Scoreboard Watching In September

September. Fall is right around the corner. As warm summer days slowly turn to cool autumn afternoons Major League Baseball is reminded that with the changing of the calendar comes the hope for tomorrow and the postseason, the eternal glory of October. The place where dreams can be fulfilled, where greatness is immortalized. Each game matters. Every inning counts.

In September, players begin staring down the scoreboard as the updates come blowing in from out of town like a gust of spine tingling wind. Producing both shivers good and bad. Projecting light and darkness, hope and despair. A glimmer of opportunity or a forecast of doom. As the days grow shorter and night starts to set in earlier and earlier so to does the incandescent glow of the scoreboard, looming over the players’ shoulders like a blinding specter. Haunting each step around the base path. You cannot hide from the bright lights. The glowing numbers and letters materializing from beyond the outfield fence creating an omnipresent shadow across the diamond.

In September, the long season feels more like a marathon than a sprint but the race for the playoffs drives on. A baseball player must be focused. A baseball player must not be easily distracted. This is not a time to throw caution to the wind. Movements must be calculated. Each pitch executed with perfect precision. Each swing mimicking the path of the baseball as it tumbles towards the plate at speeds hovering perilously close to triple digits. To focus on the scoreboard instead of the opposition is the difference between a swing and a miss. A run and an out. A win and a loss.

Players are instructed to focus on today because tomorrow is beyond their control. Yet the scoreboard exists to contradict the sage advice of managers and coaches. The numbers and messages that litter stadium jumbotrons pollute and poison the instincts of even the game’s most experienced. Patience will be put to the test as the results filter in from cities across the country. Los Angeles. Kansas City. Baltimore. Those scores, those numbers, that calculus can change the way you play.

Yet the temptation remains, the bright lights and numbers cascading from far off in the distance like a siren’s call. The scoreboard is calling. It wants you to look. It wants to remind you of the world that is beyond your control. For it’s only the fortunate few who control their destiny. Who do not allow the scoreboard to dictate their future.

The baseball postseason is within grasp. Seize it. Before the scoreboard consumes all hope, shining on deep into the darkness. Fading towards October.

 

 

 

 

Round Tripping: A Quick Loop Around The MLB Diamond

A few Opening Week observations from around Major League Baseball

1) Three games into the 2013 season and it’s pretty clear that there are 3, maybe 4, teams in serious jeopardy of losing 100 games.

Locks: Marlins and Astros

With the lineup that surrounds him Giancarlo Stanton should lead the league in intentional walks while Houston hitters may strike out more in one season than Don Draper has in his entire fictional lifetime.

Outside Shot: Twins and Padres

I watched some of San Diego’s series against the Mets and granted they were without leading RBI man Chase Headley but even still there are a whole slew of outs up and down that lineup. And the Twinkies, I better be careful what I say before they help my Orioles open Camden Yards this weekend.

2) The current Red Sox and Yankees lineups reminds me of the lean SNL season of 1985-86. Ask Simmons or Seth Meyers but Travis Hafner may as well be Randy Quaid and Will Middlebrooks is a dead ringer for Anthony Michael Hall.

3) Interleague play feels like a total drag now that they are scheduling a constant stream of interleague series throughout the season. At least when it was a few weeks blocked off you could mentally prepare but now it has made scheduling incredibly hard to follow. Take the Reds/Angels during Opening Week. Great series, potential World Series preview, but the Reds should open with a division rival like the Cubs or Pirates. This is one tradition that didn’t need to change.

4) I agree with Jose Bautista. Some MLB umpires are ‘mediocre’. Still, if I were him I’d keep my mouth shut. You never know how many Ed F Rush’s there are lurking around those umpire locker rooms.

5) Hard not to feel terrible for Baltimore 2B Brian Roberts who had to be carried off the field Thursday in Tampa after an awkward slide into second. A scheduled MRI will likely lead to a stint on the 15 day DL. Fans tend to forget that it wasn’t too along ago that many were calling Roberts the best 2B in the game. A few concussions later and the 35 year old is now just trying to stay healthy and contribute to a lineup that would really benefit from his production.

6) Don’t sleep on the Athletics who may once again have the moxie and pitching to unseat one of the AL West’s big budget behemoths the Angels or Rangers. And Josh Reddick, that beard of yours belongs in the Smithsonian right beside Abraham Lincoln’s top hat and Dorothy’s red slippers.

7) Matt Harvey looks like he could be the real deal but Mets fans ought to start pumping the breaks a bit on all those Tom Seaver comparisons. It wasn’t too long ago that Bill Pulsipher was going to be the next Jerry Koosman and we all know how that went.

8) Vladimir Guerrero has signed on to play with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League which makes me sad especially because it wasn’t that long ago that he was golfing home runs out of Olympic Stadium in Montreal.

view from Camden Yards courtesy of @BaltSunSports

MLB Playoffs: Poor, poor Brooks Conrad

Before Sunday nights Braves/Giants divisional playoff game, most baseball fans would have probably struggled to pick Brooks Conrad out of a lineup.  This morning, after he committed 3 errors in last nights 3-2 Braves loss, Conrad has emerged as Bill Buckner reincarnate.  Tonight, Atlanta will try to pick up the pieces and even the series at 2.  Will Conrad start at second base?  None of this really matters however as neither team stands much of a chance in the NLCS vs the Philadelphia Phillies and their dominate starting pitching.

MLB Playoffs Are Here: All Eyes On History

Looks like Roy Halladay’s no-hitter caught the attention of the Target Field jumbotron operator.  If you look carefully, you can also see the Yankees sneaking a peek from the outfield.  Congrats to Doc on a masterful pitching performance. Congrats to Carlos Ruiz for not tripping on Brandon Phillips bat while recording the final out.  How in the world do the Reds bounce back from this?