Tag Archives: sports

This year’s spring training caps are hideous

Let me repeat that headline: This year’s spring training baseball caps are hideous.

As my long blogging layoff will attest, I’ve paid little heed to the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues these past few weeks. So what I saw on a television set in a neighborhood shop a short while ago hit me harder than it might have otherwise. On the tube was a Tigers-Mets game. When I saw the Mets’ caps, I blanched.

From a distance, they look like something for a beer league softball team. On closer inspection, there’s Mr. Met running the bases — in the wrong direction. (Yeah, it’s the Mets, so why should I be surprised?)

I was vaguely aware of the unveiling of these new cap models when they were announced a couple of months back but I didn’t pay attention. After doing a Google search for images of the new caps, I wish I’d skipped the spring altogether.

The white-billed Yankees’ caps may be the worst of the lot. Or maybe it’s the egg-splatter Tampa Bay Rays model. All in all, these caps look like they belong on sale by street vendors in the seedier sections of any number of Rust Belt cities.

I started this blog based on my love of baseball caps, but I have standards. Most of these spring training caps are devoid of artistic merit and devalue the brands of the teams they represent. The teams see this merchandising as a profit center, which is why there’s a continuous stream of new models.

Sorry, MLB. I ain’t buying.

 

 

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Old-school baseball: How I learned to catch with a flat mitt

My education in baseball was old-school, beginning with my father tossing the ball back and forth to me in our back yard. I had one tool for the job, and that was my mitt. And it was flat.

Odd as it may seem, in late 1950s and early 1960s America, I was a kid using a pancake-flat baseball mitt. It was just like the ones you see in old photos that hang off the belts of guys like ¬†Frank “Home Run” Baker and other stars of the early 20th century.

Pictured here is my Woodie Held signature glove, Wilson Fieldmaster model No. A 2984. The ball is nestled in the “Grip-Tite Pocket,” and the back of the mitt notes that it’s nylon-stitched and “Made in the USA.”

I figure Mom and Dad bought the mitt for me somewhere between 1960 and 1962. I still have its predecessor – a Franklin leather mitt that’s also as flat as home plate. In fact, we occasionally used that mitt as home plate or a base in pickup games.

My father had a borderline obsessive fear of fire, and he drilled my brothers and me on exactly what procedures we should follow should the house ever catch fire. I never said it aloud, but if the house ever did go up in smoke, the first thing I was going to grab on the way out was my trusty Woodie Held Fieldmaster.

Most if not all of the other kids in the neighborhood had modern-style hinged mitts, which snap shut as the ball hits the hand. I remember taking some sandlot ribbing over my old-style glove, and at night I’d sometimes put a ball in the pocket and wrap string or rubber bands around the mitt to try to shape it like those the other kids had.

It was not to be, and that was my good fortune.

With a flat mitt, I made sure to catch with both hands whenever possible. And as the aspiring shortstop of the future for the Cleveland Indians, I got the best jump I could on any grounder hit my way so I’d be in the best position to field it. If the ball hit the leather, there was an excellent chance I’d make the play.

Those fundamentals, reinforced by my dad’s coaching and encouragement, gave me a foundation in fielding that carried me through many years of play.

And if my house catches fire, I know exactly how to get out — after I grab my mitt.

 

I will not comment upon the “Tebowing” phenomenon

But I will provide a link to a fine column in today’s Sacramento Bee by Bill Endicott.

 

 

Sacramento NBC affiliate gets a tin medal for delaying opening Olympics ceremony

With the Winter Olympics taking place in Pacific time, we residents of the West Coast could at last look forward to television coverage in real time. So it was with astonishment and incredulity I learned this evening that the Sacramento NBC affiliate, KCRA TV, would delay broadcasting the opening ceremonies from Vancouver.

I left work around 6 p.m. and phoned one of my brothers who lives in Eastern time. He couldn’t be disturbed as he had settled in to watch the ceremony, which was about to begin. Once I got home I started checking Twitter and began reading comments about what people were seeing.

But on Channel 3 from Sacramento, we were stuck with the usual nightly newscast followed – unspeakably – at 7 p.m. by an inane live broadcast from Squaw Valley where the games had been held 50 years before. The station kept running ads over and over about how the ceremony would begin at 7:30 p.m. Pacific time — an outright lie. But that’s when KCRA decided to begin the broadcast.

In a huff, I fired off a number of tweets and let my displeasure be known on my Facebook status. I called the station and left a message of complaint. Finally, around 8 o’clock, I switched on KCRA to watch the ceremony.

What did I get?

Bob Costas and Matt Lauer prattling on about how magnificent the Beijing opening ceremony was two years ago, and somebody interviewing American snowboarder Shaun White. Then I learned that in “about half an hour” the athletes would be coming in to B.C. Place for the ceremony.

As we used to say in New Jersey, un-frickin’-believable.

In a world in which millions of people are connected instantaneously by live chat, by streaming video, by intercontinental telephone service, it is unconscionable for a network affiliate to delay a broadcast — especially when it’s happening in the same time zone.

Let’s keep the stinky socks off the cap, please

Red Sox alternate capThe Boston Red Sox have revealed new alternate uniforms and, alas, the dreadful “hanging socks” cap at left. Methinks the Beaneaters should stick with the standard “B” that has served the franchise so well over the years. I suppose it’s OK for fans to wear the socks lid — after all, you can’t have too many baseball caps. But I pray fervently that the team never takes the field wearing this cap, either on the road or, heaven forbid, at Fenway Park.