Blogging About Baseball

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Archive for the ‘General’ Category

What’s coming?

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I know it’s been a while. I’m sorry.

Blogging About Baseball is going to be undergoing a serious transformation within the next few weeks. There’s going to be more writers, a different layout, and possibly some sponsors. With more writers, we’ll have more updates on more topics.

Blogging About Baseball is going to be bigger and better.

Written by dylansharek

September 24, 2009 at 2:55 pm

Posted in General

I’ve been working like a…

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Dog.

Mule.

Camel.

Quarter-horse.

There, I think that about describes it.

My uniform has done that thing that happens to really fat people when they sit on their sofas for too long. It’s melted into my skin; it’s become a part of me. This one hour break is the first sunshine I’ve seen since the double-double began, and my skin is not liking it. I need somewhere dark that smells like food to feel right again.

I’m going to get back to posting tomorrow morning. In the next week or so, I am going to write blogs about baseball players using Twitter, a review of Sam Walker’s Fantasyland, what’s going on with Dice-K, and hopefully the interview with Marlin’s 4th round pick Dan Mahoney. The little bugger has since decided to stop emailing me back, but I’m confident he’ll have a change of heart and the interview will roll sometime soon.

Until then, enjoy!

Written by dylansharek

June 22, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Posted in General

A tribute to Dodger’s announcer Vin Scully.

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In a baseball fan’s world, the first time you hear Dodger’s announcer Vin Scully is comparable to the first time you heard about J.F.K.’s assassination or the attacks of 9/11.

You remember where you were when you first heard it and chances are, your life changed.

It’s not meant to be an offensive comparison, but rather one that puts Scully’s impact on baseball into focus.

The best ever.

Vin Scully is much more than just an announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is the face of the Dodger’s franchise, even though few people outside of California could tell you what he looks like. He is the American Dream, someone who knew what he wanted, worked towards it, and hasn’t stopped working towards it for 60 years. He is someone who looks for no recognition or praise, but because of his indeterminable drive, does nothing but gravitate towards it.

He is the face of baseball, preserving the hard work, honesty, integrity, and beauty of a flawed game.

Scully doesn’t announce, he paints. Announcers sway, announcers yell, announcers do play-by-play. Scully uses smooth strokes to create a picture of a game that is unfolding before your eyes. Everything flows seemlessly, and if it won’t, Scully’s not afraid to be silent for a moment.

Every game is an investment of a large part of himself. When he finishes a game, you can tangibly feel the energy he’s expelled. The decades of on-the-job experience, the countless hours of research, it’s taken something out of him. And you can feel it. You can really feel it.

The first time I felt it wasn’t through a transistor radio or at my grandmother’s house watching NBC’s Monday Night Baseball, like so many others.

It was last year.

I was living and working in Newport, Rhode Island. I had finally splurged and got the MLB Extra Innings package, but I had barely been able to watch it because of work. On a night off, I started changing the channel before I settled on the Dodgers versus Giants.

I’d hear of Scully before, but truthfully I had no idea what all the hubbub was about. Within moments, I knew.

The calmness. The I’m-not-going-to-ram-this-down-your-ears, matter-of-factness. The knowledge. The knowledge is where he draws you in; from the tendencies of the umpires behind the plate to the nuances of where Bengie Molina grew up, Scully knows something about everything.

I watched almost every Dodgers game for the rest of the season. My friends didn’t understand it. They just thought he was boring.

I dread the day Vin Scully retires, but I don’t think he ever will.

He will be like Brett Favre. He will be like Lance Armstrong. He’ll be Gordie Howe and Michael Jordan. He’ll keep coming back; it’s in his blood and something won’t feel right without it.

Scully will be more like Ted Radcliffe than any of those guys. Look him up. Scully would.

Note to self: Adult softball leagues are for losers.

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I got pink-slipped from my softball league last Wednesday.

I'm actually not sad.

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Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden: Separated at birth?

