In one of the more delightful things to happen so far this early spring, the Naylor brothers took questions from the media together this past weekend.
It’s fun when brothers get together and can be goofs, and you can get great screenshots like this one:
Younger brother Bo Naylor is a catcher drafted by Cleveland in the first round of the 2018 draft. Big brother Josh was acquired by Cleveland at last year’s trade deadline in the Mike Clevinger deal. You may know him as the man who nearly killed the Yankees in October.
Now together for spring training for the first time, the two are doing a great job of sneaking their ways into the hearts of the fanbase, whether their grins, Bo’s Little Bro vibe, Josh’s hair, whatever.
That jersey though. Of all the things to see a baseball player wear, he’s got on a Tampa Bay Lightning hockey jersey. Which is totally rad of course, who doesn’t like a team named after lightning? And it’s a cool color scheme. But I had to ask. Why?
Evidently, both of them, and also their other brother Noah, received these gifts as presents from their mom. But, why? Obviously, the Canadian connection makes a lot of sense. Canadians love hockey as much as they love … moose and red uniforms? I don’t know, I’ve only ever been to French Canada, and that’s a different place. It’s strange on its face that it’s a Tampa Bay Lightning jersey, considering that team is 1,300 miles away and not even entering Canada in 2021. The Toronto Raptors are playing in Tampa this year because of plague reasons, but that is some bizarre reasoning.
It could be that Naylor just loves hockey uniforms. I haven’t seen any evidence of him being a Lightning fan specifically on his social media accounts, though there’s a dope pic of him wearing a purple and gold hockey jersey with “Bryant” on the back. Maybe, like shoeheads having a closet full of strange and dope shoes, he’s got a closet with every type and stripe of unique jersey, and his mom thought this was a nice one to match the set. I bet he even owns a Lightning jersey already, but it’s like a Brian Bradley throwback or something. He wore this one because he’s a sweet boy who loves his mother.
This one is very much of the time and of a known player. Number 91 is Stephen Stamkos, the first overall pick to the Lightning out of the Ontario Hockey league in 2008 and probably their best player ever. He led them to a title in 2020, so (and it pains me to say it) perhaps Naylor is just a dirty ol’ bandwagoner.
There’s also the local connection. The Naylors, more than just being Canadian, are from Mississauga, Ontario, just outside of Toronto. Stamkos is from Markam, Ontario, also just outside of Toronto! How exciting! Maybe they’re neighbors!
Both those towns have silly logos. Check it out.
I like Mississagua’s more, it’s fun and doesn’t look like the sign for a discount shoe shop. Although it’s got a vibe of some kind of indeterminant tech company with a headquarters in the Chicago suburbs.
So maybe that’s it. But wait. Where are those places really? Let’s go to the map!
So they’re not exactly from one town over. They seem close though, right? That’s the thing about Canada though, it’s big as hell. Those two towns are like 35 miles away, with a massive city in-between. It’s about as neighborly as Washington D.C. and Baltimore, or Cleveland and Akron. Close enough to drive, but there’s little chance of these guys casually crossing paths. Plus there’s like an eight-year difference in age. When Stamkos was playing for the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, Naylor was ten years old.
What are we to make of this? Is Naylor simply some sort of Canadian baller with unique style that’s akin to the coolest kid in middle school, grabbing hold of one of the most iconic symbols of his Canadian heritage — the hockey sweater — and rocking it during introductions at his first Cleveland spring training?
What vibe is he trying to push here? Heck, what agenda? Perhaps he wants us to think that he’s some kind of sweet boy from the Great North, sent here to make us grin as he and Bo do. If that’s the case, it’s a sinister plot to try to bring us joy in Cleveland. He has to know that’s not the vibe on this team.
It’s pretty funny that in all my cursory search, there’s no evidence of him ever wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey, literally the team he grew up 20 minutes from. That’s probably because they’re trash though. And no, I will not be looking at standings.