Why I Like Baseball

an online journal of baseball enthusiasm
Subscribe

Archive for June, 2011

New York on Sunday

June 12, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Yankee Fan Memories

Well, it isn’t a sweep yet, because Cleveland are still in town tomorrow for a four-game “wraparound” series, but it sure did feel good to win three in a row. Today was a beautiful day at the Stadium, not too hot, not too cold, and it never got around to raining. In fact, as the game wore on the sky grew steadily sunnier, just like the Yankees’ outlook.

Freddy Garcia made a bid to be just as good as hamstrung Bartolo Colon. after a dismal outing against the Red Sox, he was at his crafty best, throwing 6.2 innings, scattering 7 hits, and giving up only one run. Boone Logan, Luis Ayala, and Kevin Whelan did the rest. Logan was poised under pressure as he came in with two outs and a man on, then promptly walked Grady Sizemore. The next play let a runner on with an error (A-Rod fielded the ball but threw wide to Cano.) With the bases loaded, and what was then only a 6-1 lead, the wheels could have come off. But Logan got Shin Soo Choo to line softly to Jeter to end the threat. Whelan controlled his jitters much better than he did Friday, walking only one in an otherwise uneventful ninth.

The pitching wasn’t the story today though, really. The offense was. (more…)

Rainy But Not Blue

June 11, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Yankee Fan Memories

Well, that was different. From yesterday anyway. The result, however, was the same: a win.

Today instead of the game taking place on a hot, muggy night, it was a chilly, rainy day. We got to our seats in the upper deck, behind home plate, to discover a driving wind into our faces, meaning that even though we are under the roof, there was no shelter from the non-stop horizontal drizzle. We resorted to plastic ponchos immediately.

Bartolo Colon was on the mound for the Yankees, while Mitch Talbot took the hill for the Indians. Through the first three innings, there wasn’t much to write home about. Each team had one hit and not much else. I could mention that Gardner was caught stealing twice, once on a pitch out, once at third base. But that’s reaching. There was also a Posada baserunning blunder–picked off second. I’ll get back to that. (more…)

Summertime Laugh(t)er

June 11, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Yankee Fan Memories

Last night, as corwin and I lay in bed trying to get to sleep after a long drive to NYC through thunderstorms and another horrendous loss to the Red Sox, I said, “Something is going to shake this team up. Girardi has to come up with something or someone’s dad has to die tragically, or someone get in a wreck or something.” I talked about that game in 2009 in Atlanta when Girardi got tossed and Cervelli his his one home run, and how they went on a tear and never looked back.

The Yankees have been the Red Sox’s punching bag so far this year, but hey, this often happens, where the Sox dominate in the early going and the Yankees dominate in the last going. (I’d rather dominate during the pennant race, thanks.) So perhaps they sprang up enlivened today merely by seeing Boston’s taillights as they pulled away last night. Or maybe it was that after a 3.5 hour rain delay last night, the fact that today was sunny and warm and summer-like lifted their spirits. (It sure lifted mine.) The pennants looked extra bright today, and the Coco Rico the old Dominicans sell on the street corner on 161st Street tasted extra sweet before the game today.

Or maybe it was that Fausto Carmona just seemed like he didn’t have it and like he was an ass on the mound. Here’s what I’m talking about. (more…)

Brent Mayne in the news again!

May 26, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Fans and Fandom, Baseball Musings, Great Ballparks

I hear that Phillies infielder Wilson Valdez just became the first position player to win (as pitcher) a major league game since Brent Mayne did it back in 2000. This means Brent Mayne’s name is suddenly in the news again. Mayne was the backup catcher for the Colorado Rockies when he performed the feat.

I actually watched the crazy extra-innings Braves-Rockies game in which Mayne got the win on television from the Jersey Shore one night while on vacation. I wrote about it the following year, when I tried to get Mayne’s autograph one night in Seattle at Safeco Field, when he was playing with the Royals and I was there for a game. I never did get Mayne’s autograph, but I did get a batting practice ball that night, and the autographs of Mike Cameron and Brett Boone, back when they were both stars for the M’s.

