Archive for July, 2009|Monthly archive page

Video replay in baseball

In Uncategorized on July 5, 2009 at 5:24 pm

A couple of nights ago there was a 10 minute delay in the Giants Astros game while the umpires reviewed a video tape replay of a Travis Ishikawa home run. Was it or wasn’t it ? Well it turns out it was (a home run, that is) and after 10 minutes standing at second base, Ishikawa was allowed to finish his home run trot. I could have done the dishes in all that time.

The use of replay in baseball is going to ruin the game. It is only a matter of time before cameras replace umpires. I mean you can already see this coming with “pitch tracker”  or ” K-Zone”  devices  that plot the strike zone for the TV audience so that broadcasters and fans can determine if a called strike was really a strike. Pitch tracker is so much more accurate than the flesh and blood home plate ump that it is a wonder MLB has not already made home plate umpires redundant.  My prediction  is that this will happen soon.

Of course this would be unfortunate and very much against the tradition of the game, where umpires have been a very necessary and beloved object of scorn. Can you imagine going to the ballpark and not being able to boo an ump for a blown call  ?  That is part of the fun of going. When a manager argues with an umpire it makes for some very colorful on the field theatre.  That is why we remember guys like Billy Martin and Earl Weaver. Baseball without umpires would be like Leave it to Beaver without Eddie Haskell.

It will be a sad day when the game is called by machines.  But under the rubric of progress that day will certainly come.  They might even say  ” can you believe that they used to have a guy standing behind the plate calling balls and strikes…”

Geez..Mrs. Cleaver…


Not feeling so patriotic today

In Pet Peeves, Satire, Traditions, Trivia and Nostalgia, Uncategorized on July 4, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Wasn’t planning on writing anything today. It is after all The Fourth of July. But then I tuned into Fox’s Game of the Week ( Dodgers-Padres) and found that their coverage of Manny Ramirez’s return to the Dodgers lineup warranted an entry.

It is as if Fox and MLB were celebrating Ramirez’s return. There was Manny all primped up in a pre-game press conference saying how nice it was to be back. No mention anywhere about why Manny had been out of the lineup. When Manny came up for his first at bat, Dick Stockton and Eric Karros fawned on him – again no mention really of why he had not been in the lineup for two months.  I could read the lips of one girl in the stands who was yelling “come on Manny,”  perhaps unaware that Manny had been suspended 50 games for drug use ( it being more likely that she knew but just didn’t care). When Manny hit a HR Stockton’s, call betrayed nothing but unbridled  joy while Karros added how incredible it was that Manny can return to the lineup and be back in top form so quickly.  All the while the fans cheered ( even though this game was being played in San Diego) adding to this sick feeding frenzy.

You wonder what kind of message this sends to people, particularly to young kids or to players at the lower levels of professional baseball who are trying to crack ( no pun intended, Manny ) a major league lineup ? The message I think it sends is that, hey, it is OK to cheat.  If you are good enough people don’t really care how you get there and they will still cheer for you. This is America.

A final irony. As were all the players on the field today, Manny wore a patch commeratiing the 70th anniversary of Lou Gehrigs famous Fourth of July speech at Yankee Stadium. This juxtapositon of class and no class was so funny that I could not help but chuckle before getting up to turn off the TV. I had had enough.

Happy 4th of July.

Red baseball caps ?

In Pet Peeves, Satire, Traditions, Uncategorized on July 3, 2009 at 9:45 pm

There is nothing I love more than plopping down on the couch on Friday evening and watching a ballgame. After dinner tonight I turned on Giants-Astros game, Lowenbrau in hand ( a beer actually brewed in Germany, not one that  says “Imported” and is, in fact, brewed in Canada.  Read the labels carefully and you will see what I mean ) and just about had a cardiac when the Giants took the field wearing red caps !  So confused was I that it took me a few batters to figure out that the Giants were wearing these hats in observance of the 4th of July ( even though today is not the 4th of July but the 3rd, obviously what threw me off  in the first place)

Even my wife was confused when she walked into the room and glanced at the TV screen. Seeing the red hats, she asked me ” weren’t you watching the Giants game ?” I replied that I was and that the Giants were wearing red hats in observance of Independence Day, to which she shook her head and walked away.

The Giants franchise dates back to the 1880s and the teams have always worn either blue and orange ( occasionally in Mel Ott’s day) or black and orange from the early 1950s.  In short, the Giants have no business in red ! In fact, the only teams that should wear red caps are the Reds, the Phillies, the Cards and maybe a couple of other teams.

When I switched over to ESPN during a commerical I saw that other teams were wearing the  caps as well.  Giants Broadcaster Duane Kuiper mentioned that teams were wearing the red caps this weekend as a show of support for the Armed Forces.  But I suspect this is nothing more than marketing behind a veil of patriotism.  The cap is one more product – among a dizzying array of cheap memorabilia, tacky replica jerseys and chatchkis- that MLB can market to a growing fan base  ignorant about the history of the game. Sure enough when I went to the MLB website this morning, there they were, the “Stars and Stripes Perfomance on the field hats.”  If you want one it will only cost you $ 36.99.

Because this is America.

ATT Park seagulls: A case study

In Satire on July 1, 2009 at 8:33 am


We had noticed an escalation of Seagulls at SF Giants games through the first third of the 2009 season. Under normal conditions, as patrons leave the ballpark gulls will come into feed on the unfinished food and debris. This season however there seemed to be more gulls than usual and we had also identified the presence of a “Recon Gull, ” a lone gull that would appear in the stadium several innings before the  flock.  The “Recon Gull” we identified as a Red-Legged Kittewake ( Rissa Breverostis) , a species more known for its large eyes and keen night vision than scavenging.

In order to gain an understanding of this phenomenon and to establish a possible link between gull feeding habits and the SF Giants 2009 rotation we conducted a field study over 10 games. As most bird migration occurs at night (Wilzack 1995) our field study took place over 8 night games and 2 day games. We measured wind speed using current algorithms and have assigned a tolerance of – 2 for large bird clusters per starter. This methodology is consistent with Obannon (1972).

Based on our observations we were able to establish a clear link between Giants starting pitcher and gull populations inside ATT Park. We also noted the presence of  several “Recon Gulls” as early as the first innings when Barry Zito was on the mound. This is unusual because not more than one “Recon Gull” was observed when the other Giants hurlers were on the mound. We hypothesize, therefore, that of the 3-4 “Recon Gulls”   observed when Zito was on the mound, only one was a true “Recon Gull” the others  most likely being Ring Billed Gulls ( Larus Delawarensis ) a species that is omnivorous and will scavenge on anything. For the complete findings please click on graph.