More tales of mass-produced baked goods

There were no Hostess Baseballs at Ralphs today. There were plenty of Hostess Zingers, though, which rhymes with a baseball term (“dinger”), and which used to be a product of the Dolly Madison company and therefore used to be advertised by the “Peanuts” characters! See how this all fits together?

Now, does this mean I’m supposed to fill my luggage with Zingers, or does it mean I’m supposed to show up with empty luggage if I can’t get Baseballs?

Original comments…

Levi: Surely you can make baseball-shaped snack cakes at home?

And you wouldn’t think of leaving home for a long trip without some Hostess Fruit Pies, would you? Especially since we’ve already discovered that Doctor Octopus, for one, is aware of our itinerary?

Come on, Jim. You’re supposed to be the good planner in this crew.

Steve: While I’m sure this will fall on deaf ears over at BRPA, maybe it’s time you guys should consider corporate sponsorship. Perhaps you can get Interstate Brands to donate a suitcase full of baseballs for your trip.

Interstate Brands Corp.
Consumer Affairs
12 E. Armour Blvd.
Kansas City, MO 64111.

The phone number is (816) 502-4010.

Jim: What do fruit pies have to do with Dr. Octopus…do we keep throwing them at him until he has one in each tentacle, thus making him unable to grab us and do harm to us?

Trying to get corporate sponsorship sounds like a job for Levi.

Levi: “What do fruit pies have to do with Dr. Octopus?”

While you were reading about trains, Jim, the rest of us were rotting our minds with comic books. Rotting minds and rotting teeth go together, so Hostess advertised their fruit pies extensively in superhero comics.

The ads were like this.

Jim: See, I only read Archie comic books, which didn’t rot your mind; they taught valuable life lessons such as the fact that brunettes are more desirable than blondes. Also, one character had an eating disorder (although the only consequence of it seemed to be the endless requests by Pop for him to pay his tab at the Chocklit Shoppe), so it’s no wonder Hostess didn’t advertise their products there.

Levi: When I was young, I had an Archie comic put out by Spire, a religious publisher. In it, some of Archie’s buddies drink and drive and die, and Archie and friends (including, if I remember right, a ringer who was just in that issue (much like the dying friends) so he could spout some biblical verse.

Freaked me out and put me off Archie until adulthood. Now I can enjoy him, but when I was kid, I stayed away.

Jim: I also had a couple of the Spire Archie comics, mistakenly(?) purchased by my mother at some point. I don’t remember the specific plot lines, but apparently, all the Spire Archies were about someone dying in a car accident, but not having to worry, because they were saved.

As a kid, I mostly bought the Archie digests, not the actual comic books, because that’s what they had at Publix…sometimes in the checkout racks next to TV Guide and the Globe Mini Mags, and sometimes in the magazines/greeting cards section at the right front corner of the store. (I believe the link is to a picture of the actual Publix store I’m talking about…if not, it’s absolutely identical, although the cars in the parking lot were slightly newer in my Archie digest-buying days.)

Jason: I had one of those religious Archie comics, as well. No car accidents, but instead the gang went to Africa to do missionary work. I think they ended up building a well for a poor village.

When I read it, I wondered why Archie got so preachy all of the sudden. Thanks for clearing it up, fellas!

Now ensconced on the iPod

This is only tangentially baseball-related because of the “Peanuts” connection, and because it has the potential to be played on the trip: thanks to Cartoon Network kicking off the summer season by showing “Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown” this morning, I now have the two songs from the movie on my iPod. Yes, one of those is the theme song, in which Larry Finlayson sings the profound observations written by Ed Bogas that “the sunshine is brought to you absolutely free” and that “when the sun sets down, it is gone, Charlie Brown.” It’s almost as good of a summer song as “Kokomo”! As far as I can tell, Larry Finlayson never did anything else in his life.

By the way, the All-Movie Guide description of “Race for Your Life” (sorry, I can’t link to it directly) lists some things that aren’t actually in the movie, but were in other “Peanuts” animated shows (and the strip, of course), most notably “Charlie Brown gets a ‘go away and leave me alone’ bunkmate.” Also, they claim it was made for TV (as opposed to a theatrical release), list Larry Finlayson as a songwriter (as opposed to a singer), and misspell Charles Schulz’s name. So, in conclusion, do not trust the All-Movie Guide, not even if you’re trying to look for additional credits for Larry Finlayson.

Original comments…

Levi: For my birthday, Stacey crocheted me a very nice red iPod cozy with a Cardinal on it. I’m willing to bet I’m the only person on earth with one of these.

Jim: A picture of the iPod cozy needs to be submitted to the iPod Lounge. Since I’m already a member of that site, I can do it if you e-mail me a picture.

