It Happened on 125th Street

Not to get all Ken Burns on you, but I’m watching more of this year’s MLB playoffs because of the final day of the regular season. For baseball fans like myself, September 28th was a reminder of how dramatic and exciting the game can be. As a country, Americans have slowly started to trend away from our national pastime, choosing instead to set the DVR for the less time consuming and faster paced football or basketball. And to be fair, I myself did not intend to watch any baseball that Wednesday evening after agreeing to attend a special screening of Pearl Jam Twenty in New York City, which, in retrospect, was a fairly radical decision for a 32 year old male who no longer wears flannel.

Flash forward three hours. My first move after hopping on the 10:22 out of Grand Central Station was to fire up the MLB At Bat app on my iPhone, a feature which I have not used since the Orioles dropped twenty games below .500 in Mid July. Standing there in the nearly vacant bar car, I was pleasantly surprised to find that neither the Yankees/Rays or Red Sox/Orioles games were over. And then, just as the express train cruised passed Larchmont, Dan Johnson hit the homerun to tie the game at 7 causing the Chris Christie look-a-like sitting across the aisle and drinking a Coors Light to stand up and give a jubilent, yet solitary fist pump. I never did bother to ask the New Jersey governor if he was a Rays fan or Yankee fan just happy that the Red Sox path to the playoffs was about to take an even more circuitous route. Either way, thanks to baseball, that 52 minute non-stop trip from Midtown Manhattan to Stamford, CT felt like it took no time at all.

That night, I was back on my couch in time to watch the conclusion of both games and I guess I’m telling you this story today because here it is Tuesday morning, with another long work week looming, and I’m already fighting serious sleep deprivation having stayed up to watch Yankees/Tigers. As John Sterling says, “you just can’t predict baseball”.

view from Comerica Park courtesy of @MissCoryCoffey

 

 

Monday Musings: Labor Day Edition

Ahhh Labor Day. One of my favorite made up holidays of the year. What exactly are we honoring by not working today? If we were truly trying to pay tribute to the economic and social contributions of workers, shouldn’t we be working? Also, this just in from Madison, Governor Scott Walker has cancelled all state sponsored Labor Day events in Wisconsin. Apparently he didn’t want to send any mixed messages to the thousands of union members who have already lost all collective bargaining rights.

Surprisingly, that’s not the biggest story coming out of Badgerland this weekend. No, Wisco is a flutter with Heismania for Badger QB Russell Wilson who led UW to an impression victory over UNLV Thursday Night in Camp Randall Stadium. But you know how fluid awards hype can be. It was Wilson Thursday night, followed by Baylor QB Robert Griffin III Friday, and now after his performance Sat evening in the Georgia Dome, you can put Boise St. QB Kellen Moore right at the top of the early Heisman list.

Alas, it’s still early September and we have lots of time to argue over who is going to win the major college football awards. Right now our time is still better served talking baseball, particularly where the final month of the regular season is going to take us.

A Quick Trip Around the Bases

1B – Everyone wants to complain about the length of these Red Sox/Yankees games and I have reached the point where I am genuinely fed up with both sides of the argument. If you can’t appreciate Josh Beckett taking 2 minutes in between pitches to chew his gum while staring dimly at catcher Jason Varitek then you should watch something else. Rizzoli and Isles is beginning it’s second season on TNT and remember, they know drama.

2B – This past week, in a desperate attempt to find some sort of offense, the reigning world series champs the San Francisco Giants cut ties with two veterans INF Miguel Tejada and OF Aaron Rowand. No word as to what this means for Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell, and Mike Fontenot who are all having equally anemic seasons at the plate. Where’s Kevin Mitchell when you need him?

3B – Can Albert Pujols really lead the Cardinals all the way back from nearly 10 games behind the NL Central leading Milwaukee Brewers? Is there enough time left in the 2011 season for Prince Albert to raise his average above the .300 mark making it 11 seasons in a row for him hitting .300 with over 30 HR’s, and 100 RBI. Anything’s possible when you’re talking about Pujols. He did after all attend Maple Woods Community College in Kansas City, Missouri.

