Why I Like Baseball

an online journal of baseball enthusiasm
Subscribe

Second exhibition game at Marlins Park

April 03, 2012 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Great Ballparks, Spring Training, Yankee Fan Memories

I have now visited my 21st major league stadium, Marlins Park in Miami. For the second game in a row, we made our way to the park, this time by public transit. We’d spent the afternoon on Miami Beach for some very pleasant walking around looking at nice buildings and eye-popping cars and motorcycles and then did the Transit Experiment.

The Transit Experiment consists of using one’s smart phone to try to get somewhere. In this case, it wasn’t that difficult at all. We hopped the Route 120 bus to he Adrienne Arsht omni transit center, switched there to the free Metromover to Government Center, where we caught the Metrorail train to Culmer, where we got on a shuttle bus direct to the ballpark.

Okay, looking at that list now–bus to mover to train to bus–it seems like it was really complicated. But it wasn’t really more difficult than many of the other ballpark-via-transit jaunts I’ve taken, including Seattle suburbs to Safeco, Silicon Valley to then-PacBell Park, or even my own house to Fenway Park.

All told from when we left Miami Beach to when we reached the ballpark was just under an hour. After the game we took the shuttle back to the Metrorail to the South Miami stop which is near to corwin’s parents’ house, and his Dad came to pick us up there. From time of last pitch to walking in the door here in the Coral Gables area was just over an hour. Very decent time, and the total cost was $7 per person. (It would have only been $5 per person, I think, if we’d bought the one-day Easy Ticket before getting on the first bus, but we hadn’t and so paid $2 cash to get on there, and then Easy Ticket thereafter.)

But you didn’t really come here to read about public transit, did you? You want to know how the Marlins Park was at night.

Let me tell you, it was gorgeous. (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: 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.

(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…)

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. (more…)

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. (more…)

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 (more…)

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…)

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…)

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…)

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 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…)

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…)

Ringing In The New Season at the Stadium

April 13, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Great Games, Yankee Fan Memories

I’ve been at every home opener since 2000 except 2009, which got rained out and so I drove back to Boston in tears instead of staying in the city another day to go to the make-up game.

Today made up for it.

My two favorite Opening Days of the past decade were in 2001, seeing the actual raising of the Championship Banner and the “ceremonial golf cart ride” to Monument Park, and in 2003, when after the game was delayed one day by snow, Matsui finally took the field in pinstripes for the first time and hit a grand slam.

Today might top both of those. (more…)

Spring 2010: Phils at Yanks

March 08, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Spring Training

Today’s game was one long round of “who is that player?”

This is a typical spring activity, but one would think that with modern information technology things would get easier.

One would be wrong.

I started out this morning trying to print out the rosters from MLB.com which was all well and good, but what about the non-roster players? Those are the guys you need to know the most. So I went next to SpringTraining.com and printed out lists of the non-roster players, too. But I couldn’t help but notice the Phillies hadn’t assigned numbers to them by the time they went to press… so the list could be of limited usefulness. (more…)

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).
(more…)

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…)

Follow Why I Like Baseball on Twitter!
@whyilikebb

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


Theme Tweaker by Unreal