Category Archives: baseball

Jimmy Rollins Fadeaway


Consider this image:
Jimmy Rollins Fadeaway

It is from the first inning of Sunday’s Phillies-Padres game. Joe Blanton misplayed a ball off the bat of Mark Kotsay (he’s still around?) and Jimmy Rollins tries to nail Kotsay at first while Will Venable looks on in the ugly San Diego camo jersey. Rollins has a strong arm. Check out the recoil from that throw. Even fired sidearm, it is propelling him towards left field. But Kotsay beats the throw.

I rarely read Sports Illustrated anymore, but when I do flip through it in a waiting room, it is for images. Images like these. I once spouted some mumbo-jumbo about baseball and kinetic beauty, but I think that I dig static beauty better. Like the frozen poetry in pictures like this one of Rollins and the one from last week of the Greek God of Sliding Home; one Kevin Eucilis.

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Jeremy Blachman is a Kindred Soul


Four Degrees of Miguel Batista

Last week I linked his post about Jamie Moyer’s first win. And I’ve mentioned Batista in a previous Designated Sitter entry. Jeremy and I should do virtual lunch sometime.

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Pudge, Jorge, and Jason


That makes three long tenured catchers gone from the game now that Pudge Rodriguez retired yesterday. Posada and Varitek retired over the winter. They say things come in threes. Not sure how true that cliche is, but it is in this case. Posada and Varitek were both very good players, but Rodriguez was the best of them.

I may be one of the few people who care about this, but Pudge (or Irod) is no longer the most linkable active player. I figured that that honor would fall to Omar Vizquel. I was wrong. Jamie Moyer is the current active Kevin Bacon of baseball. He also has connections to college hoops through his father-in-law Digger Phelps, but that’s a story for another day.

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Kevin Youkilis Slide


Kevin Youkilis Slide

I like this picture from Sunday’s game. This took place hours before his manager Ozzied and gave him a Valentine on a Boston TV station. Youk normally isn’t thought of us graceful. Matt Taibbi once wrote that he looks like a rhinoceros f&^%$(@& a washing machine, but I think he has a pretty slide. Here is another slide, this one from a nite game:
nite slide

I think he would’ve been better off if the Sox let Ortiz go and slid Youk back to first base while Gonzo DH’d, but that wasn’t my call.

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The Past Meets The Present


Tommorrow marks the one hundred year anniversary of baseball at Fenway Park. Jamie Moyer was on that team, but the Red Sox traded him away for Hugh Bradley. It was a deal that has haunted them ever since, albeit not on the level of Lyle for Cater or the selling of Babe Ruth. Moyer hasn’t really been pitching THAT long, but it sometimes seems that way.

Moyer won a game this week and became the oldest person to win a major league game. The previous recordholder was Jack Quinn. Quinn was also 49 when he won a game for the Brooklyn Dogers in 1932, but he was 49 and 70 days. Moyer was 49 and 150 days. Notgraphs had a post about the day of Moyer’s first win. Microsoft had just gone public (or was just going public.) Quinn had been around for a while by 1932. He first played in 1909. The Ottoman Empire still existed. He himself was born in Austria Hungary. Poland was still partitioned. The ball was still dead and Mark Twain was still alive. Quinn had been around so long that he really did appear in the first game at Fenway.

Designated Sitter. Tying the past with the present.

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Temporary Linsanity


Ozzie Guillen’s recent musings on Castro reminded me of Marge Schott talking about Hitler twenty some odd years ago. There is no truth to the rumor that Peter Angelos called Jeffrey Loria looking to trade Buck Showalter to Miami for the Ozzard of Whizz (as Don Malcolm used to call Guillen.)

I was also reminded that I once wanted have a regular feature on this blog called “What Is Pastime Is Prologue”, but it organically evolved in another direction. While I took a hiatus to work on my memoirs, New York and the rest of the country went gaga over Jeremy Lin. Remember that? Or has he already been forgotten like Darva Conger, the McDLT, or Herman Cain?

Some people were comparing Lin to Tim Tebow. I suppose that hypewise that may be true. Linsanity was similar to Tebowmania. But a more apt analogy for Tim Tebow might be Ichiro Suzuki circa 2001.They both suceeded at a lower level and there were questions about how they would do at a higher level. Tebow is a QB who doesn’t pass well, but runs. Suzuki is a corner outfielder who doesn’t slug but can play what the oldsters called scientific baseball. They’re both throwbacks to an earlier era, in a way. Now, Tebow has a long way to go to be Ichiro, but he’s more like Ichiro than he is like Lin (except for the Christianity part.)

Lin is more like Karl Spooner. Both are meteors who streaked over the New York sky. And both got hurt. If the Knicks hang around longe enough in the playoffs, he might return this year, but that Remains To Be Seen.

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Must See TV Again


Dick Howser managed the KC Royals to their only World Series victory. It is not as well known, however, that he was friends with Burt Reynolds as a youth. They both went to Florida State. I think this was actually before Bobby Bowden was the football coach. That’s how long ago this was. Reynolds played football for the ‘Noles, but he went on to acting. One of his early movies was Deliverance. He was in that with Jon Voight.

