Posts Tagged ‘Baseball’
I enjoy watching football but my enjoyment has been diminishing as the lack of defense has become ridiculous. Much of this has been a result of rules by the league in an attempt to increase scoring and popularity of the game. This may be working but I am losing interest and someday soon may not bother to tune in on Sunday afternoons. The college game is also trending in the same direct as the pros. I can’t tell you how many games there were that were higher scoring than most college basketball games.
Football has a better grasp on the business side of the game than baseball without a doubt. As bad as the product is on the field in football, baseball is equally bad at handling the off field part of the game. The economics of baseball threatens the continued existence of baseball as we now know it. Now that the steroid era has hopefully come and gone we can begin to enjoy the game without the video game home run numbers.
I created a short list of reasons why I like baseball more than football and have them presented below for your review:
Football decided it had a need for a taunting penalty. Think about that for a minute. Millionaires who play a kids game need to have a deterrent so they will not taunt one another.
There is also an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for excessive celebration. Baseball has a tradition that if you have an excessive celebration after a home run the next batter will get a fastball in his ribs. There are not too many excessive celebrations after home runs and I like it that way.
Note: I have a very hard time forgiving baseball for having the Designated Hitter rule. They compounded the problem by not having it in both leagues.
The best summary of the differences between baseball and football and highlighting why baseball is a more likeable game can be found in a classic stand-up comedy routine by George Carlin. (It is also G-rated.) Read the text here.
Have a great week, baseball season is off and running!
The last time I wrote about a day in history it was January 24, 1935 and it was the day that beer first became available in a can. Read about that big day here. Today in history, another big beverage day occurred-“New” Coke was launched. I have highlighted some of the events below. To read the full list click here.
- 2011 In England, the guest list for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton is released
- 1997 “Titanic,” opens at Lunt-Fontanne Theater New York City
- 1996 Sotherby begins 4 day auction of Jackie Onassis things nets $34.5 million
- 1992 McDonald’s opens its 1st fast-food restaurant in China
- 1991 U.S.S.R. grants republics right to secede under certain conditions
- 1989 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar plays his last game as a Laker
- 1989 Nolan Ryan blows a no hitter in 9th inning
- 1985 Coca-Cola announced it is changing its secret flavor formula
- 1984 AIDS-virus identified, acquired immune deficiency syndrome
- 1978 Reds Joe Morgan ends record streak of 91 cons errorless games at 2nd
- 1972 Apollo 16 astronauts explores Moon surface
- 1969 Los Angeles Laker Jerry West scores 53 points
- 1962 1st U.S. satellite to reach the moon launched
- 1958 Gil Hodges hits his 300th home run and Pee Wee Reese plays in 2,000th game
- 1956 U.S. Supreme Court ends race segregation on buses
- 1954 Hammerin’ Hank Aaron hits 1st of his 755 homers
- 1950 4th NBA Championship: Minnesota Lakers beat Syracuse Nationals, 4 games to 2
- 1939 Boston Red Sox Ted Williams hits his 1st home run
- 1900 1st know occurrence of word “hillbillie” (New York Journal)
- 1896 Vitascope system of movie projection 1st demonstrated (New York City)
- 1881 Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera “Patience” produced in London
- 1867 Queen Victoria and Napoleon III turn down plans for a channel tunnel
- 1851 Canada issues its 1st postage stamps
- 1789 President-elect George Washington moves into Franklin House, New York
Granted my list is heavily loaded with sports trivia but I find it interesting that Ted Williams and Hank Aaron both hit the first home run of their respective major league careers on April 23rd though 15 years apart. Ted Williams was arguably the best hitter in baseball and Hank Aaron is the Home run king*. Between them they hit 1,276 home runs. That’s a lot of dingers!
Despite many historically significant happenings on the list, I think the most notable is the change to the secret formula of coca-cola. If not the launch of “New Coke” as most historically significant then the first known use of the word hillbillie gets my vote.
Have a great week armed with lots of valuable information from the events occurring on April 23rd in history.
*Reportedly someone else hit more home runs but I prefer to not acknowledge that cheating cheater in my baseball world.
The photo above was taken by me when I visited the National Baseball Hall Of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. What you are looking at is a wood carving and I am amazed at the skill of the person that did this.
Opening day for the Major league Baseball season is April 5th and the first night of baseball is on April 4th. We are a little more than a week away from the start of baseball in the United States. I for one am excited. I am especially excited because my favorite team; the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates recently re-signed Andrew McCutcheon to a 6 year 51 million dollar contract. That signing shows a real commitment from ownership that the losing ways may be finally coming to an end.