So here’s the flashback post from August 16, 2001, in which I recount my trip to the ballpark and Mayne’s pitching performance along the way: (more…)

Articles on the SABR Era of baseball wanted (1971-present)

April 12, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball History, Baseball Musings

So, some of you may have seen via the SABR newsletters and my other social media things, that I’m editing the Fall 2011 issue of the Baseball Research Journal, aka BRJ.

BRJ is SABR’s main research publication, and has become one of the premiere places to publish ground-breaking research into both baseball history and statistical analysis. (SABR = Society for American Baseball Research).

SABR was founded in 1971, and it’s probably not a coincidence that the society’s formation came about just as many other changes were coming to the game. So this special themed issue will have some (not all) of its articles focused on baseball from 1971 to the present. Consider the following upheavals & changes we’ve seen in our lifetimes: (more…)

Tags: ,

Cold. But they won.

April 11, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, Yankee Fan Memories

So I went to Opening Day at Yankee Stadium this year, on March 31st. While I understand and appreciate that MLB wanted to start the year four or five days earlier, so that there would be no chance of having a World Series game on November 4th (grrrrrr…. the reason I wasn’t there to enjoy the Yankees’ victory in 2009 was because I was on an annual business trip that NORMALLY would not come close to conflicting), in April it’s always a statistics game with the weather man. Each day closer to May the chance of having a warm day goes up.

I’m not just saying that. I’m a SABR member after all, and part of what we do is analyze history based on the statistical record. Well, looking at that record, the chance for warm on March 31st in New York City was pretty slim. (more…)

Night Game at “The Boss”

March 10, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Spring Training, Yankee Fan Memories

As we walked up to George M. Steinbrenner Field tonight, corwin remarked that it looked very Disney-ish. GMS Field is surrounded by lovely landscaping, fountains with man-made ponds inhabited by turtles and geese, palm trees with lights climbing their trunks, but with the bright lights bouncing off the clouds, the humid evening air blowing in our faces, and the happy anticipation… it certainly felt like Disney.

Ah, Florida, which has been an exotic fantasyland in the minds of Northerners since the days of Henry B. Plant, the railroad magnate who convinced the cream of New York society to ride his rail system south to his Tampa Bay Hotel starting in 1891. But as with Disney, the magic in the Yankees isn’t in the frills, it’s somewhere in the heart. (more…)

Spring! My first day in the sun after a long winter

March 08, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Spring Training, Yankee Fan Memories

As I get older, perhaps I am starting to see the appeal of Florida. This winter in New England was long, hard, bitter, and snow-filled. When I pulled my suitcase down the steps of my Victorian-era house in Cambridge, the solid ice berms on either side of the sidewalk were still two feet high. My car was plowed into a snow bank weeks ago and the side mirror torn off by the plow, after which its battery went dead in the cold. It’s still there on the curb.

I’m not. I’m in FLORIDA. And it is HOT and SUNNY here. This is GLORIOUS.

Yesterday I went with my parents (who are big baseball nuts, too) to George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa to take in a tilt between the Yankees and Phillies. Both of these teams have chips on their shoulders, having both been expecting to meet at the Big Dance last October/November, and both jilted by the machinations of the upstart Giants and Rangers.

It was a split squad day for the Yankees, meaning that — alas — Jeter, A-Rod, Teixeira, and Cano were all on a road trip to face the Orioles. The starters who remained behind in Tampa were Gardner, Granderson, Swisher, Posada, and Russell Martin (the new full-time catcher, now that Posada is the full-time DH). Okay, so those latter five are not chopped liver, but it still felt a bit like we got the second string. Especially when the Phillies had brought pretty much their A lineup: (more…)

An Afternoon With Ryne Duren

January 07, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball History

Dangit. I just heard of Ryne Duren’s passing yesterday at age 81. I am supposed to be working on a biography of him for the SABR Bioproject, but he hadn’t answered my recent letter. I was going to try to track down a more recent phone number for him, but now I won’t get that chance.

