Baseball On My Brain

My latest conspiracy theory…
April 25, 2008, 12:04 am
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I’m not one to go spreading conspiracy theories…but after reading that the Red Sox jersey buried in the concrete of the new Yankee Stadium sold for over $175,000, I have to wonder.

Look — it’s great that the money went to the Jimmy V Fund. But after reading the stories that came out…does this seem just a little too far-fetched to buy?

I get that there are wacky people out there and this is a wacky world…this just smells a bit like some creative writing to me.

Agree? Disagree?


Gotta get some more things off my chest…
April 24, 2008, 11:53 pm
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I’m not sure how it is at your local baseball park…but here’s how it is at mine: a foul balls goes in front of the seats, and assuming a fan doesn’t get it, the ballgirl comes over, picks it up and gives it to a kid.

OK – no big deal, right?

Well what happens if the ball is hit pretty hard and a grown up makes a pretty good play on it but can’t find the handle? Does that person get the ball? Nope. Goes to a kid.

Look – I get the whole family-friendly deal…everyone goes home with a souvenir, children are our future mindset of my local club. But do we have to do it at the expense of the older folks? Flip the guy the ball that he made a play on and prevented from killing the kid in the row behind him if he had ducked. Don’t run it to the kid that came flying down the steps from row 30 and has cotton candy all over his trap.

And by the way…parents: clean your kid’s mouth when they’ve been gnawing on the blue cotton candy. Or better yet, teach them to do it, and teach them that they need to do it so they don’t look like a gluttonous fool. Thanks.

And grown-ups: don’t be the jerk who jumps up to intercept a ball being thrown to a kid in the stands. Look – we’re not as cute as we used to be, at least most of us aren’t…deal with it and let the kid catch the ball. I’m sick of jerkies like you getting booed and shamed into giving the ball to the kid it was intended for, all to a sudden round of applause. That’s a flop in my book…and fans: don’t cheer the yutz. You’re just making the problem worse.

I think that’s it for now. Check back soon because I’m sure they’ll be more.

Can I just say…
April 23, 2008, 6:39 pm
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…that I hate umpires with slow strike calls?

I’m watching Brian Runge call the Mariners-Orioles game right now, and I’m not going to get into his ball/strike calling ability, but he is painfully slow to make the call. When I play and when I watch, I just wish they’d call the strike quickly. Rip the bandage off, make the call, and let’s get on with it. Don’t give me any of this pregnant pause garbage.

That’s all for now.

Me and the King in Vegas
April 22, 2008, 9:28 pm
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Me and the  Hit King

Yes indeed – I went to Vegas and met the King.

For those that don’t know, Pete Rose does signings at a sports memorabilia shop in Caesar’s Palace. Balls, bats, jerseys, etc., he’ll sign it, and at a reasonable price. I was in Vegas to see the Mariners play the Cubs at Cashman Field, and while my co-workers decided to lay by the pool, I decided to go out for a walk, which of course led me in to the above-mentioned mall, and the King.

Meeting Pete Rose was pretty interesting…and if you know me, interesting is my way of not saying what I’m really thinking. It was pretty cool, but also kind of disappointing to meet the Hit King in a card shop in Las Vegas, all for a price. Now I know that Rose didn’t play in the days of the mega-contract…although he made his share of money, and it’s up to every individual to make the most out of every penny they earn. So I get that this is an easy way for Pete to pick up some extra coin. No harm there.

But at the same time, I also felt weird paying to get an autograph. I’m generally not one to pay for stuff, unless it’s really rare, cool, or unique. It’s just not how I roll. Plus, I rarely find myself in a position to buy anything at a reasonable price, usually being outbid by a crazed fan or someone who just wants to throw their wallet around. But that’s beside the point.

Meeting someone who has cemented himself in baseball history as Rose has (good and/or bad) feels like it should be done under a bit more dignified circumstances. Maybe I’m crazy – but it just doesn’t feel right standing in the toll lane to meet someone.

Nevertheless – it was kind of interesting to sit next to Rose for a minute or two. I really didn’t want to ask the standard questions…nor did I want to feel like I was grilling the guy, so I asked him if he thought that the color of a hitter’s bat made any kind of difference. I’d heard that some players feel that it’s tougher for fielders to distinguish the path of the bat when it’s dark. When it’s harder to pick up the way the bat is swung, it gives the fielders one less tool to get a read of the ball off the bat. However, Rose didn’t see it that way…saying it was simply a matter of preference. However – Rose did use a black bat for a lot of his career…so take that for what it’s worth.

With all that being said, it was a pretty cool experience that’s worth doing if you’re in Sin City. You don’t get to meet guys like Pete Rose every day, and I’d rather say I paid to meet him than say I never got the chance. It was purely good fortune that I went out on that walk, and who should I be to get in the way of chance? Rose was one of the first guys that I remember really being in awe of when I was a little kid — I remember when he got the record-breaking hit, and I remember collecting the baseball cards and stickers that commemorated the event. I never saw him play in person – but even with the limited TV coverage, I certainly knew who he was.

Me and the King, in Vegas. Long live the King.

Is the backlash coming?
April 9, 2008, 12:28 am
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I just finished reading the Savvy Girls’ new book, It Takes More Than Balls (find my review here) and as my brain started doing its thing, I wondered if there isn’t a backlash from the “hardcore” baseball fans coming.

When you stop and think about it – are we that much better off because of Stitch & Pitch night, Girls’ Night Out, the never ending stream of bobbleheads, blankets, and other such schwag?

