Sunday, February 28, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
I first started seeing photos taken with a tilt-shift lens a few weeks ago and was enthralled by the effect the distortion had on the photos. The small center of focus plays tricks with your eyes, making the photos appear to be minature models, yet in reality they're images of actual, life-sized people and places. So when a post on Gothamist featuring a fascinating time-lapse movie of tilt-shift photos included a link on how to create the effect in Photoshop, I spent an hour browsing my photos for suitable images.
Some images turned out better than others, but I like this inital effort. It's kind of a fun new way to look at some pics I'd grown used to seeing.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Silver medal (which as you know is much better than a gold medal) for John Schandler, who writes: “I work for a Nike Factory Store in New York. We are about to launch a baseball promotion, and I arrived at work on Monday greeted by a Yankee-clad mannequin at the front of the store. After much arguing, the manager allowed me to dress another manniquin in Mets garb. In addition, I was able to convince management to let me NOT use any black clothing.” That, people, is truly heroic work.
For all the talk -- the negative kind -- about the Mets farm system, it's not devoid of prospects. While it may not be deep, it's among the top half in one respect: Baseball America's Top 100. The Mets are one of 10 teams to have four players listed and only the Rays (seven), Cubs and Indians (five each) have more.
The Mets' ranked players:
56. Jennry Mejia, RHP
62. Ike Davis, 1B
77. Fernando Martinez, OF
88. Wilmer Flores, SS
They may not be ranked terribly high, but let's put it in perspective: These four made the top 100 out of thousands.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Every year, I buy myself a pack or two of the new Topps cards to see what they've come up with, and this year I may be buying quite a few more. The new design is one of the best in recent memory, and their cards of late haven't even been that bad. Compare that to 20 years ago, when the 1990 set looked like something out of the '70s (though the '70s sets weren't even that garish) and couldn't even coordinate colors for the same team.
This Prince Fielder card happens to be No. 1 in the set, starting the collection off with a bang by using a great photo from Fielder's walk-off shot on Sept. 6 last season. This card didn't come in my first pack; after that initial purchase, I bought a small box -- I think it was the "cereal box," the one with Gehrig on it, it turns out -- and when I got home to open them, I noticed that each one contained a Gold Refractor card. "Hope I get Seaver," I thought.
And then I got it. Sweet!
I also found Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Delgado('s last card/last card as a Met), Victor Martinez and Andrew McCutchen, among others. The team logo -- taken from the jersey front, it seems -- as a means to ID the club is unique and one of the first things that jumped out at me, especially on the McCutchen and V-Mart cards. The backs are sharp, too, with the hat logo and a clean, easy-to-read design, especially on one loaded with stats like Delgado's.
But these days, it seems the point of collecting isn't the cards of current players; it's the subsets and bonus cards in each box. The Seaver in the "cereal box" was a good start. As I went through the cards, I found Peak Performance cards of Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker, History of the Game featuring Cal Ripken and Bill Mazeroski, Tales of the Game reminding us of Wade Boggs' chicken infatuation, Legendary Lineage linking Roy Halladay (thankfully in a Blue Jays uniform) with Seaver and pairing Frank Thomas with Fielder, and something called the Turkey Red subset (from which I got Mark Teixeira and Johnny Bench). My favorite is probably the When They Were Young group, depicting today's stars as children -- and it's not even limited to Little League photos.
The big subset/promotion/gimmick this year, though, is The Cards Your Mother Threw Out. My first one? A 1993 Chuck McElroy! Score! At least, that's the first one I got with the code, allowing me to have the actual card sent to me if I choose. (I suspect I'll pass.) But in the "cereal box," I did get two replicas. The cool one was a 1974 Dave Winfield, his first card. The front is a high-def reproduction of the card itself; the back, which I didn't scan, describes the history of the card and/or player that year. The second I opened wasn't as exciting -- a 2008 Tim Lincecum. I mean, those cards are two years old! I bought some that year. I think I may have this actual card. I understand the idea of including every year in this historical promotion, but it just seems funny to me. Though, I shouldn't complain (and I'm not, really); that '08 Lincecum is still better than a '93 McElroy.
