Phil Kessel has finally been chosen, the last devastating hit in the Pro Bowl has been delivered, and the Celtics have sent the Lakers whatever message one title contender can send another in late January. Sure, the Super Bowl is still to be played (go, Pack, go), but we suspect you won't mind if we round third base and symbolically head toward Ft. Myers already. Let's get it started with an all-baseball Random Lists of Five . . .
Five former Expos who will be in the Hall of Fame someday:
1. Tim Raines. If you don't get it now, you will, and by the time he's elected you'll wonder why you didn't recognize his greatness sooner..
2. Vladimir Guerrero. His lifetime .563 slugging percentage is 16th-best all-time.
3. Pedro Martinez. I think I miss watching him pitch even more than I miss watching Larry Bird pull up and drain a backbreaking three on a 2-on-1 break, or Cam Neely Zamboni-ing a couple of Canadiens defensemen en route to the net or . . .
4. Tom Brady. Well, I didn't say which Hall of Fame, suckers. The Patriots' quarterback was the final pick of the 18th round in the 1995 draft as a catcher out of high school. Eleven picks later, the Tigers selected a University of Washington outfielder who would later become one of Brady's best friends on the Patriots -- Lawyer Milloy.
5. Terry Francona. Perhaps you were waiting on hold too long with the Big O to notice, but he's building a hell of a case as a manager.
Five best teams in 2011:
1. Red Sox. Fewer concerns than any team in baseball, though I get a knot in the gut every time I hear Dustin Pedroia reference Yao Ming and Grant Hill when he talks about his creaky foot:
2. Phillies. Halladay-Lee-Oswalt-Hamels. We're putting the over/under at 68 wins.
3. Twins. Glad they brought back Jim Thome (1.039 OPS last year), even though he probably should be a topic on Stuff White People Like.
4. Yankees. Very tempting to slot Tampa Bay here.
5. Giants. Out of respect to the champs more than any belief that they can do it again. Curious to see how Matt Cain's lights-out postseason carries over to 2011.
Five worst teams in 2011:
1. Pirates. The run of losing seasons will reach 19, though at least Andrew McCutcheon will keep things interesting.
2. Mariners. Felix's next challenge: Win the Cy Young Award with fewer than a dozen wins.
3. Padres. The pitching should be decent in that ballpark, but how will they score with Gonzo gone?
4. Indians. You know, I'm starting think Travis Hafner's best years are behind him.
5. Nationals. There's hope, but Jayson Werth won't help it be fulfilled this year.
Five best prospects in baseball according to Baseball America in 1991:
1. Todd Van Poppel, RHP, Athletics. And to think, the Braves were widely scorned for choosing Chipper ahead of him.
2. Andujar Cedeno, SS, Astros. Hit .236 in seven big league seasons. Died in a car accident in October 2000.
3. Ryan Klesko, 1B, Braves. Most similar player is fellow '90s Braves slugger David Justice.
4. Jose Offerman, SS, Dodgers. Six spots ahead of Mo Vaughn, the player whose on-base percentage he was supposed to replace with the Red Sox according to Dan Duquette.
5. Roger Salkeld, RHP, Mariners. Talented righthander couldn't overcome injuries. Notably, No. 6 on the list is still pitching -- Arthur Rhodes. Yes, he's lefthanded.
Five best prospects in baseball according to Baseball America in 2001:
1. Josh Hamilton, OF, Devil Rays. He's a hell of a tale of redemption, but imagine the career he might have had without all of the self-inflicted detours.
2. Corey Patterson, OF, Cubs. Journeyman has 112 career homers, 205 steals, but just a .292 on-base percentage.
3. Josh Beckett, RHP, Marlins. His most similar pitcher from ages 27-30: Kevin Millwood.
4. Jon Rauch, RHP, White Sox.
5. Ben Sheets, RHP, Brewers. The top Red Sox on this list? Dernell Stenson at No. 77. Carl Crawford checks in five spots sooner.
