Baseball On My Brain

Well, it’s over.
September 30, 2008, 2:12 pm
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At least the Mariners part of the season is over. There’s still the Twins-White Sox playoff game later this afternoon, and of course the playoffs, but for my purposes, the season is over.

I’m not going to spend time analyzing their season – there are plenty of other people and sites doing that.

But I will share this – as a co-worker and I were discussing the season, he made the remark about how 100 losses just looks bad in the newspaper. It’s almost like having a third arm…almost every other team keeps their losses to two digits, but a certain few teams go back to the buffet for a few more and end up with a third digit in the loss column. their muffin top of inability hanging over their Standings brand jeans.

Conversely, with only the Angels surpassing the 100-win mark, they look that much more above the rest of the crowd in the win column. They did so well – they got an extra number!

For me, this has been one of the most fatiguing seasons I can remember. There’s a side of me that would go to sleep right now and not wake up for a good three or four days.

First, it was a disappointing season for the Mariners.

Second, it was a disappointing season for the team I play on – 2-14 and two losses in the playoffs.

Third, baseball season on the whole is winding down and close to ending, which is a bummer as far as I’m concerned. If you really need to know why, read A. Bartlett Giamiatti’s “Green Fields of the Mind.”

Fourth – I’m looking for a new job, because as of October 31, I’ll need a new job.

Fifth – and the one that I think is wreaking more havoc on me than I would like to admit, is that I am just flat out tired from going through this renewal process with the Mariners and Fisher Broadcasting.

It’s after what has been one of my best years in baseball that I feel my absolute worst. At a end-of-the-season dinner last night, a co-worker said that this is kind of like walking on the moon – what do you do next to top that?

Right now, I don’t know. That’s the problem.

And right now, baseball isn’t providing me any answers. It’s like it’s already stopped and left me to face this alone. Giamatti was right.


Oh George!
September 25, 2008, 3:49 pm
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In the midst of the Mariners 100-game losing streak, the arrival of fall, earlier darkness and all that fun stuff, I needed something to cheer me up.

This did it.

9/26 update: So that link has been taken down.

Here’s audio of the video, which doesn’t really elicit the same effect, but it’s still funny.

I found this link to the video, watch it while you can.

The closing of Yankee Stadium, and an 11 game losing streak on a cold night.
September 23, 2008, 7:46 pm
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Here I sit at Safeco Field on what feels like the coldest night we’ve had in a while…I’ve got three layers on and am going to get a coffee as soon as I finish this sentence. I probably should have brought some gloves, but I thought I wouldn’t need them…I’ll bring them tomorrow. I should probably throw my beanie in as well…being of little hair on top, I need some extra help staying warm sometimes.

It’s a rough night to be at the yard – well, rougher than it should be…no night is really a rough one when you’re at the yard. But these Mariners are back in town after an 0-11 roadtrip, it’s a brisk 57 degrees at gametime and will probably end up being closer to 50 before long, meaning that the longer I wait to type, the more it will feel like bone on plastic as my fingers bang away at the keyboard.

I really should have wrote some thoughts about Yankee Stadium closing last night as I watched the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball broadcast…talk about a production of a grand nature. I don’t think it was near the magnitude of the All-Star Game, but it certainly was up there, bringing in all the former players and families, as well as letting fans walk around the warning track, even if it wasn’t for the amount of time originally announced.

Now I’ve only been to four games there…or four events, I should say. A trip to see the Mariners play the Yankees in 2007 was a surprise birthday present, and a trip to the All-Star Game this year was a present to myself. So I write my thoughts purely as a visitor – not as a local, a long-timer, or even a Yankee fan.

I’m genuinely sad to see Yankee Stadium go, simply because it was the stadium that exemplified baseball, and in a lot of ways, sports in general, in the city that most people associate most with the United States. There simply is no other sports facility that has been host to the magnitude of events that Yankee Stadium has.

Where we have places like Las Vegas where new buildings are the norm and history is torn down and built back up bigger, flashier and pricier than before. While I would never want to stifle the human spirit of building things better than had been previously been done, sometimes you do have to stop and wonder – is bigger and newer necessarily better?

Now having been there a few times, I will be the first to say that the Yankee Stadium you see when you’re not looking at the field is pretty awful. The concourses are narrow, enclosed, and just plain old. They were built when architectural standards were different and certain ways of putting buildings together – particularly sports venues, just hadn’t been tried yet.

I almost feel bad for it.

It’s hard to fauly Yankee Stadium for the way it looks; it’s just a product of it’s time and what the people in charge of it were able to do with it. But the way it looks is ultimately what led to its demise. It just couldn’t generate enough revenue, and had been lapped several times over by other, newer stadiums, not to mention that the Mets were replacing Shea Stadium after less than 50 years of use. If genuine need doesn’t get you, peer pressure surely will.

