Tag Archives: BASEBALL

Baseball is dying, you guys

garlicfriesandbaseball:

SF Giants Fan Fest 2013. Good Grief!

SF Giants Fan Fest 2013.
Good Grief!

A few weeks ago my grandson said this exact same thing. I took into account his passion was basketball and surmised he watched only a few baseball games each year, if he had to. Jake lives in Oregon and, granted, there’s not a lot to get excited about in Oregon except maybe Oregon Duck football and OSU Beavers during baseball season, and maybe once in a while the Trailblazers.

Juan Marichal.  Just your Basic Pitching Form

Juan Marichal. Just your Basic Pitching Form

But having grown up in a baseball family I just don’t get it. I don’t get that others don’t get the athleticism of baseball players, the finesse of a perfectly thrown ball, the artistry of a catch that was so impossible to make, even the opponents keep playing it over and over in the clubhouse the next day. Once-in-a-lifetime stuff. So when I read this comment on Hardball Talks,one of my favorite blogs, I had to ponder again what Jake said, and meant, about baseball not making it more than 5 or 10 years. And to Scott Conray who posted this little ditty, I have to tell you we have not seen baseball’s most famous player yet.

LA Dodger Yasiel Puig on  an ordinary day.

LA Dodger Yasiel Puig on an ordinary day.

One example, and there are many, is the rookies coming up from the farm teams. These kids are exciting to watch. And they’re winning games. And they’ll continue doing this. If you have any doubt about the fans love for the game read “Casey at the Bat”, again and you’ll get it. The poem was written over 100 years ago with the same passion and fervor that baseball fans still experience every time they watch a great play, a fantastic pitch, an out of the park home run or a rookie walking to the plate making the sign of the cross and blasting it out of the park. And I don’t care which sport you’re passionate about, it just doesn’t get any better than that. In my humble opinion, of course ……

Originally posted on HardballTalk:

From RealClearPolitics’ national political reporter:

I guess if you only pop your head up once every decade or so to pay attention to baseball, it’s understandable to feel that way. Last I checked, though, there were no plans afoot to stop teams from signing good baseball players and said baseball players performing at a high level such that they may be exposed to lots of people, thereby generating fame.

I wonder if that sentiment would’ve been all over Twitter if it had existed when this aired:

[nbcsports_video src=//www.youtube.com/v/DOv1HlN_eQ4?version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0 width=620 height=465]

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Seduced by that Pesky Cell Phone

I’m remembering a game I went to this past season.  During the entire game a  fan  sitting in front of me had his cell phone in hand, either  as an extension of his ear or taking pictures with it.  When it was attached to his ear he was talking, loudly at times, and listening the rest of the time.   It seemed odd since the game was at AT&T Park and it can get really loud and I kept wondering how he was able to hear anything on the little contraption.

I’m not a huge cell phone fan.  I don’t even know my number.  My husband bought me one as a nice gesture, but against my objections, and I think I’ve used it maybe five or six times in the past seven years.  His idea was I could use it for roadside emergencies or keeping in touch, just in case.  You know, the usual stuff.

AT&T Park.  Cameraman and his Cell Phone.

AT&T Park. Cameraman and his Cell Phone.

But I’m looking around the ballpark and cell phones were everywhere.  Lots of picture-taking and flashes going off,  mostly just fans walking around, or in their seats, didn’t matter, attached to their trusty cell phones.   You see the same scenario everywhere, it’s epidemic.  The phone companies must be making millions.  You see them at the grocery stores, hospitals, theaters, schools, churches, airports, on the bus, at the restaurants.  And they’re at my office.

This used to irritate the heck out of me.  But this year has been an eye-opening experience and I’ll never look at cell phones the same way again.  You see, I’m a tax preparer and I have 100 days to get those pesky taxes worked up, prepared, completed and out the door until next year when it starts all over again.   In the past, the number one thing clients would forget when they showed up for their appointment was their W2.  It’s the truth.   But not anymore.  Just last week a client took out his cell phone, called his employer, and the W2 almost instantly appeared via fax.

And it’s been happening a lot lately.  Need  Grandma’s social security number?  No problem.  Forgot the  interest from the bank, car tags, tuition and/or scholarships received?  No problem.  Just dial it up on the handy-dandy little thing.

