Why I Like Baseball

an online journal of baseball enthusiasm

Archive for January, 2010

SABR Day Trivia: Questions!

January 30, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball History

It’s officially SABR day in America (America includes Canada, too, as there are chapters/meetings in Toronto and Montreal, plus Puerto Rico has a chapter and meeting today, and presumably Mexico would be included if there were a chapter there…). Many SABR chapters are having Hot Stove meetings today and other shindigs to celebrate. (Schedule).

I’m a member of the Boston chapter, but also one of the first “online chapters,” the SABR charter community of bloggers known as the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. Since I’m feeling a bit under the weather and may not make it to my Boston chapter meeting, I figured I’d offer this trivia quiz for seamheads everywhere to enjoy.


SABR Day Trivia: Answers!

January 30, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball History

Under the link, the answers to the SABR DAY trivia quiz! So don’t click until you’ve looked at the questions!


DVD Review: World Series 1945, 1946, 1947

January 22, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball History

Tonight corwin and I continued our time warp through history, watching the next three World Series films in order with 1945, 1946, and 1947. In my mind these three series’ were The Goat Curse Series, Slaughter’s Dash, and Jackie’s First.

As the 1945 film begins there is no sound, presumably because the soundtrack was lost or damaged, which only serves to intensify the feeling that what we’re watching is archival. It picks up quickly enough in the intro, though, and it’s clear that in this, the third World Series film in a row done by Lew Fonseca and crew, they are still pushing the envelope and searching for ways to make the film more entertaining and watchable. This time the key players on each club are introduced with little bios and accomplishments, and then the lineups are given. There are also some faces here that reinforce that notion that pitchers are greyhounds–made of long limbs and graceful faces–while catchers are pugs and bulldogs–embodiments of flat-faced, broadshouldered cragginess. The two examples that epitomize these standards, pitcher Hal Newhouser and Tiger’s manager Steve O’Neill (a former backstop).

DVD Review: the 1943 and 1944 World Series Films

January 19, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball History

Roll the Newsreels!

I began watching the DVD collection from MLB, The Official World Series Film Collection, last night. My friends pooled their money together to purchase it for me as a Christmas gift and I’m finally getting the chance to watch it.

As determined by WILBB reader suggestions, I started at the beginning. The first film in the collection is the 1943 series, Cardinals versus Yankees.

Watching the film is truly like turning back time. (more…)

Yankees Lineup Predictions

January 11, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Uncategorized

Okay, fans, it’s time to play that Hot stove game we call “guess the lineup”?

The Yankees lose two, probably three main starters from last year’s lineup. Matsui is gone, signed with the Angels, Melky Cabrera is gone, by trade, and likely Johnny Damon is gone, since the Yankees say they won’t meet his agent’s asking price.

With the acquisition of Curtis Granderson they fill the center field vacancy, and Nick Johnson appears to come in at full-time DH. That leaves at the moment Brett Gardner to start in left field and hit in the nine hole.

My two main questions on the batting order are who hits behind A-Rod? And how to the lefty-righty splits of some of these players affect things? Does Jeter keep the lead-off job?

Let’s say that he does. How about this against right-handed pitching:


This way against left-handed pitching:


Posada slugs better against righties, whereas Cano is better against lefties. Granderson has meager numbers against lefties, something that hitting coach Kevin Long will supposedly be working on fixing this off season and in spring training, but don’t expect a complete makeover.

I do wonder if we’ll see Swisher blossom into more of a force, given the adjustments he made during the World Series last year, and according to MLB.com has continued to work on.

Some numbers from Baseball-Reference.com:

Curtis Granderson L/R Splits 2009:
Split     G  PA   AB   H   2B 3B HR RBI SB CS  BB SO  AVG  OBP  SLG  OPS  TB  IBB BAbip
vs RHP   144 511  451  124 19  8 28  62  0  0  57 99 .275 .358 .539 .897 243   4  .295
vs LHP    86 199  180  33  4   0  2   9  0  0  15 42 .183 .245 .239 .484  43   0  .226
Jorge Posada L/R Splits, Career
Split            G   PA    AB   H   2B 3B  HR RBI SB CS  BB  SO  AVG  OBP  SLG  OPS  TB  IBB  BAbip
vs RHP as LH  1454 4484  3774 1013 228  5 179 685 16 13 629 909 .268 .378 .474 .852 1788 26   .307
vs LHP as RH   874 1827  1591  475 114  4  64 279  0  5 208 369 .299 .381 .496 .877  789 30   .351
Robinson Cano L/R Splits, Career
Split           G    PA    AB  H  2B  3B HR RBI SB CS BB  SO  AVG  OBP  SLG  OPS  TB IBB BAbip
vs RHP as LH   667 2105  1995 617 144 13 64 273 11  9 84 212 .309 .338 .491 .829 979  14 .319
vs LHP as LH   446  931   860 258  55  4 23 121  1  5 45 123 .300 .341 .453 .794 390   0 .326