The only thing I can think to compare it to in my own experience is when the Mariners moved from the Kingdome to Safeco Field in 1999. I was in college, still fairly young (21) and hadn’t really been as exposed to baseball both in Seattle and on the broader scope as I am today, so the attachment wasn’t quite as strong.

However – there were some pretty magical moments in that building – the ’95 comeback, Chris Bosio and Randy Johnson throwing no-hitters, Nolan Ryan’s final game, Gaylord Perry’s 300th win, and so on. Not to mention Seahawks football, the Final Four, a couple of Sonics games, high school championship games, and Lord knows how many boat/home/RV shows it hosted.

Sure, it’s no comparison to Yankee Stadium, but for those in the Emerald City, it was our stadium, it was our gathering spot. And while not many Seattlies gathered there for many years of the Kingdome’s existance when the Mariners were playing, it was still the only place to see Major League Baseball within 700 miles.

Which is why I share the sadness of losing something that was not only a storied part of baseball history, but a part of the history of so many baseball fans in New York and really, all over the country and the world.

Those pesky games that matter…

You’ve (hopefully) heard the expression that every MLB team will win 60 games and lose 60 games, so it’s the other 42 that matter.

As I was thinking about the 2008 Mariners, they have to go 6-7 in their last 13 games to avoid losing 100 games. I’m not confident they’re going to do that.

So assuming they finish 62-100, simply for the sake of having a round number in the lost column, that means they went 2-40 in the games that matter.


Witchcraft in baseball? Call Senator Mitchell.
September 15, 2008, 1:49 pm
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Almost every news site has a “weird news” section…well here’s one I thought you’d be interested in.

Witchcraft rumor sparks riot at Congo soccer game.

Just another reason I like baseball.

Brewers fire their manager with two weeks left? Wow.
September 15, 2008, 11:52 am
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The Brewers just fired their manager, Ned Yost, in hopes (apparently) of waking the club up and getting them into the playoffs. Dale Sveum takes over for Yost.

If you haven’t been following along, the Brewers sit 7.5 games out of the NL Central race and find themselves tied with the surging Phillies for the wild card bid.

Tough break for Yost – I always thought he was a really good manager who would finally get the chance to see the postseason. It’s a shame that the manager has to be the one who takes the hit when the players don’t perform, although if the manager is setting the wrong tone or really doing something to hurt the team, then of course he should go.

I hadn’t heard Yost was guilty of that, but that’s just my understanding of it from a few thousand miles away.

Either way, do you think that the Brewers will find their mojo and get into the playoffs? Is firing the manager of the club at this point in the season the right thing to do? I say yes to the first but no to the second.

My Sunday Night Post
September 14, 2008, 10:00 pm
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I’ve always been amazed at band names…having worked around music radio for a while, I saw a lot of them, and most of them always left me wondering what were they smoking when they came up with this one?

Case in point – My Morning Jacket. You can read where the name came from here. They have that; I have my Sunday Night Post.

Congrats to Carlos Zambrano on his no-hitter — that’s a big accomplishment, and even though it set the surging Astros back a step, it’s still to cool to see, especially for those fans in Milwaukee who got to see an unexpected game.

The Mariners, well, they are the Mariners, aren’t they? A four-game sweep by the Angels seems almost doubly painful – a friendly reminder of how good they are, how bad we are, and how far there is to go before the M’s return to the top of the AL West. My Oh My.

So as I sit here eating frozen mint patties and a piece of cheesecake, accompanied by a nice glass of Sauternes, I wanted to touch on this article from the New York Times this morning about Leonard Shecter, someone who you probably don’t know but reap the benefits (?) of his work every time you open the sports page or your favorite sports publication.

You can read the article and form your own conclusion – my question is simply are we really that much better off knowing what goes on in athlete’s lives (and celebrities’ lives, for that matter) than we would be if we didn’t?

I’ll be the first to say no…but I understand how easy it is to believe that we are. I think we all want to know that celebs and athletes are really just like us, even though in so many ways they’re not. Let’s face it – there’s a reason they earn what they do, because there’s not that many who can do what they do and the rest of us have an interest in seeing them do what they do. We live in a consumption culture, and even though the game is over, we are inclined to think there is more coming about those folks, which of course has to be filled with details of what happens off the field.

Interesting how we’re marking the 50th anniversary of this development — is it time to rethink how we consume media and information like this? Does it really benefit us, or are we lapping it up because we are told that we need to know?

Sometimes, just because the news is out there, doesn’t mean we need to know about it.