The reason I took the Duren assignment for the Bioproject, honestly, is because I was hoping to have another great chat with Ryne like the one we had back in 2003 when I was working on The 50 Greatest Yankees Games. He winters in Florida like many people, and so I met him one February when I went down for pitchers and catchers. On that trip I interviewed a lot of former Yankees, including Tom Tresh (who also sadly passed as well) and Phil Linz (still kickin’). Ryne wanted to know if I could meet him at a greasy spoon near Lakeland. This wasn’t that near either his home nor where I was, but I readily agreed.

When I got there I found out why he wanted to meet there–because of the proximity to several large pawn shops. In his dotage, Ryne had become something of a junk connoisseur, and apparently it’s more fun to hunt for junk with company that without. I happily went with him to pick through piles of used lawnmowers, lamps, stereo equipment, etc. We found no gems, but it was fun, and then we settled into the little diner nearby to have a bite to eat and talk baseball.

At the time I was working on The 50 Greatest Yankee Games, so I had a bunch of questions about Duren’s teammates to ask him (he played with the Yankees from 1958-1961) but sometimes you never know what you’re going to find if you just let a fellow talk. And Duren was a talker, that’s for sure.

In our conversation he told me stories about how Lefty O’Doul helped him with his pitching control, how alcoholism probably hurt his control, meeting Marilyn Monroe, getting batting tips from Joe DiMaggio, how having an infected heart as a child turned him into a baseball fan, Whitey Ford, Ralph Terry, and much more. What follows is pretty much a verbatim transcript of that afternoon:

Ryne Duren: Did you know I just wrote a book, too?

Cecilia Tan: No, I had no idea.

RD: I’ll get you a copy. [goes out and gets one from the car] I’m going to go down and autograph copies at the museum in St. Pete [where the "Baseball as America" Hall of Fame exhibit was showing at the time]. I don’t know how much research you did about me but I’m known for two things, I have real bad eyes and I had terrible alcohol problem. Anyway, this is kind of a play off of both. [The title of the book is "I Can See Clearly Now."]

CT: Did you really hit a guy in the on deck circle in the minors?

RD: Oh no. That’s a myth. But what I did do was (more…)

Today is BBA Day!

December 10, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings

Yes, today is BBA Day, the day to celebrate the existence of the Baseball Bloggers Association.

This coalition of baseball writers and enthusiasts includes everything from individual fan sites for teams to group blogs of analysis and specialized topics. I joined the group when it was first forming and have had a terrific time networking with this group of people who love the game of baseball in all its forms.

I started Why I Like Baseball in 1999, using old style hand-written HTML, just to express my thoughts and feelings about the game which I had followed avidly as a kid growing up near New York City, but had lost touch with in my early adulthood. The McGwire-Sosa home run race brought me back with a vengeance. I was a professional writer, so one way I expressed my love of the game was through writing. Next thing I knew, people were actually coming and reading the site on a regular basis. Advertisers began to offer me money. I happily took it and expanded what I wrote about to include not only the Red Sox and Yankees, but minor league ball, women’s baseball (which I then started playing), baseball history, baseball tourism (ballpark visits, gravesites, museums, etc…)

They say on the Internet you will always discover you’re not the only one. You’re never alone. The term “blog” was coined in late 1999 but didn’t enter common parlance until a few years later, but the concept of maintaining a readable online journal or zine existed long before that. What really came about around the turn of the millennium was the technology to make blogging easier and more ubiquitous. And so here we are, ten years after that, with a vibrant and growing network (over 200 strong!) for people like me.

So I encourage you to check out the central website: BaseballBloggersAlliance.com/ where many posts from BBA members all over the web are cross-linked. The BBA does our own version of annual baseball awards, and even a “what if we voted for the Hall of Fame”? every year. Many of the blogs are also involved in charitable efforts.

