2014 Post-Season Baseball

I can’t tell who I’m rooting for without a scorecard.

Here is my scorecard as the 2014 baseball playoffs begin…

Rooting for:

Pirates

Also for (in no particular order):
Royals
Tigers
Cardinals
Giants

Can root for (if necessary)
Orioles

Might have to root for:
A’s if Lester is pitching
Angels if they play the Dodgers

Unlikely to root for:
Nationals

Will not root for:
Dodgers

Subject to change at a moment’s notice. Except for the Dodgers.

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The Fenway Experience

I went down to Boston for Wednesday afternoon’s Red Sox game. It was an awful game. Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner even said so on the radio.

But it was not an awful day. It was a nice September day at the ballpark.

This morning in my email, I had a note from the Red Sox management, thanking me for attending the game. The Red Sox management is very thoughtful.

They also asked for my opinion. They wanted to know all about my “Fenway experience.” I clicked all the buttons for all the survey questions and I gave them high marks for everything from the cleanliness of the ballpark to the friendliness of the staff to the wait time at the concession stands to the quality of their “entertainment” program.

High marks all the way through.

They do a good job.

But they did ask for additional comment about their entertainment program – which I repeat, I gave very high marks to for the quality of its individual elements – and so I took the opportunity to assess not the elements but the whole…

“i’m there for baseball, i don’t care about the entertainment bells and whistles. i do wish there were fewer of them and it was not a constant barrage of stuff from the moment i take my seat. but other than the number of items on your program, i won’t complain. your program of non-baseball stuff is carried out in a way that is not annoying – i love the Celtics but i don’t like going to their games because the “entertainment” portions are overly loud. i’m a middle-aged guy who has no problem watching beautiful women dance but i can’t wait for the Celtics Dancers to sit down and get out of the way of the game…and get out of the way of the downtime in the game. it’s not just the players who need time outs, the fans need breaks too. the Celtics DEMAND my attention and FORCE their show on me. at Fenway, i do not feel that i am under attack. However, you do cram in so many pre-game promotions and presentations that it becomes very easy to tune it all out. i know you are trying to make those individuals happy and i know that is good business. but it’s bad business to present it in a manner that causes the audience to ignore it. You just can’t do EVERYTHING. well, you can – you do – but it doesn’t work. it can’t. it becomes one big giant mishmosh of stuff that we have no idea what it is because we’re not actually paying attention. sure, we want to applaud the little kids and the valiant war vets that you honor…but we don’t know who we are suddenly applauding because there were so many others we weren’t listening to any of it. it really borders on being a disservice to the people you are trying to honor. and finally, you have taken away completely the most wonderful part of entering the ballpark early: the quiet, interrupted by the sound of batting practice hits and catches and the sheer wonder of Fenway itself. i know you do realize how special Fenway is and you have absolutely made it a better experience. but you were doing a better job of that before you ramped it up this high. i mean, i love ice cream but i don’t want you to bring me a new dish of it every minute for a whole hour. that’s too much of a good thing. which turns out to be a bad thing.”

Jackie Robinson Day

“You can’t tell the players with a scorecard.”

This “everybody wears 42” thing is one of the stupidest promotions baseball has ever done (and there have been many). It’s one of those ideas that sounds nice – too nice for anyone to speak up against it…but in practice, it is stupid.

It has led to a new tradition in my house – we don’t watch baseball on Jackie Robinson Day…which kind of defeats the whole purpose, doesn’t it?

Clay and the Spitter

Question: Steve, Do you think Clay Buchholz is throwing some kind of spitball?

Steve: No. But I hope I’m wrong. And whether he is or not, I think it’s great he’s been accused of it.

Questioner: What? I can’t believe it! How can you say that?

Steve: I think it’s great that we finally have a controversy about something that is happening on the field rather than in the manager’s office or the front office or the commissioner’s office or a congressional hearing room or a courtroom. Maybe now, people will have to stop texting and actually watch the friggin’ game for once.

Prepping For Opening Day With A Brand New Fan

I’m spending Opening Day with a friend who has only become a sports fan in recent years. He started with football, which is a good way to start. Now he’s ready to move up to something more complex, nuanced. I offered to assist him in learning to become a baseball fan. I’ve turned people into baseball fans before.

We’ve been emailing back and forth, making plans for the big day. I can tell he’s a little nervous about the whole thing. He’s asked me to explain EVERYTHING to him and to talk to him as if he’s a third-grader. But that’s not the way to go. There’s just too much going on in a baseball game.

My team, the Boston Red Sox, are playing the New York Yankees. He’s a new fan so I don’t know who he’s going to root for, I didn’t ask. All I know is, he’s from New Jersey.

I sent him the final pre-game email last week…

Hey Mike,

The Bean Dip sounds way too good to consider anything else. Bring it! I’ll take care of the beer and something basebally – peanuts & cracker jacks maybe. And I’ll get something sweet for dessert. We’ll need sweet after spicy bean dip.

Now, this is going to be a relaxing afternoon. No need to worry, there will not be a quiz at the end. Remember, I know how to do this. I am NOT going to explain everything to you. There will be future lessons. The best thing about baseball is that NOBODY knows everything about the game. I still learn things all the time. That’s why I love it.

We’ll get into an advanced subject or two just to touch the different levels of what’s going on but the best thing to do is keep it simple. We’ll cover some of the basics – but not all. You just want to follow the flow of the game, get the feel of it, understand the feel of it. It’s fun, it’s relaxing (unless the bad guys kick our ass). There’s a lot going on but it moves slowly. So, you learn slowly.

But Rule Number 1: during the game, we don’t talk about anything but baseball. And it’s not going to be non-stop talk. Mostly, we’ll be watching.

A game runs about three hours usually. Opening Day ceremonies usually run over and the game starts a little late. So first pitch will hopefully be at 1:05 but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Why don’t you get here about 12:30. I hate pre-game except on Opening Day (always capitalized). My favorite part is when they introduce the players one by one. They don’t always show that on TV because it takes so long but I don’t want to miss whatever part of it they do show.

And finally, you can root for whichever team you want but do not wear a Yankees cap or I will grab the Bean Dip and close the door on you.

Steve

 

Thoughts on the end of the baseball season…

…Back in April on my radio show, I picked the Phillies and Angels to meet each other in the World Series. I hate to say I told you so but…..oh……

…At the time, I told my audience that I almost picked the Tigers rather than the Angels and that I almost picked the Red Sox for last place. Key word being ‘almost’…..

…The hiring of Bobby Valentine was a fraud from the beginning…and that is no reflection on Bobby. He was simply a pawn in the Red Sox ownership’s panic-mode scheme to shut the media and the fans up after the Great Collapse of September 2011. They wanted to make it look like they were really going to do something about the “situation.” A year later, they have barely begun the process…..

…With the Red Sox at home, watching the post-season on TV like the rest of us, I will simply enjoy watching the neutral games, especially with so many teams I like involved. I’ll be rooting against the Yankees but otherwise the outcome doesn’t matter much as long as the games are good…..

…My favorite player, Miguel Cabrera, has won the triple crown…first guy to do it since my favorite player, Carl Yastrzemski did it back in 1967. Way cool…..

alternate take…

…My personal favorite, Miguel Cabrera, has won the triple crown…first to do it since my personal favorite,  Affirmed, in 1978…..