Meanwhile, Skitch Hanson sent me another telegram. He’s having some automotive issues that have prevented him from getting to Florida, but he promised he will start tweeting again as soon as he’s there.
I just received a telegram from Skitch Hanson. I mean, literally a telegram. Western Union and everything.
Does anyone know how much you tip a telegram guy? I gave him a couple bucks; too much or too little?
I don’t know why Skitch chose telegram as his medium, but in any case, he wanted to let me know that he will be in spring training as well, visiting many camps in Florida and Arizona, and will be sending updates via his Twitter page (and presumably, not telegram).
And while you’re at it, follow yours truly for exciting reply tweets to people you don’t know!
As I’ve noted on this site many times, I’m starved for baseball right now. So I’ve been watching some of the All-Time Games on the MLB Network, even though their listings and what they actually show don’t always jive.
F’rinstance, on Saturday, the cable guide said they’d show the Mets’ home opener from 1985 (which Gary Carter won with a walk-off homer in his NY debut). But they showed Tom Seaver’s 200th victory instead. Which was a fine alternatvie, except that Tom Terrific looked extremely strange in that hideous 80s White Sox uniform.
On Sunday, they showed a Tigers/Yankees game from 1976, where Mark “The Bird” Fidrych started for Detroit. I’d always heard that The Bird was a maniac who alternately delighted and annoyed crowds with his mound antics. But this sample from his only good season didn’t provide anything too exciting, at least to my eyes. Maybe people were more excitable back in them days.
What really piqued my interest were the pregame introductions. Each member of the two teams stated their name, position, and hometown, as is routinely done in nationally televised football games these days.
When they got to Yankees skipper Billy Martin, he said “Born Berkeley, California, died New York.”
Both Billy and the camera crew laughed heartily at this. Viewed with historical perspective, this statement is either eerily prophetic or possessed of the kind of doomed gallows humor found in most Alcoholic Literature (see: Under the Volcano, A Fan’s Notes).
It floored me so much that I wanted to rewind it, tape it, and post it to YouTube. And then I remembered that MLB is a total dick when it comes to posting video. So you’ll have to take my word for it. Or watch the game when they rerun it, which I’m sure they’ll do 900 times or so.
Grant “Rocky” Rhodes is America’s oldest living sportswriter. He first rose to prominence in 1916, when he declared Yankee Stadium “The House that Ruth Built,” even though Ruth still played for the Red Sox and Yankee Stadium didn’t exist. He holds the world’s record for most consecutive days spent in a hat. His weekly sports column, “The Cat’s Pajamas”, appears in 7000 newspapers nationwide when not bumped for “Hints from Heloise” or “Funky Winkerbean”. Today, he graces Scratchbomb with his nine decades of sports wisdom to comment on baseball’s latest scandal.
Been a while since I took up the ol’ Underwood. I been outta commission for almost a year. It all started when my favorite attendant, Frankie, took a little vacation. Frankie’s my favorite because he always throws in a little extra something in your daily meds.
Unfortunately, the home brought in some numbnuts to take his place, and this schmuck gives me exactly what it says on my chart. Little did I know I’d developed a bit of a chemical dependency on one of my pills, a little blue one that makes my liver pain slightly less unbearable.
So one day, I ask this guy for some extra, and he says no dice. What happened next is kind of a blur, but apparently I went insane with rage over being denied my fix. I remember poking him in the eye with my cane, and throwing my colostomy bag in his face, but the rest is kinda hazy. Next thing I know, they got me in detox to get the junk outta my system.
Y’ever see The Man with the Golden Arm? Yeah, it’s nothing like that. Frank Sinatra, you let me down a third time. I’d give you a piece of my mind if you weren’t dead.
* Long-time Rocky readers know the first time was when Frank convinced me to buy an Edsel. I won’t spill the beans about the second. Just know that it involves Jilly Rizzo, and I will take it with me to my grave.
Bottom line is, I ain’t exactly one to talk when it comes to drugs. And I’m sick as hell about writing up this Alex Rodriguez fella. The guy’s a head case. Back in my day, they would have locked him up on general principle. This country really started going to hell when FDR repealed the Lock ‘Em Up on General Principle Act.
I’ll tell you one thing, though. I just don’t understand this generation of athletes, shooting themselves up with steroids and horse semen and whatnot, trying to gain an advantage. In my day, athletes didn’t take performance enhancers. They took performance limiters.