Unfortunately, I don't know how many of these cards I'll eventually get. The price today is just too prohibitive. I can't imagine being a kid today and finding myself that interested in baseball cards. Unless allowances have kept up with the rate of inflation, how can a kid afford to collect cards on a summer-lawn-mowing income? And for the completists, how can you ever feel satisfied about collecting an entire set when sets these days include so many rare and valuable cards, from autographs to relics and the like, that anyone who manages to legitimately collect a full set probably spent as much money doing so as the most valuable piece in the set is worth. Still, I'm sure I'll buy a few more packs, another box or two. I'll keep the purchases to extra additions when I'm at Target or some place for another reason -- no more walking down to the corner drug store for the sole purpose of buying baseball cards. Sadly, those days have gone the way of my dirt bike and, well, the corner drug store not named CVS or Walgreens.
Friday, February 19, 2010
With the college season opening this weekend, I chose several photos I took in 1994. They're of baseball games at Trenton State College (now the College of New Jersey) and Brookdale Community College. This was still early in my SLR ownership, so I was psyched to take the zoom lens out to the fields, especially since I could pretty much stand anywhere along the fence at these venues. I have no idea who any of the players are, but that's the point for today -- this is junior college ball, guys playing mostly for the love of the game. With the exception of the metal bats, it's about as pure as baseball can get these days. With a few exceptions, these players have no professional aspirations, there are no stage parents complaining about playing time, ESPN and most newspapers aren't coming around looking for stories. They're just out there to play.
With the season beginning, Baseball America's preview content included a look ahead to the end of the season, which will feature the College World Series in its last year at renowned Rosenblatt Stadium. I never got there, and I won't this year, which is a shame. I don't know what the new ballpark will offer compared to Rosenblatt and whether the regular attendees of the annual tournament are looking forward to an updated, modern venue or if they'll be lamenting the old ballyard's loss. But I know it won't be the same to tune in each June to watch the college championship from TD Ameritrade Park Omaha -- which is among the top five worst sports venue names in America and may be at the top of the list. A shame.
But back to more positive thoughts. Two things in particular I love in this gallery: the dandelions on the Brookdale infield in the shots of the pitchers, and Brookdale's classic-looking uniforms, which you can see in the image above: the blue lettering and red numbers on the jersey taken from the Dodgers' clean uniform design, and the helmet (and cap) "B" logo borrowed from the Red Sox.
And yeah, the music choice may be a bit cliched, and it won't be the last time I use a version of that song, but it just fit the photos for this one. It's an instrumental piece recognizable from the start, no words to worry about. And though you may not know the players -- no words, no names -- you know the game immediately upon seeing the images. It's just baseball.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
So watch out, Joba Chamberlain, Josh Johnson, Rick Porcello, Max Scherzer, Felix Hernandez and -- in a perfect storm of workload and managerial risk -- Homer Bailey.
Verducci's yearly analysis of young pitchers' innings increase (hurlers 25 and younger who set a career high in innings by more than 30), developed with help from Rick Peterson when he was the A's pitching coach, has been pretty accurate in forecasting either a drop in production (usually seen in a rising ERA) or, in the worst cases, injury the following season. Two of the most notable examples for the latter are Francisco Liriano and Anibal Sanchez. The disappointing 2009 seasons had by Cole Hamels and Mike Pelfrey support the former. And so Verducci's list of the pitchers to watch affects both fans who don't want to see their teams' hurlers named and fantasy owners, who may add a red flag to their rankings sheets in preparing for draft day.
But rehashing what Verducci has already done wouldn't add to the conversation. Inspired by Pelfrey's joining the club in '09, I was curious to see what happened to the pitchers Verducci singled out in the years after the Year-After Effect. In short: Can we hope for -- or expect -- improvement from Pelfrey in 2010? David Gassko looked at the general numbers a few years at The Hardball Times ago, but I'm curious about specific pitchers.