What think? Or really… what do you think Joe Girardi is going to think? Since ultimately he’s the one who makes out the lineup card, not me.

So Long Lefty, So Very Long

January 05, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Interviews

In honor of Randy Johnson retiring today, I’m re-posting this interview I did with him during Spring Training 2006. He sat in a chair while I stood on my feet and he was still almost as tall as I was. He was one of the figures in that clubhouse you rarely saw the Yankees beat writers talking to. They only approached him if there was something they absolutely had to know for a story. However, when I finally got up the nerve to approach him, he was perfectly gentlemanly to me. He’s the only ballplayer I can recall actually being able to smell the chewing tobacco on his breath while he talked. (Mentholated.)

Cecilia Tan: Has your perspective changed on your career now versus when you were younger?

Randy Johnson: My career is almost over. I’m not in the middle, I’m not in the beginning, I’m more towards the end. So, you know, I don’t really know how to answer that question other than to state the obvious, yeah.

CT: Was the decision to come to New York part of that knowing you are coming to the end?

RJ: I think it was more the decision to continue to be challenged toward the end of my career. (more…)

This Moment in (Blogging) History

December 29, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings

This has been an interesting decade to be a baseball writer.

Once upon a time, in a storied era of American history, sportswriters were the creme de la creme of all writers. New York City had dozens of newspapers and even smaller cities boasted multiple papers, often with multiple editions per day. Newspapers were the morning drive radio, and the evening TV news, and CNN and ESPN. Those now-iconic words, “Extra, extra, read all about it,” indicated some big news had happened that wasn’t in the previous edition of the paper you read already that day. Wire services carried the stories of the top writers to newspapers all over the country. Writing was the thing.

The biggest celebrities and and stories of the day were sports figures and the games they played. The Hollywood blockbuster film didn’t yet exist. The first commercial radio license in the USA was granted in 1920, and the first “gold record” for a music album wasn’t awarded until 1941. Think of Jim Thorpe in the 1912 Olympics. The Kentucky Derby has been run since 1875. Jack Dempsey won his first boxing heavyweight title in 1919. And there was baseball, baseball, baseball.

So the best-known writers were the sportswriters, in particular the baseball writers.

But time has marched forward (more…)

DVD Review: The 2009 World Series Film

December 28, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Fans and Fandom, Yankee Fan Memories

Title: 2009 New York Yankees: The Official World Series Film
Produced by: Major League Baseball

The first thing I noticed about this DVD is that it’s really good to be the winner. The clips you see that cycle through in the menu while you wait for your boyfriend to finish folding his laundry so you can watch the DVD together? They are all of the Yankees. The only Phillies player you see is the hapless schmuck chasing Damon from second to third. Even Damaso Marte gets a full slo-mo clip, which is better than you can say for Cliff Lee, Ryan Howard, or Chase Utley. This is probably a reflection of the fact that MLB Productions knows darn well that these DVDs are bought by the fans of the winners, and they cater to them. These are the fruits of victory, after all, and I plan to enjoy them all winter.

Yes, in many ways this is less a “World Series film” than it is a Yankees celebration, and given the title of the “film,” and watching the actual DVD, it’s no surprise that it’s very Yankee-heavy. Not only is there a much longer and more extensive recap of the Yankees’ regular season than the Phillies’, but the Yankees’ ALDS and ALCS exploits are sketched in somewhat more fully than the Phils’. In fact, the names of the Phillies’ opponents aren’t even given and the highlights shown from the NLDS and NLCS are more of a montage, not even giving the scores of the games.

