Tag Archives: BASEBALL

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!”

Way to Go Giants! Pundits be Damned!

Golly Geez!  I try really hard to play fair on my blog, but sometimes,when it comes to the Giants, the devil makes me do it.   So in spite of  all the setbacks this year, the Giants are back in the playoffs for the 2nd time in three years.  And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Buster Posey was here the first year, gone the second, and back the third. 

But everyone knows it’s a team effort and for that we Giants fans applaud our San Francisco Giants ~ 2012 National League West Champions!

And a special thanks to niece Tammy for sharing the “dogs” from Lamont & Tonelli’s FB Page!

“Melky Who”? Who Needs Him ~ Who Cares.

Melky Cabrera. Photo Courtesy Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

The Melky Cabrera’s 50 game suspension for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs occurred on August 15, the day I left for vacation.  I had no access to the internet for three days and wanted to wait until I returned home to figure it all out.  My response was and is “Shame on You Melky!”

I mean haven’t these guys learned anything?  Are they so desperate and stupid that after all the grief baseball players, and for that matter the entire game of baseball, have gone through with PEDS, suspensions and hall of fame concerns,  do they think they’re the one lone infallible soul that won’t get caught?  Good grief.   Major League Baseball took much too long to finally take a stand and, now that they have, the rules are written and they need to be followed.  The thing that really stuck in my craw was the nonchalance with which basically Melky answered, “I did it” and then didn’t have the guts to face his teammates.  Nothing, nada, zilch, not a word.

“Uh…. Duh….”

The San Francisco Giants have had this albatross around their neck for a long time beginning with Barry Bonds (though he’s never admitted it) and several in-between dandies ending with Guillermo Moto’s 100 game suspension that ends this week.  Is Barry Bonds guilty?  Probably.  But at this point does it matter?  Baseball has to get past this and it starts with the players.   It’s called personal responsibility and it’s something that’s sadly lacking in our new- age culture.  Don’t like your boss?  Sue him.  Made a bad investment?  Sue your broker.  Your doctor didn’t quite fix your hangnail the way you wanted?  Sue him.  Nobody takes responsibility for anything anymore.  It’s always somebody else’s fault.  The players are paid huge sums of money to play the game and to play by the rules and it’s their personal responsibility to see that they do.

But here’s the crux of the matter, the redeeming feature of the story.   The SF Giants are doing just fine without Melky Cabrera, thank you very much.  Since his suspension the Giants have won 7 of 10 games and now lead the National League West by 3.5 games.  They were tied with the LA Dodgers when Melky left.  It’s possible Melky might end up winning the batting crown this year, but you know what?  Who cares?  Nobody remembers a batting crown champion ten years down the road, but for sure they’ll remember a 50 game suspension.

So you go Giants!  And that goes for any other team who has to put up with this type of embarrassment.   If you have a player who doesn’t play by the rules, who needs him?   Who cares?  Not this fan ~

There are no Constants in Baseball ~ It’s a Fickle Game

Ichiro’s been on my mind today.  I don’t even have to use his last name.  Everyone knows who he is.   It’s not really a surprise he’s leaving.  He’s been with the Mariners for a long time and we knew he was  destined for other things in the near future.  But I never thought in a million years he’d end up a Yankee.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but there’s just something so unsacred about the  idea of it all.

Back in 1962,  I was given an assignment in my business college marketing class to interview someone in business and to make a proposal or suggestion to them on how they could improve their business.   Most of my classmates chose their dad or another family member to interview.  I chose to interview the General Manager of the Portland Beavers, an AAA-Affiliate of the Kansas City Athletics.   I was 18 at the time.

I was obsessed with this project and spent a lot of time on it and the fact that I’d actually gotten the interview was more than my young years could fathom.   I knew before I made the trip to the ballpark what my proposal to the GM was going to be.   Attendance at the ballpark had been very low the past year and I thought it would be a great idea to have the organization offer a “Ladies Night” once a week,  with free admission to all the ladies.  I thought there was a good possibility it might not only get the wives there with their husbands but possibly the entire family, thereby increasing concessions also.

When the day arrived for my meeting with the GM I was really excited, not only about the interview but also of  maneuvering my way through Multnomah Stadium to the Administration Offices by myself,  with my very own written proposal in hand.   The manager was very cordial and listened with intent to my proposal and thanked me for my interest.   When the interview was over, it lasted about an hour, he gave me  complimentary game tickets  and invited me to keep in touch.  It was a wonderful day.  I got an “A” in Marketing that year.

A few weeks later, complimentary tickets in hand,  I invited some friends to attend a game with me and, honestly,  I felt like I owned the place.  I felt like a VIP and the experience is just as vivid today as it was 50 years ago.  The Portland Beavers maintained nearly a 103 year presence in that city but on September 6, 2010, they played their last game at the hometown park.  The city was making room for the Portland Timbers, an MLS  Soccer team.  Portland no longer has a baseball team.  The Beavers continue today in Tucson, Arizona, as a Triple-A affiliate with the San Diego Padres.

