Category Archives: baseball

Papimania

Fenway at dusk My annual work group outing to Fenway Park was last night, and, man, that had to be one of the top 3 baseball games I’ve been to in my life.

I have seen the crowd at Fenway pretty revved up, but never that revved up. From the seventh inning on, it was really just deafening.

Kyle Snyder actually deserves a heck of a lot of credit for pitching a really good half game (he was supposed to start before it was clear that David Wells was coming back). Wells’ performance was a bit of a disappointment, though not a surprising disappointment.

But, of course, when it’s the bottom of the 9th, the Sox are down by two, two men on, and David Ortiz steps up to the plate, I’m thinking, no way. He can’t do it again. The crowd was just chanting M! V! P! M! V! P! And he does it! It just seemed totally unreal that something so astonishing happens all the time. The crowd was just totally pumped up, and nobody seemed ready to leave the park until they saw him say a few words to Tina Cervasio that got relayed to the jumbotron.

Excellent night at Fenway!

Dumb Mobs

You know, I don’t want to irk two of the handful of people who read this thing, but I just can’t cheer on the Fenway crowd for booing the Phillies’ Brett Myers last Saturday. And it’s not just because I have to disagree with Dan Shaughnessy on everything.

Booing a formerly-beloved center fielder, giving a standing ovation to a well-beloved part-time outfielder, these are things that are within the confines of the game. When the crowd acts like a jury of 35,000, making a decision with scant (though emotionally charged) evidence, on what will probably be a real criminal case, it feels wrong; it’s the kind of mass impulse that leads to the kind of awful things mobs can do. Even though the guy really does sound like a shit, even though what he is reported to have done is awful, and even though the only remorse he still seems to have shown is of the “I’m sorry you found out about it” variety.

I can’t get on the fans too hard. If I’d have been at Fenway, I probably would have joined in. But I can’t take the extra step and say it’s good or that I’m happy about it.

Really, if there’s anyone at fault here (besides Myers himself), it’s the Phillies management for starting him the next day. I mean, even if he had done something trivial, say got arrested for shoplifting some executive toys from Nieman Marcus, I don’t think it’s out of line for them to pull the guy out of the lineup the next day.

On a similar note, there was a good interview with Jaron Lanier in the Globe’s Ideas section last Sunday on the load of crap that is the whole “Wisdom of Crowds” idea. He draws what I think is a valid parallel between the mute acceptance of badly designed software and group think: the idea that “the computer must know better than I do” being a similar individual abdication of responsibility.

Fenway sounds (or, A Town Called Malice)

We made our first trip to Fenway Park this year to see the Sox take down the Nationals on Monday night, with Terri’s parents. Some random notes:

  • Another reason to like Mike Lowell: his at-bat song is “London Calling”
  • We got a chuckle when the Fenway sound crew played the “Three’s Company” theme song when two Nationals went out to the pitcher’s mound for a conference.
  • Happy to see Gabe Kapler back at Fenway for the first time since his utterly bizarre Achilles tendon rupture last year. He got a standing O; in anyplace other than Fenway, a standing O for a part-time outfielder would seem weird.
  • So, I can’t figure out if the Fenway sound people played “A Town Called Malice” by The Jam when lackluster reliever Rudy Seanez came out of the pen because Rudy picked it, or because the sound guys were making a comment on the fact that he was getting booed mercilessly. If it’s the latter, might I suggest “A Message to You, Rudy” for next time?
  • Terri and I resumed our standing discussion of what our closer songs would be. I still stick by “Stigmata” by Ministry. Terri, in a similar vein, but far more ingeniously, sticks with, “Control I’m Here” by Nitzer Ebb, which I should let her explain, because I don’t want to steal her thunder more than I just did. I wish I had thought of it.
  • And here’s an mp3 of the fans singing along to Sweet Caroline. A few seconds in you can hear an announcement that the Nationals put in former Sox and Damon-noggin-clocker Damien Jackson.

Evil Curt Schilling Simulacrum

People talk about things being stranger than fiction, and in my mind, I imagine a perpetual battle between reality and fiction (which we can imagine as a single universe containing all the individual fictional universes invented by all human beings, everywhere, ever), over who is the weirdest. One day, reality gets the edge. The next day, someone comes up with populating Everquest II with an evil Curt Schilling. Bizarro Curt also supports the ALS association.

(via Universal Hub)

Why I like interleague play

So, Ed’s post today made me think about why I actually like interleague play. Sure, it is a gimmick, and when it was devised, the sport was sort of at a nadir, so it was almost certainly introduced for the wrong reasons.

But the two leagues are so separate that without it, it’s almost like they’re two different sports entities who happen to have a game against each other at the end of the year. You don’t get the same thing in football because there are so many fewer games that fans from each league have enough time to pay attention to what’s going on in the other league. Baseball, it’s hard to keep up with a single team let alone what’s going on in the other league.

And, if I may step out on a limb, the other big reason that interleague play is good is that it is existentially unsettling. Because of some small de jure differences, huge de facto differences in the way the game is played have evolved over time. I don’t think that interleague play has changed this or even slowed the trend toward deviation between the two leagues. But it does create this one magical time every year where you are forced to realize that what you thought was fixed, inevitable, essential, is actually radically contingent, and could have easily been otherwise.

Plus, I like to see some National League style play occasionally, it it’s also high-larious to see some of the AL pitchers at bat.