be listed, so as to reduce the chance of spoilers by scrolling too far. One quick thing I should note is that I am listing the categories in the order in which they appear on a Trivial Pursuit card. My names for the categories, however, may not match up exactly with what Trivial Pursuit calls them, for those of you esoteric readers who would be bothered by me not specifying. Now, without further ado, the questions:

Geography

Q: Which player, a 3-time All Star, was both the first to record a hit and score a run on the continent of Europe?

I started off with a pretty easy one, as remembering which team was the visiting one in the London Series narrows down the choices considerably. Incredibly, the entire continent of Europe had never hosted an MLB game until 29 July of last year, when the Red Sox and Yankees traveled at London for a two game set. The first hit mentioned in the question was a single to Mookie Betts in right field, while the run was the product of a Gary Sánchez walk forcing the runner to second, and a Luke Voit double scoring him. It was the first of 30 runs that would be scored in that game (the Yankees won 17-13), and 20 more would be scored the next night, as the Yankees swept the short series of the storied rivalry with a 12-8 victory.

Entertainment

Q: Elvis Andrus and, more famously, Gerardo Parra, both used which über popular children’s song as their walk-up music in the 2019 season?

Another easy question, but I couldn’t resist. This was quite possibly my favorite part of the entire 2019 season. Typically, when I’m home and not doing anything, I put on MLB TV and watch whichever game has the most scintillating pitching matchup. Due to this habit, I watched a disproportionate amount of Nationals games in 2019 (I’m a Phillies fan by the way, I should probably say that at some point). The influence of Gerardo Parra and his song was incredibly fun. Without naming it, though I’m sure everyone reading this already knows the answer, the namesake of the song became a standard celebration for the eventual World Series champs. Some reporters even claimed it was a driving force for their success (I disagree). As for the song itself, it became the first children’s hit to make the Billboard Hot 100 since “Let It Go” did so from the Frozen soundtrack.

History

Q: Which player became the second right-handed batter in MLB history to lead his league in hits each of two consecutive seasons?

This is probably the toughest question I’ll be asking, mostly because it has no hints included in it. Someone topped the league in hits in both 2018 and 2019, and that someone bats righty. That’s it. I’ll elaborate here that his 2019 is more notable for having played all 162 games. He also had the most at bats in MLB in 2019 and the most steals in 2018. He was a first time All Star in 2019. No more hints, I wanted this one to be hard, and it is. Also I feel compelled to mention that I learnt of this accomplishment while listening to Effectively Wild (which I strongly recommend to all of you).

Fine Arts

Q: Despite having a 10-year career and making an All Star appearance, which pitcher, who died in 2019, was best known for having written the book Ball Four?

Ball Four—a book I still have yet to read—was extremely controversial for quite some time in baseball circles. It detailed the career of its author, and held nothing back. In its pages were accounts of Hall of Fame players cheating and generally not being admirable people. The outrage was so serious that the author was even specifically asked for an apology by the commissioner; no apology was given. Even today Ball Four is considered one of the greatest baseball books ever written, ranked 14th among them by Esquire and 2nd by the SportingNews.

Science

Q: Which league, in a partnership with MLB, became the first professional league to fully integrate use of an automated strike zone?

The future is now. The robots are rising. The automated strike zone is arrived. Prior to the 2019 season, MLB announced that the answer to this question would be working in conjunction with them to institute a wide array of proposed rule changes. The league put these in place after their mid-season break, including the automated strike zone. Other new rules included the moving back of the mound and granting the batter the ability to “steal first base” on passed balls.

Sports/Leisure

Q: While sports betting became legalized in May 2018, MLB has partnered with three gambling companies for official use of its logos and data. Name two of the three?

Since 1961 sports betting had been illegal under the Wire Act, a federal ruling that banned formal gambling on all things but “games of chance”. A Supreme Court decision reversed this in regards to sports in May of 2018, letting states decide for themselves whether or not they would allow the practice. This required leagues to partner themselves with different sports books, granting rights to the books for things trademarked by the leagues.

Before I get to the answers, I would just like to thank you all for reading this. Hopefully you enjoyed it, and will enjoy my future work on this site as well. If you’re interested in seeing my previous work, you can find it on writingabovereplacement.com. Also, if you liked this article there are literally hundreds of thousands of possible baseball trivia questions that could be written, probably even more than that in fact, so if you’d like me to write more of these let me know in the comments. Finally, see how you did on my homemade baseball Trivial Pursuit card.

Answers:

  • Geography: DJ LeMahieu
  • Entertainment: “Baby Shark”
  • History: Whit Merrifield
  • Fine Arts: Jim Bouton
  • Science: Atlantic League
  • Sports/Leisure: MGM Resorts, DraftKings, FanDuel

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Sean Huff

Student at Fordham College Rose Hill. Phillies fan. Follow on Twitter @srhkthew2

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