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Achieve your dream: Fly to all 30 MLB ballparks

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Is there a baseball fan alive who doesn’t want to visit all 30 Major League ballparks? I doubt it.

This morning I read in The New York Times about Hopper, an intriguing new site that allows travelers to research optimum times to fly from Point A to Point B (and Point C, and Point D, etc.). Read the Times story for the details and caveats, but go straight to the Hopper research page
to learn how you can fly to all 30 MLB cities for a lot less than I imagined.

Hopper lets you plug in the airport of your choice and determines the cheapest or shortest route from there. I chose Philadelphia International and was surprised to learn that, in theory anyway, I could fly the route on the map above for $2,471.

Meshing all those discounted flights with the MLB schedule would be a colossal challenge. But it’s fun to dream.

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From the mouths of babes: My daddy is going to be an Inidan

From the mouths of babes: My daddy is going to be an Inidan

There’s a delightful story this morning off the AP wire about how the 5-year-old daughter of David Murphy spilled the beans on her father signing with the Cleveland Indians. According to the story, Indians General Manager Chris Antonelli relates how little Faith Murphy was at day care in Texas learning about Thanksgiving. The talk turned to pilgrims and Indians, and that’s when the girl informed people, “My daddy is going to be an Indian.”

Link

Reblog: On Baseball Gloves, and Girls

Reblog: On Baseball Gloves, and Girls

This morning I am compelled to share from The On Deck Circle this post, which is required reading for any American male who loves baseball and whose attention was diverted during his teenage years by girls.

Cardinals and Red Sox in a World Series rematch

Ever since the Indians got knocked out (not to mention the Giants failing to make the playoffs altogether), I have sulked and turned my back on the baseball postseason. Oh, I caught a half inning here of the NLDS, a few outs there of the ALCS. Most mornings I woke up to check for the score of whatever game stretched well past bedtime with incessant late-inning pitching changes.

I tuned out nearly completely.

But the imminent arrival of the Red Sox and Cardinals facing off in the World Series will bring me back, not only to see two fine teams compete but also because of the memories this matchup will stir.

For this 50-something baseball fan, the 1967 series between Boston and St. Louis is usually what comes to mind when I think “World Series.”  (Yes, even ahead of the Amazin’ Mets in 1969 and the Giants finally prevailing in 2010.) I was 11 years old back then, in sixth grade and at the height of my boyhood baseball card collecting.

And, with apologies to the good sisters who taught me at St. Margaret Mary elementary school, Bob Gibson was God. Gibby was seemingly invincible on the mound, and I hung on every pitch appearing in grainy black and white on the Zenith TV in our dining room for whatever innings I could catch after dashing home from school.

A decade later as a college student, I’d visit the home of my roommate in Lowell, Mass., where we’d often find his father in the basement, playing a Red Sox ’67 highlights record album over and over. Even though Boston lost in seven games, for him it was worth reliving that season if only to know how close the Sox had come to ending the Curse of the Bambino.

A World Series is no longer a novelty for modern-day Red Sox fans, nor for a long time has it been for Cardinals fans. I will be tuning in, waiting for Gibson and Yaz and Jim Longborg and Curt Flood and all the others to come walking out of the long shadows.

I’m hoping for a classic.

 

 

 

Indians fans: It is our lot in life to suffer

This blog has been silent through the September wild card chases, and it took the Indians’ disheartening performance last night to stir me to write again.

Although their pitching ranged from acceptable to excellent, the Indians failed utterly at the plate. I credit a gutty performance by the Rays’ starter for much of that, but the Tribe’s inability to drive in runs was largely their own doing.

The worst was Nick Swisher striking out late in the game with two men on and a great chance to score. Swisher took three vicious, aim-for-Lake-Erie cuts. The first? OK. Why not take a chance. But the second and third roundhouse swings were inexcusable when solid contact putting the ball in play would have brought something good. Every kid in Cleveland who ever played sandlot ball knows that. But Buckeye native Swisher evidently forgot. The Indians’ hopes for a comeback evaporated as he headed back to the bench.

The one-game wild card playoff is just another tease to lure Indians’ fans into another round of false hope. I imagine in a year or two, Major League Baseball will, in an effort to squeeze out even more TV revenue, propose another pre-qualifying round of playoffs, maybe with five-inning games, all to tantalize and taunt Cleveland fans (increasingly few who remain alive or in memory of the last champions from 1948). For 2013, we’re stuck with the memory of watching the Rays — an expansion team that plays in a dome — celebrate at Jacobs Field while our guys sat glumly in the dugout.

Realistically, the Indians were lucky even to get a shot in the post-season, which lasted a measly three-plus hours. During the season, they beat up on the weaklings (many in their own hapless AL Central Division) and struggled against the elite teams, most shamefully against Detroit.

No, this was not a championship-caliber team, and we Tribe fans will endure another gray winter needled by a bitter wind off Lake Erie, waiting for a new season to begin. On this sad, predictable morning, it’s tough to find hope amid the pain.

Top National League rookies, relief pitchers of 2012

Here’s are my picks for the top rookies and relief pitchers of the National League for 2012. This post serves as a ballot for my votes in the Baseball Bloggers Alliance annual Willie Mays and Goose Gossage awards, respectively.

Note that I am posting a National League ballot only, as that is the league which I follow more closely.

Willie Mays Award

1. Bryce Harper

2. Wilin Rosario

3. Todd Frazier

Goose Gossage Award

1. Craig Kimbrel

2. Jason Motte

3. Aroldis Chapman

A tip of the cap to the inventor of the electric football game

Sad news today from The New York Times for those of us sports fans of a certain generation: Norman Sas, inventor of the electric tabletop football game, has died at age 87.

To my computer-gaming kids, the old Tudor electric football game must seem hilariously primitive. I only wish I still had my father’s mid-50s vintage version of the game to show them.

Dad’s version had simple, identical player forms affixed to aluminum platform with a metal sheet underneath that could be bent to give each figure a vague sense of direction when the field vibrated. The figures of each of the two teams were identical except for their colors (either blue and silver, or gray and silver; I can’t quite recall). There was a separate kicker with a spring-loaded launcher.

The football was a fuzzy white thing that looked suspiciously like the cotton end of a Q-Tip. The more I think of it, it probably was a snipped off Q-Tip end that we used, likely because the original ball was lost.

In later years, the Tudor games were gussied up and figures had poses appropriate for their positions: lineman were shaped to block, running backs looked like they were carrying the ball, and so forth. Eventually the figures were painted in team colors.

In the mid- to late 60s, I had a Tudor baseball game, and somewhere in a box I still have the figures that slid into slots at positions around the field.

The Tudor games were the height of realism in childhood game play half a century ago, and how we kids wished games could be developed that would simulate the real actions of players the way video games do today.

I’m astonished by the realism of sports video games, but curiously I have not gotten hooked (a year or two of EA Sports’ NHL Hockey notwithstanding).

Thank you, Norman Sas, for all the fun.