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Archive for the ‘Baseball Musings’

SABR 44 Ends With a Flourish: A Fantastic Time at the Ballpark

August 03, 2014 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, Great Ballparks, Great Games, SABR

Today was the last day of the SABR convention in Houston. I think this might have been the best one I’ve been to since Boston in 2002, which was my first and therefore special. Every convention has had some outstanding things about it–Jim Bouton’s keynote in Seattle comes to mind–but this one was on a high par in every aspect. I didn’t see a single research presentation that I felt was a dud, and all the panels were top notch, especially since all the panelists were top notch.

But it was all wonderfully topped off today by the Houston Astros themselves. First they invited us into the ballpark for two last amazing panels, one with three former Astros–Alan Ashby, Larry Dierker, and Art Howe–and one with three members of the front office–Sig Medgal, David Stearns, and GM Jeff Luhnow. Those guys really hit it out of the park, figuratively speaking.

But then the actual young Astros hit it out of the park, literally speaking. We saw one of the most entertaining games of baseball imaginable. If you were going to take a person who didn’t know baseball to a game to show them how exciting and nifty it is, this one would have been a good candidate. Here, I made a list of awesome things that we saw in this game: (more…)

SABR 44 Day Two Research Presentations

August 02, 2014 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball History, Baseball Musings

Went to three fascinating research presentations today at the SABR convention. Today’s topics I chose to attend were ballpark advertising and how it relates to branding, the influx of Cuban defectors, and William Hulbert. Presented respectively by the son and grandson of a former major leaguer, the current English-language expert on Cuban baseball, and one of SABR’s leading economists with multiple publications in the Baseball Research Journal.

Also today were the 1980 Astros panel, the Women in Baseball panel, the Media panel, and the trivia contest finals. Trivia gets more and more entertaining every year: they really have it down pat these days and the answers are just as entertaining for the audience as the questions are for the contestants.

Here’s the official description of the first presentation I went to: (more…)

SABR 44 Research Presentations: Injuries, Surgery, and Drugs

August 01, 2014 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, SABR

These SABR researchers are sharp as tacks. Or maybe needles: the first three research presentations today were on surgery, injuries, and drugs. All of these are complex issues and of course each research presentation is only 20 minutes long, so you really only see the very tip of the iceberg on each presenter’s research. I urge anyone reading this who is interested in what you see to contact each researcher individually to find out more.

In this set:
Framing of Experimental Medical Procedures in Baseball, Coral Marshall
Just a Little Bit Outside…, Nicholas Miceli and Tom Bertoncino
Too Much, Too Fast, Too Young: Major League Baseball’s Struggle to Control Its Menacing Drug Problem, Joe Thompson

Under the cut: (more…)

Reid Ryan addresses #SABR44

July 31, 2014 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball History, Baseball Musings, SABR

Here are my notes on the SABR 44 keynote by Reid Ryan in Houston. If you’re not familiar with Mr. Ryan you might have thought you were about to hear a speech by a dull front-office wonk. Savvy folks however might have realized that Ryan is a pretty big name in Texas baseball.

Houston Chapter President Bob Dorrill introduced the speaker with a recounting of Reid Ryan’s career and accomplishments, which are significant. Among other things he pitched for the Texas Rangers after graduating from TCU, was the founder of the Round Rock Express minor league team, and of course more recently has taken the job as president of the Houston Astros. He left it to Ryan himself to reveal to anyone not in the know that he also happens to be Nolan Ryan’s son.

What followed was an anecdote-packed recounting of some of Ryan’s favorite memories of the journey through baseball that led him first as a kid following his Dad from major league city to major league city all the way to what he’s trying to accomplish with Houston today. (more…)

Interview with Gary Darling, because Umps Care

May 02, 2014 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings

It’s time for the annual UMPS CARE auction. If you haven’t heard about it before, you haven’t been reading my blog for very long. UMPS CARE is a charity run by major league umpires and this annual auction is their main fundraiser. Everything from items autographed by Mariano Rivera and Vin Scully to meet-the-umpires ballpark vacation packages is up for bid from now through May 11th. (That’s not a lot of time so if you want to bid, get over there NOW.)

