Sorry that I haven’t been posting on a regular basis, but it’s the 2015 MLB postseason and I’ve been a little distracted. It’s harder to blog when you’re going directly to the bar after work to catch the game. It’s a little strange watching the games without the San Francisco Giants taking part, but it’s an odd year so that’s to be expected.. When the Giants are playing I’m either focused on offense or defense. It’s kind of nice watching teams that I’m not invested in because I can see the whole game
This has been a pretty exciting postseason. There have been a lot of memorable moments so far. Kyle Schwarber’s mammoth homerun that landed on top of the Cub’s scoreboard, Jose Bautista’s bat flip to end all bat flips, Daniel Murphy’s heads up baserunning and homerun tirade all stand out. All of the Division Series went to a pivotal Game 5 except for the Cubs vs. Cardinals.
Now the Kansas City Royals and the Toronto Blue Jays are battling it out for the American League pennant and the Chicago Cubs are trailing the New York Mets for the National League pennant. The winning teams will go on to face each other in the World Series. It doesn’t matter who wins. No matter what it will be good for baseball. All the competing teams haven’t won the World Series in decades. If your team isn’t in it, you should be rooting for the Cubs. Not for the fact that they haven’t won in over a century, just so that Back to the Future Part II is right. We don’t have hoverboards or flying DeLoreans, but I’ll take a Chicago championship.
We are in the midst of an epidemic right now. We are smack dab in the middle of baseball’s offseason. Spring training is only a few weeks away and we are all eagerly awaiting. There isn’t much going on right now. Football is practically over. You can either root for the Patriots or the Seahawks. That’s boring. Basketball just reached its halfway point. Kobe is injured and Michael Jordan retired a long time ago. Hockey is… well, I don’t pay attention to the NHL so I’ll just assume it’s still there not being relevant. That leaves baseball, or the lack there of. Right now there are countless Americans meeting at bars and water coolers across the country asking each other “Is it baseball season yet?” It will be soon. And I can’t wait.
Jordan Rides the Bus is another entry in ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. It’s an interesting documentary that explores what happened when NBA legend Michael Jordan retired from basketball at the height of his popularity to give professional baseball a shot. Director Ron Shelton examines the reasons why Michael left one game for another and shows the struggles and triumphs of Michael’s stint in the Minor Leagues. Basically he stinks in the beginning, puts a lot of effort into getting better, he improves a little bit, and then he went back to playing in the NBA. Sorry for the spoilers but you should already know that.
Michael Jordan has been considered the best basketball player of all time and his attempt at playing baseball has often been considered a punchline. This documentary makes you realize that it wasn’t a joke. The guy really wanted to be a baseball player. He sucked but that’s beside the point. The point is that he tried. He doesn’t regret anything in the end. His time in the bush league took him from the top of the pedestal to the bottom, he learned some humility, and he became a better person and teammate when he triumphantly returned to the NBA.
Throwback jerseys are sports uniforms that are made to look like a team’s old jerseys. Almost every major American sports leagues have turn-back-the-clock nights where the teams wear throwback jerseys. The National Football League and the National Basketball Association have cool throwback jerseys, but I prefer Major League Baseball’s throwbacks. The MLB made throwback jerseys popular. The MLB has a much deeper, richer, and extensive history than the NFL and NBA. They have more memorable teams and stars from different eras. They also have an insanely long season so they have a lot more games where the players rock retro uniforms. Sometimes they even wear defunct Minor League team jerseys or even classic Negro League ones. They honor their past and they don’t run from it.
Steve Bartman is perhaps the most well known Chicago Cubs fan in history, and for all the wrong reasons. He’s the guy who interfered with a foul ball during the 8th inning of Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS, potentially costing the Chicago Cubs their first chance to get to the World Series in a million years. Even non-baseball fans remember this play. The Cubs were up 3-0 in the 8th and 5 outs away from the World Series when Marlin’s batter Luis Castillo hit a ball down the 3rd baseline and several fans made an attempt to catch it. Steve Bartman was one of those fans, and he was the unfortunate one who managed to deflect it. Cubs outfield Moises Alou wasn’t able to catch the ball and he blamed poor Steve. And then the other Cubs players blamed poor Steve. And then the Cubs announcers and all the Cubs fans in the stands started to blame poor Steve. And then all the other Cubs fans started to blame poor Steve. And poor Steve received death threats and had to be placed under police protection, and he is still hated today. All because of something that was purely instinctual. There were half a dozen other fans who could have been the one to touch the ball. We could all be hating Susie Nonfan just as easily. It just wasn’t Steve Bartman’s day. Steve, if you’re reading this, I feel sorry for you and I’d love to buy you a beer sometime. You’re lucky I’m a Giants fan.