Through a combination of digging up old Verducci columns in which he listed a particular year's at-risk pitchers and use of Baseball-Reference's Play Index tool, I set out to put together a nearly complete all-time list of a "red-flag roster," going back to those to watch for the 2002 season. But that became cumbersome, so I edited where I felt it necessary and mostly left the prominent names, or at least those who seemed to have the most potential at that time. As Verducci says nearly every year in explaining his theory, the workload is just one factor in this analysis.
Below I've charted the pitchers' seasons that prompted the alarms (the one in which he exceeded his career high in innings by more than 30), the year-after season (the one Verducci warned us about) and his "year-after-after" season, the one immediately following the red-flagged campaign. In an effort to keep the charts manageable, I'm only including innings (rounded down; I'm not bothering with the fractions), ERA and WHIP, unfortunately omitting data like batting average against and BABIP. Most stats are MLB only, though in some cases full minor-league numbers are asterisked. If there's any combo of MLB and minor league figures, that's pointed out in the notes below the charts.
|1998 IP/ERA/WHIP||1999 IP/ERA/WHIP||2000 IP/ERA/WHIP||2001 IP/ERA/WHIP|
Daal was actually 27 years old and in his seventh Major League season in 1999, the year his innings jumped by 52, so he was outside the at-risk age range, yet he still had a precipitous fall -- and never posted an ERA below 3.90 again. Ponson's innings actually went up in his red-flag year, but we've since learned that he has general problems with restraint and conditioning. Millwood led the NL in WHIP and the Majors with just 6.6 hits per nine innings allowed in 2000. He's had the longest (assuming Ponson doesn't try to stick with a last-place club again) and most productive career, but he did take another step back in 2001.
|1999 IP/ERA/WHIP||2000 IP/ERA/WHIP||2001 IP/ERA/WHIP||2002 IP/ERA/WHIP|
Another trio with just one pitcher still active. Lopez's jump from 1999 to 2000 (when he was 28) was tremendous -- and after his red-flag season of 2001, he pitched just 78 more innings in the Majors, less than his increase from '99-2000. Suzuki was finished after 2002. Dempster led the Majors in walks in his red-flag year, but after a three-year stint as a closer, he became an All-Star again (as he was in his breakout year of 2000).
|2000 IP/ERA/WHIP||2001 IP/ERA/WHIP||2002 IP/ERA/WHIP||2003 IP/ERA/WHIP|
In his breakout year, Mulder led the AL with 21 wins and paced the Majors with four shutouts. He didn't have much of a dropoff in 2002 or '03 (though he pitched fewer innings). The signs came instead in '04 (225/4.43/1.36), after which the A's traded him to the Cardinals. After a decent '05 (205/3.64/1.38), he's never been the same. Penny saw an improvement in his 2003 numbers -- but none of this considers the Alyssa Effect.
With Durbin's '02 and '03 numbers so low, I checked his minor league numbers and saw that he pitched only eight in 2002 (injured), and 82 in 2003 (working his way back). But the reason I'm not too concerned with minor league numbers after the red-flag year is because I'm only interested in what these pitchers contribute to the big-league club. If they're still active in the Majors, we know they made it back.
Mays' breakout years was the only Major League season in which he posted a sub-4.00 ERA. Garcia went on to have a couple of productive years with the White Sox before his arm troubles began in recent seasons. With the exception of 2005 (3.12) and 2006 (4.99), all of Buehrle's ERAs have been between 3.50 and 4.00 and his WHIPs have been between 1.25 and 1.35 except for '05 (1.18) and '06 (1.47), so that's the kind of pitcher he is. Plus, he's got a no-hitter and perfect game on his resume. Armas' small sample size of 31 innings are key, because his ERA has been higher than 4.80 ever since.