Babe Ruth ate everything that wasn’t bolted down. Jim Thorpe drank high-test gasoline before track meets. Bobby Jones had his caddy whip him with a cane in the back the thighs before he hit the links. (I heard some nasty rumors about that last ritual, but I won’t repeat them here.)
You know why Lou Gehrig had to retire? It wasn’t because ALS robbed him of his ability to play. It’s because the disease actually made him more able-bodied than most other players. Back then, it was considered cheating if you didn’t come to the plate full of bathtub gin and missing at least one toe.
It was a badge of honor to succeed while handicapping yourself. Why did you think the Black Sox threw the World Series in 1919? They wanted to see if they could still win the thing while actively trying to lose it. They weren’t the first team to throw a game, not by a long shot. They were just unlucky enough to get caught. And to accept thousands of dollars from gangsters in order to do it.
I just wish all these kids involved with this stuff would come clean. That’s what we did back in my day–someone catches you with your hand in the cookie jar, you fess up. Or, alternatively, you stonewall the cops, then catch the next steamer bound for Brazil.
I guess it’s no use complaining about the way the world has changed. While I was getting clean, this guy from NA taught me a prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the carriage to something about the weather, and the gonads to know what’s what.
I got no idea what that means, but it still makes twice the sense of anything else in this crazy world. At least until Frankie gets the med shift again.
Thus far, the MLB Network has played things pretty much by the book. A Hot Stove show, incessant World Series highlights, the occasional poorly chosen retrospective. Nothing out of the ordinary, nothing remotely daring.
But they have been daring in one respect: their news crawl.
Watch any news network these days, and you will see a news crawl. Nearly all of them employ the present tense, as in OBAMA ISSUES STATEMENT ON ECONOMY or BRETT FAVRE CONTEMPLATES RETIREMENT, NAPS. In fact, I would say all of them do, except that I haven’t seen every network in the entire world. Don’t worry, I plan to.
But when you watch the MLB Network, their news crawl only uses the past tense. As in RICKEY HENDERSON ELECTED TO HALL OF FAME or ATLANTA BRAVES SIGNED DEREK LOWE TO RIDONKULOUS CONTRACT.
This completely flies in the face of News Crawl Protocol. And yet, it’s more grammatically correct. Because these events, for the most part, are not ongoing events. They are finite things that have been done and will not be repeated.
The use of the present tense is journalism shorthand, used in headlines and quick blurbs at the top of broadcasts to stress the URGENCY and IMMEDIACY of the news. Technically, it’s grammatically incorrect. But we’re used to present tense being used in this manner, so we don’t think twice about it.
In fact, when I first noticed the MLB Network opted for past tense, my first instinct was that someone had screwed up. My Copyeditor’s Sense detected something wrong. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was everyone except MLB who was wrong.
And that is the last time you will read the words ‘everyone except MLB was wrong’.
I applaud MLB Network, because I’m sure there was somebody in that style meeting who fought to keep present tense, because past tense sounded weird. And this visionary said, “NO! We will single-handedly undo 8 years of News Crawl Grammar Tyrrany!”
Or, knowing MLB, they picked a style with little regard for tradition or public preferences and just ran with it. In either case, kudos!
Rickey accepts this honor on behalf of Rickey. Rickey hopes that this recognition will finally allow Rickey to get paid like Rickey deserves. Lastly, Rickey would like to thank Rickey for all the support Rickey has show Rickey over the years.
Rickey would also like to congratulate Jim Rice for joining him in Rickey’s Hall of Fame. Sure, Rickey never saw Jim Rice steal no bases. But Rickey thinks there are many paths to the Hall, because Rickey is feeling magnanimous today.
Rickey thinks it’s just a shame that it took so long to get Jim in the Hall, all because a bunch of old fart sportswriters didn’t like him back in day. So what Jim Rice didn’t talk to no reporters? Rickey never talked to no reporters. Rickey didn’t have to. Rickey let his feet do the talking. And his bat. And sometimes both at the same time, which is extremely difficult to pull off. That is, if you ain’t Rickey. Which Rickey happens to be, thank you very much.
As for Andre Dawson and Bert Blyleven, Rickey wishes you best of luck next year. Rickey was honored to honor y’all by playing against you.
