Tuesday, March 29, 2011
So there's the speed thing, the draft's done before you get (too) bored with it. In the later rounds people start grabbing players because they have a good baseball name, i.e. Stubby Clapp, or they have a sentimental attachment to a player.
The app provides a Live Chat space so draft day is the only time we are all online together (though it's never truly been everyone but spread out across a couple continents makes a good time for everyone impossible) and we spend much of it mocking each other's choices and our own. Seasons when the keepers had not been pre-assigned by the commish and not excluded by managers we spent a big chunk of our live chat announcing another keeper gone to the wrong teem and betting which keeper would be next.
The live chat has dwindled as our original line up of managers has shifted away from the initial group that started the league and moved toward a group with fractured acquaintances. New managers are brought in by someone already in the league, but there is no shared history between the newest manager and the previously established group. It's good to have new blood, but it also feels more like a pool of isolated stat geeks. The original Talkin' Baseball crew came from a common forum, where we had spent literally years arguing and debating the game so we had a strong connection, an understanding of the person/persona behind the wheel of each of the teams.
Normally I schedule at work vacation time so I can keep up with the draft while also working undisturbed in my office. The date I selected this year was the day my workplace was shut down for Spring Break so that option was out. My dial-up access at home no longer has the vigor necessary to run the draft app so I took my laptop to Tim Horton's for the free Wi-Fi. I had used it before, in December, to submit my final papers for an online class and anticipated there would be no problem. Nope. No access, no Wi-Fi. The donut was good, the coffee so-so, but no Wi-Fi. Hence no draft day fun for me.
I guess I should go check out who's on the Huskytown Dukes roster before Opening Day.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
And.....pitchers and catchers begin to report the spring training in just a few more days.
My house may resemeble Varykino, but I can feel summer dawning.
Friday, January 07, 2011
One of the things I do on a (nearly) daily basis is visit baseball-reference.com to view the list of players born that day and read the history log. Sometimes it's the expected info, other times it's a kernel of odd or neglected history. Like the bleachers burning down at Fenway in the 1930's, or the spat between Babe Ruth and Harry Frazee through the newspapers. Players and owners taking shots at each other through the media is nothing new.
Most days it's a quick visit to the site, maybe an interesting tidbit to share with my inivisipeeps on our history page. Occasionally, it's something that gives me pause. Today is one of those.
Born this day, in 1945, Anthony Richard Conigliaro. Tony C.
Tony Conigliaro had the makings of a superstar. In an era dominated by pitchers, he maintained a .270 batting average, a .334 on base percentage, and averaged 26+ home runs a season. He led the AL in homers in his second season, hitting 32 in 1965. He reached 100 home runs when he was 22, youngest player to reach 100 home runs in the AL, younger than A-Rod, younger than Johnny Bench, Hank Aaron, or Ken Griffey Jr.
Tony C, born in Revere, MA, graduated from Lynn, MA high school, was a home grown hero for the Red Sox. In his first plate appearance at Fenway, he hit a home run.
He was handsome, he was talented, he was popular. Like current-day superstars, he dabbled in show business, recording some songs, dating starlets.
Tony C gave hope to Boston's fans that the Red Sox could win the pennant and return to the World Series. He was part of the Impossible Dream team of 1967. Following a number of losing seasons, the Red Sox of 1967 were not expected to do well as the season opened, but they proved to be a new, different team, led by Carl Yazstremski as he won the last* triple crown in major league history. In August, as Boston caught up to the league leading White Sox, Tony C's place in baseball history was sealed.
On August 18, Tony C was beaned at the plate by Angels' pitcher Jack Hamilton.
The injury was big news, and the image of this baseball god-to-be became the haunting reminder of what the Red Sox lost, what Tony lost, what all of baseball lost.
He was out for the season, nearly blind in his left eye. He made a comeback in 1968, sporting a new batting helmet with an extension designed to protect his eye and cheek. He put together a couple more good seasons with the Sox, was trade to the Angels in 1971 where it became clear his career as a hitter was over. Tony was not done with baseball yet as he mounted a campaign to return as a pitcher and did in 1975 for a short time.
Tony was preparing to return to Boston, as a broadcaster, when he suffered a heart attack, quickly followed by a stroke that left him in a vegetative state. He died eight years later in his parents' home. He was 45.
Although I never saw Tony C play, I can easily imagine what it would have been like to see him play. I can do no more than sigh the lament "if only" and share his story with those who never heard of "Tony C," of "Conig." Most fans know landmarks of Fenway, Pesky's Pole and its partner that Fisk hit his historic homer off, the Green Monster, they may even know about the red seat in the bleachers where a man was hit by a Ted Williams' homer, but they probably aren't aware of Conigliaro's Corner, the small triangle of seats where the bleachers meet the left field wall. Tony had trouble seeing the ball coming out the pitcher's hand against the back drop of bright clothing, so that section is covered with tarps during day games.
When Tony made his original comeback, he wrote a book, with Jack Zanger, about his career, about the injury, and the fight to return to baseball. Written pre-Ball Four, it was an optimistic story of overcoming a serious injury, while downplaying how devastating the injury actually was. Years later, David Cataneo wrote a fuller, richer account of Tony's life, Tony C: The Triumph and Tragedy of Tony Conigliaro, a wonderfully moving book of a working class hometown hero who lost it all.
Monday, September 13, 2010
I thought way back in spring training my flagging interest in current baseball would pick up, but no.
I had a good time each time I went to a ballpark, just Binghamton and Syracuse this year, had good weather nearly every game, but it's been a particularly great summer weatherwise. I went only a couple times by myself, better than half-a-dozen with Liviana (with guest appearances by Mellow and Grace who are growing up and moving on), and a pair of games with Soupbone. A highlight of my season was Soupbone saying he was finally getting this game.