More thinking on just rewards

I’ve been thinking a little more about the role one’s behavior at baseball games could play in the handing down of eternal punishment or reward. It’s a complex issue.

For example: Jeffrey Maier. You remember him. He’s the twelve-year-old kid who helped win Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS for the Yankees by reaching over the fence and grabbing what would likely have been a flyout by Derek Jeter, turning it into a home run.

Now, my view on fan interference is this: feel free to interfere with a ball in play, but be sure of what you’re doing before you stick that hand or glove out there. If you’re rooting for the home team from the front row down the line, and the ball hit by the opponent is headed for the corner, a definite triple, feel free to lean over the fence and turn the ball into an automatic double. What I don’t like to see is the fan who, wrapped up in his ignorant desire for a batted ball, turns his own team’s triple into a double. It’s all about thinking in advance. I guarantee that Scott Rolen, before each play, thinks through what he’ll do in any situation. Is it too much to ask fans sitting at field level to do the same?

So Jeffrey Maier clearly fits into the category of righteous interference: he saw that Tony Tarasco was probably going to catch the ball. He may not have been sure that it would be ruled a home run if he caught it, but the consequence of not catching it was camped out beneath him. So grabbing it, despite the fact that he was taking a chance of being thrown out of a playoff game, was clearly the right thing to do.

But the situation gets more complex. After all, the team Mr. Maier was supporting with his action was the Yankees. And I like to think–Damn Yankees to the contrary–the gods know the Yankees are evil. What–you think the gods aren’t as smart as a 6-year-old Sox fan? No, the gods definitely know the Yanks are evil. I think they allow the Yankees their success both as a trial to the rest of us, a test of our faith in our own teams, and as a kind of spiritual flypaper. Anyone foolish enough to fall prey to the easy seductions of the World Series trophies and the black-and-white pinstripes reveals a weakness sure to be noted by the gods.

So given that: was Jeffrey Maier’s action a good action, in a philosophical sense? Is it likely to have added to the credit side of his spiritual ledger, or did it weigh down the debit?

See why the Old Testament God was so cranky? It’s complex. I don’t blame him for just sending plagues all the damn time rather than thinking about this kind of thing.

P.S. Added later
To clarify a bit the concept of “spiritual flypaper”: I think of it kind of like the situation in Nina Simone’s “Sinnerman”: the sinnerman runs to the rock, and it can’t hide him, then he runs to the river, and it’s bleeding, and he runs to the sea to find it boiling, then he runs to the lord, who tells him to go to the devil.

The devil is waiting. He’s always waiting. I picture him in a nicely tailored blue houndstooth smoking jacket, a circle of flattened cigarette butts around his spats a little indication of how long he’s been waiting, knowing that the sinnerman would show up sooner or later.

Like the Yankees. They’re content to wait until your team blows a 13-game lead or goes twelve years without a winning season or your cast-off first baseman rediscovers his youth in the very place Ponce de Leon came up empty.

Original comments…

Steve: So, according to this logic the Cubs are Isaac and Bartman is Abraham–only God decided not to intervene at the last minute.

Luke: >I don’t blame him for just sending plagues all the damn time rather
>than thinking about this kind of thing.

How do you think we ended up with the wild card, green-screen ads and the Devil Rays? We also ended up with, for a time, Johnny Damon’s hair, but if God truly loved us, the shaving cream would have turned to wine when it touched his face.

Other than a handful of personalities and talents who have made fandom worthwhile — the Marks Grace, the Alberts Pujols, the Rickeys Henderson, the Antonios Alfonseca — have there been any developments in the past 30 years to suggest God’s grace? Streaming broadcasts, maybe, but one has to pay for them (that the Bill of Rights fails to mention our right to free baseball audio merely proves our forefathers’ lack of foresight). All other changes to the game — retractable domes, sponsored first pitches and lineup changes, elbow pads — seem to be proof of God’s retributive side.

Levi: So, Luke, you’re saying that Selig is Satan?

Luke, hanger-on: I figured it went without saying, but just in case, I’ll say it: Bud Selig is Satan.

“Allan H Bud Selig,” after all, anagrams to “Hell! Bad! Sin! Luga!”

(Luga being the eskimo word for “menace to a great sport.”)