The best part about the auction for me is I usually get to talk to a major league umpire, though. This year I got to speak with Gary Darling.

Cecilia Tan: Umpires already have one of the toughest jobs in baseball. Why UMPS CARE? Don’t umpires already do enough?

GARY DARLING: We do a lot on the field. But most of us want to do some good off the field. That’s part of being a human. We started it years ago and it has grown into what it is today. We do a lot of good things, but to do that we have to raise the money and this auction is one of the biggest things we do. The last couple of years MLB has hosted it on MLB.com and I think that really helps us get a bigger audience.

CT: What’s your advice for that one kid out there who goes to a game and imagines themselves behind the plate instead of in the batters box? (more…)

April 15 2000: Pre-Game Show – Arriving Early at Yankee Stadium

April 15, 2014 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, Yankee Fan Memories

April 14th finally arrived, the day of my first pilgrimage this year to the national temple of baseball, Yankee Stadium. (I was tickled to hear Michael Kay call it “baseball’s cathedral” on the radio the other day–seems I’m not the only one who holds the House That Ruth Built in such regard.)

Originally I had hoped to get tickets for Opening Day, and had scheduled myself to do a reading at Columbia University on Thursday the 13th. But I couldn’t get tickets to Opening Day, and I decided to try to go Friday, the day after the reading, rather than Wednesday, the day before. And a lucky thing I chose Friday, too, since Opening Day was postponed from Tuesday to Wednesday afternoon because of imminent rain and snow, and Wednesday night’s game was then put off to August some time…

The day of the game, I went into Manhattan to meet a film producer, who interviewed me on camera for an MSNBC documentary about tattoos (I have a couple of small ones I did for commemorative reasons — no, none of them are the Yankee logo!) Then headed for the Bronx around 3pm. Traffic on the West Side Highway and the Deegan was terrible, so it took me an hour to get from midtown up to 161st Street, but I can’t say that mattered to me much, since the gate didn’t open until 5pm, or so I thought.

When I arrived, I bundled up in my NY Yankees blue turtleneck (with interlocking NY tastefully embroidered on the neck). It was already down to 50 degrees, and windy. I wandered over to the press gate, where about twenty fans were standing behind a barrier exactly like the one at Legends Field along the walkway to the practice field. It’s that kind of waist-high, gray metal fence that looks a bit like a bicycle rack. “Seen anyone?” I asked a guy standing there. “Just got here,” he replied.

Another fan commented she thought the Yankees usually came in earlier, and she was right. Still, if we were going to stand around for an hour, might as well do it there, where we were out of the wind, in the sun, and might see something. I chatted with a Dad and his ten year old son–the son just flown in from California, and about to see his first major league game, as well as his first game in Yankee Stadium. The kid had on a Yankee hat that was so faded, he must have been wearing it every day since he was eight. I assured him he was going to have a great time.

About a half hour later, a bus pulled up and about a dozen Kansas City Royals came out. No one knew them by face, so they just went straight in.

I decided to take a walk around at that point, and came to the employee entrance, where a crowd of people waiting to get assignments as vendors that night were standing. I wonder how that works? There were already guys set up at the front with those rolling, multi-tier souvenir stands, about six of them. How did they assign staff to walk-around vendor jobs inside? The crowd at the door was about seventy five people, mostly black with a few hispanics, in their twenties, about half men and half women. They were laughing and joking with one another while they waited to be called.

I walked a few yards further around, to the left field gate, and decided I’d go in there, so I could see Monument Park once I went in. But as it turned out my surmise about gate time was wrong–they now open at 5:30 on weeknights when there is a 7 o’clock game. (But they open two hours before game time on Saturdays and Sunday, apparently.) Music started to come out of the sound system at about five, though, like a party host cranking up the stereo before the first guest arrives.

So I sat myself down next to a ticket booth, sheltered from the cold wind and where the setting sun could still shine on me, and got out a book to read. I’d picked it up the night before at my parent’s house. Graig Nettles’ tell-all book, BALLS. (I’ll let you know what I think of it after I’m done with it.)

