Tuesday, February 17, 2009

25 Random Baseball Things

Because Shyster said we should. And that's all reason I needed.

1. I've attended games at the following parks: Municipal Stadium; Kaufman Stadium; Busch Stadium (old); Busch Stadium (new); Fulton Country Stadium; Turner Field; Camden Yards; Veteran's Stadium; RFK Stadium; The Ballpark in Arlington; Coors Field; Jack Murphy Stadium; Dodgers Stadium; Anaheim Stadium (or whatever the hell its called today); Safeco Field. The best bar none, is still Kaufman Stadium. I know I'm a little biased, but it's true. Safeco Field is the 2nd.

2. The best baseball experience I've ever had was working security for the Mariners. I got to be at the park every day, watch the games, and get paid for it. I didn't meet a lot of the players, but I was behind the scenes and loved it. I've been on a a major league field, and was at field level during a game. Until you've done it, you can't understand it.

3. I've only been to one minor league game, in Tuscon, and I regret not going more. But in the times and places I was near enough to a team, no one ever wanted to go. I should have went, even if I had to go by myself.

4. The first game I was ever at was in May 14th, 1972, at old Municipal Stadium in Kansas City. It was doubleheader against the Tigers. The Royals split, and I saw Al Kaline play. He was the first Hall of Famer I ever saw, even if I didn't know it at the time.

5. Frank White is my favorite player of all time. He was a sprinter, who went to Ewing Kaufman's Baseball Academy, and become a perennial All-Star and World Series hero. He didn't have the greatest baseball talent in the world, but through hard work, he succeeded and become a good player. You have to admire that.

6. While Safeco is one of the best parks I've ever been to, the fans are the worst. They are complete jerks and assholes. The fans in Philadelphia aren't great, but we expect that. I love the park, and the city, but the fans are terrible in Seattle.

7. The best fans I've ever seen are in St Louis. They're good in Kansas City, but St Louis is better.

8. My father grew up as a fan of the Browns, but followed the Cardinals also. Because of that, and growing up in Kansas City, I'm a Royals fan first and foremost, but still follow the Cardinals. I don't believe in the "second-most favorite team", like I'm a Pirates fan, but I like the Brewers also. Doesn't make sense. I've lived in lots of cities with major league teams, but you have to choose. No jumping back and forth. However, growing in Missouri is one of the few cases where you can actually be a fan of two different teams. Sorry, that's the way it is. Deal with it.

9. These things I know:
Frank White was the best fielding secondbasemen of all time.
George Brett was the best hitter of his generation.
Amos Otis was the smoothest outfielder I've ever seen.
Willie Wilson was the fastest that's ever played the game.
Dennis Leonard would have been a Hall of Famer.
Dan Quisenberry is.
Hal McRae played the game with more passion than anyone I ever saw.
Whitey Herzog was that good of a manager.

10. I've always wanted to be a major leaguer, but wasn't really good enough to play Little League. I had a severe eye injury when I was 3 years old (from a baseball, how's that for irony) and it screwed up my depth perception. I was always an inch or two off, so I couldn't field and I couldn't hit. I could throw hard, but had no control, so I couldn't pitch.

11. I know a lot about the game. The history, the stats, the strategy, etc. I firmly believe that there might only be a dozen people who know as much about the combined aspects of the game as I do. Yeah, that's a little arrogant, but I don't care. I know I could successfully manage or GM a team to a World Series championship.

12. Jay Buhner and his wife are the nicest people you could ever meet in the world, Alex Rodriguez knows he Alex Rodriguez, and Larry Bowa looks pissed off before the game, during the game, and after the game. However, I don't care a hoot about the players as people. They are ballplayers, and that's what I want out of them. Effort on the field. I don't care if they are alcoholics who sit at the bar every night, chasing 18 year old girls, and I don't care if they go to church 47 times a week and give all their money to charity. What they do in their personal life is none of my business and I don't want to read about it or see it on TV. The only thing I need to judge them on is how they play the game.

