Far be it from me to tell you how to spend your hard-earned cash, but lemme tell you how I spend mine this time of year: I buy baseball jerseys. I know it's a little weird for a grown man to buy a shirt with another man's name on his back, particularly when that other man might be half that grown man's age, but what is baseball if it's not an excuse to run around and pretend for a few fleeting moments that life is as it was when you were a child?
Thus, it is time for my annual Jersey Buying Guide column, in which we give the current rankings for each MLB team on the ideal jersey to purchase heading into this season. I buy a new one every year, because I have to replace the only one I had that ever really mattered.
Here's the newest one, each year:
• 2010: Matt Holliday, No. 7
• 2011: Adam Wainwright, No. 50
• 2012: David Freese, No. 23
• 2013: Chris Carpenter, No. 29
• 2014: Oscar Taveras, No. 18
• 2015: Matt Carpenter, No. 13
• 2016: Carlos Martinez, No. 18
• 2017: Alex Reyes, No. 61
I bought this year's jersey a tad early. We've since replaced it with Dexter Fowler's No. 25. One suspects that Reyes jersey will ultimately get some use.
When I've done this column in the past, I've added a HISTORICAL and HIPSTER jersey component, the ideal retired players to wear and the ideal "ironic" choice for each team (for the White Sox it is a Michael Jordan No. 45, the Royals is a Bob Hamelin No. 48, that sort of thing). We'll hold off on that this year and save that for an update next year. Think of it as the World Baseball Classic of jersey columns: It's only special if you don't do it every year.
(You can find pretty much any jersey you want, by the way, at the MLB Shop.)
We'll go team by team, but know that, with all pieces like this, it's a work in progress. You know your team better than I do. If you have suggestions, corrections or alterations, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org. But these are my best educated guesses.
Jones gets the pick over Manny Machado because we're only a couple years away from the possibility of that Machado jersey getting burned in a fire. And jerseys are expensive.
Boston Red Sox
Wednesday's news about David Price makes you want to put a jersey patch on there.
Chicago White Sox
Like the White Sox themselves, White Sox jerseys are an investment rather than a search for short-term payout. Plus, now that Chris Sale's gone, you can wear the throwback.
You really should already own a Francisco Lindor jersey.
Ian Kinsler has been one of the best players in baseball over the past decade, and I'm not sure even he owns his jersey.
Tons to choose from here, actually, though I'd find it difficult not to rock the retro Carlos Beltran.
Kansas City Royals
Careful here: Lots of players on the Royals' current roster won't be around next year. Eric Hosmer's the best bet to stay, but even then, I'd be safe and try a Jorge Soler if you already have a Salvy Perez.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Everyone should own a Mike Trout jersey at this point.
Is there a Twins fan left that doesn't have a Joe Mauer jersey?
New York Yankees
Get the Dellin Betances jersey just to send a message to Randy Levine.
Might as well go with the top prospect on a team with pickings this slim.
If you already have a King Felix jersey, get another one. He needs all you can support right now.
Tampa Bay Rays
Pretty obvious, and there are really no other choices here.
You might be making the same investment in Rougned Odor that the Rangers are about to.
Toronto Blue Jays
You were this close to having to get rid of that Jose Bautista jersey.
I hope nobody made a custom STEWART or LA RUSSA jersey. (I'm going to safely assume no one did that.)
Young future stars or octogenarian pitchers? You can't go wrong either way.
Don't you dare buy one without the patch.
Try to find a nice home for those Brandon Phillips jerseys.
I don't remember the last time there were so many good names to choose from on the Rockies.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The number 74 is what clinches a spot for Kenley Jansen. Love that.
It's OK if you wear your FERNANDEZ 16 jersey forever if you want to.
Get those last few wears out of those Ryan Braun jerseys these next couple of months.
New York Mets
Though maybe wearing WRIGHT 5 in solidarity is the correct thing to do.
J.P. Crawford will surely never wear that number in the bigs, which means it'll have hipster value down the line.
You're buying the Andrew McCutchen jersey out of pure hope at this point.
San Diego Padres
Hey, it's your money, pal.
San Francisco Giants
C'mon, Giants fans, buy more Brandon Belt jerseys -- he's really good.
St. Louis Cardinals
Don't sleep on the PISCOTTY 55 either. (You already have a Yadi, right?)
Trea Turner might be atop this list next year. Don't tell Bryce.