Tag Archives: winter

Fixing the date for the annual Baseball Solstice: Dec. 29, 2013

The World Series is behind us, at least some of the Red Sox are shaving off their beards and baseball fans the world over are gathering scraps to light the fire for the Hot Stove League. It’s a time for reflecting on the season past and recognizing that we have several fallow months ahead before the games resume in the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues in 2014.

In our annual ritual, the high priests of baseball here at the Ball Caps Blog and Countdown to Spring Training have pointed our Houston Astrolabes to the sky and fixed the date for the annual Baseball Solstice. It will be Dec. 29, the midpoint in the days between the final out of Cardinals-Bosox series and the first exhibition games of Spring Training.

The series ended Oct. 30, and the first exhibition games will be played Feb. 26 by six teams in Florida. (Sorry, Yankees fans. We’re not recognizing the Feb. 25 game against Florida State.)

We encourage all baseball fans to mark the solstice in a meaningful way.

Play a Wiffle ball game in the snow with the kids on the block. Thumb through your old sets of baseball cards. Pick up the phone and call Dad to thank him for insisting you not throw a curve until you were 15. Venture out into the night and look for the Star of Cooperstown.

Whatever you choose, make it a celebration of the One True Game.

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How to observe the Baseball Solstice

Since proposing that fans celebrate the “Baseball Solstice” last week, I’ve received a good amount of feedback and I really appreciate it. The response impels me to keep the idea going by suggesting how baseball fans might observe the solstice, which will be Friday, Dec. 30.

Over the past week I’ve been thinking about the right way to observe the arrival of the mid-point between the end of the 2011 World Series and the first games of Spring Training 2012.

What I propose is for fans to head to the nearest ball diamond, take a photo and share it with other fans. Use Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, PhotoBucket, Instagr.am, email or any other means of your choosing. But share the image, and tag it with “baseball solstice” if tagging is available.

The idea is to capture our fields of dreams in mid-winter, when our longing for the sport intensifies and the hope for a new season passes the halfway mark.

  • Take a photo of the snow-swept diamond at the park where your son will play T-ball come spring.
  • Snap a shot of the high school diamond where your daughter will open the softball season in a few months.
  • Head to the nearest minor league park and capture the desolation of the unattended ticket booths.
  • Drive to the nearest big-league park and fire away as in your head you hear the cheers that will fill the air on Opening Day.

Or maybe even better, point your camera to the yard or street where you first tossed a ball with your father or played Wiffle ball with your friends.

Taking a photo isn’t the only way to celebrate the sport, and if you can’t swing getting a photo, feel free to mark the observance in your own way.

Fixing the date for the Baseball Solstice

Now is the winter of our discontent, baseball fans. The World Series ended on Oct. 28, and nearly two months later I’m really starting to miss the game.

Musing on this long dormant period for the national pastime, I’ve concluded that like our pagan ancestors, we must mark the passage of the seasons. And that means fixing what I’ll call the “baseball solstice,” the mid-point between the end of one season and the beginning of another.

The end of the World Series seems an overwhelmingly logical point to mark the end of a season.

But what constitutes the beginning of a new season? “Opening Day” used to mean the oldest continuously operating professional franchise, the Reds, taking the field in Cincinnati. But Major League Baseball has trampled tradition with early openers in Japan and kooky staggered schedules.

The reporting date in Arizona and Florida for pitchers and catchers is inadequate — there are no inning-by-inning broadcasts on the radio to record what happens, no box scores to enter anything into history.

That leads to one conclusion: The new season commences with the first games of Spring Training, when the teams take the field and the umpire cries “Play ball!” Every rookie has the potential to make the team, every veteran a chance to perform even better than the year before.

In 2012, the first games will be on March 2.

Between the last out of the 2011 World Series and those first Cactus and Grapefruit league ballgames, 134 125 days — better than one-third of a calendar year — will have passed since the Rangers’ David Murphy flied out to Allen Craig of the Cardinals.