I would say we’re not.

Now look – I get it. More people in the stands = more money coming into the ballpark = more revenue for the team, which hopefully = more competitive teams but definitely = more profits for the owners. I’m no dummy — I see how it works.

There’s also the argument that if you can give the spouse, family members and friends of the avid fan to come to the game, you’ll give the avid fan more reasons to come as well. Point well taken.

But what about the serious fan — the “heavy user” as the fast food industry refers to their best customers. Is baseball running the risk of driving away the fan who goes to dozens of games a year, has season tickets, buys a good amount of merchandise every season, reads the newspapers/magazines/websites/blogs, watches on TV and listens on the radio and now has an internet and/or satellite/cable subscription? When do those folks just say enough is enough, get the sign holders and singles nights out of the ballpark and let us watch our baseball in peace?

Since I can only speak for myself – I will.

I’ve been to ballgames with crowds of 30, 300, 3,000 and 30,000. I don’t care about the size of the crowd — that matters less to me than who’s there and why they showed up.

I’ve been to sellouts with only 10,000 people in a 45,000 seat stadium, all because a team was giving away a Beanie Baby. I still hate those things by the way, even though I have a few. But they’ll go down in toy history, for better or worse.

I went to a game last year where the guy sitting in front of me spent at least $20 to make a sign asking one of the broadcasters for “rally fries” which cost about $4.50 at the concession stand, but came with 20 seconds of local TV time. He’d proceed to hold his signs up like clockwork every half inning, hoping to get himself and his kids on TV. Needless to say when I asked the guy to put his sign down so I could see the field, he got all pissy as if I was ruining his night. God forbid you don’t get your fries and all that hard work with the markers and poster board goes all for not.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t want to bring back smoking at games or have a whole bunch of drunk and angry guys screaming at the players. That’s not the kind of of environment I want to see baseball become. But I’ll be honest, I could sure live without some of the peripheral junk that has become part of the baseball landscape, all in the name of bringing some extra folks to the park. For those of you who really appreciate baseball — the intricacies of the game, watching and understanding why a team won or lost, seeing the story of the season unfold — wouldn’t it be a blast to do it without dancing groundskeepers or hot dog tosses?

I won’t lie and say that the watching middle-aged lawn mowers and dirt sweepers get down to YMCA isn’t mildly entertaining. But would I stop going if they stopped dancing? Nope.

Would I stop going if I never got another bobblehead? Or if they didn’t play music when the batter came to the plate? Nope – I’d still be there, scorecard in hand and eyes and ears wide open.

I’m not there to get a massage, ride the carousel, or figure out what hat the ball is under. I’m there to watch baseball being played at it’s highest level, and God forbid anything get in the way of that.

Am I alone on this one? In your baseball heart of hearts – would you want to see the non-baseball stuff stripped down so that we could get back to the roots of the game? And if so – what do you think we need to do to make it happen? I certainly don’t want to stop going to games – so how do we make our opinions felt? Maybe I’m old-school, maybe I’m crazy — but I know I’m not alone.

Are you with me? Post your thoughts!

Baseball needs a clock? Here we go again.
April 9, 2008, 12:08 am
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I came across this post as I was logging in the other day, and it just spurred me to respond.

My first was response was going to be an angry one, but I realized that wouldn’t be the most productive.

So I went back and re-read the post.

Then my response was going to be more along the line of psycho-analysis, which I don’t know much about, so scratch that.

Back to re-reading it.

Not sure exactly what to make of it – other than that it’s a vent session, and I’m a little less wound up about it than I was when I first read it. Which turns out to be a good life lesson. Instead of just blowing up about something when you first see/hear/read/think it, if you sit on it for a bit, you become a bit more level-headed and more apt to respond in a productive manner.

That being said – I love the fact that baseball doesn’t have a clock, It reminds us that life isn’t lived on the clock – it’s lived by the quality of your work. If you can work good and fast, all the better. If you can’t, then so be it. It’s not punishment if a game goes long or if it’s delayed by rain – although some could see it that way. But more importantly, it reminds us that none of us operates on our own schedule when you really get down to it.

Most of live by schedules of one sort or another – and when one part of that schedule, say a ballgame – doesn’t fit into our neatly Outlooked day, we get out-of-sorts about it. Sad, isn’t it?

I understand having to get up early — believe me, I understand it. But I also understand the lessons that baseball has to offer. And if anything – let it teach all of us that if we don’t like being held to someone else’s schedule, we should go out and make our own. When you think about it – none of those players, managers, umpires, or owners has any more control over the game as anyone else. If the rain falls and there’s no roof overhead, we’re all equally screwed. If I’m a pitcher and working fast but the other pitcher is taking his time of my teammates are stepping out of the box between every pitch and adjusting their batting gloves, well guess what? I’m screwed.

We live an interdependent life, and as much as we want to convince ourselves otherwise, we can’t escape it. Move to an island, be a hermit, and it’ll still rain on you every once in a while.

Pick up a Grand Salami, why don’t ya?
April 7, 2008, 10:11 pm
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In the craziness of Opening Day/Week/Month, I neglected to encourage you to pick up a copy of the Grand Salami on your next visit to Safeco Field.

“Why should I pick up a copy of the Grand Salami?” Great question.

Because inside you’ll find the debut of my Baseball On My Brain column, one you’ll only find in the magazine. At least for the time being.

So pick one up – it’s $3 well spent.