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Archive for August, 2009

(Almost)-September Scoreboard Watching

August 31, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings

It has become fun to watch the standings lately. The Yankees have the best record in baseball at 82 wins, and it’s not lost on me that the last time the won the World Series, in 2000, they managed only 87 wins on the season. That was back when the Red Sox front office was still in its era of historical incompetence, Peter Angelos was still undermining all efforts of his own GM(s) in Baltimore, and the Tampa Bay team still had the word “devil” in its name.

For some reason, won-loss records in particular have been catching my eye. It makes it obvious that dear old Tampa, who were AL champs last year and in the World Series (even if it looked like they never really woke up enough to play the actual World Series… I guess it just seemed so much like a dream…), would be in first place if they were in the AL Central right now with their .543 winning percentage. Instead, they are in third place in the AL East, 11.5 games back.

That’s how far Cleveland is behind Detroit in the Central, and they are at 58-72, 14 games below .500.

Heck, even Seattle would be in the running in the Central, where right now only Detrit has a winning record. Minnesota is even at 65 and 65. Seattle is at 68-63, and every team in the AL West is above .500 except Oakland.
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SABR in DC: Day Four

August 01, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, Uncategorized

Day Four of the SABR Convention

First up: Starbucks. Tea and coffee cake are necessary to get through the morning.
Second: Baseball’s Global Trend in Emergence of China
(Dominican) Player (Non-)Promotion in the Global Baseball Labor Market
Alexander Cartwright — mythologized much?
Awards Banquet Talk by an MLB Lawyer
Negro League Players Panel
The Rise & Fall of Greenlee Field
Grover Cleveland Alexander

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SABR in DC: Day Three

August 01, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings

Day Three of the SABR convention in Washington, DC.

I am so not used to getting up this early every day. I got in from dinner last night and could barely keep my eyes open while blogging. I conked out earlier than I have in years, two nights in a row. But I’m still sleepy.

Despite this, I was up for the first presentation of the day. Today’s schedule:

Branch Rickey’s Wilberforce Speech
George Michael interviewing Frank Howard and Rick Dempsey
A Framework to Evaluate Managers
Do Pitchers Try Harder to Get Their 20th Win?
Baseball and Early Electro-Acoustic Technology
A Tale of Two Umpires (who were fired for union organizing)
Bus caravan to Camden Yards to see Orioles/Sox

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SABR in DC: Day Two

July 30, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings

Second day of the annual SABR convention! My day started very bright and early.

Today’s items included:
Women in Baseball Committee Meeting
Annual Business Meeting
Library of Congress Presentation
21* — on Tom Cheney, the pitcher who struck out 21 in one 16 inning game
Walter Johnson vs. Babe Ruth
On-Base Improvement by Veterans
Christina Kahrl of Baseball Prospectus
Bullpen Evolution, 1960-2008
Does Running Bases Harm Pitching Performance?
Effect of Defensive Positioning on Offensive Performance (more…)

SABR in DC! Day One

July 29, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, Great Ballparks

First day of the SABR Convention! We are in Washington, DC this time. For those who want a micro-blog experience of the convention, check out http://twitter.com/ceciliatan (and search on twitter.com for #sabr for even more!) I will try to write up decent posts here as I did last year, too.

You may recall that last year I was forced to post via the horrible WebTV interface in my hotel room because my laptop died on the way to the convention. Let’s hope not to repeat that performance.

On today’s slate we had:
Tour of Nationals Park
History of DC Baseball Talk by Phil Wood
Baseball-ese Talk by Paul Dickson at Smithsonian

My friend Eric, who has worked for the last four years as a stat consultant for the Red Sox (but not this year–economic cutbacks all around…), has come along with me on the trip. We got up at the literal crack of dawn to catch the 5:55 am train from Boston so we could make it here in time for the 3pm ballpark tour.
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June 5, 2009: A little bit about books…

June 05, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Book Reviews

The queue of books awaiting my attention just got a little longer, so I thought before they get too old, I would at least run down the list of books on my desk I am really looking forward to reading. I picked up several Red Sox related titles at the BookExpoAmerica convention, which was held in New York City last weekend. And yet no book on the Yankees! It felt like there was very little in the way of baseball books, in fact, but maybe that’s just because the GLUT of Yankees and Red Sox books is easing? Or Yankees books anyway, now that all the stadium books are out? (I suppose you could count the Selena Roberts tell-all about A-Rod to be a Yankee book… or would that be an anti-Yankee book? It is NOT on my to-read list.)
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May 15, 2008: Inside The Park

May 16, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Great Games, Yankee Fan Memories

You never know what you’re going to see when you go out to the ballpark.