And then we have two Cy Young Award winners. Carpenter missed 2003 after surgery, then went to the Cardinals (and pitching coach/healer Dave Duncan) and won 15, 21 and 15 games (and a Cy Young) before more surgery -- and then nearly won the award again in 2009. Sabathia's 2000 numbers are all from the minor leagues; '01 was his rookie year. He's steadily improved since, winning the Cy Young in '07 and avoiding the catastrophic injuries that several times have been predicted.
|2001 IP/ERA/WHIP||2002 IP/ERA/WHIP||2003 IP/ERA/WHIP||2004 IP/ERA/WHIP|
I omitted Runelvys Hernandez from this group because he was one of several Royals in the early part of the decade who was overworked and flamed out. Plus, his entire 2001 season and much of '02, when his innings shot up, were in the minors, and I didn't feel like doing all the math. And Andy Van Hekken was flagged for 2003, but one look at his page there and you'll see why I didn't bother including him.
From 2004-06, Oswalt finished in the top four of Cy Young Award voting and added a third straight All-Star season in '07. Since then, he's seen a bit of a drop-off. Sheets' best season to date came in 2004, when he fanned 264 and led the Majors in K/BB at 8.25. His record was just 12-14 for a Brewers team that went 67-94, which is why I'm not including won-loss records in this analysis. I still wish the Mets had signed him. Peavy's 2001 numbers are from the minors and his 2004 ERA remains a career best, better even than in his '07 Cy Young season.
|2002 IP/ERA/WHIP||2003 IP/ERA/WHIP||2004 IP/ERA/WHIP||2005 IP/ERA/WHIP|
Zambrano has remained pretty consistent -- right through his consistent, gradual decline the past couple of seasons. But he's apparently rededicated himself heading into 2010. Willis finished second in the NL Cy Young voting in '05 (to Carpenter, a fellow Verducci Effect alum) but has had other problems since.
|2003 IP/ERA/WHIP||2004 IP/ERA/WHIP||2005 IP/ERA/WHIP||2006 IP/ERA/WHIP|
Silva's 2003 innings represent his entire year, all of it in the Majors. Seattle has gotten five wins and 18 losses since signing him before 2008. Marquis' first year in St. Louis was 2006, but he turned it around after that, even finding success in Colorado in an All-Star '09.
|2004 IP/ERA/WHIP||2005 IP/ERA/WHIP||2006 IP/ERA/WHIP||2007 IP/ERA/WHIP|
Kazmir -- there he is again. Would definitely be useful in Citi Field, but he hasn't yet become the Cy Young winner everyone thought he would. The Effect hasn't hurt Cain too much since '06, despite his 15-30 combined record in '07-08, which had a lot to do with terrible run support. The Twins tried to bring along Liriano (whose 2005 innings include the minors) slowly, as they did with Johan Santana, by pitching him out of the bullpen to ease him in. It didn't work. Duke led the Majors with 255 hits allowed in '06 but made strides last year, getting his ERA back down to 4.06 and his WHIP to 1.32. Maholm has also had two decent seasons since, posting ERAs for 3.71 and 4.44 and WHIPs of 1.28 and, less impressive, 1.44.
|2005 IP/ERA/WHIP||2006 IP/ERA/WHIP||2007 IP/ERA/WHIP||2008 IP/ERA/WHIP|
Hamels' 35 minor-league innings in '05 were all he threw, but his previous career high was 101, so while his jump wasn't as big, it still fit the parameters. He then became a two-time Verducci Effecter with his huge jump in 2008 -- and those numbers don't include his 35 postseason innings. Verlander's '05 numbers are mostly from the minors, and it wasn't until 2009 that he seemed to get back on track. This is the year we'll see if Sanchez (whose '06 numbers include the Minors) can regain his no-hit stuff. Weaver's WHIP in '08 is a good sign. And it went down again (1.24) in '09, along with his ERA (3.75).