HR – Finally, September call ups give us fans of even the most inept MLB teams to catch a glimpse of the future and hopefully brighter days ahead. Of course when that future consists of players like Matt Angle and Xavier Avery, how much do we really have to look forward to anyway?

That’s it everybody! Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend and make sure to travel safe.

view from Comerica Park courtesy of @22ptp

Using Twitter to Determine the Best Baseballers in all the Land

In honor of recently demoted/budding baseball superstar Logan Morrison, and his esteemed twitter alter-ego @LoMoMarlins, we have compiled a list of the MLB players with the highest number of twitter followers by position and then gauged whether or not these totals are commensurate with their personality/on field baseball ability. Big thanks to the aggregators over at Tweeting-Athletes.com for giving our neural-net processors a big timeout.

Starting Pitcher – CC Sabathia (New York Yankees, 137311 followers): Sabathia’s popularity makes sense, he is after all one of the leading contenders for the AL Cy Young award this season. Also, overstuffed athletes always resonate well with fans probably because they remind many Americans of themselves.

Catcher – Russell Martin (New York Yankees, 49560): Here we have a classic case of big market ballot stuffing. Sure, Martin is enjoying somewhat of a career renaissance during his first year in the Bronx but he should not be the most popular catcher on twitter. If Joe Mauer’s parents allowed him to but that cellphone last Christmas we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

First Baseman – Mark Teixiera (New York Yankees, 80860): Same song and dance as before. I’m starting to wonder whether or not people from outside of NYC even have access to social media. Where’s my coast to coast publicly financed WIFI umbrella President Obama?

Second Baseman – Brandon Phillips (Cincinnati Reds, 135358): DatDudeBP engages his followers like no other, often times asking them where he should go for good Mexican food in Atlanta. If you play your cards right, he may even offer to pick up the tab on your $2 burrito as well.

Third Baseman – Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay Rays, 56224): Would it help or hurt Longoria’s twitter credibility if he talked more openly about being the once proud owner of an AK-47?

Shortstop – Jimmy Rollins (Philadelphia Phillies, 45672): I wonder if it’s going to be super awkward for Rollins when the Phillies sign Jose Reyes to take over at shortstop in 2012. Good luck attracting 40K followers in Seattle next season.

OF – Nick Swisher (New York Yankees, 1365390): What a rascal that Nick Swisher. Always so darn happy to be playing baseball. And talk about post game polish. I can see Kim Jones overheating through my television screen right now. Part of me wishes that Swish never made it to New York, only then would we really know if Billy Beane would allow for an Oakland A to amass over one million followers on twitter. You know those crazy sabermetricians and their numbers.

OF – Jose Bautista (Toronto Blue Jays, 11525): These numbers are no doubt inflated due to the use of performance enhancing software and malicious spyware used to pick up the cellphone signals of fans in the Rogers Centre.

OF – Jason Heyward (Atlanta Braves, 85633): Did I hear that Heyward was benched last week? Maybe he should have gone to Harvard for a year or two after all. The Ivy League could have really taught him a thing or two about writing succinct, descriptive 140 character or less prose.

Closer – Brian Wilson (San Francisco Giants, 288505): The beard alone is worth at least 100K followers making it the most valuable facial hair since the LeBron neckbeard. But seriously, have you ever heard Brian Wilson talk? Not stupid. In fact, I would wager to say that he is one of the smartest, most well read players in all of MLB. Strange then that he makes himself look like the zodiac killer on steroids.

Manager – Ozzie Guillen (Chicago White Sox, 165578): I can’t wait for Guillen to manager the Miami Marlins in 2012 when he and Logan Morrison will use twitter to challenge each others machismo on a daily basis. We can only hope that somehow Ozzie’s son, Oney, will be involved in the nightly round table as well.

view from Comerica Park on the night Jim “Country Strong” Thome hit #600 courtesy of @MC_Biebs