The music suddenly stopped, and Bob Sheppard’s voice came on with a pre-recorded announcement about stadium rules and reminding everyone that there is no smoking anywhere inside the stadium. They don’t come out and say it, but I think it’s meant to be a polite reminder, so nicotine fiends can light up and smoke one before the gates open. A few minutes later, up went the gates, and we went in. The ticket-takers were giving something out, but only to the 14 and under crowd–I think they were packs of baseball cards, but I’m not sure. I may still be wearing the same clothes I wore when I was 14, but they weren’t fooled.

I bought a scorecard once inside, and was delighted to find that with it they gave me a blue golf pencil that says New York Yankees on it. It’s pretty easy to make me happy, I guess. I also noticed, as I walked around, that it seemed like all the “Hey, scorecard here” guys were forties-ish and older white men. The concession stands were mostly worked by slightly older black women. The guys who had been working the souvenir carts out in front had all been 25-35 year old black men. I gotta wonder what’s up with that–is it like on a cruise ship, where the Vietnamese are the laundry workers, the Greeks are the officers, etc? On the other hand the security guards and carrying vendors seemed pretty evenly mixed by race and gender.

I joined the line going down the steps to Monument Park. It’s a steep set of concrete stairs, down to a kind of back alley between the stands and the left field bleachers, where a couple of small forklifts were parked. And then you emerge along a brick walkway where the retired numbers are. Why look, they look exactly like the plaques they have at Legends Field–I’m sure this is no coincidence.

Then, as you pass the retired numbers, you come to the monuments. Some of them are slabs of stone, much bigger than a gravestone, with a plaque showing the player’s likeness, name, description, and who dedicated the monument, while for others the plaques built into the wall. Not everyone who is memorialized in Monument Park is deceased–there’s a plaque to Phil Rizzuto, for example, which I think went up the year he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. But I am just guessing at that.

The one monument that really put a lump in my throat was the one to Lou Gehrig, dedicated by his teammates within weeks of his death.

A mustached guy in a World Series Yankee hat was telling his son, who looked to be about ten or eleven years old, about how the monuments used to be on the field in the old days.

When I came up from Monument Park, the Yanks were still at batting practice, and a lot of fans were standing along the walls in the outfield hoping to snag homeruns and fouls. I saw one fly within about twenty feet of me–no idea who hit it though, since we could barely make out the guy in the cage. He was the last batter, though, and then the Royals started batting.

I stood there about a half hour with my glove on, but not a single Royal was able to put one into the seats on that side (two or three did go over the right field fence though–always on a bounce…). Oh well.

I got a hot chocolate to warm myself up then, and as the last of the sun was retreating from the outfield, climbed up to my seat in the upper deck behind home plate. I have to say I really liked sitting in section U3. You can see everything and have a great view of the strike zone, except it’s hard to tell if the ball is too high or too low.

By that time, more fans were coming in, and I flicked on my transistor radio (bought that day in one of those ubiquitous mid-town electronics shops) and listened to the pregame show, filled in my scorecard, and waited for the rest of my party to arrive.

I was waiting for my brother Julian and for my friends Bonnie and Aaron (they of the Game One day wedding), and Bonnie’s brother Frank. corwin stayed home because of his business meetings, and my parents went to Bermuda, and I swapped their tickets for hot dog money. Meanhwile, I chatted with the guys in my section–one had bought a stuffed dog for his girlfriend’s kid, a Beanie-Baby-style white puppy, wearing a little blue t-shirt with an interlocking white NY on it. Talk about cute.

The stuffed dog wasn’t the only one wearing Yankee gear, though. It seems to me that fans are a lot more decked out than I remembered them being in the 70s and 80s. Maybe it’s just that with the World Series wins, people are getting more and more into it, or giving more Yankee paraphrenalia as gifts, or maybe the Yanks just market their stuff better now. But I’d say well over half the people I saw sported either t-shirts, sweat shirts, Yankee field jackets, or non-baseball style hats. Maybe a lot of the stuff was giveaway stuff (a lot of Yankee tote bags and gym bags, too), but not those nice-looking jackets! (Side note: this year’s model of the field jacket has a red piping on it that I really don’t like. They say the red is historical from the DiMaggio era, but I think it makes them look like the Texas Rangers or something. Bring back the plain blue and white, please.)