13. I think we need more people like Bob Uecker, who understands that is it a game; Jack Buck is the standard by which all broadcasters should judge themselves (2nd place to Vin Scully); and Denny Matthews and Fred White were a part of my childhood I'll never forget. If you never got the chance to listen to them on a summer's night in Missouri, back in the 70's, before cable television and the internet, then you truly missed something. They could tell you more about what was happening than any computer graphic or sabermetric formula ever invented.

14. The greatest moment in the history of baseball was the top of the ninth, two out, in Game 7 of the 1985 World Series. We were a flyball away from winning it all, after all those years. Strangely, I didn't want the game to end. As much as I wanted to celebrate, I wanted that moment to last longer than it did.

15. The worst moment in the history of baseball was the bottom of the ninth, at Yankee Stadium, in Game 5 of the 1976 ALCS. Chris Chambliss can still kiss my ass.

16. The Dodger Dog is nothing special. If you want ballpark food, what you need is Boog's BBQ in Baltimore; the clam chowder in Seattle; the beer in St Louis; and anything at Coors Field, sitting a mile up and looking out at the Rockies.

17. I will attend a game (or games in Chicago, New York, etc) in every major league city before I die, and spend an entire week at Cooperstown.

18. I think I've seen the following Hall of Famers in person (yeah, I had to look up some of them):
Hank Aaron
Luis Aparacio
Wade Boggs
Orlando Cepeda
Dennis Eckersley
Rollie Fingers
Catfish Hunter
Phil Niekro
Jim Palmer
Tony Perez
(I'm sure there others)

19. I know I've seen the following Hall of Famers in person:
George Brett
Lou Brock
Carlton Fisk
Rich Gossage
Tony Gwynn
Reggie JAckson
Feguson Jenkins
Harmon Killebrew
Al Kaline
Paul Molitor
Eddie Murray
Gaylord Perry
Kirby Puckett
Cal Ripken
Brooks Robinson
Frank Robinson
Nolan Ryan
Jim Rice
Dave Winfield
Carl Yaztremski
Robin Yount
Rod Carew

20. These are the guys I've seen that will make it:
Mike Piazza
Jeff Bagwell
Craig Biggio
Mark McGwire

21. I used to collect baseball cards like crazy, until it was ruined by being commercialized. It lost all its luster for me. But in spite of my mother throwing away hundreds of cards, I still have several thousand, dating back to the year I was born. I will always keep them, but would sell one if it had any real kind of value. (I need the money) In place of baseball cards, I read (collect?) any and all baseball books I can find. And they're all in storage right now.

22. Baseball places I want to go to that I haven't been to yet:
Wrigley Field
Fenway Park
Dyersville, Iowa (Field of Dreams, but you should know that already)
Havana (wouldn't it be great to have a team there)

23. Things I would change about the game, if I were in charge (be glad I'm not):
No DH - everyone hits
No interleague play - that's what the World Series is for
No domes - retractable roofs are okay
No artificial turf - if a horse can't eat it.....
Expand by two teams (4 divisions per league, one winner of each, no wild card - but no one makes the playoffs with a record below .500)
Reconstitute the league offices and make it two separate leagues, not what it is now

24. Fantasy baseball is an abomination, and should be outlawed. It is for geeks and dweebs who don't really know anything about the game at all. They should step away from the computer and go outside and play. That being said, I'll probably end up in a league this year, so I'm a hypocrite. Bite me.

25. I used to read every box score, every day, and anything I could now. At one time, years ago, I could tell you the entire 25 man roster for each team, their lineup, and the top prospects. Now I'm not even sure who half the players are anymore. It's not that I care any less, but working full time didn't allow me the time to be as involved as I once was. Maybe this year I'll get back into it.

This was harder than I thought. I was struggling to get to 20, then when I got there, I had a dozen more. But these are the first 25 I though of, so I'm sticking with them. I could expand on each of them more, probably a lot more, but I'll leave it at this for now.

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