I didn’t mind this as an entertainment experience, but part of me feels like if you gloss over too much, the DVDs really can’t serve as much of a historical record. (more…)

And now, Baseball Gift GETTING…

December 25, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Fans and Fandom

The group of folks I have Christmas Eve dinner with aren’t the types to say grace, so I said it to myself while I was filling wontons by hand. My personal “grace” went something like this:

Dear God, Creator, Universe, thank you for this winter holiday that brings all friends and family together every year to enjoy the bounty of each other’s company and good food and drink. Thank you for this season of celebration.

And thank you for bringing the World Championship to the New York Yankees, and for this winter season of celebration throughout which we can enjoy the reign of joy of our team. Thank you for the blessings of Hideki Matsui’s bat and for exorcising Alex Rodriguez’s demons and for making our new stadium into a home.


So this year my friends pooled their money and got me the gigantic DVD collection of all 65 World Series films!

(I also got this year’s DVD of the 2009 championship, and the 8 DVD set of all the actual games, which will be a lot of fun to watch since I was present at most of the games but haven’t seen the broadcasts of them.)

But back to the complete collection of World Series films. I am thinking I’ll review each year separately, or at least the top 20? But rather than just working my way through chronologically, I thought it might be fun to look first at the years you all nominate as your favorites first.

So please reply to this post with what year(s) you think I should see first and why! (You don’t have to leave a real name and email address if you don’t want to, it just has to look plausible to the software.)

Reviews will come soon!

Baseball Gift Giving: Your Suggestions

December 03, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Fans and Fandom

So, I find myself with three baseball-loving people to buy gifts for in particular this year, my father, my brother, and my nephew (my brother’s 4-year-old son). Since the Yankees have just won the World Series, there’s NO END of World Series tchotchke I can buy them. Or at least, for my dad and brother, whereas my nephew declared this summer that he is a Red Sox fan. Yes, the young one has decided he must strike his own baseball-fan identity. My brother is a saint for treating his son with absolute tolerance and openness over this declaration, although that didn’t mean he didn’t lay on the pro-yankee stance pretty thick when we went to the Stadium in August. (Actually, it was my father who laid it on the thickest… and by the end of the day my nephew had actually decided to buy a yankees hat for himself, although that didn’t mean he gave up on the Red Sox either…)

Anyway, I know the likelihood of all members of the family giving each other the World Series DVD and such are high. I want to avoid duplicating.

So, what are your suggestions for gifts for each age group, dear readers? baseball-related, but not necessarily Yankees or World Series related. What are you getting for your loved ones? (Hoping of course that they don’t read this blog so they won’t see…)

Comment below please! (A name and email are required to comment, but they don’t have to be real.)

(P.S. There are also plenty of baseball-loving women in my family. But I tend to find other common enthusiasms with them to share, whereas baseball is the big one for the guys.)

Talking Baseball with Baseballisms

November 12, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings

Joe over at Baseballisms interviewed me recently about The 50 Greatest Yankee Games, a book I really would like to revise now that there is another championship to add to the tally…

He recaps the interview in text here: http://baseballisms.com/podcast-author-cecilia-tan.html and then you can listen to the podcast of it, which runs about an hour I think.

We could have seriously talked for two more hours. I told the tales of Jack Chesbro, Bill Bevens, Ralph Terry… gee, do you think I like pitchers? And we talked about the “Jeter flip” game and much more.

I’ll go back for another round later this off season to talk about the Red Sox!

World Series Victory recap video

November 10, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Uncategorized

There’s a lot of great postseason footage and coverage out there to look at. But I really liked this short video from the Star-Ledger. Let’s see if I can get embedding to work: (more…)

2009 Champions

November 05, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Great Games, Yankee Fan Memories

The Yankees’ road to their 27th World Championship was a little like what I went through today to finally witness their crowning, requiring all the resources of technology and media at my disposal in order to follow the game.

When the first pitch was thrown, I was somewhere above 30,000 feet, probably over the Washington DC area. I was hoping it would be a typical postseason game, with lots of slow pitching, visits to the mound, hitters taking pitches and working the counts, because then maybe by the time I could get a signal there would still be plenty of game left.

We landed early! I flipped my phone out of airplane mode the moment the wheels touched down and as we taxied I saw on the MLB “At Bat” app that there had been no score, and it was only the second inning!! Unbelievable. Matsui was at the plate facing Pedro with a man on and no one out. I quickly swapped to Safari to open MLB.com’s Live pitch-by-pitch for mobile devices. Matsui looked like he was putting up a battle. On pitch-by-pitch it looks a lot like FOX Trax, where the pitches appear as little circles in a box that represents the strike zone. Green circles are balls, red circles are strikes and fouls.

