Why I Like Baseball

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Flashback: Oakland vs. Yankees September 14, 2000

October 30, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Fans and Fandom, Great Games, Yankee Fan Memories

(I figure since MONEYBALL is still in the theaters, I would finally get around to re-posting some of my old posts about the A’s of those days. This was originally published at Why I Like Baseball on August 14, 2001, on the events of the game August 12, 2001. Just to be sure, I checked with Retrosheet.)

I may be a Yankees fan, but I can appreciate the intensity and devotion of fans of other teams. That’s why I’m so fascinated by Red Sox fans, even though they make my life hell from time to time, and why I can’t understand Giants fans, who I’ll tell you all about in a future entry. Last month, however, I got my first look at Oakland A’s fans in their natural habitat, the largely maligned Network Associates Coliseum.

Having heard many a radio broadcast and watched many a postseason telecast from the coliseum, you’d think that the place was some kind of a pit. Well, it’s not. In many ways, the Coliseum is to Yankee Stadium what the Bay Area is to the New York Area–there are some striking similarities, and yet some sharp distinctions. Two of the most cosmopolitan and colorful cities in the world, both famed for their diversity, culture, their place in American history, with lots of Old World blood mixed with an always future-minded fashion sense. There are moments when I’m there when I, as an urban-born New Yorker, feel right at home. But there are times when a familiar situation suddenly seems odd. California is undeniably different.

Read the rest of this entry →

Baseball wins again

October 28, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Great Games

Tonight was the most exciting night in baseball since… well, since the amazing September 28th of this season, when both wild cards were decided within minutes of each other, culminating an improbable, mind-boggling month. Tonight, though, was all about two teams, and two teams only.

The last two standing are the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Cardinals were one of those two last-day squeak-in wild card teams who made it into the postseason as much as a result of the Atlanta Braves’ collapse as their own mojo. The Rangers, of course, have a lot of prove after getting smothered by the Giants in the World Series last year.

I have no real rooting interest in this series; I mostly just wanted to see dramatic baseball. Thus far, this postseason has had plenty of that, but tonight’s performance was over the top. Read the rest of this entry →

2011 ALDS Game 3: It’s Over

October 07, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Yankee Fan Memories

Well, it’s over.

I’ve been sitting here in the Bronx trying to figure out what to say about tonight’s game, or the season, but part of me says “What is there to say?” We got beat. Now I get a few free weekends I didn’t think I’d have, and I get a big refund on my ALCS and World Series tickets, which means I can buy a new oven.

Okay, I thought of something to say. I’m reminded of the 1960 World Series, which pre-dates me, but I’ve read about it, y’know. In the series, the Pirates were outscored by the Yankees by a lot, yet still managed to win the series by winning the close games. Read the rest of this entry →

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Mariano Rivera’s Restaurant

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

To console ourselves after the ALDS game 2 loss, corwin and I decided to trundle up to New Rochelle to check out Mariano Rivera’s restaurant. (Yes, we were convinced by all the liners that John Sterling has been reading, touting the place on the game broadcasts.) “Clubhouse Grill 42″ aka “Mo’s New York Grill” is basically a sports bar/steak pub with the decor done by Steiner Sports. The walls are well adorned with giant photos, autographed memorabilia, and wide-screen TVs. When we went in both NLDS games were on, as well as the NY Jets football game.

The front dining room is mostly a bar area, brightly lit and featuring a large sculpture of a “Holy Cow” that has been autographed by tons of Yankees. (Guess who signed right between the horns.*) Read the rest of this entry →

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. Read the rest of this entry →

ALDS Game 1: September 30 AND October 1 2011… Recap

October 02, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Great Games, Yankee Fan Memories

Well, that was the longest game I’ve ever been to. Yes, even longer than the record-breaking All-Star Game at the old Yankee Stadium (II). This one started yesterday, and didn’t finish until today.

Yesterday started usually enough. corwin and I packed up rain ponchos and scorecards and headed for the stadium at 5pm from Riverdale (the hoity toity part of the northern Bronx where a good friend and fellow fan has a welcoming fold-out couch). It takes about a half hour to travel down the Grand Concourse from here to the environs of the Stadium. On weekdays, the parking spaces around the courthouse become legal to all comers at 6pm. If you get there by 5:30, you too can sit in your car in one of those spaces until 6pm and then leave. There are even a few local characters who act like “parking attendants” directing people to park in the spaces. I presume once in a while some tourist gives them some money, but they seem to do it just for the fun of it.

On a normal day, we’d lock the doors and walk to the Stadium one hour before the first pitch. However, because this is the postseason, first pitch wouldn’t be until 8:37 pm. That meant we had plenty of time for dinner at El Molino Rojo (The Red Mill), a Dominican joint just two blocks from the Stadium. Look into that dining room on any night before game-time and all you will see is a sea of pinstripes and NY logos. And cops. A lot of the local cops eat there.

