Baseball

Have you seen my baseball?

The Sprawl

Living in the sprawl,

Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains

-Arcade Fire

This morning the Braves, the one team I have adopted since carpetbagging to Atlanta, dropped a bombshell and announced they are moving to the suburbs of Cobb County. If I had to chose between death and living in Cobb County, I would have to think about it.

Turner Field

Will be missed.

Their reasons are pretty self-explanatory: they’re going to make more money off it. Oh they won’t say that of course, but all stadium moves are about money and money only. The stadium will be smaller capacity, which means higher ticket prices. There is no MARTA rail to anywhere near the stadium, so everyone will have to drive, meaning everyone will have to pay to park, which is more revenue for the Braves. They will pay less in yearly stadium costs and keep more in yearly stadium revenue. It all makes sense from the standpoint of business.

But as a fan, it’s bullshit:

The reason for moving is simple. The current location has certain issues that are insurmountable and will only become more problematic over the years. These fundamental issues involve how you, our fans, access Turner Field. There is a lack of consistent mass transportation, a lack of sufficient parking and a lack of direct access to interstates. Furthermore, the Braves do not have control over the development of our immediate surroundings.

Horsecrap. (more…)

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Looking Back at Cinderella

I don’t care for the Phillies anymore, one day I realized they didn’t care about winning so why should I care about them. Of course, then the started to care and got really good. That’s irony. But still, despite Joe Carter ruining my 13th birthday, I still have fond memories of the ’93 team, who caught lightning in a bottle and managed to keep it there for 99% of the season. Hard to not be a fan of that bunch of misfits. I’m also a fan of oral histories, the facts might not be right but it’s fun hearing from the players, coaches, executives and the people that covered them years later, free of the burden of keeping their mouth shut about guys still playing. Philly Magazine has a pretty good one of that scrappy team.

Sports are supposed to be fun. The ’93 Phillies were nothing but fun.

Larry Andersen: Sometimes we’d spend the night in the clubhouse. We’d get up, strap ’em on, and go get ’em the next day. That is, if you could avoid Kruky playing wiffle ball until five in the morning.

John Kruk: I love wiffle ball. There was a day game, and I was supposed to have the day off. One of our guys came in with an injury, and they told me I was playing. I had finished my last adult beverage at 7 a.m. after pitching 45 innings of wiffle ball with the clubhouse guys. I think Curt Schilling was pitching that day. I told him, “If you want to win this game, you don’t want them to hit it to me.”

Mike Missanelli: Lenny Dykstra would walk around in his underwear with a cigarette, a cup of coffee and a bat. He’d ask some clubhouse guy to go out and throw BP.

John Kruk: The bullpen guys ate a lot and watched interesting television in the video room. I went back there after a particularly bad at-bat and they had seven or eight TVs; they had everything on except our game. They had pizzas and cheesesteaks. That’s the way they were.

Kevin Stocker, shortstop: Larry Andersen would be in the bullpen in the third inning completely covered in ketchup.

Larry Andersen: I befriended a seven- or eight-year-old in the bullpen at Dodger Stadium. His dad was a police officer, and for my 40th birthday they sent me a can of Instant Hair. Mitch Williams might have gone a little overboard with it, but I went out there and took batting practice without a hat for probably the first time ever. People were asking if I’d gotten a wig.

Mitch Williams: Every team needs some guys around to remind them the game is supposed to be fun. But maybe I gave him more hair than he needed.

John Kruk: We could be goofy and do whatever we wanted up until five minutes before the game. And after the game, we could do whatever we wanted up until five minutes before the next game.

MLB Draft: Train Wreck TV

Tonight is the MLB draft, and if you don’t watch I can’t blame you.  It’s terrible.  And because it’s so terrible, I love watching it (until Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals comes on that is).  Here’s why…

Bud Selig is a horrible public speaker.

This can not be debated.  Selig has no charisma whatsoever.  The man simply can not pronounce “Los Angeles, ” he says “Los Angeleeze.”  When announcing a pick he says the school and then the town and state.  That’s great if it’s a kid from some prep school or private college that you’ve never heard off.  But when it comes to colleges that have the city and state in the name, well then it’s just watchable.  If someone is drafted from UNC-Chapel Hill, he says “from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.  Chapel Hill, North Carolina.”  Come on Bud, use some common sense.  He speaks in flat voice and often pauses awkwardly.  Just the guy you want to be the voice of one of your more high profile public events!

