Why I Like Baseball

an online journal of baseball enthusiasm

Archive for September, 2009

September 27, 2009: Long Distance Runaround

September 27, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Fans and Fandom, Baseball Musings, Yankee Fan Memories

It’s always tricky trying to follow one’s team while traveling. In recent years I have found myself tempted to miss airplanes while watching in airport bars, watching broadcasts while ON planes (thank you, JetBlue), watching just the ESPN TICKER on planes when the local broadcast wasn’t on, carrying a portable XM radio with me, cartuning (trying to pull in any station with the broadcast on a car radio), streaming audio and/or video from MLB.com, watching pitch by pitch on MLB.com or one of the other sites, etc. etc.

It’s been difficult for me to follow the Yankees the past few days since I am in Charlotte, North Carolina running a small convention here. And Friday night we could not get the Internet working, so I thought my only choice was to stare at my iPhone watching the pitch by pitch from MLB.com’s mobile site (which is quite snazzy). This was difficult because I was continually having to talk to people, do things, help people, et cetera.

But instead I found a whole new way to follow a long distance ballgame. As it turned out, I did stare at my iPhone, because corwin went off to watch the game at the Forest Cafe, our neighborhood baseball-loving watering hole, and he texted me the game play by play. Yes, this is the story of two people who love the Yankees, and are in love with each other.

It went like this:

Berth Day

September 23, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Yankee Fan Memories

Today I plunked down about $3,000 for the full run of postseason tickets at Yankee Stadium. Four seats, eleven games, including game seven of the World Series, should they get that far. I have yet to attend a World Series game in my lifetime, and my fingers, toes, and imaginary appendages are all crossed that this is the year I finally get to one!

And today I know at the very least they will be making the postseason. They won a thriller in Anaheim, a stadium where they have the worst record of any spot in the majors, 0-5 this year until tonight, and 5-19 since 2005. For the past few days, all they needed was either a Rangers’ loss or to win one game for themselves, and it just hasn’t happened, until tonight.

Little things meant a lot in this game, as they always do in postseason play. For example, when Alex Rodriguez sent a 3-0 pitch (one of only 20 homers hit in the 2009 season on a 3-0 count, and that’s out of 4703 total homers hit in the big leagues this season) into the rock garden next to the batter’s eye, there was a man on base. The man was Hideki Matsui, who reached on catcher’s interference. He had grounded to shortstop, and he almost never grounds the ball that direction, so the moment it happened corwin and I turned to each other and said “what happened there?” But then the umpire ruled that Mathis’ glove had touched the bat, and replays confirmed it. In a game where one run was the difference, that’s huge.

So was A-Rod’s sac fly in the top of the ninth, the game-winner, which came on the first pitch he saw. No waiting around. He golfed a low strike on a line into center, which had it sliced or hooked might have gone in the gap. Instead Torii Hunter charged it and put a good throw to the plate, but Gardner was fast enough to beat it. Gardner is the only guy on the roster who would have been fast enough to beat it. How about the fact that Gardner swiped second on a pitch out? Good times.

Jeter probably had the funniest line off the night when after the game he said “We got the monkey off our back. No pun intended.” (Yes, the Rally Monkey did make an appearance, and the Angels did rally to tie the game, but the Yankees won it anyway.)

October, here we come.

The “Softer Side” of Jorge Posada

September 16, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Uncategorized

I got an email this morning with an amusing lead in:

“The Yankees had an interesting game last night, but to highlight the ‘softer side’ of Jorge Posada, I wanted to send over some information that may be of interest to some of your readers around Charitybuzz auctions that are ending tomorrow, September 17, 2009 benefiting The Jorge Posada Foundation.”

Last night, of course, was the night Jorge got into a fistfight with a relief pitcher from the Toronto Blue Jays. Jeter is the quiet one. Jorge is the fiery one. And I’m sure he was chapped that the Yankees were losing a game they should have been winning and not playing the way the Yankees should, even if they are close to having a postseason slot wrapped up. How can you put 12 men on base in 6 innings against Roy Halladay and only plate two of them?

But anyway, yes, Jorge has another side, whether one calls it ‘softer’ or not, like his wife Laura and he just wrote a book on family health and fitness, and of course his charity foundation which supports families of children with the condition that has afflicted Jorge Jr., craniosynostosis.

Anyway, check out the items being auctioned until tomorrow at http://charitybuzz.com/auctions/posada2009, including a Wilson Catcher’s Glove signed by Jorge Posada, Yogi Berra, Joe Girardi & Other Legendary Yankee Catchers or Two Tickets to the 2009 World Series.

Jeter 2,721 – My Dad, 74

September 10, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, Yankee Fan Memories

Apparently, Derek Jeter got the memo about my dad’s birthday, he just got the details wrong.

You see, my father and I (along with my brother and his son Owen–three generations of Tans at one ballgame!) went to the game on Monday at 1pm, Labor Day, to celebrate my dad’s 74th birthday, and also in hopes of seeing Jeter climb another rung or two on the ladder toward Lou Gehrig’s all time Yankee hits record.

As has now been chronicled in minute detail in the mass media, Jeter got three hits the day before in Toronto, and had been on a torrid pace for several weeks, hitting something like .425 in the previous 10 days and so on. That day they started a home stand at Yankee Stadium, though, and the hype was so heavy I thought the ginormous video screen in center was going to fall down.


September 02, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings

I like to pretend that I can see into the future, but really I just have to wait until I get there like everyone else.

Today I’m wondering if someday people will talk about Derek Jeter the way men of a certain era now talk about Mickey Mantle.

You know the ones I mean, guys like John Giambi, Jason’s father, who grew up idolizing Mantle and for whom that love was a defining thing. There are a lot of guys that age who say it. They weren’t New Yorkers, sometimes they weren’t even Yankees fans, but they loved/idolized Mantle.

I am sure there is something similar going on with Michael Jordan that transcends basketball and transcends sport, and goes beyond race, as well. I was struck by hearing the other day that when asked if he could invite anyone at all to dinner, Melky Cabrera replied that he would like to have Joe Girardi, Derek Jeter… and Michael Jordan at his table. Young athletes regardless of race or what sport they play truly idolize him.

But what about Jeter? We have reached that stage of his career where he is knocking guys like Lou Gehrig out of the top slots in Yankee franchise career lists. Every year critics say he is going to get old and tired and start slowing down… and he’s having one of his best seasons ever. But even if he does start slowing down next season, the numbers are staring us in the face.

This guy is good.

But I’m not talking here about his Hall of Fame eligibility, I’m talking about a more nebulous legacy. Thirty or forty years from now, will there be a generation or a demographic who talk about Jeter being the one? My guess is that if there is, it’ll be among a population of young fans and especially female fans who all got into the game because of him, and who will be baseball fans forever after. I remember one time standing behind the dugout at Fenway Park during batting practice. A man was there holding his son, who was probably two and a half to three years old. Every five minutes or so, the child would ask him. “Where’s Jeter?” And his father would dutifully point out where Derek was at the time. Taking ground balls. Talking with Jorge Posada.

Those of us who have seen him grow up as a Yankee, who have gotten used to how good he is, how much he does, can we even gauge just how big he is? Or where his fame and icon-status may go after he retires? We can’t. But we can guess.

I am already picturing the not-so-distant future when Jeter’s Hall of Fame induction comes around. And how the crowd that swells the ranks of spectators will make the group that saw Cal Ripken inducted look like nothin’.

(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.

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


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


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.

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.)

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.

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?”

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.

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!

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!

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