A few Saturdays I found myself on the road at Chiefs' game time and I greatly enjoyed following the game as the miles rolled by. I had enough exposure to this year's team to be able to visualize the at bats and the fielding as it was broadcast. The Chief I was happiest about was Chase Lambin. Chase played a couple seasons in Binghamton, I made him cookies, chatted with his parents, and read a large portion of his recounting of his season in Japan. The website, wwww.chaselambin.com, is gone and I really wanted to read the rest of it. There are a bunch of videos from his time in Japan on YouTube, including his crazed fans sing the Chase Lambin Song and one of him dancing on a bar, demonstrating the improv dance he did early in his Japanese season that helped make the fans love him.
Still, it was a season that held little interest for me. A large part, I'm sure, stems from the drastic reduction in the number of games I can attend, 35 or 40 a year versus 12? Going to a game became a rare event instead of my usual weekend plans. Going to so few games, and not being able to turn in the radio broadcasts of either the Chiefs or the B-Mets, means I don't know the players. The familiarity with their abilities and their idiosyncrasies is gone which means the emotional connection is gone. My Guys getting called up doesn't mean anything any more because there is no longer My Guys.
My attachment to the current game faded a great deal in 2009, never to be renewed in2010, and I can point to the moment when I felt that string break. My wallpaper and screen saver on my work PC were people whose careers I followed with great hopes for their futures, but in 2009 I had to admit that their careers were over, that my hopes of seeing them in the majors were totally without foundation. It was with a bit of sadness that I removed Earl Snyder and Ria Cortesio's images from my daily screens.
Another moment in which I felt myself disconnecting was the day I had to turn in my custom plates because I had taken my vehicle off the road (donated it to a public radio station) and could not afford to have the DMV hold them for me for future use. I was literally giving up a piece of my identity, I would no longer be BSBLDIVA, I could no longer claim I was the Baseball Diva.
But, with the coming of fall there's the baseball class and this year, although it's a small class, it's a very lively group. I can't wait each class day to share some of what I know and find out what they know and think and feel about baseball and us.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
I'll admit that for a couple years I watched along with Mom. Somerset came on right about the same time I arrived home from school. I lost the habit and interest when I went away to college, but it was in college that I was introduced to professional baseball. So in a way, I was primed for the Yankees of the late seventies, the Bronx Zoo years.
I wouldn't say I was a fan of the team, but I found the daily dramas highly entertaining. Stirring drinks, firing and hiring and firing and hiring and, pine tar, all of it contributed to making the Billy-Reggie-Thurman-George Follies the most fascinating show baseball had to offer at the time. The loss of the captain not only was a personal, human tragedy, it heightened the continuing drama in New York.
When I came back to baseball, after my self-imposed 14-year exile, I looked for some remnant of that ongoing saga. But there was nothing. Baseball was well behaved, players and owners were sedate.
The Dirt Dawgs proclaiming themselves Idiots who cowboyed up was a welcome ray of hope for a return of a dramatic comedy of manners in baseball. Nomar's whining, Manny being Manny, Kevin Millar reclaimed from Japan, all of these only made the Red Sox more lovable. Not only did they provide entertainment on the field, they provided it off as well.
So the latest news flashes, Barry Bonds on trial, Roger Clemens headed to court, Alex Rodriguez exposed, Roberto Alomar accused, all of it is wonderful. It is not a distraction. It is not irrelevant. It's value added entertainment.
People will say what players do in their private lives is none of our business, but I say anyone who is willing to place themselves in a position that will attract the attention, and money, of the public has relinquished the exclusive rights to their privacy. Like they say about what you should exclude from emails (and internet posting), if you wouldn't want to read it on the front page of the New York Times, keep it to yourself. If you would be ashamed to have your grandmother learn it about you, don't do it.
Bonds, Clemens, and Pay-Rod (oh I've enjoyed the newest crop of nicknames for the best shortstop not playing shortstop: A-Fraud, A-Roid, heehee), what they did was not private. It was not personal. Their indiscreet acts were designed to affect their performance and therefore affect The Game. To those who claim steroids, HGH, and other performance enhancement drugs have no effect, that the superior hand-eye coordination and physical workouts solely are responsible for the jump in production, the ratcheting up of ability, I have to pose the question If these have no effect, why would players use them, continue to use them over a long period of time?
Alomar's situation is different. It is a matter of some privacy, but his case also serves as a springboard for discussions about gender and stereotypes. Discussions that address HIV, AIDS, homosexuality, bisexuality, heterosexuality, ethnicity, and race all can be opened by posing questions about Alomar's situation, real and hypothetical. It is hard to imagine a more difficult position for a man to consider coming out in than as a black Latino baseball player. All three of those identities are bound up in tough rules of masculinity, and when they are combined, the pressure to remain closeted is increased exponentially.
We know there are gay men playing baseball. Professionally. In the majors. But the likelihood that any of them will come out any time soon is minuscule. And as once there were no black men, no men of color playing in the majors, denying boys the model that they could build their dreams around, it is important that young people, boys and girls, see people who resemble themselves on the professional diamond. Girls need to have the reality of playing baseball, not just softball, as possible, as achievable. Gay children, even if they aren't yet aware of their orientation, need to see positive examples of gay men and lesbians within the professional sports world, in baseball in particular.