Blue circles are balls hit into play. Every 15 seconds the browser refreshes and one or two new circles appears. The screen went blank as it refreshed, then BLAM, the blue circle appeared right in the middle of the strike zone. 89 mph fastball… I had to scroll down just a little to see the results: “Hideki Matsui homered. Derek Jeter scored.” corwin and I began fist pumping. Then it was time to actually deplane. (more…)

2009 World Series: Game 5 Recap, sort of

November 03, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Yankee Fan Memories

So, I’ve been sitting here for more than half an hour staring at the computer screen instead of writing my game recap. It isn’t that the Yankees lost tonight, it’s… well, yeah, okay, it is. They lost.

No, I’m not having flashbacks to them losing four in row to the Red Sox in 2004. No, I’m not terribly surprised that Cliff Lee was better than A.J. Burnett. The offense had lots of fight in them.

It’s just, plain and simple, they lost. And I know if they lose twice more, this is going to be a really long winter.

I told myself after the Game Seven loss in 2001 that “it wasn’t that bad.” That I should be proud of all they did in the face of adversity. That that World Series had been a great, unbelievable, amazing experience to be part of, win or lose. The latter two things were true, but that first one? It really was that bad. I cried for a week.

I’m older and tougher now, aren’t I? No. Baseball makes perpetual ten-year-olds out of all of us. (more…)

2009 World Series: Game 4 Recap

November 02, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Great Games, Yankee Fan Memories

If it weren’t for Chase Utley’s ownage of CC Sabathia, the Yankees might have been going for a sweep of the Phils tonight. As it is, they now hold a 3-1 lead in the series, and in all eight previous World Series in which the Bombers took a 3-1 series lead, they won the whole shebang.

The game got started off hot for the Yankees as Jeter singled and Damon doubled, and it looked like all the dire predictions made based on about how bad Blanton’s career numbers were against the Yankees were going to come true. Teixeira grounded out for an RBI for first blood, bringing A-Rod the the plate.

A-Rod took a fastball right in the back, incensing the Yankees bench. It was A-Rod’s third plunking in two days, and he said to the umpire “I think that was pretty obvious.” (Teixeira has now been hit twice, too… more on that later.) The umpires then warned both benches against retaliation, although Sabathia was told he could pitch inside and that the umpires “could tell” if he had intent to hit a batter. I’m not sure I believe that, but in any case, the plunking became a non-issue. Jorge Posada then hit a deep sac fly to bring in a second run, but Blanton had sent his message and settled down.

Blanton would retire the next ten men in a row while hardly seeming to break a sweat. (more…)

2009 World Series: Game 3 Recap

November 01, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Great Games, Yankee Fan Memories

Well, sometimes predictions in baseball pan out. Citizens Bank Park was advertised as a homer haven, and six balls left the yard tonight, three from each team. Sometimes they don’t, as who could have predicted that Andy Pettitte would have the same number of RBIs in the World Series as Ryan Howard?

For a while it looked like Pettitte might not even last long enough to get an at bat. Through two innings he had thrown 52 pitches and struggled with his control.

2009 World Series Game Two Recap

October 30, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Uncategorized

The moment Mark Teixeira’s home run left the field, the party atmosphere at Yankee Stadium was restored. Up until then the atmosphere was tense and the crowd, which had been largely clammed up by the cold weather and Cliff Lee’s dominant pitching the night before, continued to be uncharacteristically quiet in the face of Pedro Martinez. Only once had the “Who’s Your Daddy” chant greeted him in the first three innings.

I decided to start my night off right, which meant getting a good luck hug from Mickey Rivers outside Stan’s Sports World, where he was autographing. (more…)

2009 World Series Game One

October 29, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Yankee Fan Memories

Well, tonight’s game can be summarized in two words. Cliff Lee.

There, quickest game recap ever!

Well, okay, I suppose I can tell you some other things. There was soaking rain all day in New York, but it stopped around four o’clock and both teams were able to take batting practice outdoors. Worry about the weather pushed the planned Jay-Z/Alicia Keys duet to Game Two. I sought out Freddy the Fan and banged the pan for luck, but ultimately it was for naught.