But here’s the really great part.  Last week a woman came in with her little two-year old who was acting like two-year old’s are supposed to act; I mean all over the place, up and down like a yo-yo, until…….until mom put her cell phone in the little boys hand.  It was like magic!   It worked better than Prozac or a tranquilizer or binky or something. The little fellow poked his app (I think that’s what they’re called) and was tuned in for the rest of the interview.

I’m not saying that sedating a kid with a cell phone is necessarily a good thing, but if you’re a tax preparer in the middle of tax season and you’re trying like the devil to get through an interview, it is truly a miraculous thing.

The New Substitute for Smokeless Tobacco …..Really!

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Well, okay, not really.  But haven’t you noticed that ever since MLB “recommended” limiting use of tobacco on the field and in the dugout there’s been ever so slight a change?   Some day they’re going to ban tobacco in any form much the same as they’ve banned those nasty PED’s, and that’s a good thing.

But, in the meantime, here’s a few guys that have decided to do something about it and it looks like they’re thoroughly enjoying themselves in the process, setting an example for the youngsters to boot.  It must feel pretty good to sit without having that can of crud sticking you in the behind and following you everywhere you go.   And imagine having to walk through that nasty dugout with spit and chew and spit sticking to your cleats, not to mention the smell.    Have at it boys ~ it’s bubblicious all the way!  And that’s a good thing.

Thank you Guillermo Quiroz ….. It’s Why We Love the Game.

Guillermo Guiroz.  Click for MLB Video

Guillermo Guiroz. Click for MLB Video

Baseball’s unlike any other sport.  It’s the only one I know that’s not given time restraints.  A one-half inning lasts as long as it takes to get three outs.  It could last for only three pitches, or it could go on for hours, or seem like it.  Take the fifth inning in last night’s game between the Dodgers and Giants.   The Giants lead 5-0 at the beginning of the 5th, and then it all fell apart as the Dodgers scored seven runs, one after the other, on and on and on.  I thought it would never end, but finally it did and by the end of the 9th inning the score  was tied 9-9, and we were in overtime ~ extra innings.

It’s a fluke that third string back-up catcher Guillermo Quiroz was even on the roster last night.  Hector Sanchez is the regular back-up catcher for Buster Posey and had been sent back to the Minors only the day before.   So when Quiroz steps up to the plate I’m thinking what the heck’s going on.  I mean doesn’t Bochy know it’s the 10th inning?  I was already a little perturbed with Boche after leaving Vogey in to get really hammered in the fifth ~ he should have taken him out earlier.  So when  Guillermo steps up to the plate I turned up the volume and went to the kitchen to do the dishes. 

What happened next happens all the time in baseball.  In fact, it happened the night before with Buster Posey and was no big deal.   Well, it was a big deal, but we’ve gotten a little spoiled with Buster so you rather expect this sort of thing from him. 

And it isn’t even that Guillermo Quiroz really smacked the hell out of that first pitch for the game-winning home run.  It was what happened after, as he looked out at that ball flying towards infinity, and you knew that he knew it was gone.  No doubt in his mind.  And when his arms went up in the air and he started towards first base he had a huge smile on his face, yelling something that made you realize that “spirit of victory” that we’ve all heard about so often is more than just a saying …..it’s why we love the game.   And we really loved the game tonight.

And to be honest, I was smiling and yelling right along with him.  The dishes could wait.

Baseball Writers ~ Who Cuts the Mustard and Who Cares?

This week the Baseball Writers Association of America has been in the news.  It’s been in the news a lot.   For only the second time in its history the Association has failed to name one eligible baseball player worthy of entering the Hall of Fame.  

So I’m pondering this little ditty thinking about Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens and their alleged partaking of performance enhancing drugs, and thinking about the BBWAA.  Who are these people?  What are their credentials?  Why does it matter what they think?   When I read their membership list I’m surprised that I only recognize a couple dozen or so names.  Most of the names that would have been at the top of my favorite baseball writers list aren’t even listed as members of  this association.  

The primary purpose of the BBWAA  is to assure clubhouse and press-box access, and to elect players to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  That’s it, at least according to Wikipedia.  All writers with 10 years membership in the BBWAA are eligible to vote for the Hall of Fame.   It was founded in 1908 and as far as the baseball world is concerned, the sun rises and sets with this organization, and my question is “why”?

