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The Karma Series

The Washington Nationals have won the World Series and the nation could not be happier.
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2019 ALCS Games 4 and 5: Tale of Two Nights

I’m writing this in the car on the way back to Massachusetts after the Yankees slayed the dragon known as Justin Verlander. It’s 2:30 in the morning, and this dark drive would be very different if they had lost the game.

We did this drive the night Joe Torre’s career as a Yankee ended, with Suzyn Waldman crying as she described how the whole coaching staff knew that elimination from the postseason would spell the end for Joe’s tenure.

But tonight the Yankees were not eliminated, even though they could have been.
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The Women in Baseball Panel at #SABR49

The Women in Baseball Panel at #SABR49

Wow, has this panel has grown in stature as the field of women in baseball has grown. I was on this panel myself at a SABR convention back in the 2000s… over ten years ago. (I retired from playing women’s baseball when I turned 40, so it had to be around 2006… this blog probably has an entry on that panel but I’m having connection issues and can’t load my own blog…) The panel has upgraded drastically from me (a women’s park-league player and occasional baseball instructor for the AAU and Girl Scouts) to multiple women who have both played and coached actual professional men’s baseball.

On the panel:

Perry Barber, well-known former pro umpire

Janet Marie Smith, who now works for the LA Dodgers, best known for leading the design and building of Camden Yards in Baltimore, as well as the renovation of Fenway Park and the conversion of Turner Field from Olympic venue into baseball stadium

Ila Borders, former professional pitcher with the St. Paul Saints and other men’s independent teams

Justine Siegel, founder of Baseball for All and coach for several men’s teams including the Oakland A’s

Kelsie Whitmore, current pro pitcher with the Sonoma Stompers and member of USA national women’s baseball team

Jewel Greenberg, documentary filmmaker, just finished a documentary on women in baseball (now called “Hardball: The Girls of Summer” coming out September 24th)

Moderator: Jean Ardell, author of several books relating to women in baseball

(What follows is a partial transcript of the panel discussion, which I typed in real-time as the women spoke. This only captures about half of what was said. Any errors are mine.)

Jean: In 1993 I attended my first SABR convention right here in San Diego. There were exactly 2 women presenting, me and Barbara Gregorich. [*Note: there are enough this year I couldn’t count them easily. 6-8 at least.] Where were all of you in 1993? Well, Kelsie you weren’t even born yet…

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Pride Project: LGBTQ Pride and Organized Baseball: History in the making?

Those of you who’ve followed my career through my various gigs at writing and editing in the baseball sphere, from the early days of the New York Yankees’ attempt at a website, stints at Gotham Baseball and Baseball Prospectus, to my current position as Publications Director for SABR, may have heard me say this before:

Every day in baseball something historic can happen. Sometimes it’s noticed at the time, like when the highly anticipated breaking of a record occurs. Other times it isn’t until some sabermetrician or historian goes back and looks at the facts and concludes that something happened. At the time that things are going on, the participants tend to be too wrapped up in doing the thing to also be leaving a written record of what they did. If the newspapers (or later, other media) didn’t create a record, players, teams, and even whole leagues can disappear without a trace.

I’ve been bookmarking and screencapping and noting articles, tweets, and other online mentions for a while now relating to how MLB teams celebrate Pride Month. I started making notes in 2016, when I went to Petco Park in San Diego and received a Pride rally towel as a freebie.
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Nine Things About the Yankees 2018 Home Opener

I couldn’t think of one single thematic thread to tie up the story of the 2018 home opener, so I’m going to fall back on that baseball blog trope of a nine-element list.

Nine Things About the 2018 Home Opener:

1. SNOW & RAIN

This isn’t the first time we’ve had snow for the home opener at Yankee Stadium, and it isn’t the first time it’s been postponed to a second day. I was there for the Hideki Matsui grand slam in the snow–that was on a postponed day, if I recall correctly. I wasn’t there for the postponed home opener in 2005 because I thought I should go home to get more work done, and I ended up crying the whole four-hour drive home. So I vowed not to do that again. This year we planned for a possible postponement because the weather prediction for snow was well telegraphed. We stayed over with a friend in the city and packed extra clothes. I wish I could say that the second day was sunny and warm, but it wasn’t. (Continued)

2017 ALCS Games 3-4-5 at Yankee Stadium: Impressions

Writing this in the car on the way back to Boston after three wins in a row at Yankee Stadium. Three raucous, amazing wins. I feel like we’re watching the “baby bombers” grow up before our eyes. At the end of September, I don’t think they were a better team than Cleveland or Houston. After Tuesday night’s come-from-behind win, I felt they had proved that they belong on the same tier with them. With each win, from the Wild Card, to the comebacks in the ALDS, to the past three days in a row, the team got better. They gained confidence. They bonded with each other.