The point I’m trying to make is that baseball’s a fickle game.  There’s no constants  in baseball.  The managers change, the players change and sometimes even the hometown locale changes.    Usually we adapt, but  it isn’t easy. To tell you the truth I still miss Cody Ross.  He was with the Giants for such a short time, but while he was here his presence was huge.

Ichiro Suzuki

And for sure the Mariner fans are going to miss Ichiro.  You could sit in the nosebleed section of the bleachers in right field and, without hearing the announcer,  know it was Ichiro at the plate.   He had this way of holding his bat, butt handle  straight up as if he was holding a rifle with a precision periscope on it, sizing up where he was going to slam the ball with the next pitch.

Ichiro’s an artist.  And I’m going to miss him too.  Does this mean I’ll have to start watching the Yankees again?  If last night’s Mariner-Yankee game  is any indication, it could happen.  Baseball’s a fickle game you know.

Baseball Disney Style ~ For Us Kids Everywhere!

YouTube Short from the Walt Disney 1942 Series, “Goofy, How To Play Baseball”

This is a hilarious movie “short” that’s been around since 1942.    The scenes showing the pitcher throwing the various balls, i.e., spit, slow, curve, etc., are laugh- out- loud funny!  I think it’s probably a good idea to know a little something about baseball before you watch it, or you’re going to be one confused baseball player and/or fan, as the case may be.

“Pitcher Winding Up”

Don’t you kind of miss these old Disney cartoons?  We’ve come a long way with technology, but in some ways we haven’t progressed at all.   It’s rather sad that the young kids today aren’t experiencing this good old-fashioned wholesome entertainment.

Thanks for the good stuff Mr. Disney.  It’s not very sophisticated by today’s standards, but it was sure a lot of fun!

Just killing a little time here before the regular baseball season resumes.  Is it Friday yet?

Proud to Be An American ……. Everyday!

“GOD BLESS THE USA,   LEE GREENWOOD”

HAPPY 4TH OF JULY !

Repeat of GFBB’s Memorial Day Blog, May 31, 2011.   

“Juan Marichal: My Journey from the Dominican Republic to Cooperstown”

Garlic Fries and Baseball’s  Book Review

Juan Marichal: My Journey from the Dominican Republic to Cooperstown  By:  Juan Marichal, Lew Freedman  October 7, 2011

I was in sync with this book from the moment I first began reading it.  It was an easy read, which is exactly what I was in the mood for at the time.  The book is about Juan Marichal, a young Pitcher from the Dominican Republic whose talents earn him a trip to the United States to try for a spot in the major leagues.

Young Juan Marichal as a SF Giant

The book offers a different perspective; each chapter begins with a professional analysis of Juan’s life during that chapter’s specific time period and ends with Juan telling  his story, in his own words, to end the chapter.  He writes as he talks.  His English is that of someone who was born and raised in the Dominican Republic but has spent many years in the United States with his fellow Latinos and also with a wide variety of friends and teammates, speaking and writing with a bit of Latino character  which I found endearing.  He was very careful not to use curse words and was able to convey his message with some laughable moments to get his point across.  But some of the stories he shared from his early days in this country  were heartbreaking.

Marichal’s Trademark “High Kick”

Marichal talks in detail about the typical black-in-a-white country problems that his Latino teammates shared with him.  He was able to overcome those civil rights issues because he could play baseball.  He could play it better than the majority of the other ball players and he overcame the prejudice and intolerance because of that.  He writes with great humor sharing stories about teammates, victories, defeats and the genuine homesickness he felt when he first left his country for the United States, his baseball career with the San Francisco Giants,  the Hall of Fame and back home again.   The one regret during his career was the fight he had with Johnny Roseboro in a Giants-Dodgers game on August 22, 1965.  He writes painstakingly about the events that lead to the altercation, the remorse he felt for years afterwards, and the friendship that developed between the two men until Roseboro’s death in 2002.

Juan Marichal Today. Photo courtesy Mikemccan.blogspot.com

There’s much more in the book of course.  The one thing Marichal is most proud of besides his baseball career is his family and we’re allowed to meet them, his beautiful wife and children, through his stories and photographs .  I find Juan Marichal to be one of the most interesting baseball players I’ve studied, maybe because of that crazy baseball duel he pitched nearly 50 years ago against  Warren Spahn.  He writes about that game with great enthusiasm, obviously one of his favorite moments in baseball.   But he’s also one of my favorite athletes, probably because he’s a true gentleman and he remains truly humble after all the honor and accolades that have been given him.  And after reading the book I came away with the feeling he deserved each and every one of them ~ the honor and accolades I mean.

I enjoyed this book very much.  I’ve heard others  asked who they’d most like to have a long conversation with.  I think I’d like to visit with Juan Marichal.  Don’t you just know he’d have some interesting and wonderful stories to tell?  And I’d like to hear each and every one of them, but for now I’ll have to settle in and wait for another book.  It’ll be worth the wait it I’m sure.

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