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I saw Darryl Strawberry on ESPN yesterday promoting his book Straw: Finding My Way. As usual, the conversation quickly moved onto Strawberry’s non-playing, less-awesome days. You know, the drugs, the domestic violence, the prostitutes, the prostate cancer. Fun stuff really. Here’s a good recap if you’ve been living in a bomb shelter since Y2K.

Haven’t I seen this interview before? I thought.

It turns out I hadn’t, but I’d seen something awfully close.

During the MLB Network’s first month or two, they interview Dwight Gooden at Studio 42. It was the same interview, I swear to God.

Then I got to thinking about the similarities of their two careers from a less obvious standpoint than the unlimited-potential-gone-wrong standpoint.

  • It's hard not to be nostalgic. Both came into the National League with the New York Mets; Strawberry in 1983 and Gooden in 1984.
    • Both won Rookie of the Year awards; Strawberry in 1983 and Gooden in 1984.
    • Both dominated the late 1980’s. In 1987, Strawberry became one of ten players to join the 30-30 Club after hitting 39 homeruns and stealing 36 bases. In 1985, Gooden won the Triple Crown and became the youngest-ever recipient of the Cy Young Award.
    • Both were on the 1986 World Champion Mets.
    • Early in their careers, both showed signs of the later legal and professional trouble they would incur. In 1986, Strawberry broke his then-wife Lisa’s nose in an altercation. In the same year, Gooden missed the World Championship parade because he was on a cocaine binge.
    • Both appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated more than once; Strawberry seven times and Gooden at least four times. They appeared on the cover together once.
    • Both were Silver Sluggers; Strawberry twice and Gooden once.
    • Both signed with the New York Yankees in 1996.
    • As part of that World Championship team, Strawberry and Gooden became the only two players to win a championship with both New York teams.
    • Both finished their careers with the Yankees.
    • Both wrote books after their careers ended with nothing more than a whimper; Straw: Finding My Way by Strawberry and Heat: My Life On and Off the Diamond by Gooden.

    I have decided to keep out the drunk driving arrests, the punching-the-girlfriends-in-the-face crap, and all of the coke stuff. What else can you think of?

    Getting in touch with Riverdog’s president and baseball legend Mike Veeck.

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    I’m obsessed with baseball. I mean, really obsessed.

    If I didn’t have a girlfriend, I would still be living in my mother’s house collecting baseball cards, playing fantasy baseball, and Tivo’ing every game I could. It’s really good that Katlyn’s here to keep that in check.

    Trust me, I know I’m a weirdo. And I’m okay with it.

    So for the past couple months it’s been eating me up inside that the President of the Charleston Riverdogs, Mike Veeck, lives in the same town as me. I mean, it’s been really, really bothering me.

    I’ve met Veeck at the Old Village Post House, where we shared some small talk about cutting bread. In an effort to not ruin his night and to leave him alone, I didn’t mention that I was one of the few people in this town who knows what he and his family means to baseball.

    His grandfather was one of the owners of the Chicago Cubs when they were first losing. And his father, well it might be better to not get me started on his father. I mean, we’re talking about the slightly-off, one-legged, once owner of the Browns, Indians, White Sox, and Brewers, who sent a midget up to bat in a major league game, invented the exploding scoreboard, and signed the first black player in the American League, Larry Doby, to the Cleveland Indians in 1947. I could go on and on…

    The fact that a Veeck offspring is living in the same town as me and isn’t mobbed by hordes of fans wherever he goes is mindblowing to me. I want to scream at people on the streets, “DON’T YOU KNOW THAT THIS GUY IS RESPONSIBLE FOR DISCO DEMOLITION NIGHT?! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!” It would be a breakdown similar to Smykowski’s in Office Space.

    The fan riot cost the White Sox a forfeiture of Game 2.

    Mike Veeck owns parts of six major league clubs, ranging from Massachusetts to Florida. His promotions (Tonya Harding Bat Night, Silent Night, No One Night) are some of the most popular and hilarious ever perpetrated on the baseball community. He no longer lives in the shadow of his grandfather or father, but is a bonafide force in the baseball world, earning recognition for his “Fun Is Good” way of business and for his soaring successes.

