Sunday, October 28, 2007

All-Star Game Prevents Sox From Winning at Home

The really dumb rule of letting an exhibition game decide who has home field advantage in the World Series has failed again. Miserably. If fact it hasn't worked yet. In 2003, the AL won the ASG, eventually giving the Yankees home field advantage in the WS. It certainly didn't work for them, as the Marlins clinched in the Big Stadium. In 2004, it prevented the Red Sox from clinching their sweep at home. Great gift to fans waiting 86 years to see it. It happened on the road. Same thing in 2005 for the 88 years White Sox fans waited. Their "home field advantage" forced them to win on the road. In 2006, the AL won again, but the Tigers "home field advantage" allowed the NL team to win at home. Now the same thing in 2007 for the Red Sox.

Wonder how long it will take for fans to demand the All-Star game revert to alternating years between leagues for home field advantage so that somebody could see their team win at home?

It's Now Football Season

One of my rules of baseball is that football season doesn't start until the last out of the World Series. I don't understand football season starting so early in the year. With so much happening in the last two months of baseball, there's just simply no time to watch football. Now that it's football season, I have to catch up on half a season of what already occurred. But this takes too much time, so I'm not able to get into football as much as I like.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Red Sox Are The New Yankees - Or Maybe Worse

It's gotten beyond the point of contemptful toleration. The whole Red Sox thing is sickening. With all the attention, media coverage, East Coast bias, fan idiocy, transplants worldwide, and the like, the Red Sox are the new Yankees. But I'm going to say that it might be worse.

The Yankees are those pinstriped bunch that the whole world loves to hate more than any other team, Dodgers from Giants fans excepted. I've hated the Yankees my whole life, and for all the regular reasons. They're always on TV, in the media, constant press. ESPN is their superstation. Their fans are everywhere. They always get the prime time TV slot for the post season; no wacky day games in bizarre time zones for them. They have the highest payroll. They are the first topic of conversation even when they aren't involved. Jealousy? Yeah, maybe. Wanting David to beat Goliath is normal. And now the Red Sox have all this.

But there's a difference. As much as I hate the Yankees, I can have respect for them in the very reasons I hate them. "And how many rings has your team won?" This isn't arrogance, it is accomplishment. New York is the largest market there is by way far. So I can expect them to be on because of ratings. I expect them to sell out. I expect their manager and players to be the highest paid. Their fans have the confidence and swagger. And they have won 26 championships after all.

The current Red Sox thing goes beyond this. It took them 86 years to win one. And now they (Red Sox Nation) think they deserve the same. They think they're America's sweetheart losers now on top. They assume that their own terms of endearment are everybody's. They're not. "Big Papi" is to them more than simply their nick name for Ortiz, it is assumed that it is everybody's. It's one thing to say, "Big Papi Ortiz" as a nickname because it ties his nickname to his real name, but quite another to use "Big Papi" by itself, as if I would, too. He's just not my big papi. Or "Manny just being Manny." Huh? Papelbon's dance, the permanent image of the bloody sock, the steal. As I heard one fan say, it used to be that watching the Red Sox in the post season meant seeing 35,000 fans terrified of the next pitch. It took faith. Now it's all presumption. I might be rooting for the Yankees to beat them next year.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Rox vs. Sox - A Fan Torn In Two

Douglas Dinsmoor at Open Stance, one of my first blog reads (and on my favorites list), has come over time to be a fan of both the Rockies and Red Sox. Originally from Denver, he moved to Boston before Denver ever had a team, and became a Red Sox die hard. Then, back in Denver, he followed the expansion Rockies and even became an usher at Coors Field. Now, his two teams are playing each other and he's torn about the Series. Read his interesting thoughts here.

Sox in Five - or - Rockies in Four

My prediction(s) is(are): game 1 will decide whether the Red Sox win in five games, or the Rockies in four.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Wanted: Third Base Coach - Apply Cleveland Indians

Losing the pennant in game 7 is one thing, but when your third base coach chokes the obvious pennant tying run and holds him at third, it's time to fry him. Joel Skinner is the inside favorite for the Pirates managerial job for next year, but if I were the Pirates, I would think twice (instead of not at all). Bill Buckner, Steve Bartman, Joel Skinner?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Night of Drinking with George Brett

One of my favorite stories is when I spent a night drinking with then future Hall of Famer George Brett. Back in about '86, the Royals were in Oakland to take on the A's. John was an autograph, ball, bat and attention hound for ballplayers. He tried to get a bunch of us bleacher bums to go with him to the lounge of the Royals' hotel after the game to schmooze and get autographs from the recent World Champs. Well, only Margaret and I went along with it, and insisted on driving separately.