This was a big year for red-flagged pitchers. With all these big names, I decided to skip Sean Marshall, Scott Olsen and Jeremy Bonderman, as well as several who haven't really been heard from since, incluing Adam Loewen, who has given up pitching and trying the Rick Ankiel route.
|2006 IP/ERA/WHIP||2007 IP/ERA/WHIP||2008 IP/ERA/WHIP||2009 IP/ERA/WHIP|
All of Kennedy's numbers include a mix of Majors and minors, and 2006 is actually college and minors -- with only 2 2/3 innings in at short-season Staten Island. So those underwhelming stats are mostly with USC. Any further comeback from his recent injuries will be in Arizona after this offseason's trade. Carmona's '06 has 27 minor-league innings, and so far, his breakout '07 is a fluke.
Jimenez is an interesting case. He also pitched seven innings with the Rockies in '06, but I left those out. His '07 totals don't include the 16 postseason innings he pitched, which put him over the threshold for Verducci's list. And despite the red flag last year of pitching in the World Baseball Classic, he truly had a breakout season at 25. So perhaps this year we'll see a fall.
Gorzelanny has minor league numbers all around -- in '06, '08 and '09 -- that aren't included. He'll be 27 in July, so this is the year we'll know what we'll get from the big lefty -- if we don't already. The Brewers may have caught a break with Gallardo, who injured his knee covering first base in 2008 and had his innings limited that season. He posted decent numbers last year, so we'll see how he progresses this summer. Dustin McGowan was part of this class, too, but surgery knocked out his '09 season, so there are no further numbers for comparison.
Monday, February 15, 2010
For Presidents Day, I thought I'd go into the Baseball-Reference database and put together a roster of players and managers throughout history who share names with former presidents. I'm sure I'm not the first to compile such a list (and I did think of putting together a 25-man roster, by position, but got lazy -- which is fine). They're listed below in order of the most popular surnames. Each one includes honorable mentions for players whose given names -- first and middle -- are those of chief executives. I did not include any players/managers whose first names are the same as presidential last names (sorry, Madison Bumgarner, et al).
A few notes: Players listed as active (through 2009) by B-R are in bold, asterisks denote All-Stars and italics are Hall of Famers. Players with presidential surnames are listed with their common, known names (Bo Jackson, instead of Edward Vincent Jackson, for instance), but those with first and middle names of presidents have their full, given names listed (so you might not recognize Jonathan Tyler Lester, but it's Jon Lester). Those who are or were known by the same name as a president (Zachary Taylor is one) are in all caps, but those who share a name with a president but go by something else (Mike Adams was born Jon -- close enough -- Michael Adams) just have the given name noted in parentheses.
Art Johnson (1927)
Art Johnson (1940-42)
Ban Johnson (founder and president of American League; in HOF as pioneer/executive in 1937)
Ben Johnson (1959-60)
Ben Johnson (2005-07)
Bill Johnson (1884-92)
Bill Johnson (1916-17)
Bill Johnson (1983-84)
Bob Johnson* (1933-45)
Bob Johnson (1960-70)
Bob Johnson (1969-77)
Bob Johnson (1981-83)
Dave Johnson (1974-78)