Football players are caricatures of masculinity. Hockey players, and boxers, exude male strength. Basketball players display strength through endurance and contact on the court. Race car drivers are powerful, controlling high energy machines. Even jockeys, whose physical stature seems to counter the masculine ideals, are virile thanks to their command over race horses. Baseball is the sport that has been considered suspect in terms of manliness, so it continues to be excessive in its own version of machismo, definitely not an environment that would invite openness necessary for a person to come out with any sense of comfort or safety.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Another striking wintry baseball photo I found on the web:
In unrelated news, Joe Torre has a book coming about, about The Yankee Years, that reportedly isn't flattering toward the organization and specific individuals, not naming any names cough, Cashman. Fans have been referring to the $25M man as Pay-Rod for years, but apparently his New York teammates call him by another nickname - A-Fraud. One of my favorite baseball books was Sparky Lyle's The Bronx Zoo; I think I'll enjoy this one as well.
How Many Days? Everyone keeps asking me. They want to know about Opening Day, but I don't do a count down for that. The count down is either to Pitchers & Catchers Report to spring training, Feb 14, or the B-Mets home opener, April 16. Hurray, hurray for the B-Mets opening on the road this season, maybe we can avoid chilling temperatures and the necessity of shoveling snow off the field. The first is now less than three weeks away, and the second is 79 days. But who's counting?
Talkin' Baseball Fantasy Leaguers, are you ready for draft day?
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Still, it's amazing that a bit of ephemera from 1869 acknowledging that first time is still around and in fairly good condition, considering it's been stuck away, forgotten, uncared for since who knows when.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
And I was happy when the Rays and the Saux both won their ALDS. I wasn't until they faced each other for the first game of the ALCS that my fealty was tested. I thought I wanted to see the Rays go all the way, but watching Dice-K loading the bases in Tampa Bay, I couldn't bear to see the Saux lose and not make it to the Series.
So I have watched little of this round of the play-offs, though the scores indicate it's been a wild one, pitching duels and home run derbies, not to mention a comebacker like only the Saux can do. When the score for game five was 4-0 I figured the Saux were still in it, but when it went 7-0, I figured it was over and went to bed, only to flip back and see the Saux finally on the board, 7-4, and I recalled that game in 2004 when they were down 7-0 going into the bottom of the ninth in Fenway against the Yanks and won it 8-7.
I'm going to watch tonight, still wanting the Rays to make it to the World Series, but not wanting the Saux to lose.
Saturday, October 04, 2008
It included the 100th anniversary of Merkle's Boner, the baserunning blip that eventually cost the Giants the pennant and sent the Cubs to their most recent World's Series win.
It also included the 100th anniversary of back-to-back shutout wins in a doubleheader, both games pitched by the same man, Ed Reulbach. It's unusual enough to find a pitcher throwing two games in one day, well, in my lifetime it is though it wasn't unheard of during baseball's first century, but for a pitcher to start both halves of a doubleheader and win both games is incredible, but Reulbach shut out the opponents in both games, gave up only 8 hits total that day.
The final Friday of the 2008 regular season saw a slight irregularity that displayed appropriate respect and love when the Red Sox made an exception to their rules regarding retiring players numbers. Johnny Pesky's number 6 will go up on the right field roof along side his teammate Ted Williams (technically it will be beside Yaz's 8) to honor a man who has devoted his life to the Red Sox and Red Sox Nation. He began in baseball as the bat boy/clubhouse kid in the PCL, played through some wonderful years with the Saux, and to this day continues to work with the team.
The last week also provided me with a chance to see another of My Guys playing for the Saux. Gil Velazquez was a promising shortstop when he first arrived in Binghamton. In 2001 he lost his father, and struggled to finish that season. He played a couple more seasons with the B-Mets, during his final season there went through a slump which was broken when, at a friend's son's advice, he had the theme song from Sponge Bob Squarepants played when he came to the plate. When Gil returned the next season as a member of the visiting Fisher Cats, his first at bat was recognized by that song being played over the PA system. Last year I saw him playing for Rochester and was happy for him that he had finally reached AAA. I hadn't seen him at all in 2008 so I was pleasantly surprised when I turned on the final game, the final Sunday, as Gil was coming to bat for the Red Sox.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
For a couple years I've been saying the Tampa Bay organization has been putting together an interesting team, one that would some day soon be a contender. Although to be totally honest I didn't expect them to launch directly to the top so soon. I figured they'd be third or maybe even second in the division as this season got underway. In response to my my opinion that they were building a good team, more than one person dragged out that old chestnut about blind squirrels and acorns, but if that were so, how can so many other teams have fallen so short so many years?
The Rays are made up of wise (and lucky, let's be honest about the effect luck has on baseball) minor league trades and rejected player pick ups. They have not rushed the team, but let them develop.
At the All-Star break people were asking me when I thought the Rays would fold, and I said I don't think that they will. When Labor Day and the stretch drive arrived, people asked me if the Rays were about to fold because it was impossible for a perennial cellar dweller to rise to the top and dominate a strong division, and again I said I don't think they're going to fold.
People give me quizzical looks when I say I'm rooting for the Rays this year and have been all season long. They ask, "What about the Red Sox?" and I say it would be fine with me if the Saux win another World Series, but the big thrill of that win was at its greatest back in 2004. Following the Rays' domination of the AL East has been the most interesting aspect of the 2008 season, and I am rooting for them to win the AL pennant and take on the Cubs.
Monday, September 15, 2008
I walked up the long, long set of stairs to the concourse and I saw someone smiling at me, waving. Tim Wiles, long-suffering Cubs fan, Casey personifier, and author. Surprise! It was writer and book day at the Syracuse ballpark. Half a dozen or so writers were there with copies of their books to sell and sign. If I had known, I would have brought a wad of cash, but I had enough on me to buy four. A few of the writers I knew from Cooperstown, either from the Hall or the Symposium.