And Judge learned to hit the breaking ball. (Continued)

A Series of Miracles (2017 ALDS Games 3 and 4)

It struck me as we were walking from the parking lot to the Stadium today, for the second night in a row, that most successful postseason runs appear, in hindsight, to be a string of miracles. Sometimes they seem to be a series of small miracles, other times one or two big miracles come in a timely fashion. And sometimes when you lose, it feels like it’s because your luck ran out.

Last week we were here for the Wild Card game and I wrote that it was the loudest I’ve ever heard the Stadium — the new Stadium, I should specify. The new place has milder acoustics as well as milder fans. Or at least they were milder fans until a couple of years with no postseason caused attrition among the bandwagoners. The result is that for ALDS Game 3 and 4, each a must-win elimination game, the Stadium was packed to the rafters with die-hards.

Yesterday, in an intense pitchers duel between Masahiro Tanaka and Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco, I heard the two-strike clap louder than I’ve ever heard it since the days of Ron Guidry. I’m not kidding. It was louder than it used to be for Roger Clemens in those showdowns with Pedro Martinez. The two-strike clap is a tradition that started at Yankee Stadium for Guidry, but in the past 10 years it has dwindled. Not yesterday.
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The 2017 AL Wild Card Game

It was very freeing, somehow, to go into a winner-take-all postseason game with low expectations. Or maybe no expectations would be a better way to put it? We were expecting a rebuilding year. We weren’t expecting Aaron Judge. We weren’t expecting Brett Gardner to have a career high in home runs. We got excited about the young kids last year, but we didn’t expect them to run away with the AL East.

Although that’s what they did at the start of the season–run away with it. They built up such a lead that when they came back to earth and played under-.500 ball for much of the middle of the year, they nevertheless kept the Red Sox in striking distance. The possibility of a one-game tiebreaker loomed all the way through Saturday, when the Sox finally won one of the two remaining games of the season in order to clinch.
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Heartland of America Post #5, Busch Stadium

“All the HOK stadiums have a ‘look,'” corwin said upon laying eyes on Busch Stadium. Then he thought for a second. “Well, except for Yankee Stadium. And I guess Kauffman Stadium is unique, too.” I reminded him that Miami had more similarities with the new Yankee Stadium than with Camden Yards, too. Perhaps it would have been more accurate to say that all the HOK “retro-style” ballparks a la Camden Yards share a specific aesthetic. “Retro-style” means red brick, green I-beams, and jauntily jutting decks and ramps.

I’d been to Busch once before, during the SABR convention in St. Louis years ago when the ballpark was still brand new. Since then “Cardinals Village” has been built, a mall-like structure outside the park that houses retail of various kinds including a fudge store, Cardinals merch store, a giant Fox Sports themed sports bar from which pregame festivities are broadcast, and also the Cardinals Museum. It costs $14 to get into the musem if you don’t have special Wrigley-esque seats on the roof or you’re not a card-carrying member of Cardinals Nation. We decided to buy a praline at the fudge store and skip the museum in favor of exploring around the outside of the ballpark before the gates opened.
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Heartland of America Trek, Post #4, Louisville Slugger Museum

We drove across Missouri on Saturday, had dinner in St. Louis, and then continued on the Louisville, Kentucky, where we planned to see the Louisville Slugger Museum in the morning.

On Sundays, the museum opens at 11am, which was also checkout time at our hotel, so we slept as late as we could (it was nearly 3am when we had arrived), checked out a few minutes after 11 and then got our stuff into our car. By the time we walked over to the Louisville Slugger Museum it was 11:20 am and there was a line around the building. In anticipation of eclipse-seekers in need of something to do on Sunday and Monday, the museum was running a two-for-one special, and lots of people were taking them up on it. (Continued)