Voight sired Angelina Jolie who is married to Brad Pitt. Pitt played Billy Beane in Moneyball. Chris Pratt played Scott Hatteberg. In a sabermetric twist, Pratt’s day job is playing Andy Dwyer on Parks and Rec. Parks and Rec is written by Michael Schur. He was also Ken Tremendous on the Fire Joe Morgan blog. Scott Hatteberg was a pickin’ machine. Morgan was on the Big Red Machine. But before that, he was an Astro. One of his teammates was diarist Jim Bouton. Bouton and Howser were teammates before that on the Yankees.

DC Pierson is a comedian and buddy of Donald Glover who plays Troy on Community. Pierson has appeared in episodes of Community. Not sure if he had a speaking role, but he was involved in the recent war between Troy and Abed. Chevy Chase is Pierce Hawthorne on that show. He was Clark Griswold in the Vacation movies. Jane Krakowski played Cousin Vicki in the first movie. Now she plays Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock. Jenna is friends with Liz Lemon who has had a few boyfriends on the show. Among them is Dennis Duffy.

Duffy is/was played by Dean Winters. Winters is “Mayhem” in Allstate commercials. Another person who appears in Allstate ads is Pierson. He gets into a fender-bender with some business guy. Hopefully, this post ins more entertaining than a car wreck.

PS – The main Allstate spokesman is Dennis Haysbert. He appeared in Heat along with Jon Voight. They weren’t in the same scenes. I suppose that type of connection works in the Kevin Bacon Game, but it is rather tenuous.

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“What Did The GM Know and When Did He Know It?”


Way back ten, eleven years ago, before there were blogs and other social media, my buddies and I would email each other quite frequently at all odd hours. We were friends, once removed, with a bunch of bikers known as the Go Nowhere Gang. They weren’t apathetic losers. To the contrary, they were a smart group of guys with good careers. They just didn’t go far that often. Their idea of a long ride was to the next town.
Even back then, I would occasionally opine on sports. The emails are long gone now. They probably are part of the cyber mist, but I recall writing about Tiger Woods and Kevin Harvick. Around this time, IU fired Bobby Knight and I wrote one with the witty subject line “Indiana’s Knightmare.” The parallels aren’t perfect, but the recently revealed scandal at Penn State reminded me of those days. I probably would have dashed off some email full of bullshit about Joe Paterno to my friends. I’m not smatter now, but I hope that I am wiser.

One thing that that scandal did accomplish is that it got Dennis and Callahan to stop talking about the Red Sox collapse. For those of you who get their power delivered by CL&P, Boston did not make the playoffs this year. Terry Francona is gone. Theo Epstein left for Chicago. Dirty Water turned to vinegar. I knew that Epstein’s grandfather and great uncle wrote Casablanca. I did not know that his sister wrote for the TV show Homicide: Life on the Streets. (I once complained that Detective Munch has a longer Wikipedia entry than Richard Belzer himself and someone accused me of Wikigroaning, but I digress.) That show crossed over with Law and Order several times. Epstein helped write an episode called “For God and Country.” Jerry Orbach guest starred as Lenny Briscoe.

Arthur Branch was the Manhattan DA on L&O for a few years. Fred Thompson played him. Thompson actually had some prosecutorial experience and was minority counsel on the Senate Watergate Committee. Another counsel was then Cubs fan Hillary Rodham. She was a Yale Law classmate of Larry Lucchino. Lucchino was counsel on the House committee considering impeachment. He was a protégé of Edward Bennett Williams and would later become Theo Epstein’s boss. BTW, Lucchino was a Princeton alum who roomed and played hoops with Bill Bradley, but that’s a story for another day.

That Senate Watergate Committee and its hearing was my first exposure to politics. I vaguely recall it being on TV instead of whatever kids show I wanted to watch at the time. I’ve had an on and off fascination with it since then. I’ve saved only a few newspaper clippings in my life, but one was a Hartford Courant article from 1999 speculating that Mark Felt was Deep Throat. This was a few years before Bob Woodward and Felt admitted this. I’ve read quite a few books on the topic over the years; the Woodward and Bernstein ones as well as bios by many of the co-conspirators like Liddy, Dean, and Haldeman. At one point, I was sympathetic to Nixon. These days, not so much. Anyways, it is back in the news again. Nixon’s grand jury testimony has been released.

Penn State? That’s not a scandal. Watergate? Now that was a scandal. /Crocodile Dundee

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Poets Priests And Politicians


Sting turned sixty this month; one day before Dave Winfield did. I’m not sure how much they followed each others careers, but I followed both closely as a tween then teen. I got my first radio around 1980. It was a little portable AM thing, but it was mine. And some AM stations still played current music back then. I was aware of rock music before then. Some kids up the street would play the main riff from “Smoke On The Water” over and over again. But Zenyatta Mondatta had just come out and this was different. It was rock, but it wasn’t blues based. It had a reggae influence. The guitars just sounded… different. I’m not sure if MTV was around yet. We didn’t get cable. But Casey Kasem’s “America’s Top Ten” would show videos. So my brothers and I would watch “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” and other hits of the day.