Jeff Katz had done a presentation at this year's Symposium on Kansas City and the Yankees during the 1950s. I had attended that session and had really enjoyed it, so it was great to get his book on the subject and to talk with him not only about the presentation, but about writing. The
I also picked up a Ted Williams biography by Bruce Markusen. I never meant to be a fan of The Kid, but he grows more interesting with time. (As does John J. McGraw.)
One publication was more of a booklet than a book. It was the journal of a Adirondack team in the 1920's, something that just got the historian in me all excited.
The final book I bought that sunny afternoon was A Baseball family Album by Gene Carney, a book of baseball poems published by Pocol Press. I've purchased a couple novels from Pocol and every time I've visited their website, I have hemmed and hawed about buying it, so it was nice to be able to buy it directly from the writer. It also gave me a chance to chat with him about PP as I have that press on the top of my list of possible publishers of my novel.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Me, I came to baseball through books. It was initially a movie that caught my attention, but that only led me to the novel that was the basis for the film. As soon as I could, I laid my hands on Bang The Drum Slowly. Only to find out it was the second of (then) three novels by Henry Wiggen, with grammatically housekeeping by Mark Harris.
I marveled at his treatment of language, his use of the vernacular that made the book so realistic. I had to read The Southpaw. Still marveling at his use of the American language, I paid attention to the works of baseball, an alien world then. I remember being surprised that a pitcher would every deliberately throw a ball rather than a pitch. My experience had always been that a ball was always just a bad throw.
Ticket For a Seam Stitch naturally came next, though it was a disappointing read, lacking the vitality of the first two books. Henry "Author" Wiggen eventually came out of retirement to please his youngest daughter in It Looked Like For Ever, another book that fell short of Author's, er Harris's first two volumes.
Mark Harris, Henry Wiggen, are in large part responsible for me becoming not only a baseball fan, but a baseball writer. My initial baseball novel ideas sprang from ideas that have long ago roots in the Mammoths. I have paid homage to various baseball writers, non-fiction as well as fiction, in my work, but I owe none of them as much as I owe to Harris. He taught me the game. Everything that followed built on that foundation.
I used to imagine sending him a letter written Wiggen-style to, I don't know, ask his blessing, thank him. As a fan, I am usually struck wordless, not a good thing for a writer. Sadly, Harris died of Alzheimer's in May 2007, particularly saddening for me knowing the disease as I do; my mother died after suffering nearly a decade with the disease, her sister has it was well.
Rambling around the 'net I stumbled across a wonderful homage to Harris at baseballtoaster. Kudos to the Author.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
It was a gorgeous night, great looking sky, temps very comfortable--Liviana and I didn't put our sweatshirts on until the final out. The B-Mets and the visiting NH Fisher Cats played well, and quickly--the game was over in under 2.5 hours.
We got everyone a seat in the box where we usually sit near first base; they're such great seats it was tough thinking we couldn't sit there when we first started putting this gathering together. Not only did we get a group discount, but because it was family fun pack night there were vouchers for a free hot dog and a free soda for everyone in the group.
Kids in the group got baseballs from players during the game, some members of the group were on the Big Board at different times, and one even got to play a between-innings contest.
People in the group partook of just about every food and drink offering at the park: popcorn, peanuts, ice cream, hot dogs, spiedies, salt potatoes, french fries.....One person came directly to the seats upon arrival then went for another beer; she came back several outs later exclaiming, "There's a whole other world down there [under the stands]!"
In addition to all that, the B-Mets, who won the game 4-2, had two rehabbing major leaguers on the field, Luis Castillo and Ryan Church. On Faith Night.
Ryan Church, you may recall, is on my fantasy roster, so I was tickled to see him play. I've seen him before, when he was with Akron. I went to meet up with some rabid Indians fans for an Aeros' game and I remember Church playing there that night. In his first at bat, despite pine tar and batting gloves, he had trouble hanging onto the bat.
You've heard how time slows down when you're in an accident? Whenever a foul ball pops up in our vicinity in the stands I have a hard time telling where it's headed, usually off by 10 or 12 rows easily. I had no trouble seeing that bat.
It came helicoptering straight at us. I had time to think, 'if it were a foul ball I would duck but if I duck now, this bat's going to hit me right in the head; just don't move.'
The barrel end grazed me in the ribs and the knob end grazed Mellow. Liviana threw her arm up and it banged her elbow as it came to rest in her lap.
We just started laughing. The usher rushed over to make sure we were okay; we smiled and laughed as we assured him we were okay. Then another of the B-Mets' employees came to retrieve the bat (unbroken bats are placed back into play) and check on us.
The bat went back to Church, and a different, dark-barreled bat came out of the dugout and was passed up to us. Church grounded out to second on the next pitch, breaking his bat.
I spent the next inning at the other side of the box, chatting with late arrivals, and as I sat there, just above the dugout, another bat emerged, people motioning up toward me. It was Church's bat, taped back together, autographed, for me.The next morning when I got to work, someone brought me the Press-Sun Bulletin's sports section with the photo of Church (above) the above-the-fold feature.
How can we possibly equal that next year?
June 19. I'm telling people to mark their calendars.
Friday, July 18, 2008
I can see it from here, the hotel where I'm staying. The light stantions, the back of the warehouse on Eutaw Street. But I can't get there.
I was in Baltimore for a conference for work. When the anncouncement of the conference arrived I told my supervisor I wanted to go, and I pointed out to her that this was even without checking the Orioles' schedule first. When I did check it, of course the O's were out of town, in Toronto then Boston.
