Tag Archives: Chicago White Sox

The Mets honor Mariano, and then defeat him

The New York radio airwaves are abuzz over how the Mets did the improbable last night and scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning off Mariano Rivera to beat the Yankees 2-1.
It was a stunning victory — the second in as many nights at Citi Field — and even more amazin’ because the Metropolitans had honored Rivera at the start of the game and had him throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

While Rivera is unquestionably worthy of all laurels, I found the Mets’ decision to honor him during the Subway Series a curious one.

Rivera is a New York sports icon, but he’s a Yankee. He wears pinstripes. Always has. He has a fistful of World Series rings. He’s the anti-Met.

Would something like this happen elsewhere? I can’t see the Cubs or White Sox honoring anyone from the other Chicago nine, and the Dodgers would never be in the business of honoring Angles (or Giants!).

The Mets’ brass evidently decided honoring Rivera would be a classy move. But that’s where the class ended.

Jeff Wilpon, the Mets’ chief operating officer, told Rivera before the game that he didn’t expect the Mets to make the World Series this year. I don’t care what your team’s record is. You don’t publicly announce that you don’t expect your team to fail, certainly not this early in the season.

Maybe Wilpon was trying to mess with Rivera’s head, to distract him with an honor so that the Mets would force him to blow a save. That, however, would require a bit of baseball acumen at a level totally lacking from Mets leadership the last decade or two.

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Pass the hotdogs — and my change

It’s impossible to discuss the economics of Major League Baseball without discussing the “major market” and “small market” divide so eloquently illustrated in the movie “Moneyball.” Yet even the smallest of markets today is exponentially larger than the hundreds of small towns where baseball developed in its early decades.

A nice perspective on baseball’s rural roots can be found in this short podcast featuring David Vaught of Texas A&M. He makes an arresting point right from the start: baseball fans hesitate not a moment to send a $20 bill down the line to a hotdog vendor, and there’s never any doubt that the proper change will work its way back to the purchaser.

Would that happen on the streets of the Bronx outside Yankee Stadium or outside U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago? Not likely. But inside, it’s a safe environment, physically and psychologically. May it stay that way forever.

Baltimore-Washington wins the 2012 Major League Baseball metro-area title

Which metro area had the most successful baseball season? After listening to the Athletics overtake the Rangers on my way home from work last evening, I was all set to declare the Bay Area the cross-league, total victory champions.

But then I remembered that Baltimore-Washington is eligible, and a check of the standings this morning shows the Orioles and Nationals with a combined 191 victories. That’s three better than the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s at 188.

Third place goes to Los Angeles, with the Angels and Dodgers piling up 175 wins. The New York metropolitan area checks in at fourth with 169 wins for the Yankees and Mets. And in fifth, the White Sox and the wretched Cubs trailed with a mere 146 victories, well below the .500 mark of 162.

Does anyone else on the planet care about this matter? I doubt it.

What people do care about is predictions on who will meet in the World Series.

I’d love to see an all orange and black series with the Orioles facing the Giants, and another Bay Bridge series between the Giants and A’s would be fun.

No team is a lock to make it out of its first round, let alone get to the Series. Acknowledging that the playoffs are all the more so a crap shoot with the new wild card format, I’ll pick the Giants to square off against the Yankees.

Red Sox Nation shows its pride on Massachusetts license plates

Red Sox fans are crazy for their team, and as I traveled New England while on vacation last week I was struck by the number of BoSox specialty Massachusetts license plates I saw. They were a common site on Cape Cod, on Boston area highways, and I even spotted them in New Hampshire and Vermont.

If you live in Massachusetts, the Red Sox plates are a pretty good deal: for $40 you get to display your team pride on your car and contribute to the Red Sox Foundation and the Jimmy Fund.

I’ve seen plenty of college plates around the country, but I was hard pressed to recall any other plates for Major League Baseball teams. I have seen New York Yankees plates vehicles registered in New Jersey, which also lets fans buy New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies plates, although I can’t recall seeing them.

I’m in Philadelphia a fair amount these days, and I’ve never seen a Phillies plate on a Pennsylvania-registered vehicle. If this list from the PA DMV is correct, there are none to be had — and none for the Pittsburgh Pirates, either.