I know how hard it is to start up a network. I mean, not personally. It’s not something I’ve ever done myself. I just imagine that it involves an intense amount of preparation, planning, and elbow grease, on top of the nuts and bolts inherent in running any company. It’s hard enough to put one show together, let alone a whole new lineup, and hire brand new studio personalities, producers, camera crew, etc., while also wondering when the soda machines are gonna get delivered.
I realize it takes a while before a new network can find its way and forge a unique vision. I’ve been watching SNY since it debuted, and those first few months were pretty rough. But hey, look at that lineup now, huh? *crickets*
So I’m willing to cut the brand new MLB Network an enormous amount of slack. I don’t expect them to have compelling programming just yet, especially during the baseball free month of January.
I mean, sure, MLB has cracked down on everyone who’s ever posted any footage of professional baseball anywhere online, so you’d think that they’re sitting on acres of vintage film that they refuse to let anyone else show in any form. And sure, they’ve had several years since they announced the launch of this new network to digitize all that old film, so they wouldn’t have to show the 2004 World Series highlights and last year’s playoffs over and over again.
If you’re a fan of baseball, or a fan of sports, or just a fan of good writing, do yourself a favor and start reading Joe Posnanski’s blog at SI.com. Or his own blog, which publishes a lot of his SI stuff plus some other tasty bits.
Posnanski belongs to that rare breed of baseball scribe who isn’t allergic to numbers and doesn’t hate things invented within the last 50 years. And he is also a joy to read, prose-wise. The only other writer I’d put in his category is Tim Marchman, who–near as I can tell–remains unemployed now that the NY Sun has folded, which is a shame. (Marchman’s joblessness, I mean. The defunctory-ness of the NY Sun is neither here nor there for me.)
Prime example: A recent post wherein he argues that just because a particular stat wasn’t considered important during a player’s career (or didn’t exist), that doesn’t mean said stat isn’t important. In Posnanski’s opinion, new stats (or renewed focus on older stats, like OBP) recognize that certain things are not random or unimportant aspects of a game, but skills that should be recognized as such.
He’s been around for quite a while, most notably as a columnist for the Kansas City Star. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m coming late to the Joe Posnanski Is Awesome Party, but I figured I’d pass it along. My first New Year’s Resolution for 2009 is to berate people for doing things I should have been doing all along.
* Dock Ellis, 63, of cirrhosis of the liver. Twelve-year veteran of the major leagues, with most of those seasons spent as a starting pitcher for Pittsburgh. Went 19-9 for the 1971 world champion Pirates. Went to the Yankees in the same deal that brought Willie Randolph to NY, and notched a 17-8 record for the 1976 AL pennant winners. Also pitched for the Rangers, A’s, and Mets.
Oh, and he pitched a no-hitter while out of his gourd on LSD.
Or so he claimed 14 years after the fact. I tend to be suspicious of people who add sexy backstory a decade-and-half later, especially when that backstory involves narcotics. Ex-drug users don’t have the most reliable memories. But Ellis’ story is so good that I want it to be true.
The story goes that during a West Coast trip in 1970, Ellis thought the Pirates had an off day. So he decided to spend it relaxing in his hometown of LA. And what could be more relaxing than mimicking the effects of schizophrenia with lysergic assitance?
Unfortunately, about an hour into his trip, Ellis’ female companion read the newspaper and discovered that the Pirates didn’t have a day off. In fact, they were playing a doubleheader. In San Diego. Oh, and he was supposed to start game 1. Oops! I wonder what on earth could have made Ellis so forgetful?
I often write about the Mets on this site, but I realize that my perspective is not necessarily that of the average fan. So as the Hot Stove League heats up, I want to get the viewpoint of another Amazins enthusiast. Today Scratchbomb welcomes Sean from Massapequa, a union pipefitter and frequent WFAN caller, to discuss the acquisition of Francisco Rodriguez.
So the Mets got K-Rod. That should help solidify the bullpen, shouldn’t it?
I don’t want this guy nowhere near my team! This guy’s a bum! Get ridda him!
He’s been on the team for like six hours.
That’s six hours too long! That bum should hit the road!
How is K-Rod a bum? He broke the season saves record last year.
Big deal. Saves is a fake stat, like on-base percentage. They don’t mean nothin. He’s a bum and the Mets are bums for signin him. That’s just like the Mets, always thinkin small. Meanwhile, the Yankees go out and get CC Sabathia and steal the back pages again. How could Omar Minaya let Sabathia slip through his fingers?! I want that bum fired!