Five 2003 Sox who hit at least 25 homers in 2003, not including Manny, who led the way with 37 and is still cool around here:
1. David Ortiz, 31. From April to June: four homers. From July through September: 27 homers.
2. Nomar Garciaparra, 28. Looking back, it doesn't really feel like he was part of that team, either, does it?
3. Trot Nixon, 28. Far and away the best year of his career -- and it was a great year. His .975 OPS was second among Sox to Manny.
4. Jason Varitek, 25. He had an adjusted OPS of 120. Two Sox regulars were below 100: Todd Walker (95) and, surprisingly, Johnny Damon (94).
5. Kevin Millar, 25. Greatly enjoyed interviewing him last week about Game 4 in 2004, and the MLB Network homage to the game was even better than I expected. Even Curtis Leskanic got his just due.
Five 1984 Seattle Mariners, not including Lee Guetterman:
1. Alvin Davis. The 1984 AL Rookie of the Year had classic old player skills -- he walked 97 times as a rookie to go with his 27 homers and career-high five stolen bases -- and was done by age 31.
2. Dave Henderson. If not for Schiraldi/Stanley/Gedman/Buckner/McNamara and all of that, there very well might be a statue of him on Van Ness Street.
3. Harold Reynolds. Made his debut that season with 63 at-bats and an adjusted OPS of 43. In his 12 full or partial seasons, he had an adjusted OPS over 100 exactly once.
4. Al Chambers. The No. 1 pick in the atrocious first round of the '79 draft had just 141 plate appearances in three partial seasons, hitting .208.
5. Matt Young. Forgot this or never knew it in the first place, but just read it in the Globe archives. When the Sox signed Young in December 1990 -- after he went 8-18 with the Mariners -- they were also in the hunt for Bob Welch, who was coming off a 27-win season in Oakland. Welch went back to the A's, which was probably the right choice. Young went 3-11 for the Sox before being released in March 1993. He was never the right choice.
Five players you may not remember playing for the 2004 Sox (and they may not, either):
1. Bobby Jones. Lefty who couldn't throw a strike if Joe West was in danger of missing a dinner reservation.
2. Frank Castillo. Pitched an inning over two appearances. Can you believe he made nearly $11 million in his career?
3. Jamie Brown. Gave up 15 hits over 7.2 innings in a span of a dozen days in May. Never threw another major league pitch after that month.
4. Phil Seibel. Lefthander got the requisite polite "Who is he again?" applause during the Opening Day 2005 ring ceremony.
5. Mark Malaska. Despite command issues, looked like a decent candidate to be a lefty specialist, but hasn't thrown a big league pitch since '04.
Five things a baseball nerdle discovers while poking around baseball-reference's play index without any regard for context:
1. Carl Crawford has the exact same career OPS (.781) and adjusted OPS (107) as Casey Blake.
2. Vernon Wells has the exact same career OPS (.804) and adjusted OPS (108) as Jose Vidro.
3. Dustin Pedroia has the same OPS (.830) and adjusted OPS (113) as Morgan Ensberg.
4. Kevin Youkilis has the same OPS (.891), adjusted OPS (128), slugging percentage (.497), and on-base percentage (.394) as Dale Alexander.
5. Jacoby Ellsbury has the same OPS (.749) and adjusted OPS (92) as Gabe Kapler and Adam Hyzdu.
Five players with a career adjusted OPS of exactly 155:
1 Joe DiMaggio
2. Hank Aaron
3. Mel Ott
4. Willie Mays
5. Manny Ramirez. Well, that's some good company, no?
Five members of the awful 1977 Mets who eventually became managers:
1. Joe Torre. Batted .363 in 1971, .173 in '77 before retiring 36 games into the season to take over as manager.
2. Bobby Valentine. Whenever a promising young player's career is derailed by injury, Bobby V is usually cited as a sad example.