Tonight I went out to the snazzy new Stadium in the Bronx to see the Yankees take on the Minnesota Twins.

I did not expect to see Phil Hughes pitch a no-hitter. And he didn’t.

I did not expect to see the Yankees score three runs off Twins closer Joe Nathan in the bottom of the ninth. But they did.

I did not expect to see an inside the park home run. But I did.

Here’s how it happened. (more…)

May 12 2009: Goodnight Professor

May 12, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Interviews

Given that Boston has just laid to rest one of its icons in Dominic DiMaggio, I thought I’d share with everyone some excerpts from an interview I did with him back in 2003, back when the Sox story was always one of heartbreak.

We talked about a lot of heartbreakers in the interview, by necessity. So many of the great games at the “Little Professor” played in were the tough ones. There was of course the big Game Seven in the 1946 World Series, the game where Enos Slaughter dashed home. But also the one game playoff against Cleveland in 1948. And in 1949, going into Yankee Stadium needing to win only one of the final two games of the season to clinch the pennant, and losing both. That same year, little Dom had a 34 game hitting streak going (still a Red Sox record), snapped at–guess where?–Yankee Stadium, on a line drive that almost took the pitcher’s head off but was caught by–who else?–big brother Joe.

CT: What was Fenway Park like in those days?

DD: Oh, I enjoyed Fenway Park. I enjoyed it very much. (more…)

Tipping Points

May 09, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings

There’s been much hoo-hah (that is a technical term, you know) in the media these days about the tipping of pitches.

In particular, of course, it’s in response to Selena Roberts’ book on A-Rod, in which she posits a league-wide conspiracy among A-Rod and his sycophants and cronies on other teams, who would tip pitches to each other to help pump up their personal stats, but only in meaningless games or already-a-blowout situations.

This is a brilliant accusation by Roberts because 1) it seems like a plausible explanation for why A-Rod “always” seems to homer in meaningless situations, 2) it supports her psychological profile of A-Rod as a selfish and immature glory-seeker, and 3) as a conspiracy, the LESS people in the game come forward to talk about it, the MORE believable its existence seems to be!

There have been serious questions about Roberts’ integrity and about whether she she is pushing a personal agenda in the book. I expected she’d be attacked some, because anyone daring to criticize A-Rod will be reacted to by some as if they are attacking baseball itself, and therefore staunch defenders will rise up to counter-attack. But Jason Whitlock’s points in the Kansas City Star struck home for me.
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April 28, 2009: Truth in Advertising

April 28, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings

So I was poking around on my Facebook account today, and an ad along the righthand side of the page caught my eye, as the graphic accompanying it was, shall we say, GRAPHIC!

In fact, it really looked like Roger Clemens and Derek Jeter in a really compromising, or at least suggestive, position.

This was suspicious for a couple of reasons, including the fact that it looks a lot like a Photoshop manipulation job, and not the least of which being that the ad is supposed to be attracting those that “LOVE THE YANKEES?”
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April 26, 2009: Monumental Look

April 26, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Yankee Fan Memories

At last, some of my photos of the Home Opener at Yankee Stadium from April 16th. They would have been up sooner, but things keep happening like, oh, the Yankees arriving in Boston and playing games that take five hours to finish…

So we started with the line to Monument Park. The very very very long line… We entered the park at just about 10:20am, which means 20 minutes after the gate opened. Already the line was huge.
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April 25, 2009: Slug fest

April 25, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Fans and Fandom, Baseball Musings, Yankee Fan Memories

We were really looking forward to a tight pitching duel at Fenway today, as AJ Burnett and Josh Beckett faced off.

As I write this, Jonathan Papelbon just walked Derek Jeter in the top of the ninth, in which Boston has a 16-11 lead.

There have been 28 hits in the game so far, and Papelbon is the 12th pitcher to appear. the lead has changed hands four (?) times, I think?

And this is on top of last night’s extra innings contest, which also used 12 pitchers, and featured 27 hits, even though the end score was only 5-4. Between the two games there have been seven home runs hit… I think? I keep losing track, that’s how many there have been.

And even though Pap is probably about to shut the door… the way things have gone this series so far… I better not count the totals until all is final and in the books! He just walked another one! (more…)

April 18, 2009: Shakespeare & Baseball

April 18, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings

A friend forwarded me the link to this YouTube video from 1958. Comedians Wayne & Shuster combine references to the great baseball figures of the time (Leo Durocher, Pee Wee Reese, Yogi Berra, etc…) with all the recognizable Shakespeare references they could possibly pack in to one ten minute skit.