But surely there would be a time slot during the conference when I could get away and take a tour of the stadium, a tour I have been told I have to take. I wasn't worried about finding the time, there's always at least one session in every conference's schedule that has nothing of interest to attend. (see Cooperstown Symposium 2008) And Ifound a time, but when I checked the Orioles' website there were no tours listed for that week.
Since I wasn't going to tour Camden Yards this trip, I decided trying to get over to the Babe Ruth Museum could wait till my next trip as well.
I did stroll a couple piers over from the hotel and checked out the Barnes & Noble, which had described to me as the world's largests B&N, but my source apparently hasn't been in many B&Ns. The interior is dominated by old furnaces and smoke stacks of the power plant originally housed in the structure. When I travel, I look for local editions of the historical picture books put out by Arcadia Publishing; I was in luck, picked up a copy of Baseball in Baltimore.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Because this is the centennial of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" the song was, of course, the topic of a presentation. Timothy Johnson's Music Theory for Dummies ("Analysis of Melodic Shape") look at the song was an interactive session, opening with the audience rising to sing the National Anthem, fixing the particular musical theory Dr Johnson was addressing firmly in our own experience. There were a couple other songs we rose to sing, including TMOTTB, and someone nearby expressed exactly what I was thinking, that this session was like being at Mass. We talk about the chuch of baseball and the green cathedrals, so this made perfect sense.
There was a session with guest umpires who were with us via video tape and through a son/co-author, talking about umpiring in the Negro Leagues and the Pacific Coast League. (I got a souvenir at this session, a baseball autographed by Branch Rickey. Branch Rickey III, that is, Mr. Rickey's grandson who is president of the PCL. And who looks eerily like his grandfather more than ever.
One participant brings his primary source to the conference and lets the other participants ask what they want to know. Last year he brought a member of the 1986 Mets, who was on the DL and didn't play in the World Series. This year he brought Mario Ramos who is transitioning from being a professional athlete to civilian life. His willingness to speak with a roomful of baseball academic geeks was appreciated as was his apparent introspective take on his role in life. Another former minor leaguer present commented that Mario was much farther ahead, had a more mature outlook, than he himself had at the same age. I suggested that the two of them hold a panel presentation next year with our resident cultural anthropologist and former minor leaguer as moderator.
My favorite session, possibly of all time, was by Stephen Wood and David Pincus. These two have presented in the past and each time it's been a stand out. They've covered music (sung a few songs in the presentation) , they've covered films (I use their movie website http://www.reelbaseball.com/ as a source in my class. This time they presented photos. They're both professional photographers who like to take busman's holidays at ball park, and they've gathered a beautiful collection in a book, Baseball Revealed: A Photo Essay On The Hidden Art In America's Game. I loved this mostly visual presentation. They talked about taking pictures of things other than the action of the game, lines and angles and colors and lighting in and around ballparks that are interesting, and as I watched the images flash past I was enthralled, mostly because they were great shots, but also because they were photos I would have taken. I love the quirky things one can see at a ballpark, the dramas and comedies being played out. People who haven't attended a live professional game, a minor league game in particular, don't understand that the game, the action on the field, is only a part of the experience, and their collection highlights this.
But Monday's game was exciting to watch. And I have to admit the Twins are probably the team I care about the most second to the Saux, mainly because I've seen so many of them climbing the rungs, from New Britain to Rochester to Minnesota, and enjoyed their playing at each level.
Watching Tek handling Dice-K, and all of the rest of the staff (except Wake with Cash on hand), it's gratifying to see his importance to the pitching staff and therefore the team acknowledged by the players when they voted him onto the All-Star team despite a paltry .214 BA this season.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
I logged on today to post, to try to catch up, but first I took a quick peek at the Syracuse Chiefs blog and was happy to see that Dave has had the great fortune of experiencing the fan-friendly ballpark in Binghamton. I left a long comment that I hope he okays for posting. Here's what I wrote:
A long time ago, I used to use the experiences I had at MacArthur Stadium serve as my benchmarks for evaluating other ballparks. After that stadium fell and the new one was built in Syracuse, I gave up. Years later someone introduced me to the B-Mets.
From day one I have been blown away by what a great fan experience this team provides, and over the past decade they have just continued to get better and better at it.
There is an infectious sense of fun at the Binghamton ballpark, something I have praised repeatedly in my own blog, while giving a repeatedly thumbs down on the experience in Syracuse.
If Syracuse should land the Mets' PD contract, they will need to step up the enjoyment and fan-friendliness if they want to win over the fans that will begin making the trek from Binghamton to Syracuse to follow the boys of summer up the minor league rungs.
When I say "My Guys" I'm usually referring to the B-Mets, or to individual B-Mets who have moved on, and generally upward, but on a recent sunny Saturday, My Guys meant, well, My Guys.
I attended a game on campus and had a good time cheering on the team, which included three young men who had been in my baseball class in the fall. All three of them made a point of greeting me, and one went out of his way to thank me for coming to support the team. That this particular young man has Derek Jeter as his favorite ballplayer is not surprising.
I struck me as I was walking to my car after the games that these young men really are My Guys. And I look forward to having more young men, maybe some day a young woman or two, participate in my class and play for the college' team.
Recently the Hall of Fame announced that Dale Petrosky was leaving as president, an announcement that I greeted happily. Under Petrosky, the Hall because a much more serious museum and a serious and scholarly research facility, good things. But it also became a little to serious about itself, and there were conservative, right-wing elements introduced to the Hall that made it less the National Baseball Hall of Fame and more the Republican Baseball Hall of Fame. Employees were pushed toward professionalism, but to an overbearing point. Military service by Hall of Famers was honored in excess. Petrosky cancelled an event meant to commerate one of the best baseball films ever made, Bull Durham, because he, or perhaps Board Chair Jane Clark Forbes, was concerned that the film's stars, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, would make it a political event by voicing dissent toward the then-recently begun Iraq war. Petrosky instead denied them and baseball fans the opportunity to celebrate a love of The Game, he turned it into a political protest. While Petrosky brought much good to the Hall, it is good now that he is no longer at the helm.