3. Lee Mazzilli. The closest thing the Mets had to a star in the late '70s, which tells you how grim those times were.
4. Bud Harrelson. Averaged a home run roughly every 800 plate appearances in his 16-year career.
5. John Stearns. Never actually managed in the big leagues, though the former catcher has bounced around the minors forever and once was Valentine's bench coach. Should we instead include Lenny Randle, who once slugged a manager?
Five players with a career OPS of exactly .854:
1. Andre Ethier. I've always thought Pedroia's college pal would end up with the Red Sox someday, but I'm beginning to think Ryan Kalish might prevent that.
2. Paul Konerko. Most similar player from ages 29-33: Kent Hrbek.
3. Ken Phelps. For the record, Mr. Costanza, Jay Buhner's was .852.
4. Jack Clark. We remember him badly here, and we should, but he did finish in the top 10 in the MVP voting four times, and his '87 season (35 homers, 136 walks, 1.055 OPS) was spectacular.
5. Jim Rice. I'll admit it. The longer I've considered his career, the more I've realize it's those misty watercolor childhood memories that made me think he was a Hall of Famer. I'm glad he's in, but does he belong? That .789 road OPS in his career probably provides the answer.
Five best home run seasons by a Red Sox third baseman:
1. 30, Butch Hobson, 1977. Forget DiMaggio and his little hitting streak. This is the record that will never be broken. Viva la Butch!
2. 28, Adrian Beltre, 2010. He made a frustrating year fun.
3. 28, Butch Hobson, 1979. Kind of forget he had one more good power season after his career altering elbow injury.
4. 28, Rico Petrocelli, 1971. Rico PetrocelliHit 40 homers in '69, but played all but one of his 154 games at shortstop that season.
5. 24, Wade Boggs, 1987. Never hit more than eight in any other season with the Sox.
Five players chosen in the seventh round of the 1976 draft:
1. Ozzie Smith, Padres. I've heard he was a good fielder. Can anyone confirm?
2. Odie Davis, Cubs. A poor man's Nelson Norman, apparently. Career consists of one hit in eight at-bats with the '80 Rangers.
3. Willie McGee, White Sox. And six years later, Howard Cosell said he looked like ET during the World Series.
4. Johnnie Walker, Expos. Never played in majors, but was pals with George Thorogood, from what I recall.
5. Wade Boggs, Red Sox. Chosen five rounds after Boston selected another high school shortstop who would convert to third, Glenn Hoffman.
Five outfielders drafted in the first round of the 1997 draft:
1. J.D. Drew, second overall, Phillies.This might surprise: His career WAR (46.8, according to the B-R.com) is better than Lance Berkman's (46.3).
2. Vernon Wells, fifth overall, Blue Jays.
3. Tyrell Godwin, 25th overall, Yankees. Two-time first round pick had just three big league at-bats.
4. Darnell McDonald, 26th overall, Orioles. Here's hoping his second year with the Sox is as good as his first.
5. Mark Fischer, 35th overall, Red Sox. Never made it beyond Double A, batting .205 in parts of three seasons at Trenton. Just an awful draft overall of the Sox, who whiffed on their first four picks, including their other first rounder, lefty John Curtice. The best pick? A wee sunscreen-slathered University of Florida infielder chosen in the 19th round named David Eckstein.
Five other passive-aggressive opinions Brian Cashman has about Derek Jeter:
1. Lyla Garrity? Meh. Coach Taylor's daughter is the real catch.
2. Hmmm, Jetes, I'm not too up on these newfangled stats, but I've gotta assume UZR stands for Ur Zero Range, right? ZING! C'mon, you know I'm kidding, bro.
3. Smart play, I guess, but was I the only one who thought Giambi got his foot in there?
4. Hey, been meaning to ask: How's that cologne working out for you? Sales good? A-Rod swears by it.
5. Calm eyes? Says who? All I ever see in them is anger.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.