I’m sharing it with you right now, because the Yankees are getting beaten so badly today that I can’t watch. They are getting beaten so badly that a new record was just set for the most runs ever scored in a second inning, with the Indians scoring 14 runs in the second. It turns out that today is the anniversary of the Yankees setting the previous record of 13 against the Tampa Bay (then-Devil) Rays. It’s like a Home Run Derby there today no matter which Yankees’ pitcher is on the mound. At the moment they are up to 20 runs total… so you can see why I needed something to make me laugh!
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April 17, 2009: First and second, two out

April 17, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Yankee Fan Memories

After the debacle of the inaugural game at new Yankee Stadium, today’s game seemed much more fitting as an opener! After all, Derek Jeter hit the key home run and Mariano Rivera got the save, among other things.

It was a gorgeous day in New York, the temperature just kissing 70. I didn’t actually go to the game today, though I wanted to. No, corwin and I went yesterday (photos to come), and then I was up at 4am to take him to a dawn flight out of Kennedy airport. Our route took us right past the new Citi Field, the Mets’ new home, and in the pre-dawn dark it was all lit up in garish color. If the new Yankee Stadium gives the impression of a cathedral, Citi Field looks like a carnival.

I think I like ours better.

I slept a few hours back in the Bronx, and then hit the road back to Massachusetts in the early afternoon, just in time to get in the car for the first pitch of today’s game.

Yesterday there were a lot of firsts, of course. Jorge Posada hit the first home run, for example, but the firsts continued to pile up in the second game. The Yankees scored 5 of their 6 runs on solo home runs, which is weird in and of itself, but they also all went to right-center field. Even the Indians’ Mark DeRosa’s homer went to right-center.

The last of these homers belonged to Derek Jeter, who came to the plate in the 8th with the score tied 5-5, two outs, and the bullpen looking very questionable after yesterday’s meltdown. He sent the ball to Mo, though, by sending one over the fence. Jeter is now the answer to the trivia question Who Got the First Curtain Call in the new Yankee Stadium?* Apparently it just took an extra day for the mojo from Ruth’s bat to take effect (prior to Jeter’s first at bat yesterday they laid a bat across the plate ceremonially–the bat that Ruth hit a homer on Opening Day 1923 with…). Or maybe they should have let the whole bullpen touch Ruth’s glove or something.

Mariano recorded the building’s first save, giving up two singles, but ultimately getting the side before allowing a run.

Hopefully there will be many more games like this one in the new Stadium than like yesterday’s loss. Final score, 6-5 Yanks.

*Edit: I’ve been informed that Posada actually had a curtain call yesterday for his homer into Monument Park. Somehow I missed that, even though I was there. Perhaps the calling for him didn’t reach up into the upper deck where I sit…

Coming soon…

April 17, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Uncategorized

My photos and write-up of opening day at the new Yankee Stadium. Heading back to Massachusetts, will get the pics uploaded when I get there!

April 15, 2009: Moving the Fences In

April 16, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Fans and Fandom, Baseball Musings

So today was the day that MLB honored Jackie Robinson, an annual event on April 15th that has been growing bigger every year since the retirement of Robinson’s #42 throughout all of baseball (except for those players who were still wearing it, like Mariano Rivera). Today every player in the majors (and even the umpires) wore #42, “making every scorecard useless,” joked Dave Niehaus on the Mariners radio broadcast.

I heard the M’s game while driving from Boston to New York to be here in time for the inauguration of the new Yankee Stadium. While deciding which game to listen to on our XM radio, corwin opted for the chance to hear Niehaus have one of his trademark near-aneurysms.

It felt fitting to me that on a broadcast where Jackie Robinson was mentioned frequently, I would learn of baseball’s first Asian-American manager. Don Wakamatsu is, right now, in his first season as manager to the Mariners. Is it hard to believe that it’s taken this long to have an Asian-American manager?
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April 13, 2009: Bash Brother, Interview with Dale Tafoya

April 13, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, Book Reviews

Dale Tafoya is the author of “Bash Brothers: A Legacy Subpoenaed” — which I reviewed here on “Why I Like Baseball” back on December 14th, 2008. The book reminds readers of a lot of very significant facts about the early days of the Steroid Era which are being quickly forgotten in the onrush of debate as the controversy rages on. I interviewed Dale in the wake of this spring’s revelations about A-Rod in the belief that the Performance Enhancing Drug news is far from finished and that we will still be figuring out the full impact of this chapter of baseball history for decades to come.

