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.