Bonnie, Aaron and Frank came up the steps just as the first pitch was being thrown. Aaron just flew in yesterday after a month-long business trip to Hong Kong, and was quite jet-lagged. Julian, meanwhile, was coming straight from Orlando, Fla. where he was on a last minute business trip for his new job, and expected to make it from the airport by about the second inning. He was right, for while he fought traffic across the Macombs Dam bridge, both Roger Clemens and the Royals’ Jay Witasick were pitching as slow as molasses, and the hitters on both teams were going deep into the counts. The game clocked in at almost four hours long in the end, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

OK, so I really am not going to try to recap the whole game here–you can get a better description off the Yankees’ web site or The Sporting News. The main source of drama was the way Kansas City had won their last four games straight with ninth inning heroics. Three in a row on walk of home runs, and the fourth on a an RBI single. They’re a young team, and very hot, but what would happen when their unstoppable force met the immovable object of Mariano Rivera?

Clemens was having a day typical of his outings thus far this year, where he finds himself having to pay for his mistakes. He hit a batter in the second and walked one, and both those guys ended up crossing the plate to make it 2-0 Royals. The rival pitcher, Witasick, reinvented himself as s strikeout pitcher during the game, too, getting all three outs in the bottom of the second via the K, and striking out two in the third and two in the fourth. Unfortunately for him, he also gave up five runs in his 3 and two thirds, so I guess we can say… he’s no Roger Clemens.

The rest of the Yanks started to look more like themselves, with Knoblauch and Jeter each getting on seven times between the two of them, and Jeter stealing twice. At the rate he’s going he’ll steal 60 bases this year… though maybe he’ll be happy if he just beats A-rod’s career high of 41 in ’98…

And in the ninth, Mariano prevailed, retiring three straight.

The game ended at about eleven pm (long game!) and I was on the road soon after, making the 250 mile drive to Boston. The game was so long, it took a long time to be been archived at broadcast.com, and then corwin began listening to it. When I arrived home at about 3am, he was still listening to it! I wanted to talk to him about the game, but I couldn’t, since he hadn’t heard it all yet! I hid my scorecard from him and went to sleep.

The next time I’ll be at the stadium will be May 28th, for the Boston Red Sox. Luck works in strange ways. I was supposed to go to Wisconsin that weekend to speak at a conference. But my cousin is getting married in Philly, so I cancelled my Wisconsin plans. corwin and I are going down for the wedding on Saturday, and staying over with my parents. Which means that we can all go to the game the next day. Funny how these things work out.

SABR 43 Research Presentations

August 04, 2013 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball History, Baseball Musings, SABR

After only making it to one research presentation yesterday, I hit three in a row today. I was too fatigued upon waking this morning to make it to the Media Panel. Having made myself rather ill last year by pushing too hard and doing too much (at all conventions, not just SABR’s), I made the decision to go back to sleep and hope that the audio or video of the panel will be online later.

Including yesterday, here are four of the RPs I saw:

* What About Solly Hemus? (Mark Armour)

* Analyzing Batter Performance Against Pitcher Clusters (Vince Gennaro)

* Baseball in the Age of Big Data: Why the Revolution Will Be Televised (Sean Lahman)

* Statistical Predictors of MLB Players’ Proneness to Long Hitting Streaks (Alan Reifman and Trent McCotter)
(more…)

SABR 42 Panels, Morning of Friday August 2

August 02, 2013 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, SABR

Two panels this morning:
* Scouts & Front Office Panel
* Imagining Baseball Panel

Whew! Made it to the SABR Scouts panel! I was 5 minutes late thanks to loooong Starbucks line, but the panel were 5 minutes late starting. Perfect timing. (And the team at Starbucks was really crack, four on the register, including one just on pastry duty, and four baristas working the steam. I now have a Soy Green Tea Latte, Unsweetened, because you know I’m sweet enough.)