Yesterday I wrote about some creative baseball players. Today I wanted to mention some baseball poets, priests, and politicians. There have been other poets associated with baseball; including Marianne Moore, Donald Hall, and Carson Cistulli. But there is an active warrior-poet in the bigs. Pitcher Miguel Batista once wrote a serial killer thriller, but he also writes poetry. If you peruse that article, it mentions Fernando Perez as a possible major league poet.

I don’t know if Batter’s Box still does these, but they used to hand out Allan Travers Awards. Travers was a student at Saint Joseph’s in Philly who was recruited by the Tigers to take the mound against the A’s after Detroits players walked off the job in protest of a Ty Cobb suspension. He got shelled. Travers had a higher calling, though. He became a Catholic priest. St. Joe’s, incidentally, has made a greater contribution to sports, and it isn’t Delonte West or Jameer Nelson. From professor Sean Forman created Baseball Reference; one of the greatest achievements of Western Civ. The priesthood itself has made contributuions to understanding baseball. Fr’ Gabriel Costa is a sabermetrician. One wonders if West Pointers eschew bunts and work the count. Finally, former Oakland prospect Grant Desme retired to join a seminary about two years ago.

Many baseball folks got involved in politics. The most famous may be Jim Bunning. He was a Hall of Fame pitcher, not the best one in Cooperstown, but he made it. Along with Robin Roberts and others, he helped the Players Association become a force against the owners. Later, he became a Senator from Kentucky. Unfortunately, towards the end, he was suffering from dementia. What isn’t well known is that one of Bunning’s contempo pitchers also had a political career. Juan Marichal held a cabinet position in the Dominican Republic.

As for the police, there;s always Kevin Romine. Austin’s dad investigates auto theft in L.A.. Maybe he was the guy who found the Dude’s ’73 Torino.

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Media Play


I haven’t written much about baseball lately. Truth be told, I haven’t watched much since the Red Sox collapsed. Maybe I will write a post-mortem on their season, but what can I add that hasn’t already been said? I have been reading about the World Series and it does sound like a classic. Albert Pujols evoked memories of Reggie Jackson over the weekend with his three homer game that was likely the best one game hitting display ever in WS history. Then, on Monday nite, there was the biggest telephonic mixup since last week when Derek Lilliquist misheard TLR. (I have a tendency to think of Carson Daly and Total Request Live when I see Tony LaRussa’s initials.) I’m pulling for Texas to win. They’ve never done it before. They are the AL representative, and Saint Louis has one plenty of times; including five years ago. Bill Lee picked the L.A. Dodgers as the NL’s answer to the Yankees, but I picked Saint Louis when I was in high school and had a fling with the Mets. They were a team to respect, but not like. (I was glad to see Whitey Herzog get inducted into the Hall of Fame last year.)

There used to be a chain of stores called Media Play that sold books, DVDs and CDs. I liked it, but it went out of business around the time Saint Louis defeated Detroit. Today, I wanted to highlight three former baseball players that personify that store’s merchandise; an author, an actor, and a singer.

Before Jim Bouton, there was Jim Brosnan. Brosnan wrote two in-season diaries; The Long Season and Pennant Race. I have yet to read the latter, but I thought that the former was better than Ball Four once I finally read it. Plus, he didn’t have to have Leonard Schecter help him write it. Bouton’s book may have been more historic at the time he wrote it, but I didn’t read it until at least ten years after it came out. Brosnan was inducted into the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of Eternals four years ago. If you ask me, that is a higher honor than getting a plaque in Cooperstown.

Chuck Connors was an Eisenhower-era Man. He played baseball and hoops and was also Lucas McCain on “The Rifleman.” I’m still in search of the elusive Center of the Entertainment Universe, but he might be it. Dennis Hopper appeared on that Western. And Hopper is The Center of The Hollywood Universe. Connors connects you to the NBA, major league baseball and the Pacific Cast League; which was still big back then. There’s also a football connection. Sid Gillman appeared on the show. He was one of the most influential coaches in football history; practically invented film study. His coaching tree is like a sequoia.

Last but not least, I checked out Dave Marsh’s New Book of Rock Lists the other day and came across Lee Maye. I had heard of The Rifleman even if the show was before my time, but I wasn’t familiar with Maye at all. Phill Millstein argues that this doo wopping outfielder was the best combination baseball player-musical artist. Check the link out.

I was on Monday Night Sports a month ago and he suggested that the reason some players of that era moonlighted in other entertainment fields was because sports salaries weren’t as high as they are now and they needed the money. He may have a point. Ironically, I was talking about Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax and their joint holdout. Chuck Connors helped act as an intermediary between the two pitchers and the Dodgers.

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