So the mid-point, the baseball solstice, will be 67 62.5 days later, Dec. 30, 2011.

It’s a fitting date. In much of the United States, that’s the dead of winter with snow blanketing many a ballfield.

I’ll do something to mark the occasion. I could bay at the moon like some ancient Druid at Stonehenge and try to conjure a power hitter for the San Francisco Giants. Or maybe I’ll just look toward Progressive Field in Cleveland, beseeching the baseball gods to make 2012 the year the Indians win it all.

Centuries from now, our descendants may chance upon the ruins of Wrigley and contemplate the meaning and magic that dwelt there in ages past. With curiosity they may look upon the remains of home plate at Fenway Park or ponder what’s left of the fountains at Kauffman Stadium.

We owe it to our descendants to mark the Baseball Solstice in ceremonies of our own devising. So join me Jan. 4 Dec. 30 at sunrise. I will be in Pittsburgh, summoning my father’s spirit to bring the Pirates some luck.

Addendum: My headline on “Fixing” the date of the Baseball Solstice turned out to be a bit of irony. I miscounted the days and got the mid-point wrong. As Paul notes below, the correct date is Dec. 30, not Jan. 4. It’s still a day to celebrate.

For most of us, it’s ‘Wait Until Next Year’

Playoffs notwithstanding, for most baseball fans today is the first day of the long winter. The season is over, the concession stands are empty, the lockerrooms bare as the players have packed up to go fishing or hunting or whatever they do in the off-season.

For followers of the Chicago Cubs, the Cleveland Indians, the Kansas City Royals, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the San Francisco Giants, another year has passed without post-season play. We small- and mid-market fans will watch glumly as the Cardinals, Dodgers, Phillies, Rockies, Angels, Red Sox, Yankees and Tigers or Twins stretch their seasons.

For those teams, hope remains for October glory, a pennant, a World Series champagne spray. But for most of us — like this crushed Cubs fan — our refrain is “Wait until next year.”

Spring training can’t come soon enough.

Party time, excellent! The Wayne’s World cap

It’s a late-winter weekend, and we could all use a little comic relief.

To wit, the “Wayne’s World” ball cap sported by Mike Meyers at right. I don’t own one of these, but I do admire it. Maybe not quite as much as Wayne Campbell admired and coveted the white Fender Stratocaster on display in the music store in the original “Wayne’s World” movie.

Party on!

The Cleveland Browns and a brand new NFL season

The Thursday night game between the Redskins and Giants notwithstanding, today marks the real kickoff to the 2008 National Football League season. In celebration, I took my natty corduroy Cleveland Browns cap out into the warm California sun for a morning portrait.

Classic Cleveland Browns corduroy cap

Classic Cleveland Browns corduroy cap

I call this a classic Browns cap because it dates not from the present franchise but from the last years of the old Browns, the team that the sinsister Art Modell carted off to Baltimore to become the dead-to-me Ravens.

The original Browns started in the All American Football Conference that was folded into the NFL in the early 1950s. My early childhood centered on baseball, and football didn’t enter my consciousness until early grade school. In fact, my earliest pro football memory is of the day of the 1964 championship game in which the Browns defeated the Baltimore Colts (another team that would ultimately and appallingly be wrenched from the hearts of its fans). The game was blacked out on television in Cleveland, so my dad sent me to the attic to move our antenna around so we could catch the game on a Toledo station.

The demise of the old Browns roughly coincided with my move to California, where I’ve since attached my primary allegiance to the San Francisco 49ers and, given a few beers and the right opponent, the Oakland Raiders. I have not bonded with the new Browns, but should they advance to the playoffs, I’ll be pulling for them hard. And yeah, I want them to crush the Dallas Cowboys today.

In the meantime, I reserve my Browns cap mainly for the winter months, always hoping for the delightful contrast of white snowflakes settling on its rich brown bill.