The last time the Pittsburgh Pirates had a winning season was 1992. George H.W. Bush was the President of the United States back then. In case you are curious, listed below are the World Series winners since 1992:
1993 Toronto Blue Jays 2002 Anaheim Angels
1994 No game due to strike 2003 Florida Marlins
1995 Atlanta Braves 2004 Boston Red Sox
1996 New York Yankees 2005 Chicago White Sox
1997 Florida Marlins 2006 St. Louis Cardinals
1998 New York Yankees 2007 Boston Red Sox
1999 New York Yankees 2008 Philadelphia Phillies
2000 New York Yankees 2009 New York Yankees
2001 Arizona Diamondbacks 2010 San Francisco Giants
2011 St. Louis Cardinals
This time of year is always a good one for me as the weather gets warmer and baseball season starts and there is hope. Hope even for a Pittsburgh Pirate fan. Maybe this year they will win more than they lose. That is not too much to ask is it? I for one am looking forward to baseball so I can watch games almost every night until November. Almost every year I create a mental to do list for my summer activity wish list. This year is no different. A few items on that to do list:
- Buy a new lawn mower that is self propelled to help me cut my hilly areas of my lawn. I am not getting any younger.
- Finally take that road trip to Alabama. It has been delayed due to bad weather and general malaise this winter.
- Go to Stone Mountain to see the massive carving. It is many times larger than Mount Rushmore and I have yet to see it. Traffic issues have dampened my enthusiasm to see it.
- Paint my garage. The walls need a fresh coat of bright paint. I hate painting and will get much needed help from my wife who does most of our painting.
- Watch a Pittsburgh Pirate playoff victory? At least watch them live at Turner Field when they play a 4 game wrap-around series on April 27-30.
Have a great week. Better weather and baseball season are soon to be here.
In no particular order here is my list:
- My stupid mistakes, other people’s stupid mistakes – forgive and forget!
- The lousy economy
- The European sovereign debt crisis – but can our politicians take a look at what we are heading towards here in the good old USA?
- Billionaires and Millionaires fighting over how to spend their customer’s revenues – DO YOU HEAR ME NFL AND NBA?
- The NFL and the NBA
- 10 year $260 million dollar contracts
- Performance enhancing drugs, steroids and the cheating cheaters that use them
- Data plans for cell phones that cost $30 per month. I thought the price of technology went down over time?
- Gutless politicians from both sides of the aisle
- Hurricanes, tornadoes and floods
- The BCS and NCAA hypocrisy
- Lack of leadership in all areas
- Hollywood movies. How about making something that I want to watch that isn’t a sequel or a remake.
- $9 movie tickets
- Chocolate, without you I would not have a problem keeping the weight off
- “LOL”,” JK”, “UR”, “U” and any texting terminology creeping into non-texting use.
Many phrases such as:
- “The New Normal”
- “At the end of the day” – can we please stop using this? I was tired of it 7 years ago.
- “Really?” This phrase apparently applies to anything but it has run its course.
Have a great week and say goodbye to the silly things of 2011.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are a professional baseball team – allegedly. They have fallen on hard times since the 1992 season. Since that season, which ended with Sid Bream sliding safely into home for the Atlanta Braves for a walk off win, they have not had a winning season. I will do the math for you, that adds up to 19 years. I grew up a Pirate fan and in the 70’s they were actually a very good team with World Championships in 1971 and 1979 and numerous division titles. I have a very deep scar that has been lying open and festering as those years of futility approach 20. Many things can aggravate that scar and the worst is when baseball is not on my mind. The wound does not affect me much, even when watching a Pirate game. I am able to contain it in a hidden place and watch and enjoy the game – even if they lose. When I really have a stabbing pain from the trauma of the past 19 years is when I have to embrace it unexpectedly. That just happened before I wrote this. As any blogger will tell you, we are always looking for a topic to add to a blog post.
What happened? A few weeks ago, I was minding my business preparing to take a self-study continuing education course for my CPA license and it happened. The scar was opened up and salt was poured into it. Actually, it was coffee. I was working at my desk and I spilled a full cup of coffee all over my desk. I scrambled to contain the spill as it slowly rolled over my desk onto papers and anything in its way like the waves down on the beach. (Listen to the song Cars Hiss By My Window by the Doors by clicking here) As I began my clean-up effort, I realized my prize possession was in danger of becoming soiled by the toxic coffee. In its path was my Richie Hebner Bobblehead! When I saw what was about to happen, the years of losing and the pain of the last 19 years boiled up as I screamed loudly; “No, not Richie!” I was too late. The defiling had taken place and I was dealing with the pain and complete hopelessness all over again. Before I go any further let me explain that Richie Hebner was my favorite Pirate during my formative baseball years. His playing days are a memory I have of the glory days. Click here to see Richie’s modest stats.