Now to the first panel. Here’s my transcript, typed on the fly as it went along:

SCOUTS PANEL

Barry Bloom presiding. Introducing the legendary Roland Hemond (Diamondbacks now, formerlyWhite Sox, etc), Tom Tippett (director of information for the Red Sox), and Ian Levin (who is in analytics for the Mets and now is doing more international stuff with them). Tippett is one of the instrumental figures in building the analytics approach for the Red Sox.

Bloom: Roland, what do you do as Special Assistant for the GM with the Diamondbacks?

Hemond: Well, I get to come to the SABR convention. (*big laugh*) (more…)

SABR 43 Thursday August 1 2013

August 01, 2013 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, SABR

Hello, my baseball-loving friends. I’m at the annual SABR national convention, where the presentations, research, connections, and interests run both wide and deep.

Unlike in some past years, where I’ve literally taken in 5-6 research presentations AND liveblogged the keynotes and panel discussions, this time I’m having to slow down a little. I was so tired this morning I had to sleep through the SABR business meeting and the keynote opening by Phillies CEO David Montgomery. (Fortunately for me, Montgomery’s speech can be heard live on SABR.org. The audio and a recap can be found here: http://sabr.org/latest/sabr-43-listen-phillies-ceo-david-montgomerys-opening-remarks).

The result was I started my day not with a brain-bending dose of stats or an eye-opening look at a sliver of fascinating baseball history, but with a bowl of crawfish ettouffee from Beck’s Cajun stand in the Reading Terminal Market, which is right across the street from the hotel. It was pouring down buckets, but I brought an umbrella with me!

I may have to accept the data that my umbrella-carrying habits are not, in fact, causal to the weather. Usually if I bring an umbrella it doesn’t rain, but if I forget one, we get poured on. This time I brought one and it poured, but the good news is… that meant I had an umbrella in the rain. The ettouffee was delicious and very filling.

Then I saw three presentations:
* RP06: Rube Waddell and the Great Straw Hat Mystery of 1905
* RP12: A Probabilistic Approach to Measuring the Excitement of Baseball Games
* RP14: Markerless Motion Capture Technologies For In-Game Player Performance Assessment
(more…)

Baseball Prospectus 2013: Like the phone book in more ways than one

March 05, 2013 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, Book Reviews

So now you guys know what I was doing all winter. I was co-editing the new, more massive-than-ever Baseball Prospectus 2013 annual. The tome this year is 592 pages and contains capsule descriptions and stat projections for over 2,200 players, more than ever before.

Two thousand names is a lot to work with as an editor, but keeping the data on these players, and getting their names right, is a huge part of the editing process. Of course, some guys recently changed names, like the Player Formerly Known as Fausto Carmona, and Giancarlo Stanton… but we manage.

In the long dark winter months, as we toil in the serial comma mines, some names jump out like an opal in the coal. Names like Kevin Quackenbush, Beamer Weems, and Max Fried. As I mentioned in this interview with me at Bugs & Cranks about BP, let me tell you, at three in the morning, when your co-editor IMs you to say “Did you realize there are TWO players named Guillermo Pimentel?”–you feel Max(imally) Fried.

Then there’s that moment when I realized that Gavin Cecchini and Garin Cecchini were two different players, not a typo. They’re brothers, and I wonder what their mother was thinking. (While we’re at it, why was the mom of Jayson and Laynce Nix so fond of the letter “y”?)

I think the most oxymoronic name, of the 2,210 in the book, is that of Sonny Gray.

Are they selling the naming rights to players now, as well as stadia? Viz: Ehire Adrianza.

As an editor, the names that catch my attention the most, though, are the ones I’m absolutely certain are misspelled the first time I see them. There are a lot of them.

Top Names That You Think Must Be Misspelled: (more…)

Exploring the new Marlins Park! April 1 2012 with the Yankees

April 01, 2012 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Fans and Fandom, Baseball Musings, Great Ballparks, Spring Training, Yankee Fan Memories

The Miami Marlins know how to throw a party. As any good party-thrower knows, one of the keys is to invite lively guests. The Marlins picked a good one with the New York Yankees, who brought legions of fans to the dress-rehearsal exhibition game at Marlins Park on April 1, 2012.