Dave Johnson (1987-93)
Don Johnson* (1943-48)
Don Johnson (1947-58)
Ernie Johnson (1912-25)
Ernie Johnson (1950-59)
Jim Johnson (1970)
Jim Johnson (2006-)
John Henry Johnson
Kelly Johnson (Kelly Andrew Johnson)
Ken Johnson (1947-52)
Ken Johnson (1958-70)
Mark J. Johnson (2000)
Mark L. Johnson (1998-2008)
Mike Johnson (1974)
Mike Johnson (1997-2001)
Randy Johnson (1980-82)
Randy Johnson (1982-84)
Randy Johnson* (1988-2009)
Rankin Johnson (1914-18)
Rankin Johnson (1941)
Roy Johnson (1918)
Roy Johnson (1929-38)
Roy Johnson (1982-85)
Bill Wilson (1890-98)
Bill Wilson (1950-55)
Bill Wilson (1969-73)
Charlie Wilson (Charles Woodrow Wilson)
Craig Wilson (1989-93)
Craig Wilson (1998-2000)
Craig Wilson (2001-2007)
Gary Wilson (1902)
Gary Wilson (1979)
Gary Wilson (1995)
Jack Wilson (1934-42)
Jack Wilson* (2001-)
Jim Wilson* (1945-58)
Jim Wilson (1985-89)
John Wilson (1913)
John Wilson (1927-28)
Tom Wilson (1914-14)
Tom Wilson (2001-04)
Woodrow Wilson (Woody) Davis
Woodrow Wilson (Woody) Williams (1938-45)
Ben Taylor (1912)
Ben Taylor (1951-55)
Ben "Old Reliable" Taylor
Billy Taylor (1881-87)
Billy Taylor (1898)
Billy Taylor (1994-2001)
Ed Taylor (1903)
Ed Taylor (1926)
Harry Taylor (1890-93)
Harry Taylor (1932)
Harry Taylor (1946-52)
Harry Taylor (1957)
Jack Taylor (1891-99)
Jack Taylor (1898-1907)
Live Oak Taylor
Scott Taylor (1992-93)
Scott Taylor (1995)
Zachary Taylor Shafer
Shoeless Joe Jackson
Mike Jackson (1970-73)
Mike Jackson (1986-2004
Ron Jackson (1954-60)
Ron Jackson (1975-84)
Roy Lee Jackson
Andrew Jackson Bednar
Andrew Jackson Dunning
Andrew Jackson Knox
Andrew Jackson Leonard
Andrew Jackson Reese
Bob Adams (1925)
Bob Adams (1931-1932)
Bob Adams (1977)
Mike Adams (1972-78) (Jon Michael Adams)
Mike Adams (2004-)
Sparky Adams (Earl John Adams)
Willie Adams (1912-1919)
Willie Adams (1996-1997)
Honorable mention for our sixth president:
John Quincy Adams Strick (1882)
Bill Kennedy (1942-47)
Bill Kennedy (1948-57)
Bob Kennedy (1939-1957)
Ed Kennedy (1883-86)
Ed Kennedy (1884)
Jim Kennedy (1970)
Jim Kennedy (manager, years unknown)
JOHN KENNEDY (1957) (John Irvin Kennedy)
JOHN KENNEDY (1962-74) (John Edward Kennedy)
Ray Kennedy (Raymond Lincoln Kennedy; double presidents!)
Gene Ford (1905)
Gene Ford (1936-38)
Jackie Hayes (1882-90)
Jackie Hayes (1927-40)
Frank Grant (Ulysses Franklin Grant)
Ulysses Simpson Grant "Stoney" McGlynn
Ulysses Simpson Grant "Lil" Stoner
Grant Thatcher (Ulysses Grant Thatcher)
Franklin Pierce Harter
Monty Franklin Pierce Stratton
George Washington (Sloan Vernon Washinton, but B-R lists him as George)
La Rue Washington
U L Washington
George Washington Baumgardner
George Washington Bradley (1875-88)
George Washington Bradley (1946)
George Washington Case*
George Washington Crosby
George Washington Davies
George Washington Harper
George Washington Henry
George Washington Keefe
George Washington "Jumbo" McGinnis
George Washington Merritt
George Washington Noftsker
George Washington Payne
George Washington Paynter
George Washington "Hack" Simmons
George Washington "Buck" Stanton
George Washington Wilson
George Washington "Zip" Zabel
William Henry Harrison Geer
Benjamin Harrison Taylor (1912)
Benjamin Harrison "Old Reliable" Taylor (dates unknown; Negro leagues player and Hall of Famer)
Benjamin Harrison Van Dyke
Al Nixon (Albert Richard Nixon, yet he played from 1915-28. Nickname was Humpty Dumpty)
Thomas Jefferson Davis Bridges* (Double-historical naming!)
