It's always fun when you're winning. It seems like everything is going your way. If you're Nationals ace Max Scherzer going against the local rival Orioles, you get a groundball hit back at you on the mound and you field it between your legs. With your back facing the hitter. Here he is pulling off what's essentially a magic trick Thursday night at Nationals Park. After the play, Scherzer is obviously caught in an emotional struggle—should he really pretend that it's not a big deal, that in fact he's done it before, or let himself smile at the ridiculousness of it.

Scherzer seems like one of the really good guys in the game, a favorite of even fans of opposing clubs, like this young Mets fanatic who played catch with the N.L. strikeout leader in May at Citi Field. Another of baseball's really good guys announced his retirement a couple weeks ago. It's hard to watch Prince Fielder in a neck brace and explain that his doctors say he can't play major league baseball anymore and not get almost as emotional as he is here.

The former Rangers DH is only 32, and it's just 20 years after the young Prince first started to make his name around the big-leagues, as a kid with nearly as much power as his father, former major leaguer Cecil Fielder—who like Prince left the game with 319 home runs to his credit. (Here's a video of the 12-year-old Prince hitting batting practice off then Tigers coach and now Indians manager Terry Francona.) There's a really lovely tribute to Fielder in The Hardball Times by Jack Moore, who remembers Fielder's debut with the Brewers and how he was "one of a number of young players who revitalized the Milwaukee Brewers in the mid-2000s."

"Many great hitters have swings that could be described as fluid, smooth, or even graceful," writes Moore.

Fielder's was none of these. He unleashed all of his weight upon the baseball with every swing, generating the kind of torque that allowed his 5-foot-11 frame to launch upper deck home runs with regularity. His swing was explosive, violent, and, above all, big. Not only did he put everything he had into every swing, he was able to do it on a daily basis, in a sport in which the athletes take the field 162 times in just 180 days…. As much as the kinetic energy of his swing powered the Brewers on the field, his emotional energy powered them in the clubhouse. "Prince is the most intense person I know," Tony Gwynn Jr., his Brewers teammate from 2006 through 2008 and the godfather of Fielder's kids told Sports Illustrated as Milwaukee was making its run to the NL Central title in 2011. Current Brewers manager Craig Counsell calls Fielder one of the most influential players he has ever played with, despite the fact that Counsell was already a 36-year-old veteran when he teamed with Fielder for the first time in 2007, when Fielder was just 23. "I think he played the game as hard and competed as hard as anybody I ever had on my team," Ryan Braun told WTMJ after Fielder announced his retirement. "He's a guy who never wanted to come out of any game, played through so many injuries, wanted to play every inning of every game."

It's not as much fun when you're not winning, and at Fangraphs, Ryan Pollack explains why the reigning world champion Royals are in the middle of the pack in the wild card race—they're striking out a lot:

The Kansas City Royals have been a high-contact, low-strikeout team for several years. Very few people saw this approach when the team was bad. But during their 2014-15 run, many noticed the team hardly ever struck out. This bat-to-ball philosophy made great headlines because it opposed the trend of rising strikeouts. That the Royals succeeded in winning games made the contrast even greater. We remember Salvador Perez's single past a diving Josh Donaldson that won the 2014 AL Wild Card game. We remember Alcides Escobar's first-inning, first-pitch inside-the-park home run in Game 1 of the 2015 World Series. And we remember Eric Hosmer scoring the tying run of Game 7 on a weak Perez grounder to David Wright. Put the ball in play, they said, and good things will happen.

They're not. The Royals strikeout rate has jumped 18 percent from last year, the highest increase in the big leagues, and the second highest jump in the last six years.

Paul Ringel, an associate professor of history at High Point University, has a fine piece in The Hardball Times commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1916 season:

The 1916 major league baseball season lacks a defining image. Mention the year 1975 to lovers of baseball history, and chances are they'll recall Carlton Fisk's home run or the Big Red Machine. 1941 evokes Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak and Ted Williams' .406 batting average, 1908 Fred Merkle's miscue, and the list goes on and on. It's a superficial way to remember history, but unfortunately seasons like 1916 that don't have such a symbol tend to get forgotten by the public… Ultimately, two events seemed both singular and reflective of the state of major league baseball in 1916: Babe Ruth's emergence as an elite player, and sportswriter Ring Lardner's publication of the first great baseball novel, You Know Me Al. The pivotal experiences of both men during this year exemplify how major league baseball was breaking out of its past niche as disreputable entertainment and was on the verge of becoming a much more profitable and widely adored part of American culture.

Ringel continues:

Lardner and Ruth's pivotal experiences during 1916 were as different as their backgrounds, but over the next decade their careers were surprisingly parallel. They moved to New York a year apart, with Lardner arriving in 1919 and Ruth in 1920. Both men's already successful careers reached new heights in New York. Ruth revolutionized not only baseball but also the field of celebrity endorsements during the 1920s. He shilled for everything from cereal to underwear, made Hollywood movies, and lent his name and presence to barnstorming tours on which he earned as much or more than his salary from the Yankees. Lardner launched a syndicated column from New York, wrote short stories and theatrical pieces, and even produced a You Know Me Al comic strip. He also became a darling of the literary elite, including Scott Fitzgerald, Virginia Woolf and legendary editor Maxwell Perkins, who reissued You Know Me Al in 1925 as part of his effort to rebrand the columnist as an eminent writer.

Perkins was right—Lardner is one of our great writers and You Know Me Al is an American classic, where the hero, Jack Keefe, aka "the Busher," a talented but flawed and entirely un-self-aware pitcher who goes back and forth between the big leagues and the minors, stands in for the miscues, ambitions, naiveté, and native wit of a country that was starting to understand and explain itself to itself and the rest of the world. And 1916's other revelation that came from the national pastime became a kind of native genius of that yet unfocused physical and spiritual energy, a kind of American charisma named the Babe.