There’s no drama.

The obvious drawback to baseball’s draft is that at best only a handful of kids are known.  College baseball is an afterthought to the sports world until the College World Series, which is after the draft.  And HS baseball, save for the wunderkid, has no public interest.  It doesn’t have part of the appeal of the draft in other sports, in that we get to see where these kids who we’ve been following through the season, through bowls, through the Final Four, through the Memorial Cup are going.  We know the big names, we’ve followed their careers.  Not with baseball.  So you have a draft of nobodies, and to top it all off you can’t trade picks.  Trading picks is entertaining.  It gives us something to talk about, like when this year the Falcons dealt a whole bunch of picks to get Julio Jones.  We can talk about that trade for years depending on how it pans out.  Can’t do it with baseball.  Can’t get the excitement or disappointment that the hardcore fan gets when their team trades up or down.  MLB shouldn’t make trading picks possible because of this, it’s just an unfortunate side effect.  And because you can’t trade picks, the time they take between picks is completely pointless.  NFL, NHL, NBA teams, they take their time on their picks because they are taking or making calls, seeing if there is a good trade to be made.  Since MLB teams can’t do that, there should be no reason why picks aren’t fast and furious.  They used to be, which brings us to:

It’s just a bad TV product.

The draft used to be an afternoon conference call as recently as 2006, it was never an event.  A team would say a name and then immediately the next team would.  The NFL on the other hand, their draft was an event at least as far back as the 60’s, they had reporters in attendance and Pete Rozelle would announce the picks at a podium.  There was already a location, already a forum where picks were physically announced.  So the transition to television was fairly seamless.  The transition to TV has been pretty rough for MLB.  MLB Network does a nice job with what they have to work with, not blaming them.  What they have to work with though, is not good.  The interviews with newly drafted players are boring.  I’m sure it’s exciting for the kid that the Angels just picked to get drafted, but if he gets to the big leagues, and if it’s with the Angels, the roster is going to look very different, so why ask him if he’s excited to play with Torii Hunter?  I hope they ask whoever the Braves draft if he can’t wait to play with Chipper Jones.  The answer of course would be “yes, I can wait, because he’ll be retired by the time I get there.”  And to top it off, these kids, through no fault of their own, are generally pretty bad on camera.  NFL and (most) NBA draftees just spent a college career getting interviewed all the time and having a support network at their school to deal with the media.  They’re not all good either, but they’re experienced.  That kid from some high school in the panhandle of Florida is as green as grass.  And then of course there’s the rampant speculation that the analysts must do when talking about these kids who are years away from the majors.  With the NFL and NBA, the draftees will step in right away, and a good number of NHL picks do so too, so talking about how a player’s skills, even if they’re raw, pertain to a system, or how the current coaching staff will develop them is perfectly fine.  You can’t do that with MLB.  None of these players will make an immediate impact in 2011, and the casual fan isn’t going to remember these guys a year from now.

And the cherry on top: it’s at 7pm, which is when baseball is played.  Such as the Dodgers at the Phillies on ESPN.

But I’ll still watch, because we love train wreck television.

Funny Behind-The-Scenes Phillies Story

A friend of mine works on the Phillies’ postgame shows for Channel 17 in Philly.

During Tuesday night’s game, nobody was in a hurry to get ready for a postgame show since the game was tied at 1 going into the 9th.

As soon as Danys Baez was announced as the pitcher for the Phillies, the on-air talent immediately made their way to their seats and prepared for the end of the game. They knew it was almost over.

Winter Classic 2012

So, according to league sources, the Flyers and Rangers will square off in the 2012 Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park. Great news!

Now, the only better news would be if Carlos Ruiz was available to play goalie. He won’t let anything by him.

Marquee Matchup

The last time Roy Halladay and Josh Johnson matched up, Halladay left the Marlins stadium (whatever the hell it was called at the time) with a perfect game. If you’re not watching the rematch tonight, you have no excuse.

Except me, unfortunately. I’ll be working. But highly distracted.