baseball ixd web

Halladay's no-no over the Internet airwaves

Yes­ter­day after­noon I watched Roy Hal­la­day's no-no on the Hot Cor­ner, which is Major League Baseball's con­ces­sion to the Inter­net. The Hot Cor­ner allows you to choose a sin­gle cam­era angle from which to watch the game, which has the advan­tage of show­ing you stuff you might not see in the mul­ti-cam­era, fre­quent-cut-away tele­vised expe­ri­ence. The down­side is that you miss every­thing that hap­pens out­side of that sin­gle cam­era frame, which, as it turns out, is a lot. When Hal­la­day was pitch­ing, I chose the angle that kept the cam­era on his face the entire time, and this time I didn't miss much because every sin­gle impor­tant moment hap­pened right there. You could sense (not "see" exact­ly) the flow that Hal­la­day was in; the announc­ers kept remark­ing on how "calm" he looked, but it wasn't calm­ness as much as it was qui­et, focused inten­si­ty.

DocThe final out.

The New Yorker's Roger Angell even men­tions the flow in a blog entry about the game:

Pitch­ing his no-hit, 4–0 mas­ter­piece against the Cincin­nati Reds last night, the Phillies’ ace Roy Hal­la­day restored the smooth­ing, almost sym­phon­ic sense of plea­sure that lies with­in the spare num­bers and wait­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties of every ball­game. Even from a dis­tance, at home again in your squalid liv­ing-room loge, you felt some­thing spe­cial this time about the flow of pitch­es, balls and (most­ly) strikes, the inex­orably approach­ing twen­ty-sev­enth man retired …

And of course the Philly fans were deeply engaged through­out the game. In the lat­er innings, each strike was cheered, and Reds bat­ters received hearty, cas­cad­ing boos each time they asked for time to try to dis­rupt Halladay's rhythm.Red doctoberThis guy brought the right sign to the game.

The remain­der of the post-sea­son will have to be pret­ty remark­able to out-shine this unique achieve­ment. (And I per­son­al­ly hope that the Giants are up for it).


They don't think it be like it is, but it do.

Oscar Gamble - Glorious afro

All this time, I thought the best thing about Oscar Gam­ble was his epic afro. But now I've learned that the title of this post is said to have orig­i­nat­ed from Gam­ble dur­ing a dis­cus­sion of the 1975 Yan­kees; those were the ear­ly days of George Steinbrenner's tenure, and the first of Bil­ly Martin's five man­age­r­i­al stints. And yeah, Gamble's assess­ment sounds about right to me. (I first saw it in the com­ments sec­tion of an excel­lent post by Joe Pos­nan­s­ki, which is worth read­ing for the wealth of sports quotes).

baseball photo

Absolutely undeniable proof that you belong in the Baseball Hall of Fame

Nolan Ryan - Robin Ventura

You auto­graph pho­tos of your­self using Robin Ventura's head as a speed­bag. And, they sell for $100 each on ebay.


The man of steal

Base­ball great Rick­ey Hen­der­son recent­ly gave the Hall of Fame induc­tion speech to end all induc­tion speech­es. He was a larg­er-than-life fig­ure in my child­hood, and he had a per­son­al­i­ty to match, often refer­ring to him­self in the third per­son. For exam­ple, "There are pieces of this puz­zle that Rick­ey is still work­ing out," in a dis­cus­sion of age and base­ball in an excel­lent New York­er pro­file. There was no third-per­son in the speech, but there was plen­ty of Rick­ey being Rick­ey:

As a kid grow­ing up in Oak­land, my heroes were Jack­ie Robin­son, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Reg­gie Jack­son. What about that Reg­gie Jack­son? I stand out­side the ball­park in the park­ing lot, wait­ing for Reg­gie Jack­son to give me an auto­graph … I said, 'Reg­gie, can I have an auto­graph.' He would pass me a pen, with his name on it.