The hotel for the visitors in Oakland was in the middle of crime infested industrial Oakland, so ballplayers were confined to the hotel lounge for fun. There was nowhere to go "out on the town." Most of the Royals that night were there. John brought his canvas gym bag full of balls, baseball cards and various other souvenirs with him. Sharpies in big supply. He had nicknames for all the Royals: "Saber" (Brett Saberhagen), "DJ" (Danny Jackson), "Goobie" (Mark Gubicza), etc., and after about five seconds of his trying to make advances toward the ballplayers, Margaret and I retired to the bar.

As we sat, a man came up next to us and plopped a beer glass down, then ordered another one. While he waited, he turned to us and said, "Hi, how you folks doing?" We turned to find out it was none other than George Brett. And when megastar George Brett asks how you're doing, you answer. He engaged us in conversation, and when he received his beer he hugged the stool with his rear in a way that suggested he'd be sitting a while. It was obvious that he already had a few. Giddy with circumstance, we talked baseball. He bought us a round of beers. Early on, Brett Saberhagen came up and ordered a Corona and walked away, forgetting all about it. I asked George if he thought Brett would mind if I had a sip of his beer. George flicked the lemon off, took a strong swig, pounded it on the bar and said, "HELL, NO! It's yours!"

We talked about many things. I asked George who the worst fans in baseball were, hoping to see where A's fans ranked. He replied that the Yankee fans were worst, but if you asked Royals outfielders, they would say the bleacher bums in Oakland. YES! What a confirmation of what we did every day. He mentioned specific fans that said specific things to Royals players. He also mentioned a fan who heckled him once with "Hey, George, you got your Preparation H and your pine tar mixed up!" There was no way I was gonna tell him that fan was me! I'm glad he remembered!

Meanwhile, John was frustrated with being turned down by every Royals player so far. They all knew him and his m.o., and made fun of him subtly in front of him without him noticing. John was such a character. Anyway, his frustration brought him to the bar to tell us that he was going home. Then he saw who was sitting with us. "Awwww, you dogs!" he said in green envy. True to his method, he started in on George by asking for an autograph. Then a ball, then a bat. George replied with a really loose, "If I'm gonna give anybody a bat, it's gonna be Marrrrrgaret!" and flopped his arms around her shoulders with one of those big, fat, wet been-drinking hugs. John was pissed. So he split, and let us know how lucky we were for days.

We continued sitting there with George, and he kept buying beers. In California the bars close at 2am. Last call and he bought a final round. When George Brett buys, you let him. The bartender finally closed the bar. But George stayed. When George Brett stays, you stay with him. The bar tender then ordered us out. But George ignored him. When George Brett ignores the bartender, you ignore him, too. At long last, the bartender finally called down the hotel manager to kick us out. George reluctantly complied. When George Brett reluctantly complies, you comply. George was a bit tipsy, so to say. The next day was a day game. We wondered if he might be a bit hung over the next day, but remembered that this was probably the norm for many ballplayers. I've always liked George Brett and will never forget that memorable night.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Cast and Crew: Drunk Buddy Ed

Drunk Buddy Ed was one of the most animated characters, not just in the bleachers, but probably in all of human history. He was the only person I ever heard who had a louder voice than me (now there's a Giants peanut vendor that's easy #1). He was perpetually bombed out of his gourd, but at the same time had the highest tolerance for alcohol and drugs ever. He had a friend named Terry, who usually accompanied him, who drove a Budweiser truck. Ed was the perfect combination of lovable drunk and obnoxious drunk.

Ed usually made his entrance, a half inning late, by running down the aisle with a giant beer, the beer sloshing from side to side, yelling "aaaaaaAAAAAAAAA's!" in his patented way. He got to the front row and yelled the same thing several more times. He always started "Let's go A's" chants, and when it was rally time, he yelled, "Raaaallllly time. Ding-a-ling-a-ling-a-ling!", stomping his foot on each "-ling." He was so hilariously drunk that multitudes joined him in cheering. Before each game, he drank a six pack in the parking lot, and smoked several Peruvian hash balls, then had four or five giant beers during the game. You could tell he was really blitzed when he dropped the "s" from "aaaaaaAAAAAA's." He also heckled the other team's players mercilessly, usually with old, corny yells.

Back in '85 he was safely in the next section over. But in '86, I had to invite him over once. To the dismay of all my other friends because he was so obnoxious, he made our section his new home. I was in the dog house from then on.