I've looked and I've looked, but I have yet to find Earl Snyder listed on any organized baseball team's roster, as a player or a coach.
I miss Earl.
Monday, April 14, 2008
And as I was approaching the entry game, a sense of welcome and calm came over me.
I chatted with the ticket taker a bit before heading down the concourse, and when the next familiar face asked how I was, I said, "It's good to be home."
Not just at a ballpark. This ballpark. As Ben Wrightman says in Fever Pitch, this is my summer family.
This is my happy place.
On April 4, they were in 1st.
Apparently all of the starting pitchers on my roster pitch on the same day. It's gonna be a wild ride in that case.
Today, they're in 3rd. I gotta blame it on David Ortiz. Papi's not hitting, I've got to bench him.
Yes, Syracuse now has a green grass diamond, and the "new" stadium finally looks like a ballpark. They celebrated Opening Day with green balloons.
Not only have they ripped up that ugly ugly blue-green cement hard carpet, they've added a warning track and padded the outfield walls. They also moved the bullpens from behind the outfield wall to along the stands in foul territory on either side; however, they've also built a small fence (maybe it's going to be an actual wall and what was visible last week is only the framework) to separate the bullpen crew from the fans.
So as long as you get quickly to your seat and stay away from the concourse, the stadium in Syracuse is not too bad a place to watch a ball game.
Because of a slew of personal problems, I haven't been able to plan ahead, so I hadn't planned to go to Opening Day anywhere, but since the weather was so nice and Syracuse had a day game scheduled, I headed that way. I was relatively late, got there about 15 minutes before game time. Yes, I know, nice day, opening day, stadium improvements, all things to draw out people who don't normally show up--like Easter Christians--so I expected to have to wait a bit. Fifteen minutes to get to the parking lot (and I ended up in the overflow lot!) wasn't outrageous, but 40 minutes to purchase a ticket was. There are eight ticket windows, but typical Syracuse management operations: 2 windows dedicated to Will Call (I saw 3 people go to Will Call the entire time), 2 windows dedicated to General Admissions (not at all busy - the upper deck was nearly deserted), 3 windows open for ticket sales, 1 window not open until after the game had actually started.
Syracuse had another day game a week later -- no crowd at all. But at least the grass looked greener.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
her plaque in the Hall
Effa no only was someone who ran their baseball team as a business, but did it well. She made changes for the better for her players, and she made white baseball literally pay respect to the Negro League and its players. She as was a a social and civil rights champion, organizing an effective boycott of Harlem merchants who refused to hire the local residents, running anti-lynching and pro war bonds campaigns at her ballpark. She loved baseball, to the point that she ran the team even on the field at times.
Baseball could not have selected a better woman to be the first in the Hall.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Of course, we had someone who had a personal situation that kept him from preparing for the draft which meant he ended up with 24 keepers belonging to other teams. As commissioner of the league, I removed all of them and redistributed as appropriate (though 4 teams still are overstocked), leaving a roster of one. One player.
People at work have been asking me if I got the players I wanted. I have no idea. Gotta go see who I drafted....
Not bad, not bad. Only a couple silly selections. Chase Wright (picked just for the name) and Lance Broadway have already been given their walking papers. Billy Buckner, how could I not? Cole Hamels was the keeper of mine who get taken in the Great Keeper Draft. He'll be back by Opening Day.
I'm ready, and the people I work with are ready for the season to start too. I do, after all, become a whole different person during the Season. It's what lights me up!
Monday, March 10, 2008
Then one of the guys stepped apart from the group and asked if I was going to be coming to watch them play, I should come to some games.
It's nice to get asked.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
The article also listed Brett Harper as a prospect.
Brett Harper? The slowest man on earth? The model of doorstop as first baseman? Is the continuing consideration of Harper as a prospect a case of CYA? Does his dad have buddies in the organization protecting Brett?
I know some of the fans in Binghamton love to see Harper play, but I cringe whenever he takes the field. Or even bats as DH when they play AL-parented clubs.
He's more suspect than prospect. Cut him loose.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
On Friday 8/17, Irish Night at NYSEG Stadium, it rained and blew, but Livianna, Grace, Mellow, and I toughed it out. There was an inflatable Irish pub off the third base side. I wasn't' curious enough to see what beers or ales they might be serving out there to make the trip, especially keeping in mind how high the prices probably would be. When the wind picked up, they had to deflate the pub and fast! When the rain got too heavy, we headed downstairs, with everyone else in the stands, but just to make a pit stop. We got separated and I headed up to the seats assuming Liviana and the girls would already be there, but no. So I did something I hate and mock; I used my cell phone to call them to find out where they were. Coming up the steps even as we speak. Once the wind died down, the pub went back up, and quickly.
Saturday, my writing bud Soupbone came down and we took in our first game together. It's my zen place, and he needs zen occasions. It happened to be Blues Night, the Blues Brothers performing, which was fitting since Soupbone loves the blues, took a long vacation biking through Blues country this summer.
Sunday was a day game, a really sloppy game, but who cares, it was a nice day and they were playing ball in the sun.
Then Monday, 1 AM, my father woke me up, asked me to take him to the hospital and my life was turned upside down.