Critically Rated at 9/17
Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young
Broke is documentary that explores the reasons how so many professional athletes squander their money and end up declaring bankruptcy. It was the premiere episode of ESPN’s 30 for 30 Volume II, and was directed by Billy Corben. Various athletes from the MLB, NBA, and NFL give interviews and provide insight about how they wasted their millions of dollars. They buy mansions, luxury cars, and outrageous jewelry. They pay child support and huge divorce settlements. They loan money to family and friends and never get paid back. They gamble and make it rain at strip clubs. They get hurt and injured and never see that big paycheck. They are forced to retire by age thirty-three and have no work experience to get a real job. They don’t know how to save, they make bad investments, and they get swindled.
Broke is an interesting documentary because sports stars become icons, they become heroes and it’s fascinating to see your heroes lying in the gutter. Sad, yes. Tragic, yes. But definitely fascinating. You realize how easy it is to waste a fortune. Some of them lost their fortunes because of bad luck and bad circumstances. But most of them lost their money out of sheer arrogance and stupidity. And all of them have an interesting tale. Check it out, I watched it on YouTube and you can too.
The baseball season is winding down and right now four teams are trying to get to the World Series. The Detroit Tigers and the Boston Red Sox are competing for the American League Pennant, and the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers are competing for the National League Pennant. The two Pennant winners get to play each other in the World Series to determine the championship team. All four teams are solid, all of them deserve to be there, there are no underdogs… and that’s bad for baseball. In fact, it’s terrible for baseball. The Tigers were just in the World Series last year. They got swept by the San Francisco Giants in four games. The Cardinals won the year before in 2011. The Red Sox won it in miracle fashion in 2004 and then again in 2007. That wasn’t that long ago. And the Dodgers have one of the highest payrolls and most star-studded lineups in baseball, and have turned themselves into the Yankees of the West. You either love them or hate them, but you still have to respect them. And unless you’re a fan of one of those four teams, you probably don’t care who wins. In fact, you probably want all of them to lose. I know I do. Especially the Dodgers. I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky that the Yankees didn’t even make the playoffs, but I’ve got to bitch about something. All four of those teams are legitimate contenders. And that bores me.
Umpires are humans and humans make mistakes, but that doesn’t make you feel any better when an ump blows a call and your team loses. Major League Baseball needs to accept the inevitable and embrace instant replay to review controversial calls. They already do it for homeruns, but they need to do it for plays at the plate too. Maybe each team can challenge a call twice per game or maybe they can challenge once every three innings. It wouldn’t be too much of a hindrance or slow the game down too much. The umpires seem to be the biggest opponent of utilizing instant replay. They need to shut the fuck up. It won’t put them out of a job or anything. The NBA, the NFL, the NHL all use instant replay and we never saw an influx of referees on welfare. Umpires are an integral part of the MLB, they aren’t going anywhere. There’s nothing wrong with technology, especially if it makes you do your job better. I don’t want to see any more perfect games getting ruined by an inept umpire. The future is now and human error should be a thing of the past.
A walk-off is baseball’s equivalent of a buzzer beater. Except it’s better than a buzzer beater because there is no time limit in baseball. You can’t simply run out the clock. You can have two outs and be a strike away from losing and still win the game. It’s not over until it’s over. A walk-off can only happen when the home team is at the plate either in the bottom of the 9th inning or in extra innings. It’s awesome when your team wins in a walk-off and it’s agonizing when they lose in a walk-off because there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s one of the best things about baseball. There’s nothing quite like experiencing a walk-off in person. Everyone in the stands is screaming and going nuts while the winning team rushes the field and pummels the clutch hitter as he touches the bag. They jump on top of him and slap his helmet and you see grown men acting like little kids. It’s all smiles and pure joy. It’s why they play the game and it’s why we watch it.