Drunk Buddy Ed: Bleacher bum

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Cast and Crew: Margaret

Margaret was an interesting, if a bit eccentric, woman who joined the crew in '85. One night, John and Mac were reading the A's magazine, and came across an article about an A's fan. A woman who was sitting about 8 rows behind us matched the photo. We decided to investigate. It was her.

She was originally from the South and moved to Berkeley and became a hippie in '68, the year the A's moved here from Kansas City. So she was a bleacher bum from the beginning. She did all kinds of computer work at UC, along with a bunch of other hippies, and I remember her having email back in the mid 80's. She also saw Catfish Hunter's perfect game along with only a few other fans. She had a huge memorabilia collection, and was a very literate person.

It didn't take very long for her to move down to the front row to become a part of the gang. She had many stories from the Finley era, and for years was the only woman to play in the A's fantasy camp each year.

Margaret: Bleacher bum

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Congratulations Rockies

The Rockies win the pennant! The Rockies win the pennant! Okay, it doesn't have the same ring to it. What a finish to a season. I feel good for Todd Helton.

Now, with every other team in the division having made the playoffs since the Giants have, maybe this will make the Giants jealous enough to do something about their situation. I wish the Rockies well in the Series, but just may want the Indians to win if they play them. Might snow.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Baseball's Post-Season Problems Made Worse

The two biggest problems with baseball's post season - too many off days, and Series games being played in ever-cooler weather - were made worse this year by baseball's addition of three off days in the playoff schedule. The three off days added were one extra day off between the end of the season and start of the playoffs (playoffs started on Wednesday instead of Tuesday), another day off between games four and five of the division series, and a third day off between games four and five of the LCS. [update 10-15-07: Oops, I counted wrong. There have been four off days added. I didn't see the extra day between the LSC and World Series.]

Baseball already has a problem with too many days off. With all the sweeps in the division series, we sat around all week waiting for the LCS to start. And with already two days off in a seven game series, a third in the LCS is completely unnecessary. This was done, of course, with TV in mind. Why are multiple days off needed in a playoff series? They're called "travel days," but there are few of these during the regular season. Post season scheduling favors teams with fewer good pitchers, because all the days off allow them to max out on their 1-2 starters. The Two Headed Monster in 2001 was a good example. Johnson and Schilling won the four games.

Playing late into October has been a problem, too, with all the cold weather. Now with the extra days off, even a season that ends in September will push the World Series into November. What baseball needs to do is cut the days off in a seven game series to a max of one, maybe between games five and six. Each series should start only one travel day after the previous serieses end. This year, the NLCS would have started on Wednesday instead of Thursday and the ALCS could have started on Wednesday instead of Friday. What difference does it make to start a series on a date set before the season even starts when playoff starting times aren't even announced until the last minute?

Friday, October 12, 2007

United Countries of Baseball

I found a cool site on that shows a map of the country divided up, not into states, but according to fan loyalties. The site is called United Countries of Baseball, and the map can be found by clicking here. Fans can help define the areas by filling out the survey stating their favorite team by zip code.

The area covered doesn't necessarily translate into number of fans because of metro area populations. I don't know how accurate this map is, but I wouldn't argue with most of the areas. The Giants take the coast, while the A's, being in the East Bay, go further inland. The big orange knob in the middle is the Sacramento area, even though the A's AAA team plays there. The Cubs take the entire state if Iowa, which figures, since they have heavy minor league representation there. Why the Marlins would take part of Georgia is anybody's guess. Alaska? Hawaii?

Mountain Time Series

Only two teams in baseball play in the Mountain Time Zone. And they're playing each other in the NLCS. The Rockies are the hottest playoff team in history, now having won 18 out of their last 19 games. How long can they keep it up? Time will tell, and so will FOX.

I'm not a fan of the Diamondbacks, so I don't want them to win. They're not one of my hated teams, it's just that there's nothing to like about them for me. They're an expansion team. They've already won a World Series. Their uniforms are blah. So is their ballpark. So is their name. I could go on.

Game 3 in Denver should be a rocking good time for the Rockies fans. They've never experienced anything like this. Can they hold up to a Red Sox lineup?

Monday, October 8, 2007

No Sympathy

It is very difficult to have sympathy for the New York Yankees for almost any baseball reason. I do have respect for Joe Torre and Mariano Rivera, but none others. King George must be royally pissed right now. But he's partly to blame. He has more money than everybody else but can't assemble a winner. It's been seven years since their last ring, and have had seven consecutive October disappointments. It's funny, but the Yanks are out and the Rockies are still in.

