11th and Washington

11th and Washington: October 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Exploding head batter and baserunner

I've been lax with the posts, but I've been simultaneously enthralled with the postseason and uninspired to write about it. I suspect I'll get back to the blogging after the World Series is over.

But for now, here are a few pumpkins my wife and I carved in previous years. I don' think I've posted them here before, so here they are.

(If I remember correctly, the "exploding head" effect of the batter in the above photo was from some animal nomming at the pumpkin before I could take the picture.

Mr. Met pumpkin

Johnny Damon

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Monday, October 11, 2010

A ballpark above Grand Central?

Came across an amusing anecdote in a collection of baseball stories (said to be true stories, pulled from various archives and news reports) first published in ... imagine this ... 1949. It seems that a man named Charles White proposed, back in 1912, of building a field on top of Grand Central Terminal in the heart of Manhattan:

A visionary named Charles White came forward with a scheme in 1912 which would solve one of the major problems confronting the owners of baseball clubs. The owners were often complaining in those days about their inability to construct adequate playing fields owing to the high cost of real estate. Mr. White told them to quit worrying.

He submitted plans for a baseball field of immense proportions, sodded with bright green turf and containing all the other conveniences of an up-to-date ball field. This field, however, would be up in the air -- built over the roof of the new Grand Central Station, extending from Lexington Avenue to Madison Avenue and from Forty-fourth to Fiftieth streets.
First off, that outline is huge. As it stands now, Grand Central is centered on the plot between Lex and Madison and extends from just 42nd to 45th streets. Park Avenue sits between Lex and Madison, then splits (southbound to the west, northbound to the east) around Grand Central, with all the platforms and tracks underground. A ballfield "over the roof" of the terminal wouldn't be like a rooftop garden (the terminal building isn't big enough), but probably more like the proposed West Side stadium that the city hoped to build in the last decade to lure the Olympics and the Jets -- a platform over the underground rail lines. Of course, this was 98 years ago -- who knows what the plans really were.

Not only does White's plan bear a similarity to the proposed West Side stadium, but it have drawn the Yankees down from Harlem (they were tenants of the Giants in the Polo Grounds until 1923)? Even if it had, however, I doubt there's any way the Yankees would still be there. They would've outgrown it by now, probably decades ago, and knowing what the area around the train station looks like now, there would be no room for much in the way of renovations or expansion.

Had they outgrown it in the '50s, might they have moved West and become the San Francisco Yankees? Imagine that: Seven years after Joe DiMaggio's retirement, his one and only team moves to his hometown. Not likely. They'd established such an identity in New York. But if they tried to relocate within New York then, Robert Moses might've forced them to his stadium site in Flushing Meadows that Walter O'Malley had rejected for his Dodgers. Or if the Yankees managed to last in the ballpark atop the terminal until the '70s, when Yankee Stadium was renovated, or '80s, might they then have moved to the West Side or New Jersey? Who knows what course baseball history might've taken had a ballpark been built atop Grand Central.

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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Looking back before moving forward

Ugh. My predictions this year did not turn out well, certainly not nearly as well as Keith Olbermann's. I've nailed some in the past, but this year it just wasn't there for me.

Here's a quick rundown, then a side-by-side comparison of predictions vs. reality.

I had three teams pegged for their places in their respective divisions: the Yankees (second), Angels (third), Nationals (last) and Brewers (third).

I had one team's record spot-on: the Indians (69-93).

I had 11 teams' records within three, either way, of how they ended up. Relatedly, I had 12 records pegged for their corresponding spots in the divisions within two games (I had the the AL East winner at 95-67 and the champs were 96-66) and one, third in the NL West, spot-on (83-79). But I only matched up the teams with those records and places three times (Yankees, Angels, Nationals).

I had the Yankees as the Wild Card and the Braves and Phillies in the playoffs, but three out of eight ain't good.

I didn't trust the hunch I had two years ago when I thought the Reds could surprise in the NL Central.

I put too much believe into the Mariners hype and not enough into the Giants' pitching in what did prove to be a wide-open division.

I was convinced the Pirates could start to move up (not have a winning season, but not finish last) in baseball's weakest division, but instead, Pittsburgh had its worst season in 59 years (42-112 in 1952). Still, I believe they've got a brighter future than the Astros, mainly because they don't have Ed Wade at the helm.