Same story in California: no plates for the local nines in San Diego, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco.

How about in my home state of Ohio? Yes, you can get a Cleveland Indians plate along with plates for the Cincinnati Reds and professional teams of lesser sports like football, hockey and basketball.

Florida enables you to buy plates for the Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins, and in Illinois you can get them for the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox. There was talk last season about Illinois adding St. Louis Cardinals plates, although I can’t find definitive word whether that happened.

You can get a Cards plate in Missouri, although a quick search this morning didn’t show me a Kansas City Royals option.

I could spend all day researching which teams are available where, but I don’t have the time. I’ll close by saying I think these fan plates are a great idea, especially when they raise money to support great causes like the Jimmy Fund.

If you’re a fan of a team not mentioned above and know if you can buy a specialty plate in your state, I’d appreciate it if you’d note it in a comment below.

The stars (of baseball) in the sky

One of the pleasures of winter is a crystal clear sky revealing the sparkling stars in all their glory. On a walk this evening, I got to thinking how cool it would be to reconfigure the sky with baseball constellations.

Citing their heroes and legends, the ancient Greeks affixed names to the many patterns in the sky: Pegasus, the winged horse, Cassiopeia, the queen of unrivaled beauty, and Taurus the bull, to name a few.

Good for the Greeks. But just because they came up with the idea doesn’t mean we have to stick with what they gave us. If we can rename Enron Field after a brand of orange juice, who’s to say we can’t rename a few points of light over our heads?

The Sultan of Swat calls his shot - in the sky

If it were up to me, I’d place Babe Ruth first in the heavens. I’d put him where Orion is tonight, commanding the center of the sky. He’d be at the plate, pointing his bat toward the center field, calling his shot.

Spikes flashing, Ty Cobb would come tearing at crooked angle into the North Star. I’d figure out a way to extend the Gemini to represent Tinker, Evers and Chance

I’d look low on the horizon near Draco for Shoeless Joe Jackson, dispatched to the edges of baseball’s universe after the Black Sox scandal.

The Pleiades – the Seven Sisters to the Greeks and one of the smallest but most distinctive sights in the sky – would become the diminutive pinch hitter Eddie Gaedel.

Willie Mays would be out there deep, cap flying as he hauls in an impossibly long drive toward Alpha Centauri off the bat of Vic Wertz. (You didn’t expect me not to memorialize one of the Indians’ most painful memories, did you?)

This post could be a mere flight of fancy, or maybe it’s a sign that I truly need help. Regardless, the approach of each baseball season gives us the freedom to dream and to imagine all the good the year can bring. I’ll be looking to the stars again in 2012, and not just for the fantasy draft.

A tip of the cap to Tony La Russa

We tip our cap to Tony La Russa, who announced today that he’s retiring after 33 years as a big-league manager. With the White Sox, Athletics and the Cardinals, he had an uncanny knack for taking the talent he had and getting them far into the playoffs.

Good for him, going out on top after the Cardinals’ World Series victory.

MLB.com has a good video retrospective on La Russa at this link.

Salary cap for baseball? It’s not the American way

FOX Sports ran a commercial today during the Cardinals-Phillies game on TBS that got under my skin in a bad, bad way. It was a misty-eyed paean to the Yankees, with lots of images of Derek Jeter and Reggie Jackson  implying that the Bronx Bombers own October.

I hate that.

Let me say that again: I HATE that.

The Yankees are the big, bad franchise that rules baseball — except that it doesn’t. Their unassailable lead in World Series titles notwithstanding, the Yanks don’t win every year. And that’s great.

Baseball doesn’t have a salary cap as the NFL does, and the parity fans out there love to crow about how just about any team can rise up and win the Super Bowl.

But that’s not the American way, is it? In our capitalist culture, there are winners and losers. He who accumulates the most money wins – most of the time, anyway.

Baseball is America’s pastime, the national game, reflecting who we are better than any sport.

So let the Yankees spend and spend and spend. Let’s celebrate their victories.

And let’s celebrate a little more whenever the Phillies or the Mets or the Tigers or the White Sox or the Cardinals or any other team rises up and triumphs.

It’s the American way.