After stuffing ourselves well for very little money, we moseyed the rest of the way to the Stadium. Compared to many postseason visits to the Stadium, this was a warm night. We took a lap around the lower deck concourses, just soaking in the atmosphere. corwin remarked at one point on our walk, “Isn’t it remarkable that this never gets boring?”

It never does. Read the rest of this entry →

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:
Read the rest of this entry →

SABR 41: Final panel! Tommy Davis & Al Ferrara story time

July 10, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

The final event of the SABR convention was the player panel with Tommy Davis and Al Ferrara. (Del Crandall was unable to make it, because his wife fell ill.) This was one of the best “story time with former players” I can remember. Each of them had great stories to tell, and was very personable and.

The moderator opened the event by giving each of them the gift of some old scorecards that a SABR member had left for them, in which each of them had hit a home run. Both men were born in Brooklyn in 1938, and both played for the Los Angeles Dodgers (as well as other teams).

Both of them talked fast, and I only got down maybe half of what they said, but they told some great stories. Read on: Read the rest of this entry →

SABR 41: Day 3 research presentations

July 09, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

Some strange statistical anomalies show up in my SABR research presentation attendance this year. For example, somehow I ended up seeing everything in the Catalina Room and didn’t see anything in the Pacific Room. I also didn’t see anything on the New York Yankees except Herm Krabbenhoft’s one about correcting the RBI record for Lou Gehrig and Hank Greenberg. And I didn’t see any stats analysis until the third & last day of presentations, which is also unusual.

But that’s baseball, sometimes it just doesn’t go as expected.

Last night’s game at Dodger Stadium went in some ways exactly as expected For example, everyone was predicting a low-scoring game given that the Dodgers and Padres are both a bit anemic in their lineups this year. The score was 1-0. And that one run took three hits to bring in. And then there are the things no one expects, like the “closer” (Broxton is on the DL) Guerra coming in and loading the bases on a leadoff double and then two consecutive hit-by-pitches… and then wiggling out of the jam with two strikeouts and a line drive caught in center field.

Tonight we’re off to see the Angels and I don’t know whom to root for. My usual policy is to root for the home team whenever I’m not seeing the Yankees on the road, but I like the Mariners and I have never liked the Angels. I suppose I’ll see how I feel when I get there.

I saw four research presentations today. Read the rest of this entry →

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SABR 41: Day two, a panel and more research presentation

July 08, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

Friday Morning at SABR 41: The “40 Years of SABR” Panel and research presentations

This morning was taken up with a panel discussion and then three research presentations. I could have seen a fourth as well, but the presenter I wanted to see couldn’t make it and I wasn’t that interested in the pinch-hitter. So I am going to check out the poster presentations and then grab some lunch (since I’m too broke to actually pay for the awards banquet). I’ll hopefully slip into the banquet room when its time for Dennis Gilbert’s speech, and take some notes there.

The morning kicked off with a high-powered panel of experts in which a distinguished historian showed the strength of his convictions and a distinguished player showed that having won several Gold Gloves is no protection against what I can only attempt to charitably describe as embarrassing mental lapses.

Read on. Read the rest of this entry →

SABR 41: Day one research presentations

July 07, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

I saw five research presentations today at SABR 41 (there were six slots, but I missed one of them while chatting with people, go figure…). I took notes, but am only presenting the gist of each one here. Some of them will have more extensive versions published in SABR publications and other publications in the future.

Herm Krabbenhoft
& Trent McCotter
“Most Runs Batted In: By an Individual Player — During a Single Season — In the American League”

Don’t let this dry title fool you; this presentation is a bombshell. And first thing in the morning on the first day of the convention, too!

I don’t think Trent was here, and Herm gave the presentation. Herm is an old pro at these SABR presentations, and beyond that he is a maniacal researcher. Which is excellent, because his near-obsessive attention to detail may have uncovered one of the most significant errors in the official MLB record books. Herm laid out the details of the RBI records kept for the 1931 Yankees and the 1937 Tigers. He found several games lacking accurate records. In the Tigers alone, 7 players had their records affected, including Charlie Gehringer, Hank Greenberg, Rudy York, Marv Owen, some that year by as many as +3 or -2. The records were transmitted to the leagues each night by hand-writing the results in a ledger and errors could be introduced. Herm then took us play by play through a specific game in 1937 for which multiple newspaper stories existed (along with newspaper box scores) that attributed one RBI to Greenberg, one to York. However the official day-to-day record of the league records zero for Greenberg, three for York, and seven total for the game when other box scores have only six. There were nine such “RBI-error games” recorded in that year. If this is correct, then Greenberg would have a total of 184 RBI for the year.