Pressing Measures

November 30, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings

I read the news recently that Jim Leyritz’s trial for D.U.I. manslaughter is over (New York Times). If you’re in suspense, he was acquitted of the manslaughter charge but the jury did slap him with a misdemeanor, which could carry a few month’s jail time, but nothing as bad as the several years that the more serious charge would have carried. Among the mitigating circumstances, the woman who was killed in the accident was also driving while drunk, might have had her car’s lights off, and Leyritz’s blood alcohol level didn’t actually test as high as expected.

What irked me about this story was not the outcome, or even its existence — people including ballplayers making bad choices is nothing new. That the article points out that he is “former Yankee Jim Leyritz” is also nothing new. Heck, that’s what makes it a news story worthy of the Times in the first place.

But what rubbed me wrong is the final two paragraphs of the story:

Leyritz’s famous homer tied Game 4 of the World Series against Atlanta, a game the Yankees won in extra innings. The victory paved the way for their 1996 title, their first in 18 years.

Primarily a catcher, Leyritz also played for the Angels, the Rangers, the Red Sox, the Padres and the Dodgers. He had a career batting average of .264 and hit 90 regular-season home runs.

Is it just me, or does that all seem really… reductive and inappropriate? I think I could have lived with just the final sentence, but the “famous homer” one just feels absolutely muck-rakey to me when juxtaposed with the content of the story.

I know it’s there for those with short memories who read the article and said “Jim who?” but I just cringed when I read it. There’s an edge of sensationalism there (“World Series Hero Driving While Drunk!”) that is just unseemly for the New York Times… or for anywhere, really.

Tis The Season

November 19, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings

Just got my annual letter from the New York Yankees with my invoice for 2011′s season tickets.

The good news is that my seats are staying the same price, as they have for the past 5 years, going all the way back to the Old Stadium.

The bad news is that in 2010, with the economy still limping along, I didn’t come close to breaking even on the cost of my seats. I even ended up eating the cost of two postseason tickets I couldn’t dump except to a scalper outside the McDonald’s for less than half of face value.

I have been seriously considering either dropping my plan, or dropping from all 81 games to a partial season plan.

I’m sure I’m not alone, which is why the letter to me from the Yankees does things like praise my “unwavering loyalty.” Hoo-boy. Yes, they know better than any other sports franchise on earth that love = money.

At least they aren’t hypocrites, though. Here’s why: (more…)

ALCS Game Three Recap

October 19, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, Yankee Fan Memories

It was a sad night at the Stadium tonight, and not just because of Cliff Lee and Josh Hamilton. Prior to the game the Yankees announced on the scoreboard that Freddy Schuman, aka Freddy the Fan or Freddy “Sez,” passed away yesterday at the age of 85.

It’s amazing to think Freddy outlasted Eddie Layton, Bob Sheppard, and George Steinbrenner himself, but still heart-wrenching to realize he’s gone. Freddy was a fixture at the Stadium (and even sometimes in Tampa during spring training), making his way through the entire stands in the course of a game to let as many kids (and the kids at heart) bang on his lucky frying pan with a spoon.

I banged on the pan just last week, before the ALDS clincher at the Stadium, and now I’m so glad I did. I never would have guessed that would be my last chance to do it.

I also wouldn’t have guessed it would be the last time the Yankees looked dominating this postseason. Coming into tonight’s game they are 1-1, but they could have easily been down 0-2. (more…)

ALCS 2010 Game One Recap

October 16, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Great Games, Yankee Fan Memories

I’m trying to come up with a reasonable lede for tonight’s game recap. It was such a dramatic, feel-good team win that it’s hard to know what’s over the top. On the one hand, it might play out that this come-from-behind statement in the ALCS opener turns out to be just another leg of the steamroller’s journey. On the other hand, chipping away and never giving up is the everyday business of these Yankees.

In the tremendous (yes, I’ll use the word tremendous) eighth inning rally, the Yankees employed the strategy an old coach of mine called “hit it hard somewhere.” The Yankees call it “keeping the line moving.” Tremendous? Yes. According to the Stats Inc. tweet-feed, there have only been four other games in postseason history where a team overcame a 4-run or larger deficit in the 8th or later. Yes, what we saw tonight was rare.
(more…)

ALDS Game Three: Wind Swept Evening

October 10, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Great Games, Yankee Fan Memories

What a lovely night in the Bronx. Beautiful weather, a festive atmosphere, and a fine ballgame that swept the taste of a lackluster September right out of our mouths.