The crowd was fired up at the start of the game, with the loudest, most intense Roll Call I have ever heard. Definitely the Bleacher Creatures have stepped up their game for the postseason. And the flashbulbs for the first pitch were positively blinding.

It was pretty much downhill from there, though. Lee’s complete dominance of the Yankees lineup (except for Derek Jeter, who went 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored) combined with CC Sabathia struggling with control took the crowd out of it early. So did Chase Utley’s first home run (of two), and the fact that in the bottom of the first a rather raw drizzle began to fall which kept up throughout the game. It lasted just as long as Lee, who pitched the complete 9 innings, giving up one unearned run in the ninth.

The bullpen continues to struggle. Matsui and Swisher also continue to struggle but then again so did everyone against Lee (except Jeter). A-Rod struck out three times, but hopefully that doesn’t get into his head. If he turns back into a pumpkin, the Yankees’ fairy tale is over.

I’m looking forward to a lively night tomorrow, though. No rain, and Pedro Martinez will be on the mound, which will surely rile the crowd into a frenzy. Here’s hoping for a better report tomorrow!

World Series Magic

October 27, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, Yankee Fan Memories

It’s time to talk about signs and magic. In other words, do the Yankees have fate on their side? Every championship year seems to have its thread strung with some gems that presage special things happening.

In 1996 the magic moments were things like Dwight Gooden pitching a no-hitter after all the adversity he had gone through personally, and with his father on the verge of heart surgery. Of course, we have the perfect games in 1998 and 1999 from Wells and Cone.

This season had a plethora of special moments if we count the fifteen walk-off wins (which I certainly do!), and how about Melky hitting for the cycle? The first Yankee to do it since Tony Fernandez, who you may have forgotten but he was the starting shortstop before the arrival of a certain rookie named Derek Jeter. Jeter taking the lead in the all-time hits list certainly ranks up there, too.

And then there is New Stadium mojo to be taken into account. The Yankees were in the doldrums from 1965 until the renovation of the old Yankee Stadium, after which the Yankees returned to the postseason three straight years and won back to back World Series in 1977 and 1978. In 1996 they had a new stadium, too, in Tampa, as Legends Field debuted as a miniature of the big ballpark in the Bronx. And now, of course, we have the brand new cathedral. Will the ghosts come across the street?

And then we have the White House factor. Since the original Yankee Stadium was demolished, each time the Yankees have gone to the World Series, if a Republican was in office, they lost, but if a Democrat was in office, they won. Barack Obama is even an AL fan, a follower of the White Sox. Will the pattern keep up?

Only time will tell.

Year     Par  President
1976  L  Rep  Ford
1977  W  Dem  Carter
1978  W  Dem  Carter
1981  L  Rep  Reagan
1996  W  Dem  Clinton
1998  W  Dem  Clinton
1999  W  Dem  Clinton
2000  W  Dem  Clinton
2001  L  Rep  Bush II
2003  L  Rep  Bush II
2009  ?  Dem  Obama

ALCS Game 6: The 2009 Pennant is Won!

October 26, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Great Games, Yankee Fan Memories

There was a party atmosphere in the Bronx prior to ALCS Game 6, as fans psyched themselves up to hopefully see their Yankees punch a ticket to the World Series for the first time in six years. “Tonight’s the night!” “Please let Pettitte have his stuff. Just let him have his stuff.” “The real fans are here tonight! The real Yankee people are here tonight!”

We arrived early to the game, two full days early, actually, given that Saturday night was a washout. We were a few blocks from the Stadium and just starting to look for a place to park when the announcement came over XM that the game had been called. We took a friend out to dinner instead, while torrential rains and lightning dominated the skies, and then this morning dawned clear and dry. There was a beautiful sunset just before we headed into El Molino Rojo, a Dominican Restaurant a few blocks from the Stadium, and by the time we came out, night had fallen and the crowds were thick on the streets heading for the game. There was no wind to speak of on a perfect autumn night.

“The real Yankee people” were chanting and cheering before the game even began. I’d never heard umpire introductions so lustily booed.

I was tickled to see Chuck Mangione play the National Anthem. After all, the last time I saw him play the anthem before a Yankees game, Dave Righetti went and pitched a no-hitter. (more…)

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