George said in the media before today's game that Torre's job was on the line tonight. Nice way to instill confidence in you main man. But in another way, to whom much is given, much is required. So although I respect Joe Torre, I don't have sympathy for him. He's the highest paid manager with the highest payroll and an annual winner. Managers are always canned when the owner is pissed, even if it's not their fault. Everybody knew this was coming twenty years ago.

too little, too lAte-Rod

Sorry, Alex, but your first post season RBI in three years came as a solo homer behind by enough runs in the late innings to not make a difference. Your pop-out to right field in the ninth with Joe Torre's job on the line was impressive. I'm not sure I want the Giants to sign you, and if they do, you'll have to change your m.o. to one of winning in October. Heaven knows we have enough problems with that.

Friday, October 5, 2007


A-Rod is 0-for October. Yet another post season without performing. Yes, there are still possibly three games left in the Cleveland series. But an interesting point can be made about A-Rod. The Yankees just might not re-sign him this off season. Best player in baseball or not, the Yankees don't need help making it to the post season. They've done it 13 years in a row. What they need is somebody to help them win it all. If A-Rod can't do that, he is meaningless to them.

My new name for the man who blows in October, going O fer, is O-Rod

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Disneyland Angels of Orange County

Or maybe the OC Angels of Disneyland? Whatever their name is, I want them to lose this October.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Post-Season Picks

Here are several types of picks for not only this, but any post season in general. First, for this year: Indians over Yankees, Red Sox over Angels, Diamondbacks over Cubs, Phillies over Rockies; Indians over Red Sox, Phillies over Diamondbacks; Indians over Phillies.

Now for playoff teams for best TV ratings: Angels, White Sox, Yankees and Red Sox (this happened in '05); Giants, Dodgers, Cubs and Mets. Worst TV ratings: Rangers, Royals, Devil Rays and Twins; Rockies, Pirates, Marlins and Milwaukee.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Season Ends Wild, Wicked and Weird

Trevor Hoffman spewed a playoff berth for the second time in three days in a blown save far more tragic than the previous one. I actually feel sorry for him. And the final play of the season was as bizarre a play as I've seen in years, and topped a thrilling 13 inning game. The wild-card winning sacrifice fly involved three individuals at the plate. Would be Rockie scorer Matt Holliday, Padres catcher Michael Barrett and ump Tim McClelland. Each one acted in a mysterious way.

Holliday slid (slud?) head first into Barrett's foot, which blocked the plate. Holliday missed the plate completely, but Barrett dropped the ball, and it squirted out. Holliday lay dazed in the dirt without the slightest attempt to return to tag the plate. Actaully, though, this may have been a wise move, proving to the ump that he touched the plate. Or he could have been laying there too injured to care about a possible World Series victory. McClelland saw the ball squirt away, and in body language that is only used when both the tag isn't made and the runner misses the plate, McClelland did nothing, indicating that the play was still on. Barrett knew that Holliday missed the plate because he retrieved the ball and tagged Holliday. But McClelland signalled a weak, non-challant safe sign just before Barrett tagged him. Barrett let up in his effort as McClelland made his call. Why didn't McClelland make the call right away? And why didn't Barrett protest the blown call? Or at least tag Holliday vigorously in celebration of the out? After all, the season was on the line. Holliday was attended to by medical personnel as the rest of the team celebrated wildly, completely ignorant of Holliday's injury.

And by the way, TBS's coverage of the game was the weirdest, and least interesting I've ever seen. Who were those clowns in the booth and why were those guys so bizarre? Anyway, it should be a great set of playoff series.

What a Finish This Season Has

I never would have guessed the Mets would collapse like they have. I always ask the question of what will happen if a team folds at the last minute. I had the Mets still winning the wild card. But now they're in a position of buying 25 new plasma HD TV's to watch the post season. I'm not feeling sorry yet. On the other hand, the Padres were one pitch away from the post season on Saturday with Trevor Hoffman on the mound in the 9th inning against the Brewers. Tony Gwynn Jr. was the party pooper, of all ironies. If the Pads lose tomorrow, Hoffman's blown save will be one of baseball's biggest. I'm hoping for a Rockies victory. It would be great if they kept it up and won it all.

The Philllies were in first place all of about 2 seconds this whole season. But the last 2 seconds of the season is good enough. The Brew Crew went non-alcoholic in the second half, and allowed the mediocre record Cubs in as NL Central champs. I hope the Cubs are swept by the D-Backs. It'll be interesting to see the attendance for the tie-breaker in Denver. The Rockies spent years selling out as an expansion team.