Meanwhile in 1931, there are 9 such games for the 1931 Yankees, which if taken into account, would give Lou Gehrig 184 RBI for that season. Thus Greenberg and Gehrig should be considered tied for the record for the most RBI in a single season.

One audience member exclaimed during questions, “This undermines everything in the official record!” Yes, yes it does. Read the rest of this entry →

SABR 41: Media Panel: Baseball media in ten years

July 07, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

SABR 41 MEDIA PANEL
“Where we’re going to be getting our baseball information a decade from now?”
moderated by SABR President Andy McCue

Panelists:
Bill Squadron, head of Bloomberg Sports, former pres. of Sportvision inventors of K-Zone
Russ Stanton, Editor of the Los Angeles Times
Sean Forman, Founder and Guru of Baseball-Reference.com
Dave Cameron, Managing Editor of FanGraphs.com

Andy (Moderator): 10 years ago I got up the morning and read the LA Times and then looked at the mailbox to see if Baseball America had arrived and when I had a question I would go to the bookshelf and pull down a copy of Total Baseball. Nowadays I still read the LA Times, but then I check on Fangraphs, and if I have a fact to check I probably go to Baseball-Reference, and I’m probably representative of people in this room. It’s changed a lot in the last ten years, what’s it going to be in the next ten years? Read the rest of this entry →

SABR 41: Scott Boras Keynote Speech

July 07, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

Here I am at the SABR national convention. I wasn’t able to get here early enough last night for the Medical Panel, but am up bright and early for the keynote opening speech by Scott Boras.

At 8:29:40 am, Andy McCue stepped to the microphone to call the first meeting of the morning to order. He delivered us a scouting report on Scott Boras, amusingly starting with his minor league stats (bats right, throws right, etc… a good on-base percentage but not much of a slugger, resulting in an average OPS). Mike Fischlin was his first client, an old friend from high school who needed representation, and then later a minor league teammate, Bill Caudill, for whom he won a large contract that shocked everyone. “He’s been shocking people in the baseball establishment ever since.”

Boras steps up to the mic and proposes a new stat: ORR, owner retention rate. (Making a very topical joke about the McCourt situation with the Dodgers.)

[What follows is more or less a transcript of about 70% of Mr. Boras's remarks. I don't type fast enough to get it all. Disclaimer: I'm posting this more or less raw with only very minimal editing at this point. Corrections on the spellings of people's names would be appreciated. Places where I had to paraphrase I have placed in parentheses.]

We get calls all the time from football players, boxers, golfers, steel companies, you name it, people who want you to represent and negotiate something. I’ve turned them all down. I’ve had people offer to buy my company, and I could have made a lot of money that way. But baseball gave me everything I had. A baseball scholarship put me through school, and baseball is the reason I am where I am. You can run along the beach, and go to a game at Dodger stadium, and lay your head down on your pillow at night and know that baseball is everything.

I was asked to give you some information about my company today (and what we do differently for the game of baseball). Read the rest of this entry →

SABR 41: Intro Post! Long Beach Here I Come!

July 07, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

I’m writing this on an airplane on my way to the forty-first SABR convention. It’s a long flight, since I’m coming from Boston and the event is in Long Beach, California this year. Fortunately for me, I am being kept well occupied by the fact that I’m on Jetblue, which has DirecTV at every seat, and it so happens to be Wednesday. This all works out to mean I’ve been watching the Yankees at the Indians on ESPN for pretty much the entire flight so far. Unfortunately for me, seeing as I’m a Yankees fan, Justin Masterson was masterful, and has so far pitched eight shut-out innings. I think he has given up maybe three hits at most.

One of those hits was to Derek Jeter, though, one more on Jeter’s recently resumed march to 3,000 hits. (It was #2,997.) Philip Hughes also returned to the mound for the Yankees. He had to knock off some rust in the first inning, when he gave up two runs, but otherwise was pretty good until the fifth, when he started to get wild again. Sergio Mitre just gave up two more runs, though, so it’s not looking very good for the Yankees, who are down to three outs left and down 5-0 at this point.

Still, even if they lose, there’s little better way I can imagine to start a four day weekend of intense baseball geekery. Assuming there’s wireless Internet at the hotel, I’ll be reporting from the SABR convention all weekend. I’ll recap various presentations and events as I’ve done for the past few years here at Why I Like Baseball.

SABR, in case you don’t know, is Read the rest of this entry →

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. Read the rest of this entry →

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. Read the rest of this entry →

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. Read the rest of this entry →

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: Read the rest of this entry →

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: Read the rest of this entry →

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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. Read the rest of this entry →

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