Cecilia Tan, WILBB: I think a lot of fans, and certainly the owners, are still in denial about the whole steroids issue. They just want it to go away and pretend it either never happened or that at least it’s “over” now. Do you see it going away any time soon?

Dale Tafoya: Well, I think steroid use in baseball has been significantly curbed, especially since MLB began dishing out these 50-game suspensions to busted players. But it would be naive for us to think that the game is completely clean, especially since there is still no HGH testing in MLB. From a historical perspective, it’s clear that a majority of premiere players, including pitchers, who played during the late-1990s and the early part of the millennium were using some sort of performance-enhancing drug. How many careers have mysteriously tumbled since MLB started its testing program? (more…)

Breaking news… sort of…

April 09, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Book Reviews

We interrupt our regularly scheduled broadcast of Welcome Back Baseball with this announcement. My fiction writing and my baseball writing don’t often coincide, but they did recently when I wrote an erotic baseball novel for a company called Ravenous Romance. They are an ebook publisher, and … voila!

It’s not yet live on Fictionwise or the Kindle Store, but right now it can be bought directly from Ravenous as PDF, .prc (Kindle compatible), and Epub formats (compatible with lots of devices and software readers).

As the marketing pitch goes: “When Casey Branigan meets major league baseball player Tyler Hammond at a photo shoot, she finds the fun and excitement her life needs. As a manager in a big Boston design firm, Casey’s life has become lackluster – but her affair with Tyler promises to change that. Quickly caught up in the whirlwind that surrounds celebrity athletes, Casey travels all over the country to watch Tyler pitch. The sex is breathtaking and Casey loves the lifestyle fame and fortune affords. Tyler is on a winning streak, and he thinks Casey is the reason why. But Casey must decide for herself whether this is just a summer fling. Or is Casey starting a hot streak of her own?”

Buy it at Ravenous: here!

Meanwhile, I noticed my baseball-themed erotic short story, Baseball Blues, is also up for free download. So if you want a taste of things, check it out here. Yankees fans will easily be able to tell what real life player the male character is based on (and no, it is NOT Derek Jeter).

April 7, 2009: No Bailout Needed

April 07, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Fans and Fandom

Today’s post in our week of special piece Welcoming Back Baseball is a guest post by my good friend Patrick Hughes, who is a devoted Giants fan living in San Francisco. Today the Giants are having their own Opening Day and Patrick has been texting me updates from the ballpark. But here’s a piece he wrote about what he had to go through to obtain that seat he’s sitting in as I post this:

No Bailout for Baseball Needed
by Patrick Hughes

You’d think by now that I would be used to the swindling tactics of Major League Baseball, but purchasing Opening Day tickets today took the cake.

I just paid nearly $68.00 for a Viewer Box seat, Section 112, Row 35, Seat 13. Un-f***ing-believable.

In the early days of Pac Bell, the only way a working stiff like myself could ensure tickets to the best games involved schlepping down to the ballpark on some random Saturday in February at the crack of 10:00am. For weeks, I’d pore over the schedule ahead of time and pick out the ten most interesting match-ups. You know, games versus the hated Dodgers, Mets, Cubs, Cardinals, the occasional interesting interleague game and a game or two during the final divisional series’ in September (just in case things got interesting). All in all, I’d shell out for about 10 games, including Opening Day. Kinda fun, now that I think of it. Going back and forth with me mates on what games would be of interest, driving like madmen through SOMA, while imagining nightmarish waiting line scenarios. Old fashioned fan stuff. Except for the first couple of seasons at the new park, I always managed to get the tickets I wanted.

For Opening Day, I didn’t care where I sat, just as long as I got in. A random sampling from my ticket collection shows I paid $19.00 in 2002, $22.00 in 2003, $23.00 in 2004 and $33.00 in 2007.

I’m not naive, I understand how it works. Sports in America is a racket and owners fleece the fans for all they can. We will put up with $10.00 beers and the $7.50 Sheboygan sausage. Hell, I don’t mind these extra charges just because Magowan borrowed $170 million, instead of getting the city to build the stadium and kept the Giants in San Francisco. Still, baseball is not as bad as football. In football, the rationalization is that since there are only 16 regular season games you are going to pay more. No explanation needed. It’s what punters will pay despite the billions made with television contracts. I wouldn’t be surprised that an individual ticket for a Dallas Cowboys home game at the New Texas Stadium to exceed $200 next season. But that’s not supposed to happen in baseball. At 162 games a season, it is supposed to be affordable.

