Tag Archives: baseball

Winter In A Baseball Stadium

 

 

 

 

 

We’re dealing with some wintery weather here in Tennessee in recent days. Where I’m located, there really wasn’t enough snow to be a factor, but other areas were inundated. It reminded me of something I saw a couple of weeks ago online.

So what do you do with a baseball stadium during the winter months?

The folks in Cleveland figured it out. It’s called Cleveland Snow Days.

They installed an innertube luge run, an ice skating rink and a snowball tossing area along with some other nifty stuff during the weeks before and after the holidays.

Even cooler is that the baseball dugouts were warm-up areas for the chilly visitors. How awesome would that be to hang out in the dugout? Pretty awesome if you ask me.

It brought people back to the downtown area during a time when foot traffic and visitors are at a minimum. Very smart.

And it looks like it would be fun.

So until the first pitch of spring, here’s to Cleveland and their winter baseball wonderland.

Saying so long to the King and the Boss

Squirrel_spinning_basketbalIt’s been a busy seven days in the sports world.
Spain has been crowned the new top dog in soccer. Major League Baseball held its Midsummer Classic and lost two of the Big Apple’s favorites. And of course, the NBA was turned topsy turvy by the announcement of the forming of the 3-Heat.
It was a week ago that LeBron James went from being the lone wolf in Cleveland to just one of the guys in Miami. King James ended his free agency by joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, turning his back on his home team Cavs and the chance to be “the man.”
I understand the lure of winning rings and appreciate the desire to be on a winning team. I get playing night after night with your best buddies, but personally I think becoming a part of a trio dilutes James’ chance to ascend above every other player. Now, instead of one “King,” we have three stars.
Michael Jordan didn’t bolt from Chicago after the Bulls were trounced in the playoffs those first few seasons. The Bulls didn’t rush out and try to sign Charles Barkley or Karl Malone.
Instead, they drafted a lanky kid out of Central Arkansas. When he was selected, nobody expected Scottie Pippen to grow into the perfect accomplice to Jordan, but he did.
LeBron may have lost as many fans as he made with all the hoopla prior to the switch to the Heat. I know I was turned off by the deafening crescendo of media noise leading up to his primetime special. Yes, there was interest in whether loyalty would win out over playing in a state with no income tax, but we really didn’t need a 24-7 accounting of his every waking moment.
The Heat have definitely improved their chances of taking the title from Kobe and the Lakers, but we’ll see if there are enough shots in a game to satisfy the Heats’ new superstars.
Then on Tuesday, baseball lost an icon. New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner succumbed to a heart attack.
As much as LeBron flipped the NBA script with his free agency, Steinbrenner changed baseball with his decision to buy the best players available.
I was just a kid back in ye olden days when the lure of cold hard cash first put many of my favorite players in pinstripes. As a fan of the Oakland A’s then, it was hard to watch former A’s Reggie Jackson and Catfish Hunter end up in New York. I guess that’s how Pittsburgh Pirates fans feel in this day and age.
After buying the Yankees in 1973, Steinbrenner with his famous altercations with managers and players became as synonymous with his team as any player on the field. Heck, he even became a pop culture star when George Costanza had frequent encounters with The Boss on television’s “Seinfeld.”
Dying only days after legendary Yankees announcer Bob Sheppard, it was fitting the 80 year old passed away on the day the All-Star game was played. He wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Baseball Beats Fireworks

Redbird squirrel

I wrote a column for my non-digital gig about how much I really don’t enjoy fireworks like 85 percent of the rest of the good ol’ US of A.

Chicks Queens dig the longball, not the exploding fireball.

Here ya go.

“Fireworks on the Fourth eventually all fizzle out”

I’ll admit from the start that I’m not one of those black powder geeks who spend half of their gross income buying Black Cat firecrackers, bottle rockets in bulk and colorful bombs purchased under a striped tent along the roadside in the hot and humid weeks leading up to the Fourth of July.
Fireworks are just too short-lived for me to enjoy. I like my excitement in a more long-term format. The quick KABOOM and sudden splash of color across the night sky is undeniably both attention-grabbing and beautiful, but I still usually find my mind wandering before the acrid smell of the accompanying black smoke wafts into sniffing range.
Maybe that’s why I’m a baseball fan. The long 162-game season sets a pace a languid turtle could love. No clock limits the time it takes to settle the final outcome and record those 27 outs in a winning effort. Even at the midseason all-star break, the team at the bottom of the standings still has a chance to scratch and claw back into title contention.
Some fans complain the length of the game has stretched out to an interminable span, but I appreciate the longer games. It just gives me more of a chance to explore the sights, sounds and smells of the ballpark like a bloodhound on the trail of an escaped serial killer.
For me, people-watching during the game is probably more eye-catching and interesting than any fireworks display shooting streaks of flame and color across the evening’s ebony sky. Whether it’s the super stat guy who keeps score — noting every pitch, base hit and error — or the Little Leaguer staring at his idol’s every move on the diamond, swinging a tiny bat and mimicking the stance of his favorite player, I appreciate all the fans in the stands.
I also prefer my fireworks on the field. Be it a well-turned double play with the second baseman leaping and pirouetting to make the throw to first while avoiding the sliding runner or a pitcher dropping a curve ball off the table as the batter’s knees buckle, baseball is a beautiful thing.
And hey, they actually have fireworks at a lot of baseball games. None to me are more spectacular than the ones ignited immediately after a home run blasted over the fence by a player from my favorite team.
Now, don’t let me  your ruin your fondness for fireworks, whether they are the hand-held sparklers, the rat-a-tat-tat basic firecracker or the bombastic big blasts. Set them off, light up the sky and enjoy this Independence Day weekend.