He had a stroke, stayed at the local hospital for a week, but kept deteriorating so he was shipped to the stroke center at the medical school hospital. He was in the neurology ICU for another week, upgraded to stable and moved to the rehab unit at the hospital for a few weeks then to another rehab facility where they determined he was unable to benefit further from therapy, so now it's a waiting game to find him permanent placement in a long-term care facility, a nursing home. I'm trying to have him moved closer to home so I can visit him more often. Between working two jobs, doing the full prep for the baseball class instead of 1/3 of them, trying to write for my learning contracts to complete my creative writing degree, and the constantly rising price of gas and my fuel efficient car in the repair shop most of the fall so I've been driving dad's gas guzzler, it's been difficult getting up there to see him as much as either of us would like. People ask me how dad is and it's hard to tell them. If I say he's okay, I mean he's alive and in stable condition. He cannot move his left side, he can't talk--he talks a blue streak but it's gibberish, though occasionally he can say a word or two that's intelligible and he can say yes and no-- he understands most of what is said to him though he doesn't remember he had a stroke and says he's ready to leave this place, he also can't swallow (the stroke disabled the muscles in his throat) so he's fed liquids through a tube into his stomach.
My mother had Alzheimer's and my father insisted on keeping her at home as long as he could possibly care for her, with my help, through all the stages of the disease. When it is said Alzheimer's destroys a person's memory, it is not only the memory of who people are but how to do things, until the person with the disease regresses to a dependent infantile state, needing to be fed and dressed and diapered. He finally had given in and put her on the waiting list for a nursing home, just two weeks before she died. So I've been through this before, only this is worse because my father had each other to lean on and I am now alone to deal with it.
I spent Labor Day weekend at my father's bedside in the neurology ICU, and wished that I could be at the ballpark, the place that has long been my sanctuary. Throughout my mother's long illness, I escaped to the ball park Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons whenever I could because it was the only place I could find peace. And I needed peace, still do.
The remainder of the major league season? Didn't exist for me, and the World Series, second win in four years for the Red Sox, was a blur. Of course, as I told people back in 2004, once the Sox broke the Curse everything else would be gravy. It was a nice win, but not the marvelous joy of 2004.
This fall instead of team teaching the baseball class (I recently heard it referred to as "Baseball Culture," I like that), I did the class on my own. Which was good, but I didn't have lessons and lectures prepared for 2/3 of the topics that my partner in crime usually covered. We covered topics that previous classes hadn't touched on, and our focus was sometimes shifted. And throughout the semester, my students wanted to know when the Mitchell Report was coming out. I predicted as close to Christmas as possible so it would get reduced media attention. I was close, it came out the day after our final class meeting. It was a great bunch of students in the class this year. Only two women, but one of them was an outspoken member of the class. She was also the one who is considering a career in baseball, this side of the fence. A number of students are members of the college's baseball team, adding a different spin to things at time.
The co-instructor does the class online in the spring and summer, and he had mentioned he was thinking about changing the reading list, maybe adding a biography. Since I had turned more than once to Jim Bouton over the semester, I suggested Ball Four. He was concerned that it might be dated and/or risque. Please. It was the original tell-all baseball book and is pale in comparison to those that have followed. I like it for the class because it was the original, and it a true baseball player's voice, not an as told to (though editor Leonard Schecter had a strong influence on it). We've been relying on David Halberstam's October 1964 as a period piece, to explore race relations in the US, and I think Bouton's book would be a good companion to it. We talk about hero worship in the course, how ballplayers have been viewed by society over the game's history, and Ball Four punctures that nicely.
I'm ready for a little distraction. How many days till pitchers and catchers report?
Friday, August 10, 2007
Thursday, July 05, 2007
This stinks, not just because I think Jeff's career has been mishandled by the various organizations he's been with, but because of the timing. There was a nice write-up about Jeff and Wayne Lydon, both former B-Mets, only two weeks ago. (The third party of that mix, Angel Pagan, is now playing with the Cubs.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Which Way - Syracuse, in keeping with the spirit of the city, continues to take small steps backwards. They got rid of the SkyChief name--fans continued to call the team the Chiefs no matter how much the new brand was pushed. The also got rid of the SkyChiefs' logo--a bat with fighter wings, reminiscent of WWII--and replaced it with a steam engine, purportedly to honor Syracuse's railroading history--the trains used to come right through the middle of the downtown streets. The letters on the uniforms were changed to reflect the train motif, but there are three different, clashing fonts, one for the team name on the front, another for the player's name on the back and a third for the player's number. They didn't retired the mascot Scooch--an orange blobby critter--but added a second, Pops the engineer.
Finally, though, they have taken a step backwards that is a good one. They (the county) are going to replace the hideous artificial turf with grass before the next season. Although it hasn't been officially voted on, it's considered a done deal. The day after it was announced in the paper, they had shirts proclaiming the return for sale at the park. On the front it says "got grass?" and on the back "we do, coming 2008".
Got my fix on Tuesday. Earl's looking good, even if his BA this season is hovering below the Mendoza Line, around .185. His weight has always been listed as 200, but it clearly has gone up and come back down over the years. He's slim again, and his hair is longer, sticking out behind his helmet.
He had an okay game, 0-3 with a walk and a run, made a couple routine (for him) plays at third.
The highlight of the game was a pair of guys echoing in a sing-song the park's loudest and most annoying fan. The whole place was laughing after the first few echoes and awaiting the next outburst.
Wednesday was a rainy day, so I didn't make the trip.
Thursday I decided not to go, figuring since I had already seen him play, Earl would probably sit this one out, and the negativity at the park is getting too tough to take.
Around 8:15 I remembered that the local sports channel sometimes broadcasts Chiefs' games, so I turned it on and there they were. Apparently, though, I turned it on right after Earl had batted. When he came up in the ninth, the Knights down 3-1, with a runner on, the sportscasters commented that Earl has been a leading home run hitter and while he has been hitting poorly so far this season, the Chiefs would hate to see him get his power stroke back at that point. No home run, he singled, but he ended up scoring what proved to be the winning run. He had a good night, 2-4, with a strike out.