Back to today. Keep in mind that I rent. I’m sure you Season Ticket holders have your particular complaints about seat licenses, parking and whatnot. I am ranting about one man trying to buy one ticket. For 2009, the Giants have completely changed the system. First of all, you can’t just buy Opening Day tickets at the ticket counter. Now you have to register online and wait until a lottery is held for what they refer to as a “Ticket Purchase Opportunity!” I imagine this is more about harvesting viable email addresses than preventing rioting in China Basin, but that’s me. Turns out I’m one of the lucky ones! I received a note earlier this week informing me that I can buy up to four tickets today! March 5th! Starting at 10:00am! I’m up. Card ready, fingers twitching. 10:00am strikes and I am furiously typing away like a harried parent attempting Hannah Montana tickets, fearing for the sanity of an adolescent daughter.

The first thing I notice on the ticket screen is that there are now three classifications of tickets: Regular, Feature and Premium.

OK. I get it. Very clever. Feature games are against top media market teams and every Dodger game is a Premium.

The difference between Regular and Premium is about $20.00. Then I see the notice in BIG LETTERS that I now have approximately a minute and a half to make my selection, the time counting down in ominous red blinking numbers.

Think fast, I say. Be steady.

My eyes settle on Regular Lower Box–$35.00. Not bad. These seats went for $28.00 last year, but I don’t follow the line ‘Premium’–Opening Day is actually $52.00.

Bang. Too late. I click the link. Time is wasting.

It opens up another window showing me the actual view from the seats. Section 112. I have a moment to think. Not bad. Behind home plate, just a tad to the first base side, right under the press box. Great sight lines to watch last year’s Cy Young winner, Lincecum as the opening day starter. Added bonus is that Section 112 is for the handicapped, so there will be extra legroom. As a veteran ball park rat, I tell you, sitting with a group of Special Needs kids is actually pretty awesome. They don’t get plastered and actually spend most of the game concerning themselves with their bright orange foam finger and then leave by the seventh inning. The only wrinkle is when they wheel in some poor fellow flat out in a iron lung. The endless stream of questions can be distracting and I really fear the outcome of an errant foul ball. Anyway, I’m feeling optimistic, clicking through ads, trying to get to the credit card data entry window.

However, this Doomsday Clock is tormenting me, counting down my One and Only chance at Opening Day salvation.

There. I click it. Finally. And as an extra bonus? A $9.25 ‘Convenience’ fee added to the bill. How about that? Convenience Fee. Great. What’s next? A ball polishing tax? A bat waxing surcharge? My enthusiasm is starting to waver. Thing is, I associate this fee in my youth with Van Halen tickets via Ticketron. You paid extra because you spoke to an operator and had them mailed to your home. Not now. In the unregulated seller’s market of 2009, this is how it goes. You want on the boat? Now it’s going to cost you extra. But add the anxiety of the ominous and slyly unexplained time factor of doom, I am starting to feel abused, though no time for reflection.

The final ignominy comes at the end, just between the final invoice and a confirmation number. A fresh screen informs me about the greening initiatives of Major League Baseball and now I have the option of downloading my ticket to a PDA and just flashing my phone at the game to gain entry–for an additional charge of just $2.00. Given that I am not much of a gadget man these days, I opt the for printing my ticket at home option. As I slide the cursor over to the Complete This Transaction button, the ticket charge jumps to $6.00! What’s this? For my own ink and paper? Are they that concerned about The Impending Economic Apocalypse? No time to think.

20 seconds left and BAM! I have my 2009 SF Giants Opening Day ticket!

$52.00 for the seat and a whopping $15.25 in charges. A quick calculation. This means Standing Room Only tickets on any random home game are now $30.00. God Bless America. Please note: Tickets are non-refundable and remember that no coolers are allowed and removing your hat during the Star Spangled Banner is now mandatory.

(Tune in all this week for more special Welcome Back Baseball articles and pieces!)

April 6, 2009: Baby Photos

April 06, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Great Ballparks, Yankee Fan Memories

Welcome back baseball! Here at Why I LIke Baseball, this week will feature new content every day in our special welcome back baseball week! Herewith, post #2 of the celebration!

I promised photos of the New Yankee Stadium, and so I’ve uploaded them to my Flickr account. Here are some of the highlights:

Click on any of the small images to see the full size image.


Walking past the old place with the new one beckoning on the horizon. Construction of a new parking garage and playing fields and restored playgrounds for Macombs Dam Park is also continuing.


View of the grand entrance hall on 161st Street, taken from the second level.
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