Play Ball!

Play Ball!

Those words are music to my ears.

Baseball is back and the jubilation at Casa de Squirrel Queen is uncontainable.

There aren’t many sports I turn my nose up at, but baseball owns my heart.

The first game of the season is under way right now with the Phils taking on the Braves.

Of course I consider the first Monday the actual opening day – not just two featured teams in action, but nearly every one  in the league taking to the diamond.

The green grass, the white lines, the red earth of the basepaths – that looks like heaven to me.

Unfortunate Sports Headline Involves Yanks’ Wang

ESPN.com has a Spring Training Blog with quick hits and notes about activities at each Major League Baseball team’s spring training camp.

The post tonight about the New York Yankees’ pitcher Chien-Ming Wang and his bad foot had a headline that would send Beavis and Butthead (and me) into giggling fits.

YANKS’ WANG FEELING FINE (7:05 p.m. ET)
Chien-Ming Wang who missed the final 3½ months last season because of a foot injury, is on a restricted running program and will do most of his conditioning work indoors.

“Everything’s good,” said Wang, who threw off a bullpen mound Sunday.

In other Yankees news, CC Sabathia kept his beard on Day 2 of workouts, but it won’t last much longer. The Yankees have rules on allowable facial hair and length of hair.

“Our manager will handle it at some point,” general manager Brian Cashman said. “I don’t even think we’ve posted our team rules yet.”

Let’s hope the Yanks’ manager, Joe Girardi, will get around to handling Wang in addition to CC’s beard.

(This proves it. I have the sense of humor of a 13-year-old boy. By the way for those of you interested, the other critter in the picture up top is not a beaver. It’s a groundhog.)

Praise the Rays

Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Rays, American League Champs and World Series bound!!

I’m just feeling groovy this morning after watching the Tampa Bay Rays hold off the BoSox to earn a trip to the World Series in a worst-to-first season.

I’ve kept an eye on this talented bunch for a couple of seasons, using several of their players on my fantasy baseball team. Upton, Longoria, Garza, Price. Those are

names you’ll be hearing about for several years to come.

They’ve got a forward thinking manager who looks pretty cool with those glasses and that silver fauxhawk.

The Phillies won’t be an easy team for them to roll through, but the Rays do have homefield advantage and some fans showing up to make an impact (More COWBELL!!).

The boys from the City of Brotherly Love do have the overall edge in experience, but I’m not counting out the Rays.

And while we’re talking baseball, let’s give a shout out to the curse of the Billy Goat and 100 years of Cubs futility! Hip Hip Hooray to the losers in Wrigley. No Bartman was needed to down the lovable losers, just some Dodger blue and Manny being Manny.

Hey, I’m a Cardinals fan. I’ve got to throw a jab when I get a chance.

Joe Madden image source

Happy Birthday to Bull Durham

Twenty years ago yesterday (June 15), the movie Bull Durham was released onto the big screen.

I saw it at the old theater in downtown Union City, if I remember correctly.

I loved it. I loved Baseball Annie and her wisdom and I loved that goofy kid Tim Robbins. That Costner guy was pretty good in it too. (However, we must counts some points off for this eventually allowing him to make the movie Waterworld; eveything comes at a price.)

As a fan of both the game of baseball and of movies, I still love this flick and the scenes between Sarandon and Costner are sizzling. The painting of the toe nails and the sloshing water in the tub drowning out the candles – that’s what I’m talking about.

And of course, who can forget the speech Crash spills out at Annie’s house.

“Well, I believe in the soul, the cock, the pussy, the small of a woman’s back, the hanging curve ball, high fiber, good scotch, that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft-core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.”

This movie is actually filled with memorable quotes covering everything from candlesticks to religion to shower shoes and cups of coffee.

I actually attended a Durham Bulls game back in the late 80s and had a Bulls keychain for the longest time. I was in North Carolina for an International Librarians convention. True story that I won’t get into here. I don’t know where that keychain is now, but I’m certainly thinking about it today.

ESPN the Magazine has a whole anniversary roundup of interviews with director Ron Shelton, Tim Robbins, Kevin Costner and other Bull Durham goodies.