    So the other day, I broke down. I sent an email to him basically confessing that I had no reason to email him other than to email him and let him know I existed. Looking back, it was extremely creepy and almost cryptic. It read:

    My name is Dylan Sharek. I live and die with baseball. It’s my own form of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

    If I didn’t take the time to contact you, I would never have been able to forgive myself.

    So I bit the bullet and sent this strange email.

    We’ve met before but I didn’t want to interrupt your evening so I didn’t attempt the formalities. However, over the past couple months, knowing your family legacy, knowing we live in the same town, and taking into consideration my love for the game, it’s been eating me up.

    I’d love the chance to sit down and have lunch with you, or just talk baseball, or maybe take in a Riverdog’s game together.

    It’s uncomfortable for me to reach out like this, but it would really be an honor for me.

    Thanks for your time.”

    The next day, I received a phone call, not an email, from a living member of one of baseball’s most beloved, recognizable, and illustrious families.

    Unfortunately, I wasn’t there to receive it.

    The message said, in short: My name is Mike, not Mr. Veeck. Call back on June 1, I’m out of town. We’ll plan something then.

    I can’t wait.

    Overweight baseball players giving hope to fat, unqualified men.

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    In 1989, Cecil Fielder was unceremoniously shipped to the Japanese Central League’s Hanshin Tigers by Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays. The wiry 25-year-old hadn’t shown the promise he once had, only hitting in the mid-.200s with a handful of homeruns in parts of four seasons.

    Given the chance to play everyday, Fielder mashed 38 homeruns that year. Almost overnight, he gained celebrity status, a chaffeur, and a nickname (“Wild Bear”). MLB’s Detroit Tigers took notice and signed the slugger during the offseason.

    I failed to mention that during Fielder’s time in Japan he gained something else: weight.

    And yes, that's Prince holding the ball.

    But weight was the key to Fielder’s success. In 1990, Fielder wallopped 51 homeruns, the first player to the reach the 50 plateau in nearly a decade and a half. At the time, reaching 50 homeruns seemed unnattainable, an accomplishment that could only be accomplished by a player of physical and mental perfection.

    Listed at 6’3″ and 230 pounds (a lie if I ever saw one), Fielder was clearly not that. Seemingly everyday, the slugger gained weight. Across the league, tales circulated about the sound of his thighs rubbing together on homerun trots. Players hung out under door jambs in the dugouts while he attempted, and more often than not failed, to run out infield singles. Birds began to fly South early, afraid that Fielder would attempt to eat them mid-game.

    Despite his physical imperfections, Fielder dominated the homerun era, leading the league in RBI three years in a row and finishing in the top 3 in MVP voting twice.

    In 1998, “Big Daddy” Fielder left the game to pursue a career in losing money, being a deadbeat dad, and tax evasion.

    Seven years later, Cecil’s son Prince broke into the big leagues with the Milwaukee Brewers. Early analysts were shocked at the youngster’s weight, but never denied his ability to hit.

    This was just too easy.

    At 6’0″ and 260 pounds, Fielder is further proving his father’s legacy that “fatter is better.” During his rookie year as a 22-year-old, he made quite a statement by blasting 28 homeruns. The next year, Prince became the youngest player in major league history to reach 50 homeruns. Currently, he and Cecil are the only father-son duo to both hit 50 homeruns in a season.

    Look how rolly-polly they are. Ain't that cute?

    Unlike his father, who stole just two bases in his 13 year career, Prince can also run. He’s already stolen 12 bases and hit two inside-the-park homeruns. Watching him run the bases is reminiscent of a speeding locomotive or a bowling ball; don’t stand in front of it, or you’ll get hurt.

    This past year, Prince announced that he is a vegetarian.

    The Fielder’s occupy a special niche in baseball: the bad bodies. For years they have given people like you and me hope: “Sure, I’m 45-years-old, have two-left feet, am partially blind, and have two prosthetic legs, but if those Fielders can do it looking like they do, so can I.”

    Other bad bodies in the sport include: NYY lefty CC Sabathia, SFG catcher Bengie Molina, some team’s Sidney Ponson, and PHI pinch-hitter extraordinaire Matt Stairs.