What I said about the divisions that turned out somewhat prophetic:

AL EAST: Predicting these top three is a tossup. It wouldn't surprise me to see any of the three get to the World Series, with two of them facing off in the ALCS to do so. ... AL WEST: Yeah, I'm drinking the Kool-Aid on the Mariners. I can't say I'm too confident in that choice, especially with Cliff Lee off to an inauspicious start in Seattle. I just don't know if the Angels still have the pitching. I do think the Rangers are set to make some more strides this year, but the A's just don't have the offense ... NL EAST: I'm just not sure -- again, like Olbermann -- that Philly will be as fortunate with the injuries. I mean really, did the Mets take their share, plus the Yankees' plus the Phillies' last year? ... My choice of 84 wins for the Mets is down from what I thought at the start of Spring Training, when I was saying about 88 in discussions with friends and colleagues. But after seeing how the Maine-Perez-Pelfrey trio performed in Florida, losing Daniel Murphy (and not taking that opportunity to give Ike Davis a shot) and hearing that Alex Cora and Gary Matthews Jr. will get the Opening Day starts over Ruben Tejada and Angel Pagan, my faith is again shaken. And 84 is still a hopeful pick -- as in hoping the Mets can have one of those inspired spurts after changing managers. ... Florida definitely has some great stars, but who's after Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco? Who's in the bullpen? And it's a bit of a top-heavy lineup. ... Washington will score runs and Stephen Strasburg will draw the fans and live up to the hype, but the back half of the rotation, the bullpen and the defense aren't enough to get them to 75 or 80 wins this year. ... NL CENTRAL: Chicago might be too high, unless Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez improve over last year to make up for the inevitable regression by Derrek Lee. Love the guy, but not sure he can repeat last year. ... Milwaukee brought in Doug Davis for the rotation and last year's Opening Day starter, Jeff Suppan, had a horrible spring and was placed on the DL in favor of ... Manny Parra. ... I can't buy into the Reds because Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo haven't been pitching like front-of-the-rotation pitchers for a couple of years. ... NL WEST: Big fan of the Rockies. I love Troy Tulowitzki and think their pitching is solid and they've got a great collection of young stars to offset Todd Helton's golden years. ... The Giants' big three in the rotation is great, but Jonathan Sanchez needs to put it together and they need to score more runs to win the division. ... As great as Joe Torre is -- and he's probably the perfect manager to guide the team with the off-the-field drama of the McCourts' divorce -- I don't know that he can manage around Manny Ramirez's fade or a depleted pitching staff. This is a team that was one step away from the World Series the past two years, but has only subtracted (at least from 2009 to 2010) and not added the pieces it would need to get past the Phillies. ...Does Adrian Gonzalez finish the season in San Diego, or in October? That is the question.
I left that Gonzalez line in there because he nearly did both.


AL East W L AL East W L
Boston 95 67 Tampa Bay 96 66
New York 93 69 New York 95 67
Tampa Bay 91 71 Boston 89 73
Baltimore 70 92 Toronto 85 77
Toronto 65 97 Baltimore 66 96
AL Central AL Central
Chicago 85 77 Minnesota 94 68
Detroit 83 79 Chicago 88 74
Minnesota 83 79 Detroit 81 81
Kansas City 70 92 Cleveland 69 93
Cleveland 69 93 Kansas City 67 95
AL West AL West
Seattle 86 76 Texas 90 72
Texas 83 79 Oakland 81 81
Anaheim 81 81 Anaheim 80 82
Oakland 80 82 Seattle 61 101
NL East W L NL East W L
Atlanta 90 72 Philadelphia 97 65
Philadelphia 88 74 Atlanta 91 71
New York 84 78 Florida 80 82
Florida 83 79 New York 79 83
Washington 67 95 Washington 69 93
NL Central NL Central
St. Louis 88 74 Cincinnati 91 71
Chicago 84 78 St. Louis 86 76
Milwaukee 84 78 Milwaukee 77 85
Cincinnati 80 82 Houston 76 86
Pittsburgh 74 88 Chicago 75 87
Houston 65 97 Pittsburgh 57 105
NL West NL West
Colorado 87 75 San Francisco 92 70
San Francisco 84 78 San Diego 90 72
Los Angeles 83 79 Colorado 83 79
Arizona 78 84 Los Angeles 80 82
San Diego 77 85 Arizona 65 97

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