Baseball is America’s pastime and California is America’s best state. I’m not being biased, I’m being factual. There are only thirty clubs in Major League Baseball and five of them are based in California. We have two expansion teams and three of the most storied teams in the MLB. The Oakland Athletics have been an American League team since 1901. They’ve played in Philadelphia, moved to Kansas City, then came to the Bay Area. They have won 9 World Series titles: 5 in Philly and 4 in Oakland. The LA Dodgers and SF Giants are both National League teams with roots in New York City, and they are one of the best rivalries in baseball. The Giants and Dodgers both have roots going back to 1883. The Dodgers have 6 World Series titles, and the Giants have 7 (and are the reigning World Series Champions for the second time in three years). The Angels were an expansion team in 1961. They currently have one World Series title and right now they have one of the most formidable lineups in baseball.
The Giants and the Dodgers have been rivals since the NYC days. The Giants and the A’s have a mostly friendly rivalry, but there’s some tension because A’s swept the Giants in the Battle of the Bay in the ’89 World Series. The Angles also beat the Giants in the 2002 World Series and bitter feelings still linger in San Francisco (we were five outs away, then they had to bust out the damn Rally Monkey). The Dodgers and the A’s have a rivalry because they are both competing for the love of LA.
And then there’s the San Diego Padres. They are the little brother of MLB teams in California. They have no World Series Titles and no real rivalry with any other California team because they’ve never really been a contender. They have 2 NL Pennants that they can raise, but you’re not a team until you have a ring. They have a nice stadium. That’s about it.
The era of the East Coast Bias is long gone. It’s all about the West now. And you have a lot of options for choosing a baseball team in the Golden State. Do you support the NL or the AL? Northern California or Southern California? Do you like winners or losers? No matter what, there’s a team for you. But if I were you, I’d go with the Giants. Can’t go wrong with the best.
Today is Opening Day for Major League Baseball, one of the best holidays of the year. You’ve been jonesing for the season to start all winter, you get a little bit of a fix from Spring Training, but there’s nothing like the real thing. Baseball is a drug and Opening Day is the needle. Opening Day also represents possibilities. It’s a clean slate, a fresh start for your team. Anything can happen and everyone looks forward to it. It’s better than Christmas. You look forward to Christmas for a few weeks, then it finally arrives, you do Christmassy things for a few hours, and then it’s over. But with baseball you’re waiting for a few months for Opening Day, then it finally arrives and you do Opening Day festivities and watch your team play a game, and when it’s over you realize that it was just the first of 162 games and you’ll have baseball in your life for the next six months. Christmas abandons you, baseball crashes on your couch and never leaves. Play Ball!
Spring training is a glorious six-week long period from mid February to Opening Day. It’s when baseball starts to come back to life as players and coaches come back for practice and exhibition games. Some players are competing for a spot on the team, fighting for a chance to make it to the big leagues, and others are trying to prove they still have some gas left in the tank. And a lot of the old time greats walk around offering advice the players and signing autographs for the fans, trying to prove they are still relevant. Teams either train in the Grapefruit League in Florida or go to Arizona for the Cactus League. Most games are played against other MLB teams, but they’ll also play minor league teams, colleges, and every four years they’ll also play World Baseball Classic national teams.
There is a lot of turnover in professional sports and spring training lets to become familiarized with the new faces and talent. And you also start getting psyched for the real season to begin. Spring training is like pregaming: you can’t just start at the bar for a night of marathon drinking, you have to start drinking early and gradually get ready for the real thing.
Orange October is an Internet miniseries about the miraculous and memorable 2012 San Francisco Giants postseason. There are twelve episodes, each one about 5-7 minutes in length. You have to watch this if you’re a Giants fan. You get to relive all the best moments of the postseason and remember how we won all of those elimination games with clutch hitting, great defense, and bizarre Angels in the Outfield-type moments. This documentary chronicles each game and the key plays and contributors as the Giants defeated the Reds, Cardinals, and finally the Detroit Tigers on their way to winning their second World Series title in three years. The 2012 SF Giants were destined to win and no one can deny that they earned it. So check out SFG Productions Presents ITC: 12 Days of Orange October while you wave your rally towel and rock your panda hat. And fuck the Dodgers.