Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Julio Lugo Gets Thrown Out at the Plate to Win the Game for the Braves

Last night, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves played a 19-inning game at Turner Field. It was an historic game, the longest in terms of time in either franchise's history (6 hours, 39 minutes). There were fantastic performances by both teams, particularly the bullpens; going into the bottom of the 19th, the Pirates' and Braves' bullpens had each thrown 13 innings of scoreless baseball, including 5 innings by Pirates reliever Daniel McCutchen, and 6 from the Braves' Cristhian Martinez, who had just recently been recalled from Triple-A. And then, it ended like this.

This is one of the worst calls I've ever seen in baseball. How can you end a 19-inning, six hour and thirty-nine minute epic, like that? I'm pretty sure Jerry Meals just wanted to go home.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Great Ejections in Baseball History: Sweet Lou

Lou Piniella doing what he does best.

And this was perhaps the best he ever did it.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Baseball Is Back! Some Notes from the First Night of the Second Half

So, after three nights with no baseball (okay, there was the All-Star Game, but that's not really baseball, is it), the season has begun in earnest once again. Here are some things that caught my attention as I watched the second half get underway last night.

I started off watching the Orioles broadcast of the Indians-O's game in Baltimore. Camden Yards is a truly picturesque ballpark, a great place to watch a baseball game; it's easy to get caught up in the beauty of the setting. But then, this graphic flashes across the screen:

Honestly, couldn't the Orioles' TV network come up with a slightly less hideous graphic?

Moving on to Toronto for the Yankees-Blue Jays game, however, we got this fantastic graphic from the Blue Jays' network:

I didn't see the whole game, but I gathered that there was some kind of flash-back-to-the-'80s deal going on, and these excellent '80s graphics were part of it. Man that old Blue Jays logo is awesome.

Finally, in San Diego, the Padres were sporting some pretty excellent throwback uniforms:

and Luke Gregerson was sporting a pretty excellent mustache:

All did not end well for Gregerson, however. You'll note in the above photo that the score is tied 1-1, the inning is the 12th, the bases are loaded, and the count is 3-0. As you may have guessed from the foreshadowing, Gregerson walked this batter to give the Giants a 2-1 lead. He would go on to be charged with 5 runs in all, although none were earned because of a fielding error made by (you guessed it) Luke Gregerson. The Padres went on to lose 6-2.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Great Ejections in Baseball History: Wally Backman

This week's Great Ejection features a video that I didn't think was real the first time I saw it. It is indeed real, however; the South Georgia Peanuts were a real team in the South Coast League, and their manager, Wally Backman, is a real manager (and former Major League player), who was in fact a finalist for the Mets' managerial position this past offseason. Here, we observe him at his finest.

The footage was filmed for a documentary TV series called Playing for Peanuts, documenting the team's 2007 season (the team, and league, folded after just one year of existence). Let's hope Backman gets that job managing in the Majors sometime soon.

Friday, July 8, 2011

My Take on Improving the All-Star Game

With the All-Star Break coming up next week, many around the world of baseball have taken the opportunity to vent about the All-Star Game's problems, and present their opinions on how to fix them. I certainly agree that there are problems with the current format, so here I'll offer my take on some of the ideas that have been put forth.

First off, the most obvious thing that needs to happen is something that nearly everyone who's made their voice heard on this issue seems to agree with: the World Series home-field advantage rule needs to be done away with. Home-field advantage is worth a lot in the World Series, and should be awarded to the team with the best record during the regular season, not to the team whose league won the All-Star Game. I understand Selig's desire for the All-Star Game to carry some kind of meaning, but in reality, the All-Star Game has always been fun because it's an exhibition. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports has proposed a system of bonuses for players making the All-Star Team, as well as the game MVP, as a means of encouraging players to want to make the team, and to play hard in the game itself. I don't have a strong opinion on this one either way; seems like an interesting idea, at least.

One idea Passan puts forth that I strongly agree with, however, is to start the game earlier. As Passan points out, the first pitch is currently thrown at around 8:50 p.m. ET, meaning the game ends at around midnight. When you think about the fact that the All-Star Game is probably most exciting to kids, this really doesn't make much sense.

So, these are my main thoughts on the subject. Please post your own ideas in the comments. Finally, it should be noted that Carson Cistulli of FanGraphs has also advanced a quite interesting list of ideas to improve the Midsummer Classic. In all seriousness, I think vintage uniforms are a pretty good idea.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Baseball in San Francisco

While I don't particularly like the Giants, I must say I do like what San Francisco brings to baseball. San Francisco has always been one of the United States' more eccentric cities, as well as one of its more progressive ones. Its countercultural history has informed its identity, and this identity is expressed in its attitude toward baseball. The Panda hats, the Brian Wilson beards (primarily worn by ladies, it seems); these are things that make sense on the heads of San Francisco baseball fans. Of course, these accessories relate to actual Giants players, players who are also somewhat unique and eccentric in a manner fitting of their city: the Panda, Pablo Sandoval, a very large and exuberant man widely beloved in San Francisco; and closer Brian Wilson, with his beard more impressive than any replica any fan could wear, his jersey undone several buttons to show off his chest hair. Tim Lincecum also deserves mention here; his surfer hair and violent delivery absolutely belong in San Francisco.

There are also things like the World Championship Baby promotion the Giants are currently running: expecting Giants fans are encouraged to enter a contest which would award the first baby born after 7:54 p.m. on August 1 (the moment exactly 9 months after the Giants got the final out to win the 2010 World Series) the title of "World Championship Baby."

Of course, also making the baseball scene in San Francisco easy to love are the facts that it's home to one of baseball's most beautiful ballparks, and that the Giants sell out this ballpark almost every night. The atmosphere at AT&T park is fantastic, and games there are a joy to watch (although I do find their broadcasters a bit annoying).

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Losing in Style: Another Balk-Off

Last night, the White Sox won on the second balk-off of the MLB season, the Royals this time taking a cue from the Mets on ways to lose creatively. Enjoy:

Monday, July 4, 2011

Great Ejections in Baseball History: Phillip Wellman

Well I've had limited ability to post recently because my laptop's been in the shop (my cat spilled some Sprite on the keyboard). Happily, though, I am able to bring you your Great Ejection for Monday:

I imagine anyone who was paying attention to baseball in 2007 will remember this one. This is one of the all-time most over-the-top, and most famous, post-ejection managerial meltdowns, and gained Wellman, then manager of the Double-A Mississipi Braves, considerable Internet attention at the time it happened. Incidentally, the following season, Wellman went on to lead the Mississippi Braves to the Southern League championship.