The damage was done; papers were turned brown and were sopping wet. A magazine I had already read was in its path and was luckily serving as a levee against the flood of coffee. My picture of my wife took a hit. But worst of all (yes, worst of all and I know what you are thinking) the Hebner Bobblehead was swimming in the mess. As I re-lived the horror of the past 19 years in my mind I also was berating myself for treating the Bobblehead so carelessly. I got a towel and soaked up the worst of it and then got paper towels and cleaned everything up. I took special care when cleaning up the soiled Hebner. He took it like a man and kept smiling as he stood at attention with his bat in hand.
There is usually some good that comes from a disaster of this magnitude and I must say this was no different. My desk was really dusty and needed a good cleaning plus I got a blog post out of it. After I took a few moments to survey my cleaned up desk I realized things were going to be OK. The pain from my wound has lessened as I write this and I think the rest of the day will go well. I need to get back to my Continuing Education.
Have a great week.
A couple of weeks ago I went to my first baseball game at Turner Field to watch the Atlanta Braves play host to the Washington Nationals in front of a crowd of 16,692. The evening was very warm with a first pitch temperature of about 90 degrees. The Braves blew a 2 run lead in the top of the 9th and lost 7-3 by giving up 4 runs in the top of the 11th. I had very good seats behind home plate in the lower level. We sat in section 101, row 7 in the Henry Aaron seats. I think I was closer to home plate than anyone else on the field except for the catcher, batter and umpire.
Turner Field opened for baseball in 1997 upon completion of modifications after the 1996 Olympics. It is known as a fan friendly park with many TV monitors throughout the park as well as an old and new feel to it. I have been to 3 other “new era” ball parks that were built beginning in the early 1990’s to replace the cookie cutter, multi use design popular in the late 60’s and early 70’s. The other 3 that I have been to are PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Progressive Field in Cleveland and Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore. In my opinion Turner Field ranks last of those in overall fan ambiance while watching a game. It is not bad by any means but it does not have the same dramatic sight lines the other 3 have. While doing some research on this topic, I found one surprising fact about Atlanta baseball. Prior to the Colorado Rockies joining the league in 1993, Atlanta’s altitude of 1,057 feet was the highest in the Majors.
One area that I give it the highest marks is the fan experience outside of watching the game. The area outside of the playing field or the plaza area is a unique concept that gives an amusement park feel to the outer concourse of the facility. The concession areas are well-organized and offer traditional ballpark offering and also choices with the Atlanta touch. Below is the description from the Official Braves web site:
The most unique feature of Turner Field is the Grand Entry Plaza located on the north end of the ballpark. The Plaza is a ticketed entertainment/concession area consisting of two food and game-filled pavilions, Scouts Alley and Cartoon Network’s Tooner Field. A 100-foot diameter photograph of Hank Aaron’s actual 715th home run ball dominates the Plaza-side scoreboard and provides a popular backdrop for photographs in the Plaza. Every home game features pre-game entertainment in the Fan Plaza. Meet the Tomahawk Team girls and design your own sign, get a picture taken with the Braves mascot, Homer, and get in step with the Heavy Hitters. You can also get involved in some of the pre-game and/or in-game features for your chance to win great prizes and merchandise!
I have included a picture since each one is worth a thousand words.
I hope you enjoy your Memorial Day holiday and have a great week.
A few weeks ago I promised a report on my vacation in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. As we wrap up summer 2010 on this Labor Day I hope you were able to enjoy some time off from the daily rat race. My report is below.
We stayed at a small cottage near Keuka Lake and after my morning bike ride around the lake we spent our day one going to the Corning Museum of Glass which was about a 30 minute drive. We were at the museum for about 3 hours and the museum had art work from glass and glass products throughout the years going back over 2,000 years as well as a lot of technology related to glass. I was surprised how much I enjoyed our time at the museum in Corning. In Corning there is also a Norman Rockwell Museum and if you buy a ticket for both museums the price is something like $20. The ticket price for an adult to the Glass Museum is about $14 with a 10 or 15% discount if you belong to AAA. We did not go to the Rockwell Museum.