Thomas Jefferson Dowd
Thomas Jefferson Gulley
Joseph Jefferson "Shoeless Joe" Jackson
Thomas Jefferson Jordan
Thomas Jefferson Pratt
Thomas Jefferson Raub
Thomas Jefferson Sullivan
Thomas Jefferson York
James Madison Holloway
James Emmett Madison Holt
James Madison Pearce
James Madison Toy
Johnnie Tyler (John Anthony Tyler)
Jonathan Tyler Lester
Jim Buchanan (James Forrest Buchanan)
VAN BUREN (2)
Deacon Van Buren
Jermaine Van Buren
Martin Van Buren (Marty) Walker
Abraham Lincoln "Sweetbreads" Bailey (best nickname ever?)
Abraham Lincoln Wade
Abraham Lincoln Wolstenholme
Grover Cleveland Alexander
Williams Clinton (Bill) Zepp
James Garfield (John) Durham
Only Wes Chamberlain comes close to an honorable mention; his given name is Wesley Polk Chamberlain.
Though there is one minor league record for a player in 1909 whose first name is not known.
Chester Arthur Crist
Chester Arthur Emerson
William McKinley "Pinky" Hargrave
William McKinley "Max" Venable
Theodore Roosevelt (Ted) Lilly*
Jack Roosevelt (Jackie) Robinson
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Ted) Wieand
Taft Shedron "Taffy" Wright
Calvin Coolidge (Cal) Ermer
Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma (Cal) McLish*
Truman Eugene "Tex" Clevenger
John Truman Wasdin
A Charlie Eisenhower played for the Laredo Broncos of the independent United League in 2006.
Douglas Reagan Ault
Art Wilson and Gary Carter deserve mention as being active in the Majors for the entire term of the presidents who share their surnames. Others active for a portion of "their" presidents' tenures include: Chief Wilson, Fin Wilson, John Wilson, Mutt Wilson, Squanto Wilson, 1914 Tom Wilson, John Edward Kennedy, Dan Ford, David and Homer Bush (George W. Bush) and Randy Bush (George H.W. Bush).
Saturday, February 13, 2010
The still image above is from a British tourism film about New York City in 1963. Along with scenes from Idlewild (pre-JFK) Airport, Chinatown and the downtown skyline is a segment on Yankee Stadium. The footage was taken on July 25, 1963, which was the only home game against the Angels that year started by left-hander Al Downing. The announced attendance was 15,716, but it appears the actual figure was a bit less. There's also a segment near the end about the construction of the World's Fair attractions -- including the Unisphere -- for the 1964-65 exposition. (Thanks to Uniwatch for pointing out this video.)
LITTLE OLD NEW YORK
Friday, February 12, 2010
This week's slideshow is another set taken before I got my first SLR (and, therefore, first telephoto lens), so the photos tend to be more of the wide-view variety. I cropped closer where I could, but for the most part, the view is what I saw 18 years ago.
A few highlights about this game. On a personal level, it was my first field-level game at Shea Stadium. We got a thrill out of being so close to the field, particularly during pregame warmups, when the players were so close. This collection of images also includes some personal favorites in terms of players: Howard Johnson, Gregg Jefferies and Todd Hundley. I also like how you can see the blue-and-orange racing stripe down the side of the uniforms, even at a distance. And one photo that's a particular favorite -- and I nealy used for the image at the top -- shows the outfield wall in left-center, with the old logos of the National League teams along the blue background. Those were so much more attractive to me than advertisements, which I prefer for the minor leagues, not the Majors.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Anyway, Ted Berg's thoughts about the Mets' offseason prompted me to comment (along with 56 other comments, if not commenters, to that point), but as I thought more about it, I thought I'd elaborate (beginning with what I wrote over there).
With all the doom-and-gloom discussion of this offseason (and I've been there myself), Berg's thoughts needed to be said. Thanks for that. At this point, with Spring Training about to start, I feel the need to step back and not worry about what could have or should have been done (though, to me, the biggest mistake was not bringing in a whole new medical staff), and instead let this team get through the spring and start the season. What they have now is not that much different from 2008, when they went down to the last day of the season in the race. Of the changes between then and now, most of them are upgrades: Jason Bay is an improvement over Moises Alou & The Replacements, Jeff Francoeur is better than Ryan Church and K-Rod tops the Bullpen by Kablooey (trademark pending) that was the undoing in '08.