I arrived at the Stadium earlier than planned, as the traffic driving from Boston was not nearly as bad as we’d feared. Plenty of leaf peepers were out on the roads, but the backups were few and minimal. At 6pm we pulled into our favorite parking lot (#8) and got a space on the bottom level. With two and a half hours to kill before first pitch, we decided to walk around the neighborhood and see what there was to be seen before committing ourselves to the stadium.

Stan’s was already in full swing along River Avenue, with loud music pumping and large screen TVs showing the Rays/Rangers tied at one apiece (more…)

ALDS Games One and Two Wrap-Up: NYY vs Twins

October 07, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Great Games

For the first time in a long time we didn’t have to drive to New York for the start of the postseason. Because the Yankees slipped out of the AL East division lead and “settled” for the Wild Card, they opened on the road. This was lucky since both corwin and I couldn’t get away from work this week, and would have had to sell our ALDS tickets. Instead, the game(s) in New York will happen this weekend when we can go!

I don’t for a moment believe that the Yankees actually WANTED to slip to the Wild Card, though many fans in Minnesota do. I’ve seen many blogs and tweets from folks in the Twin cities saying that because the Yankees always dominate the Twins in the postseason, they actually plotted to lose the division so they would get the Minnesota matchup.

I don’t believe the conspiracy theories, but I do think maybe Joe Girardi thought to himself that it wouldn’t be SO bad to face the Twins if it meant he could get everyone to October healthy and decently rested, instead of drained from the AL East chase. If anything, the Rangers have made it look like the Rays are the tired ones, holding them to a single solo homer over the past two nights, winning 5-1 and 6-0.

The Yankees, meanwhile, are sitting pretty, having won both games at the brand new Target Field.
(more…)

Today’s Baseball in Tweets

August 30, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Uncategorized

  • Is Jeter actually hurt and just hiding it? Hits .250 off righties this season. @YankeesWFAN @Ledger_Yankees @BloggingBombers @LoHudYankees #

Powered by Twitter Tools

Zombies are hip

August 25, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, Xtreme Columns

Zombies are in these days. There are zombies in Jane Austen novels, in movie after movie, and even in romance novels now. Zombies are hip. That’s what I think every time I look back and see the Red Sox are still clinging on without completely fading this season.

This is remarkable given the sheer number of players they’ve had on the DL or lost for the season. With a 73-55 record, they’d be in FIRST PLACE in either of the other two American League divisions as of today! (And be only half a game back in two of the NL’s divisions, as well.) This is not exactly the usual showing of a gritty team barely holding it together.

Maybe it’s that Terry Francona finally picked up the Bigelow Green Tea sponsorship that Joe Torre started in New York. (more…)

SABR 40: This year’s award winners!

August 08, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball History

Announcement of the winners of this year’s award winners!
Neal Traven, head of the judges, announces that unfortunately neither the poster winner nor the research presentation winner could be present. But he gives a recap of the winners and their topics. (And the poster, which was very beautifully done, was displayed in the back.)
(more…)

Tags:

SABR 40: Seymour Medal Panel

August 08, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball History

The Research Process: Seymour Medal Winners Panel
Dorothy Seymour Mills, David Block, Tom Swift

Official description(s):
Magnolia Chapter member Ken Fenster moderates a discussion with Dorothy Seymour Mills, David Block and Tom Swift about the ups and downs of the research process, from the formulation of original ideas all the way through to publication. The panelists will use examples from their own works to illustrate the difficulties researchers must face, and the strategies that were useful in meeting those challenges.
(more…)

Tags:
Follow Why I Like Baseball on Twitter!
@whyilikebb

Ads by Project Wonderful! Your ad here, right now: $0.02


Theme Tweaker by Unreal