Day 2 began with a bicycle ride and then trip over to the Seneca Lake area via Watkins Glen which sits at the bottom of Seneca Lake. We had lunch in a picnic area of the Finger Lakes National Forest. We then drove to a winery on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail and began a bike riding tour of some wineries on the East side of Seneca Lake. We hit about 5 wineries in 7 miles of riding south and had some tastings, all of which were very nice. On the way back we decided to go without stopping for any tastings as there is a winery about every mile or so on each side of the road. On both sides of Seneca Lake there are over 40 wineries as well as several breweries. Seneca Lake is 38 miles long and is the second longest of the Finger Lakes. Cayuga Lake is the largest at just under 40 miles.
Day 3 was our trip to Cooperstown to the National Baseball Hall Of Fame and Museum. It was about a 3 hour drive through the hills of rural New York and it rained most of the day. We arrived in Cooperstown around 1 PM and spent 4 hours at the Hall of Fame and thoroughly enjoyed the day. The only bad thing about Cooperstown is its location. By car, there is no real easy way to get there. At some point you have to travel on back roads which are hilly and winding. 90% of our trip there was on those types of roads. Despite, the difficulty at getting there I am glad I went there and would recommend it to any baseball fan.
After my morning bike ride, day 4 was spent in Rochester visiting my wife’s Great Aunt which was about a 75 minute drive from our cottage. When we got back to the Keuka Lake area we hit a few more wineries for tastings and then a nice Italian Restaurant for dinner in Hammondsport. We had a glass of red wine from a local winery that we were visiting the next day. The food was good and the wine was superb. The wine was a proprietary blend from Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Winery. This winery is probably the most well-respected winery in the region and has made a name for itself for its wine made from the Riesling grape.
Day 5 was Saturday and our last full day of vacation and it began with my morning bike ride and then we were off to Herron Hill winery and Dr. Konstantin Frank’s. Herron Hill was a very nice winery that had a delightful selection of wines and a great view. Dr Frank’s winery was established in 1962 and has made a name by growing European grape varieties rather than native grapes such as Concord or French Hybrids. We then went back to our cottage, had lunch and went to an outdoor flea market. After a while at the flea market we went back to our cottage and sampled some wines we bought over the past few days. Below is a list of wineries we visited:
- Caywood Vineyards
- Dr. Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars
- Herron Hill Winery
- Keuka Lake Vineyards
- King’s Garden Vineyard
- Lamoreaux Landing
- Penguin Bay Winery
- Stever Hill Vineyards
- Wagner Vineyards
Next week I will return to alternating business and non-business topics. Have a great week and enjoy what is left of our summer.
Since I have switched my blog into summer mode focusing on lighthearted topics, I have devoted a good deal of time to the Summer and Summertime activities. On May 31st I kicked this off with Songs of Summer. On June 14th I reminisced about the Contrarian Vacation and on June 28th wrote about Amusement parks. July 19th the heat wave was in full force and I was thinking about a Cool Treat on a Hot Day – Ice Cream. Last week I warned everyone that Time Was Running Out on Summer. Today, I will continue with the Summer theme and share some vacation plans I am working on to fit in a vacation before the season turns to fall. After Labor Day, I will return to writing on business related topics every other week and will report on our vacation we are planning.
Our plans are fairly well-developed for our vacation. We are planning on going to the Finger Lakes in New York State. The first thing on my list of things to do will be a visit to Cooperstown, New York and the Baseball Hall Of Fame. I would love to stay all day but will be considerate to my wife and will try to limit the visit to a reasonable amount of time. Another activity on the list is touring the countryside on our bicycles. We also will stop at some of the wineries for some wine tasting. A visit to my wife’s Great Aunt in Rochester will fill up an afternoon as we will be close enough to stop by for lunch. We will rent a cottage on one of the lakes and fill the rest of our time with general laziness and eating. We are looking forward to the time off to recharge our batteries. We will not bring our laptop computers and will mostly likely not have access to the internet. Cell phones will be turned off and voicemail will be checked but returned for emergencies only. We will bring one piece of technology that intrigues me. My wife won an Apple iPad at a conference recently and I am curious about what to do with it. I may write about this later in the fall to give my review of this odd “toy”. I have heard that many larger companies are buying them for business use. More about the iPad later. For now, I will go back to planning the rest of my vacation.
Have a great week and enjoy your Summer as the days are becoming more precious as the days get shorter.