While I love watching him play in person, watching him play on television has the added benefit of close ups.
Friday, June 29, 2007
First, Fireworks Night creates a parking nightmare and many of the drivers either have never gone to a game any other night and are clueless about how to park for a game or people panic. Friday night I headed to the park relatively early to arrive just after the gates open, expected the turnout to be larger than normal, but I was unprepared to join the line into the parking lot while still on the Interstate nearly a mile away. People must think there is only this way to get to the game; not only was the line I was in taking forever to move forward, but cars and trucks and buses were cramming into the line from the perpendicular streets. I sat at one stop light through six changes without moving an inch. The only time the line moved was on cross-street lights and then those people would crush into place leaving no space for through traffic. I jumped out of line and into the first parking lot I encountered. I had to hike four or five blocks, but I saved $5.
Maybe every Fireworks Night isn't that bad, the following night was much more reasonable. I didn't join the line for parking until I was only a block from the field. The Friday night crowd, filling the three sets of movable bleachers and the grass berm beside left field as well as spilling onto the berms behind the bullpens, was announced as the sixth largest in Frontier Field history. Together with Saturday night's attendance, Frontier Field had its largest two-day total. Glad I could help.
Liviana had remarked about the patchy condition of the field and I discovered at least part of the reason when I stayed for fireworks Saturday night. They detonate the fireworks right on the field! It took the crew 20-25 minutes to get the show set up and then they scorched the grass. All I could imagine was the apoplexy the current as well as the previous head groundskeeper in Binghamton would have if fireworks were playing havoc with their lovingly tended field.
The other complaint is about my seat. I usually buy tickets over the internet ahead of time--I have arrived at a ballpark assuming at least one ticket would be available to find the place sold out-- and Rochester doesn't give you a choice of seats. You pick which level you want and the website tells you which seat you get. I pick premium and it tells me box 110. Good location, just a wee bit off home plate toward first. The problem with the seat I end up with is that the seat immediately in front of it is occupied by an extremely tall season ticket holder. The guy is 6'8" or more and proportionate shoulders. I'm only 5'3" and when he sits down I see nothing. I've had less obstructed views sitting behind a post in Fenway Park. The ticket office should hold that seat for SRO games and/or sell it at a discount and clearly mark it "Obstructed View".
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Friday, June 15, 2007
When I was looking at the schedule, Liviana said she would be in Rochester for a conference on the 14th, so we ordered tickets. I'd drive up, pick her up at the hotel, drop her off after the game, and drive home. A week before I decided, seeing the beautiful weather forecast for that weekend, that I would do a mini-road trip, order tickets for the whole series and book a hotel room.
Earl wasn't in the starting lineup Thursday evening. And I couldn't spot him on the bench. Friday morning I checked the Bats' website; Earl wasnt' on the roster. I checked the transactions page, nothing. I kept poking around until I located him: Charlotte. He played the night before for the Knights.
I went to Rochester for the weekend anyway, though it wasn't as much fun since the main reason I went no longer existed.
The good news is that Charlotte will be playing in Syracuse June 26-29, so I get another chance to see him play. I'm just glad I hadn't finalize arrangements to take a road trip to Louisville in August. Oh, I still would like to go to Louisville, there are plenty of things to see and do there and on the way, but the main reason for going this summer is gone. I'm tempted to make arrangements to go to Charlotte, but knowing the way things go, Earl would be sent to Tacoma while I was on the road.
Curt Smith was the keynote speaker, talking about baseball broadcasters, a lively, dramatic, feel good session.
Remembering Branch Rickey was the main plenary session, and it was wonderful. The panel consisted of people (let's say it, MEN) from colleges he was associated with including Ohio Wesleyan, Michigan Law, and Allegheny, institutions where he studied, institutions where he worked, as well as Earl Warren, Jr, Thurgood Marshall, Jr, and Ira Glasser, former director of the ACLU, and Branch Rickey, president of the Pacific Coast League, the grandson. We all know Mr. Rickey's story, creating the farm system, re-integrating major league baseball, and these panelists added depth and texture to the story. Glasser's theory of Rickey and Robinson's influence on a generation that grew up determined to contest discrimination was most interesting and thought-provoking.
Sessions I particularly enjoyed were on Baseball in the Classroom, suffragettes using baseball to advance their cause, MLB marketing to women (we like the players better if they're smiling rather than glowering in their photos on the jumbotron, how much did they pay to learn that?), arbitrators in baseball (Roger Abrams), and baseball players as popular musicians. I knew Tony C had recorded in his early too-quickly-ended career, but this presenter gave me the chance to hear him sing. (I need to dig up my Rick Cerone 45 to add to his collection.)
Barry Lyons was on hand, brought by one of the senior presenters, to talk about his major league career, surviving Hurricane Katrina, and his efforts to bring minor league baseball to Biloxi. Barry was happy to answer questions, but I noted a different sense of communication, of connection, when Dan Ardell, a Symposium regular, member of the expansion Angels, asked Barry about pitchers.
The town ball game was moved to Cooper Park, adjacent to the Hall, and while it was a fine setting, except for the trees blocking the view, it was a little disappointing as the tradition keg of beer was banned. Dinner, instead of a picnic, was in the Hall. Not just in the museum, but in the Hall itself. The Hall of Famers congregate in that very place for their induction weekend reception. Kind of cool.
Mark your calendars: next year's Symposium is June 11, 12, and 13. Friday the 13th.