The best part is that Jack­son is sit­ting behind him, crack­ing up, along with Robin Yount and var­i­ous oth­er liv­ing leg­ends. You can watch the whole thing, in three parts, on YouTube: Part 1 has some awe­some com­men­tary by Tony Gwynn and Torii Hunter; Part 2 is the begin­ning of Rickey's speech; Part 3 is the con­clu­sion.

baseball kansas city

Royal-ly sucking

Zack Greinke's lock­down pitch­ing dur­ing the bot­tom of the fourth inning of tonight's All-Star game made me won­der: When was the last time a Roy­al looked great in an All-Star game? Of course Bo Jack­son's epic home run to lead off the 1989 All-Star game comes to mind. Roy­als Review help­ful­ly offers a brief his­to­ry of Roy­al par­tic­i­pa­tion in the All-Star game over the past decade.

  • 2008: Joakim Soria named, pitched one and two-thirds innings of score­less relief.
  • 2007: Gil Meche named, did not play.
  • 2006: Mark Red­man named, did not play.
  • 2005: Mike Sweeney named, struck out as a pinch-hit­ter in the 7th.
  • 2004: Ken Har­vey named, struck out as a pinch-hit­ter in the 3rd.
  • 2003: Mike Mac­Dou­gal and Sweeney named, nei­ther appeared.
  • 2002: Mike Sweeney named, replaced Paul Kon­erko at 1B in the 7th inning, flied out to right in the 9th inning.
  • 2001: Mike Sweeney named, replaced Jason Giambi at first in the 8th inning, flied out to right in the 8th inning.
  • 2000: Jer­maine Dye vot­ed to start, Mike Sweeney named. Sweeney pinch-hit for James Bald­win in the 4th, reach­ing on an error. Sweeney did not appear in the field. Dye walked once and struck out.

Yeah, not so illus­tri­ous.

baseball the ancient past

Disco Demolition Night

Hard to believe it was 30 years ago, but there's some excel­lent local news footage of a noto­ri­ous moment in base­ball his­to­ry: the White Sox ill-fat­ed "Dis­co Demo­li­tion" pro­mo­tion. In the end, Comiskey Park descend­ed into a riot after a Chica­go DJ explod­ed a crate full of dis­co records in the mid­dle of the field between games of a dou­ble-head­er. The NYT has a nice chron­i­cle of the unfold­ing dis­as­ter:

[Mike] Veeck, [son of the White Sox own­er], ordered yel­low-jack­et­ed guards to go out­side to stop fans from crash­ing the gates.That allowed the spec­ta­tors inside the ball­park to storm the field with­out much resis­tance. Jack Mor­ris, a Tigers pitch­er, recalled "whiskey bot­tles were fly­ing over our dugout" after Detroit won the first game, 4–1.Then Dahl blew up the records."And then all hell broke loose," Mor­ris said. "They charged the field and start­ed tear­ing up the pitch­ing rub­ber and the dirt. They took the bases. They start­ed dig­ging out home plate."

Watch for Greg Gum­bel in the footage above; he was a sports­cast­er for a Chica­go-area sta­tion.

baseball the ancient past visual

Baseball cards / 1960 Topps

Like lots of stuff, they real­ly don't make base­ball cards like they used to. Halftone action thumb­nail! Alter­nat­ing col­ors in the play­er names! Don Drysdale's coif!