Last Wednesday, June 2nd the Detroit Tigers beat the Cleveland Indians 3-0. In front of 17,738 in attendance, Armando Galarraga pitched the 21st perfect game in Major League baseball history – almost. It was not in the cards that night for Galarraga. As has been well documented, the umpire calling safe or out at first base for the potential 27th out called safe and missed the call.
I don’t want to talk about instant replay, poor umpiring or a plea to Bud Selig to reverse the blown call. I want to talk about the lesson learned from the aftermath. The pitcher who was involved in the fateful play responded with dignity and grace. He was disappointed and upset with the call but took his lumps and shook it off. He could have joined the most elite club in baseball – the perfect game club. I say that with the passage of time he will transcend the perfect game club and will join a club of his own. Not only will he be remembered as throwing the perfect game whether by an asterisk or by some other means, he will forever be remembered as a man who actually embodied the qualities, true or romanticized, that have been associated with the national pastime. What kind of man is Armando Galarraga? I don’t know and I suppose he has many faults that most rich athletes have but in the worst conditions when a temper tantrum would have been considered acceptable he paused, took it in and completed the game without even getting credit for a no hitter. He passed a test the most of us would have failed.
There are two other personalities in this matter that I would like to mention, the umpire who made the call and Tigers manager Jim Leyland. Umpire Jim Joyce made the call that he thought was right and resisted the temptation to “give” a call to the pitcher. We all know he was wrong but in his error he showed integrity and afterwards displayed humility by acknowledging his error and without making excuses. I suppose he will continue umpiring without many repercussions as he is generally considered to be a good umpire. I believe that he will gain respect as a man who believed in his judgment and who was willing to admit he was wrong afterwards. Finally, I would like to tip my cap to Jim Leyland. He was visibly upset at the play and after the game he was seen yelling at Umpire Joyce. When interviewed shortly after the game in the clubhouse he was still very upset and his voice was unsteady but he took the time to consider everything and began to display restraint and made conciliatory comments about events that unfolded that night. He also helped calm the city and shape public opinion knowing there was a game to be played about 14 hours later the next day. The final touch that helped put baseball back on track was to let Galarraga take the lineup card out to the home plate umpire the next day. That Umpire was Jim Joyce and the shaking of hands and show of respect sealed the wound between all parties in the world of baseball.
Yes, it is just a game but it is my game of choice and our national pastime.
Have a good week.
I was wondering what I was going to write about this week for my non business related topic. I was, that is, until the news about baseball slugger Mark McGwire hit the internet.
This, however, will not be a rant about steroids or Mark McGwire’s use of them. It will be a letter in support of baseball. Not the organized, multi-billion dollar industry that it has become but rather to my dear old friend the simple game that we all played when we were kids.
I remember playing pick up games as a kid when we would use “ghost” runners when we only had a few kids on each side. We played using the rule that you had to “push” the “ghost” runner over to score a run. We also played the “pitchers hand” rule when the pitcher would serve as the first baseman when we were short handed. I played baseball whenever I got a chance but never once played organized ball not even little league. I never regret not playing Little League baseball. When I played I was in the big leagues – at least in my mind.
Baseball is a friend that is always there for me during the spring and summer months. You can ignore your friend baseball for a few days or a week but it will be there with games on TV, night and day, every day of the week and will always welcome you back with open arms. The long season of 162 games lends itself to a leisurely, relaxing pace rather than a hectic sprint such as the 16 game season of football. Some people may say that the length of the season de-values the games making each game less important. I contend that the length of the season and the failure rate is the best thing about baseball. What do I mean when about I speak of the failure rate? I am sure you have heard many times that a good hitter is one that fails 70% of the time, a good team may win their division by winning 56% of the time or 90 games out of 162. Winning 56% of the time in football will get you about 9 wins – rarely good enough for a wild card spot.
What do I like that about baseball? Well, I suppose it is a forgiving game in a world that is not very forgiving and very results oriented. Winning 56% of the time? That’s good for baseball, failure in schools. Having success 30% of the time? That’s good for a hitter in baseball, but the pink slip in business. Sometimes it is nice to relax and forget the competitive rat-race world and hearken back to a less complicated time.
The BUSINESS of baseball has endured the Black Sox scandal, racism until Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, the reserve clause until the Curt Flood case, labor strife, lock outs, no World Series in 1994, Pete Rose betting on baseball and now the steroids era. The GAME of baseball has endured all these calamities and remains pure as ever. In this day and age it is the one sport that I can watch a spectacular play, whether it is a home run or fielding effort, and not have to see some sort of victory dance or other ridiculous display of self promotion. For now, even on the day of Mark McGwire’s shameful admission, the GAME still has class.