Some were expatriate New Yorkers who have been in Florida for years. Some were spring training pilgrims from all over.

But the Marlins had no shortage of supporters there today, and for all the complaints there have been about the team bilking the city, the mistreatment of the local residents over parking issues, and so on, there were throngs of people in brand-new Marlins colors ready to fly their Fish flags. Many of them were hispanic families, with three (or four) generations in attendance together. If this team wins, it appears there will be plenty of folks on that bandwagon already.

A UFO LANDED IN MIAMI!
The park does look a bit like a spaceship just set down in the midst of a residential neighborhood. But the first impression of the place came not from the visual, but from the sound. From a few blocks away it sounded like the biggest, loudest block party on Earth was going on, and we soon discovered why. (more…)

Flashback: April 16 2002 : Summer Love Affair (Oakland A’s)

November 01, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Fans and Fandom, Baseball Musings

(Continuing my re-posts of old blog entries about the Oakland A’s. Now we’re getting into the Moneyball year. This post originally appeared on April 26, 2000)

I don’t mean to shock anyone, but I’ve always believed in "open relationships." Sure, of course I believe in true love and having a special partnership with that special someone, but I also think experiencing the fullness of life means leaving the door open to other things as well, so long as everyone involved agrees it’s okay. I know a lot of people disagree with me on this. Especially when it comes to baseball.

I have my first love–my deep, abiding, long-term love–and that is the Yankees. If I had to choose between the Yankees and another team, there would be no question who I would choose. I fell in love with the Yankees before I ever even looked at another team. When I was a fan in the seventies, I could name you the whole Yankees starting lineup, but I could probably only name you four or five players in the rest of the league. I’m more mature now, and have expanded my tastes a bit.

Last year, I had a summer fling with the Seattle Mariners. I had picked them during the offseason, when A-rod had jilted them for the Rangers’ money (more…)

2011 ALDS Game 2, Second game in three trips.

October 03, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, Yankee Fan Memories

ALDS Game 2: Tigers at Yankees: October 2, 2011

In the ninth inning, when it got dark and started to rain around the time the Yankees brought the tying run to the plate for the first time, I started writing metaphorical ledes for this story. Like “It was sunny all day for the Detroit Tigers… until it wasn’t.”

But, unfortunately, the rest of the ninth inning did not pan out the way I might have wanted. I feel sorry for the people who left early, because they missed the best part of the game, a thrilling ninth, even if the Yankees did fall short.

The day began, as I mentioned, not raining. It was partly sunny and quite windy in the Bronx today. When we took our seats for the first pitch the temperature was 61 degrees, but a stiff wind was blowing straight in from center field.

The wind was evident in the top of the first, when Brett Gardner moved to catch a high fly ball and ended up running almost all the way to the infield to get it. Not home run weather, despite the predictions, which were based on the facts that Max Scherzer was in the top three in home runs allowed this year and the Yankees were the top home-run hitting team. The only kind of homer that would go out with the wind like that would be a low line drive.

Unfortunately, that’s what Miguel Cabrera hit in the top of the first. (more…)

What? End of the season already?

September 30, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings

I’m actually still breathless and full of adrenaline from the whizbang finale of this season’s last day. I would have blogged about it but really what more could I say than “wow” multiple times? Wow.

I’m writing this post from the Bronx, where I am awaiting the opening of the ALDS in a few hours. End of the regular season, though, means End of Season awards. As a founding member of the Baseball Bloggers Association, I take part in the voting. We’re not as glamourous as the ink-stained wretches in the BBWAA. I suppose as bloggers we’re the eye-strained kvetches.

Here’s what we eye-strained kvetches award:

Connie Mack Award: top manager
Willie Mays Award: top rookie)
Goose Gossage Award: top reliever
Walter Johnson Award: top pitcher
Stan Musial Award: top player

Since Why I Like Baseball is ostensibly a Yankees blog (with a healthy side of Red Sox), I get to vote for the American League entry in each category. Here are my picks:
(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…)

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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…)

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…)

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