1960 Topps - Don Drysdale
1960 Topps - Curt Flood 1960 Topps - Elston Howard 1960 Topps - Don Larsen

baseball san francisco


I've said it before: I don't like Bar­ry Bonds. So it may seem strange that I want­ed to be there when he hit home run num­ber 756. But con­sid­er this: I love base­ball; the record for career home runs is, like it or not, one of baseball's hal­lowed mile­stones; Bonds plays in my city; the Giants were begin­ning a home stand as he was poised to break the record. Too many stars were aligned for me to NOT try to get into a game. I could always boo, right? So, on Tues­day, August 7, I rode my bike to AT&T Park, hop­ing to get lucky and fig­ur­ing that I wouldn't. Imme­di­ate­ly, I got real­ly lucky, scor­ing an amaz­ing tick­et in the club lev­el (a $70 val­ue) for the price of two AT&T Park beers. At that moment, I had a good feel­ing. A cou­ple of hours lat­er, Bonds faced a 3–2 count, and I decid­ed to join 45,000+ oth­er fans in point­ing my dig­i­tal cam­era at the plate. Up to that point, I made sar­cas­tic remarks about medi­at­ing the expe­ri­ence in that way. Now I'm post­ing my crap­py ver­sion on the Inter­net. Why? I don't know. Any­way, a moment lat­er, Bonds drilled the pitch into deep, deep cen­ter field and the stranger next to me grabbed my arm and start­ed jump­ing up and down.For the next five min­utes, I high-fived a lot of peo­ple, and some­one gave me a hug as I was film­ing the cel­e­bra­tions. Fire­works explod­ed over McCov­ey Cove; stream­ers rained down; the Nation­als left the field; Hank Aaron con­grat­u­lat­ed Bonds asyn­chro­nous­ly through a pre-record­ed video. It was sur­re­al, but fes­tive and exciting.Of course, there was also a weird vibe. Peo­ple seemed to feel per­son­al­ly grat­i­fied that they got to wit­ness his­to­ry, but few seemed real­ly, tru­ly hap­py for Bonds. Few peo­ple said: "Wow, good for Bonds.†Those who did were either peo­ple who pos­sessed amaz­ing capac­i­ties for for­give­ness and seemed gen­uine­ly hap­py, or younger guys with way too much bit­ter­ness who saw Bonds as a kin­dred spir­it. The rest of us said: "Wow. I can't believe I saw that. Wow. This is real­ly weird." After hit­ting the home run, Bonds left the game. It was the 5th inning, and the Giants had a 5–4 lead; the Nation­als came back and won. My ques­tion: Who does that? Hank Aaron? No. Dimag­gio? Nev­er. Ted Williams? God no. Sort of a per­fect end­ing to a con­flict­ed, sur­re­al night.

baseball flickr

Baseball / Bonds, 731

Flickr photo

After all my trash talk about Bonds and how he should just fess up to the roids, I saw him hit a dinger last Sat­ur­day, and I actu­al­ly cheered. Like, I stood up as it left the bat, and maybe even jumped in the air when it went out, all the while clap­ping my hands. It was irre­sistible. He hit the thing a mile. It was awe­some.


Baseball / Bonds-ron

As Bar­ry Bonds approach­es Babe Ruth on the life­time home­run list, he's get­ting a heck­u­va lot of ambiva­lent cov­er­age: Vet­er­ans express ambiva­lence and skep­ti­cism (SI), even San Fran­cis­cans sour­ing on the event (AP via ESPN), but base­ball has seen worse, though not by much (ESPN). I fig­ured I'd do some first-hand inves­ti­ga­tion this after­noon, so I rode down to AT&T Park dur­ing lunch. When Bonds came up to bat, there was the req­ui­site "Bar-ry, Bar-ry," but even this seemed pret­ty half-heart­ed, like every­one felt that they kin­da had to chant along. Cyn­i­cal com­ments rip­pled through the crowd. It seems weird to say this, but maybe you don't have to like Bonds as a per­son to feel drawn to his achieve­ment. Or, how about this: Maybe there's a whole dif­fer­ent kind of enjoy­ment that one derives from watch­ing vil­lains break records? What­ev­er it was, it was def­i­nite­ly not 2001 all over again, when a Bonds at-bat sent pal­pa­ble elec­tic­i­ty through the crowd. In 2006, it's more akin to watch­ing Enron execs lie their ass­es off in court.