I think the 2010 Mets will fall somewhere between disaster (2009's 70 wins) and excellence (2006's 97 wins). With their luck, it will probably be heartbreak (2007-08's average 88.5 wins). And there's a lot that can happen between now and October 3, not just for the Mets (good or bad), but four other teams in the NL East and 15 others in the National League. Who knows -- maybe we're in for a surprise, a team no one thought much of that gets every thing it needs from each component to put together a season it has no business having.
Dare to dream.
Willie Mays is making the rounds in New York this week -- he's even on The Daily Show tonight -- to promote a new biography, the first that he has authorized. Last night's sit-down with Bob Costas on "Studio 42" was a joy to watch for someone who wasn't born until after Willie ended his career with the Mets in 1973.
I'll update this post tonight with the Daily Show clip -- if Willie's able to get there in all this snow. And though I have dozens of unread books around the house, someday I may have to get the Harry Potter-sized bio that has prompted this look back at Willie's career.
After one round of shoveling, the snow's still coming down here in New Jersey and the sidewalks and steps are again beneath a few inches. The plows haven't been back in hours, but at this point I may just wait for the morning, when it's all finished. At least I won't have to shovel all 12 inches at once.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
You'll find a couple of pictures of Babe Ruth on the mound for the Red Sox, Ty Cobb at bat and Honus Wagner near the end. I love the uniform styles, too: the long sleeves, the collars turned up (the fact that there are collars at all!) the high socks and baggy pants. Early-20th-Century fashion is funny.
Sunday, February 07, 2010
Friday, February 05, 2010
I never got to see Comiskey Park before it was replaced by New Comiskey, and I still regret that a bit. But I was just 13 in the summer of 1990, and Chicago is a long way from New Jersey. There was no way to get there on my own, and our family trip that summer was to California, so Dodger Stadium was the ballpark away from home that I got to visit.
But a year later, I did get to see Baltimore's Memorial Stadium in its final year. As with the Rangers-Red Sox game at Fenway in 1993, the foursome of myself, my friend Matt and our fathers made the trip. It was a one-day jaunt down to Baltimore and back, about a 3 1/2-hour drive each way, not counting the time spent sitting without moving in the parking lot after the game. With the stadium jammed into a neighborhood, parking was limited, so cars were just lined up in the lots around the ballpark, as you can see in the photo on this page. We weren't in too deep, but we did have to wait for at least one car to move before we could depart, and the owner of it didn't leave the game as quickly as we did.
Other notable moments from the day: We saw Mo Vaughn's first Major League home run, I was definitely psyched to see Cal Ripken play (you'll notice his batting stance in one of the photos) and Wade Boggs struck out. I found this last one notable because, a week earlier in Boston, I'd seen Don Mattingly strike out, and neither did so all that frequently.
The next year, we went to Camden Yards in its inaugural season, and the differences were immense. Of course, Oriole Park is noted as the beginning of the "retro ballpark" trend, but in addition, it also marked a shift from building stadia on the outskirts of town to finding room in or near the heart of downtown. Or at least more accessible to the city itself and its public transportation. In some ways, it can be seen not only in Baltimore, but San Francisco, San Diego, Cleveland and Houston, just to name four off the top of my head that I've visited. The drive to Memorial Stadium on the city's east side included a civics lesson, while a visit to Oriole Park is as much a tourist destination as the nearby Inner Harbor.
Thursday, February 04, 2010
Anyway, I have three of the next four days off from work, so I hope to catch up on some posts, both timely as the news of the days warrant, and others I've saved drafts of with the intention of filling them out eventually. That list of drafts has gotten a little long for my tastes.
So we'll get to that, soon. For now, MLB.com columnist Mike Bauman seems to have decided that if MLB is going to try to speed up the pace of games from the first pitch to the final out, why not try to pick up the pace on the national anthem, too. Really? That's the column you felt had to be written? I find some anthem singers grating, too, but it's not the cause I'd choose if I had that kind of a platform.