I compiled a list of  a few of my favorite baseball writers and tried to give a reason why, though sometimes it’s not apparent even to me.   These are good writers because what they write makes me want to read more, even after I’ve finished reading their articles.   Note that none of these have BBWAA associated with their names.  They might be a member, but it’s not known to me and honestly I could care less whether they’re a member or not.  

JON STEINER.  I discovered Jon back in April, 2011, while researching a piece I was doing on the Cleveland Indians and the lack of attendance at their beautiful ballpark.   His blog, “Waiting for Next Year” was written like I talk so it was an easy read and I was sorry when it ended.  I don’t know a thing about this guy, just that I’d buy his book if I ever found out he wrote one.   Here’s the April 5, 2011 article that made Jon the ultimate writer in my mind.  “Some Thoughts on the Indians’ Record Setting Attendance.” 

ALEX PAVLOVIC.  I’ve been following this writer for the past several years as he stood in the shadows of Andrew Baggarly at the San Jose Mercury News.  When Baggs left last year to join the ComCast News Group, Alex stepped up big-time.   I like writers who are  up-front, in your face, and don’t try to sugar coat interviews and the news.  You know, just put it out there and let me decide what my opinion is about the subject.   That’s what this guy’s about.  He writes a blog, “Giants Extra“, that I read on a regular basis and always look forward to his meanderings. 

BRYAN O’CONNOR.  My acquaintance with Bryan began when he made some astute comments on one of my blogs a few years ago, so I checked him out and my mind’s still whirling.  His blog is “Replacement Level Baseball” and I’m not sure why he doesn’t write professionally for the main stream media, but goodie for us that he doesn’t.  It gives him more time to overwhelm us with his baseball knowledge.  Warning:  He’s a Bill James sabremetrics fan and goes way over my head on occasion.   But here’s a recent analysis of his personal “Hall of Fame Ballot” vote, if he had one, that was especially entertaining.   

JONATHAN HACOHEN.  But of course Jonathan’s one of my favorite writers.  He was very generous with his review of my book “Garlic Fries and Baseball” and I’ve been reeling ever since.  But before the review I had already subscribed to “MLB Reports” that Jonathan founded in 2010.  He’s been writing baseball for over twenty years and if he had a specialty I’d have to say it was his in-depth interviews, done only as he can do them.  His website is growing leaps and bounds and I rather miss that he doesn’t personally write as often now, but I latch onto whatever he does write as soon as it’s posted to my “Inbox”.  

CRAIG CALCATERRA.   I really hate to admit that I like this guy’s writings so much because, to tell you the truth,  a lot of what he writes irritates the socks off me.   I rarely agree with anything he says.  But it’s the way in which he says it that kind of grabs you, hooks you and draws you in.   Usually when I read one of his articles I find myself running to Wikipedia or other resource material just so I can prove him wrong, which I rarely do, because most of what he writes is opinion as he’s quick to point out.  Craig writes for NBC Sports HardBall Talk  and I guess the reason he’s on my favorite baseball writers list is because, whether we agree or not,  I always look forward to reading whatever little morsel he decides to throw my way for the day.

HENRY SCHULMAN.   Hank Schulman writes “The Splash” for the San Francisco Chronicle.  He’s a full-fledged newspaperman, sports reporter and columnist, with sports jacket and everything.  When he starts off with “I just talked with Bruce Bochy “or whoever it might be that morning, it grabs my attention and I latch on to every word.  He’s that “if it’s written it’s real”  type of writer.   He’s one of those guys you’d most like to have dinner with, have a conversation with.  You know what I mean.  There’s a thousand stories in there somewhere and I’d like to hear them all.  But in the meantime I’m content with reading the morning paper with my morning coffee and telling my hubby, “Guess what Hank Schulman said today?”  My husband gets it. 

Baseball writers each have their own style of writing; some you like and some you don’t.  And that’s okay.   This year the BBWAA decided to make the Hall of Fame vote into a popularity contest and that’s okay too.  I mean if they want to tell us which players cut the mustard and which ones don’t, who the hell cares? 

Really, who cares, because baseball fans have always made up their own mind on this type of thing and, after all, in the court of public opinion, isn’t that what really matters?

