Archive for the ‘baseball’ Category

Football season begins today. (This is American football, not what we heathens call soccer.) All that other stuff for 17 weeks is merely prologue.

I need to rank the teams in the order I WANT them to win, not who I think WILL win. Right now, I think San Diego beats Minnesota in the Super Bowl, because the Chargers played their starters maybe a third of the time last week and STILL beat Washington. OK, it WAS a lousy team, but Indianapolis lost to Buffalo, FCOL.

1. *New York Jets (A) – I seriously thought they were toast after losing 10-7 to Atlanta at home a couple weeks ago. then they beat/were allowed to beat the 14-0 Colts and division-leading Bengals so they can play the Bengals AGAIN this weekend.
2. New Orleans Saints (N) – it’d be good for the city. Losing their last three makes me nervous about their chances.
3. *Philadelphia Eagles (N) – call it mid-Atlantic bias.
4. San Diego Chargers (A) – my sister lives in SD, I’ve seen them play. what can I
say?
5. Indianapolis Colts (A) – if only for the favor they gave the Jets.
6. *Arizona Cardinals (N) – still think it’s unnatural playing football in the desert, but like Mary Richards in the premiere episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, they got spunk.
7. *Green Bay Packers (N) – they’re GREEN, which IS a plus.
8. Minnesota Vikings (N) – always liked the Vikings. Why could Favre played like this LAST year with the Jets? Oh, because this is a better team.
9. *Baltimore Ravens (A) – eh.
10. *New England Patriots (A) – they’ve won too often this century.
11. *Cincinnati Bengals (A) – have a history of being thugs.
12. *Dallas Cowboys – when did they have an election and pick the Cowboys “America’s Team”? I sure didn’t vote.

Meanwhile in the Baseball Hall of Fame voting, Andre Dawson FINALLY made it in. “The Hawk” I’d have picked for sure. But there were FIVE BLANK ballots? Ticks me off.
Though in fact, without the five blanks, Bert Blyleven would have ended up with 74.9% (400/534) of the vote, with 75% needed, and no, they don’t round up. Now THAT would have hurt. And tell me, why doesn’t Lee Smith get more love? I also would have voted for Roberto Alomar, and yes, Mark McGwire.

QUESTIONS:
1. Who do you want to win the Super Bowl? Who do you THINK will win?
2. What did you think of the HoF balloting?
ROG

The New York Yankees won their 27th World Series in 2009. Twenty-seven, which, coincidentally, is the number of outs each team gets in a standard nine-inning baseball game.

It’s interesting to me how people become fans of sports teams. Sometimes it’s based on geography, but it can also be a matter of particular players. My father-in-law still roots for the Minnesota Twins because he liked a player named Harmon Killebrew back in the 1960s. My father was a Los Angeles Dodgers fan because the Brooklyn Dodgers, before they moved to the West Coast, had signed Jackie Robinson in 1947.

For me, in baseball, it was both players AND geography.

Mickey Mantle, 1958

I remember well the 1962 World Series, whereas I have absolutely no recollection of the previous Fall Classics. It was the New York Yankees versus the San Francisco Giants, my favorite teams. Why I preferred the Yankees was easy; the minor league team in my hometown of Binghamton, NY had been a farm team (minor league affiliate) of the team from the Bronx. Then there was that New York State pride. The Giants USED to be a New York team and had my favorite player, Willie Mays. The Yankees, lead by Mickey Mantle, would win that Series, 4 games to 3, but would lose in 1963 and 1964, and then not even get back into the Series for over a decade.

But let’s start at the beginning. The team now known as the New York Yankees was an original team in the fledgling American League in 1901 – as the Baltimore Orioles. They became the New York Highlanders in 1903 and never got to the World Series.

Babe Ruth, 1920

The team’s fortunes were about to change when they acquired outfielder George Herman “Babe” Ruth from the Boston Red Sox after the 1919 season. Ruth lead the league in home runs with 11 in 1918, and an incredible 29 in 1919. But in his first two years with the Yankees, he hit 54 and 59 homers, respectively, eventually reaching 60 in 1927. Ruth’s presence also made the team first in attendance from 1920 on. And in 1923, in the Yankees’ first season in Yankee Stadium – they had been playing in the Polo Grounds – they won their first World Series against the crosstown Giants, 4 games to 2.

By the time they won their 2nd and 3rd titles in 1927 and 1928, they had a “Murderer’s Row” of sluggers that included first basemen Lou Gehrig. He’s known mostly for his Iron Man streak of over 2000 games played in a row, and the disease, ALS, which eventually claimed his life.

Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio watching batting practice, April 1939

I think Yankee hatred started when the team, led by outfielder Joe DiMaggio, got to seven World Series between 1936 and 1943, winning six of them. Worse, the Yankees, now featuring catcher/outfielder Yogi Berra, won in 1947, and every year between 1949 and 1953. The team, which by then also starred Mickey Mantle got into every Series from 1955 to 1958, winning two.

Reggie Jackson

After they were swept by the Reds in 1976, the Yankees won back-to-back titles in 1977 and 1978. This was the Bronx Zoo group that featured the self-described “straw that stirs the drink”, Reggie Jackson.

Derek Jeter, 1998

But after a World Series loss in 1982, another drought ensued until 1996, when some young players, led by Derek Jeter, won the title in 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000. But they lost the Series in 2001 and 2003, and didn’t even get into the playoffs in 2008.

So yes, I was rooting for the hated Yankees, in their controversial new stadium, in 2009. I mean the archrival Boston Red Sox had won more World Series rings in the 21st Century (two) than the Yankees had before 2009 (zero).

So congrats to the Yankees; doesn’t mean I’ll root for them in 2010. One oughtn’t to be greedy about these things.
ROG

I was not looking for a meme, but I did think I needed to write a post or two about end-of-year stuff. As it turns out, I found one from that American expat in New Zealand, Nik at spatulaforum, that met my needs. Oddly, Nik has written about spatulas only once.

Not incidentally, Nik’s meme was stolen for this week’s Sunday Stealing, which I usually purloin. Like a circle in a circle.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?

Go to a bunch of kindergarten events, such as the “Apple Run”; the daughter is fast! Go on a vacation with the wife, without the daughter, for our 10th anniversary; it was surely the highlight of the year, though we were only 30 miles from home. Saw Bruce Springsteen live. Flew on an airplane with the daughter, her first flights.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don’t make the things. Less grief.

3. How will you be spending New Year’s Eve?

Watching my wife valiantly trying to stay awake but likely failing.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, though the husband of a fellow choir member did.

5. What countries did you visit?

None, including the US. In fact, the longest trip was the aforementioned flight to Charlotte.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?

More sleep. More democracy. Less war. Steve Bissette wrote What I Won’t Miss About 2009, and I really can’t argue with any of it; re: the year, this video Steve found will do nicely.

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

April 3, the massacre in Binghamton, NY. May 14, Springsteen.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Getting through my wife’s two weeks away at college, taking care of the daughter while trying to maintain a semblance of a work schedule.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Controlling the temper, especially during the aforementioned trip to Charlotte.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

The usual minor aches and pains. My neck is a little stiff. I have a cut on the heel of my left foot which makes walking without at least slippers, and preferably thick-soled sneakers, painful. And I suffered with some sort of head congestion/lung congestion/coughing up phlegm thing for two weeks in December which seems FINALLY to be over.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

The Top Pop Singles book. Fun! Actually, I liked buying Wonder Pets DVDs for the daughter; she enjoyed them.

12. Where did most of your money go?

The mortgage, of course. Also house renovation; the attic is being insulated this very week to take advantage of a tax credit.

13. What song will always remind you of 2009?

Tennessee Jed by Levon Helm, from his new Electric Dirt album, one of the very few albums I actually got in 2009.
I also bought A Very Special Christmas 7, and it had a bunch of newer artists that don’t cut it; Kellie Pickler doing Santa Baby is unconvincing. A Christmas Song by Charice was the best tune, though Gloriana’s Silent Night I liked as well. Still, it’s for a good cause, the Special Olympics, and I’ll probably buy the next one when it comes out in 3 or 5 years.

14. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Playing racquetball. Also wish I had bought my bicycle earlier than June. I saw no live baseball – bummer.

15. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Overthinking.

16. What was your favourite TV program?

“Glee”, for sure. It’s a show I get to watch with my wife, which doesn’t happen that often. People say it’s not realistic, as though it were a docudrama. No, the cheerleaders wouldn’t wear the outfits ALL the time. Sheesh. I bought the wife both soundtracks for Christmas. Al;so been watching The Good Wife, which is a show I watch sans wife.
Whereas The Office has lost something, and I can’t put my finger on it – Jim & Pam being married? The co-managing thing?

17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Well, not hate. What’s interesting is when there is someone everyone in a certain circle seems to love. But you’re just not that enamored, and it seems to be mutual.

18. What was the best book you read?

The Jack Kirby book by Evanier. Or was that last year?

19. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Well, there’s this British band called the Beatles that I seem to be newly into. Also, to a much lesser degree, Queen. About as little NEW music as I’ve ever experienced.

20. What was your favorite film of this year?

2008 movie I saw in 2009: The Visitor.
2009 movie: Up or Amreeka or maybe District 9. Though if I just got the Julia part of Julie and Julia, it’d be that. But there are a LOT of films I haven’t seen.