UPDATE:  “Get the Media out of the Honoring Business” New York Times 1/15/13   http://bats.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/11/get-the-media-out-of-the-honoring-business/?smid=fb-share

The Annual “Congressional Baseball Game”

             “Ron Paul Stars in 1983 Congressional Baseball Game”

congressional baseball flyerTo tell you the truth, I never heard of our congressman playing an annual baseball game.  From 1909 to 1949 both teams were filled with members of the House.  Members of the Senate were not prohibited from playing, they just didn’t participate.  Separate teams are comprised of Republicans and Democrats who play against each other.   The games are played for charity and they raise more than $100,000 annually for local area charities in the District of Columbia. 

"Congressman Ron Paul" in the Line-up

“Congressman Ron Paul” in the Line-up

Rep. Ron Paul of Texas was on the Republican team in the 1980′s.  He was elected to the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012 and was the first player  in the history of  this series to hit an over-the-wall home run in 1979.  In the 1983 game, shown in the above video,  Paul went 2 for 3 and is considered one of the best players to have played in the annual game.  This particular game ended in a 17-17 Tie. 

Originally each team had “Republicans” or “Democrats” embroidered on their uniforms but in recent years teammates  wear uniforms of the teams from their congressional district or home state.  Games have been held historically throughout the Washington, D. C. area and in the past few years have been played at the newly built Nationals Park. 

Back in 1914 the baseball game interrupted an Appropriations bill debate on Civil War cotton damage because there wasn’t a quorum present.  It seems they were all at the baseball game.  The House eventually resumed with a quorum when rain interrupted the game, but nothing was decided as the members apparently still had their minds on the unfinished game, which brings me to the reason I decided to write this little ditty.

"Democrats Win Trophy 2011"

“Democrats Win Trophy 2011″

I wonder how much could have been accomplished if congress had decided to take the budget hearings out to the ballpark this year.  I don’t understand much about the “fiscal cliff” but it has something to do with the budget and debt reduction.   Can’t you just see Harry Reid, John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi, all decked out in their uni’s, socks pulled high, waiting for the challenge?   I know, I know ~ it’s no laughing matter, but it makes me chuckle just to think about it.   A decision was finally made three hours before the midnight EST deadline tonight, when the Senate agreed to a deal to avert the fiscal cliff.   The House will vote later.

Hopefully, they’ll be able to take to the ballpark for the final vote before April when the regular season starts.  I don’t know why, but things seem to happen on a timely basis at the ballpark ~ results oriented you know?   Who knows, it just might work!

This Day in History …… Designated Hitter 10th Man On

“December 10, 1972The American League adopts the designated hitter rule on a trial basis for three years.”  Forty years later we’re still stuck with it.   Whether you like the DH or not pretty much depends on which league your favorite team plays for. 

cartoon- scared baseballI’m a bit obsessed with this designated hitter thing.   I mean why not have a designated catcher that doesn’t have to do anything except “catch”.  Once the opponent has a runner on third, the DC can step in and take the hits for the regular catcher as the runner heads for home , thereby assuring the regular catcher’s safety.  The next inning, or maybe even the next play, the regular catcher can resume his position at the plate.

I tackled the subject earlier this year when I wrote about it based mostly on fact, but also with a tad bit of emotion:

“The official rules of Major League Baseball, Rule 1.01, states clearly:

Baseball is a game between two teams of nine players each …..”

I’ve been trying to wrap my arms around the designated hitter since it was first introduced by the American League back in 1973, but Official Rule, 1.01, that first rule of baseball, keeps getting in the way.    The Designated Hitter Rule got thrown into MLB Miscellany as an official rule which states that a hitter may be designated to bat for the starting pitcher  in any game.   This came about in 1973 and the “any game” thing meant not only the American League but also the National League.

This was news to me.  I never realized the National League had a choice in the matter.  But for some reason I can’t explain I’ve always thought the National League to be just a little superior in that they played the game with nine players as the game was originally intended to be played,  not with the ten players the AL chose  to protect their prima donna  pitchers from getting a little ruffled.”

I can’t imagine any scenario that would allow me to wholeheartedly accept this notion.  If anyone has any ideas, other than you’re trying to protect the pitcher, I’d like to hear them.   It’s rather like a sacred cow you know, and it’s one of the  reasons I find the National League just a little superior to the American League.  

zoe at the ballparkOkay then.  I got that off my chest this morning.  Wonder what’s in store for the rest of the day?

“Happy Birthday Zoe!”