21. What did you do on your birthday?

Played (hearts) cards.

22. What kept you sane?

This assumes that I am sane. There’s no evidence I’ve seen.

23. Who did you miss?

Nobody, really. I mean I wish I saw some people more often, but that would be a shopping list. And because of the magic of electronics, I feel I DO keep up with them and/or know they keep up with me. Without that, it’d be pretty tough.

24. Who was the best new person you met?

There are some new folks in church I’m rather fond of, but I won’t name names.

25. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009:

Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot…

Actually, it is the wisdom of Satchel Paige:
“Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”
“Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”
“Don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines.”
“Not to be cheered by praise, not to be grieved by blame, but to know thoroughly one’s own virtues or powers are the characteristics of an excellent man.”
“Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.”

ROG


Here’s the 2010 Hall of Fame ballot, with their 2009 votes noted; those with no 2009 votes are eligible for the first time.

Roberto Alomar
Kevin Appier
Harold Baines 32 (6%)
Bert Blyleven 338 (63%)
Ellis Burks
Andre Dawson 361 (67%)
Andres Galarraga
Pat Hentgen
Mike Jackson
Eric Karros
Ray Lankford
Barry Larkin
Edgar Martinez
Don Mattingly 64 (12%)
Fred McGriff
Mark McGwire 118 (22%)
Jack Morris 237 (44%)
Dale Murphy 62 (12%)
Dave Parker 81 (15%)
Tim Raines 122 (23%)
Shane Reynolds
David Segui
Lee Smith 240 (45%)
Alan Trammell 94 (17%)
Robin Ventura
Todd Zeile

1. Who do YOU vote for, and why?
2. Who will get selected, if any? 75% required for enshrinement.
3. Who will get the lowest votes and not be eligible next year? “Candidates may remain under consideration for up to 15 years provided they are named on at least five percent of the ballots cast.”

1. Dawson and Blyleven should have gotten in years ago. Alomar and Larkin are strong middle infielders. I vote for Raines because he played well on a mediocre team (Expos). And though I wouldn’t have voted for McGwire in his first year of eligibility, I would now. And why doesn’t Lee Smith, who is or at least was the career saves leader for a time, back when saves weren’t always 3 outs, get more love?

2. From most likely to least: Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Andre Dawson, Bert Blyleven. McGwire doesn’t get in unless/until he shows some contrition over the steroids thing.

3. From most likely to reach the 5% threshold to the least:
Ellis Burks, Eric Karros, Todd Zeile, Ray Lankford. Kevin Appier, Pat Hentgen, David Segui, Shane Reynolds, Mike Jackson

ROG

This is one of those breakfast blogs Dan VanRiper said I write.

The New York Times recently ran a story about how Rosa Parks WASN’T =the first black person to protest treatment on the bus. How did these others get ignored by history? Because history is arbitrary and not generally 100% accurate. And as a friend of mine put it, “Food for thought about figureheads…Teenagers don’t get respect!”

Jackie Robinson was not the first black to play major league baseball, only the first one in several decades, which does not at all diminish his breakthrough. Meanwhile, the black players who reintegrated the NFL, friends of Robinson, BTW, are all but forgotten, or were until this recent Sports Illustrated story. Even if you’re not a sports fan, read it, if you haven’t. One writer has suggested these players ought to be in the football hall of fame.

My wife, who teaches English as a Second Language, tells me that sometimes only the primary teacher in a classroom is considered the “real” teacher by some students, whereas the specialists (ESL, speech) are though of more like teachers’ aides. This is particularly true when the primary teacher is a male and the specialist is a female, and all of the specialty teachers in her schools are women. Stereotypical gender roles, even in our “enlightened” 21st century, come creeping back.

I’ve mentioned that when I was my daughter’s age and in the hospital for an uncontrollable bloody nose, I was slackjawed to discover a male nurse and a female doctor; even at five and a half, I could be surprised that the world wasn’t as I expected it to be.

I was listening to the podcast KunstlerCast #90: The Demise of Happy Motoring this week. The host, Duncan Crary, didn’t know that “Happy Motoring” was a catchphrase of Esso gasoline (later Exxon). Duncan told Jim Kunsler said he’d Google the phrase, and I ended up doing the same. Apparently, Esso tried to be culturally diverse in its ads. Here are the Esso logo morphing into folks from the British Isles, and, showing some real stereotypes, these American folks.

Here’s 18-and a half minutes of sharp political commentary. Eighteen-and-a-half minutes? Shades of Rose Mary Woods!

There seems to be no clear consensus on the meaning of Boxing Day.
ROG

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