Today’s baseball-related press release

CBS has a new drama coming this fall that’s baseball-related. Here’s their official description:

CLUBHOUSE (Tuesday, 9:00 PM) is a drama about a 16-year-old boy who becomes a man in a world of overgrown boys when he takes a job as a batboy for a professional baseball team. For the first time, Pete Young (Jeremy Sumpter) takes a risk – perhaps the only risk of his young life – when he applies for and lands his dream job as a batboy for the New York Empires. The problem is his single mom, Lynne (Mare Winningham), has no idea what he’s up to. Until now, he’s been the golden boy while his rebellious older sister, Betsy (Kirsten Storms), has always been in the doghouse. On the job, Pete becomes a part of a new family that includes Conrad Dean (Dean Cain), the team’s captain and star third baseman and one of the boy’s all-time idols who takes on the role of an older brother. Also, in the clubhouse is his boss, Lou Russo (Christopher Lloyd), a gruff but fair equipment manager who becomes a much-needed father figure; Rich (Marc Donato), a fellow batboy who just happens to be the general manager’s nephew; Carlos Tavares (John Ortiz), a rookie who believes that Pete is his good luck charm, and Jose Marquez (J.D. Pardo), the Empire’s territorial head batboy. Pete is over the moon at being a member of his favorite team, but he must still balance life at home and life in the big leagues as he faces the moral dilemmas and curve balls that life throws his way. Emmy Award-winners Aaron Spelling and E. Duke Vincent (“And The Band Played On,” “Day One”), Academy Award-winner Mel Gibson (“Braveheart”) and Bruce Davey (“The Passion of the Christ”), Daniel Cerone (“Charmed”) and Ken Topolsky (“Party of Five”) are the executive producers for Spelling Television.

Aaron Spelling! Mel Gibson! And it means I won’t have to look at Kirsten Storms on “Days of Our Lives” anymore! (Interesting that she’s the “rebellious older sister” on this show, since her character on “DOOL” is a goody two-shoes, younger than all of her half-siblings there.)

Original comments…

Levi: If only Boychick from San Pedro Beach Bums could be on the program. I wonder what he’s up to these days?

Jim: I seriously came very close to mentioning “San Pedro Beach Bums” in the original posting.

Looks like Boychick hasn’t done much with his career, to the extent that the only people he can get to submit information about him to the IMDB can’t spell “New Jersey” correctly.

But there is a connection: Stuf appeared in the “Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century” movies for the Disney Channel, which star Kirsten Storms as the title character, so maybe there’s hope for a guest-starring appearance for him on “Clubhouse.”

Jason: Anyone remember the short-lived Fox sitcom “Hardball”? At least, I think it was called Hardball. Anyway, it was a about a baseball team, the Pioneers, and all the wacky hijinks its players got into.

One of my favorite TV lines was said by Mike Starr, who later appeared as one of the mean toughs in ‘Dumb & Dumber’: “I love this guy! But not in the way you think. I want to have sex with him!”

It was so good, I used it in an episode of ‘Sucks to Yer Azmar’.

Eric J. Ritter: (*)(*)


Viveian: Kirsten Storms Rocks i canot wait to see her on CH!!~

Mike: Kristen Storen Storms is really HOT!!~

Jim: Is that you, Mike, my supervisor? Has closed-captioning “Days of Our Lives” finally driven you insane? We’ll talk when you get into the office.

Twice the baseball?

I’m surprised Levi didn’t mention this in the previous entry: that Cardinals-Pirates game that was rained out on Tuesday is most likely going to be made up as part of a doubleheader when the Pirates next visit St. Louis…which happens to be August 19th through 22nd, coinciding with our planned visit on the 22nd. So what are the odds they’ll choose to do a Sunday doubleheader, and we’ll get to see two games?

Original comments…

Levi: Have you worked up a doubleheader itinerary, in case every game we see ends up being a doubleheader? Can we make all the games if that happens?

And, on a side note, you do have a passport, right? Because I don’t think they let you into Canadia without one these days.

Jim: If every game ends up being a doubleheader? I don’t think that’s going to happen unless we get some “Day After Tomorrow”-style weather within the next couple of months but things clear up by mid-August. For now, the doubleheader plan involves getting up earlier and/or driving faster.

Yes, I have a passport. Don’t you have every post on this blog memorized?

Levi: I know it’s unlikely that every game would end up a doubleheader, but do you want to be caught short if that happens? What’s the only thing more impressive than ten games in ten cities in ten days? Why, it’s 20 games in 20 cities in ten days!

Jim: I think you mean 20 games in 10 cities in 10 days, unless you’re thinking the doubleheaders are going to be long enough that the home team is going to relocate between the two games. Which is a possibility for the Expos, I guess.


Thursday night, Stacey and I helped out some friends who have six-week-old twin boys, staying overnight at their 37th-floor apartment and sitting up with one of the boys. While we were there, we got to watch a wild thunderstorm over the city, the park, and the lake. It was pretty amazing–I finally got to see the multiple lightning strikes on the Hancock Building that are captured in those time-lapse photos that are sold as posters in tourist shops downtown.

In the park below, four baseball fields were being flooded. In the morning, there was standing water all over the infield. That–and the Cardinals/Pirates rainout last night–reminded me of a time in high school when two ballplayers on the Carmi Bulldogs for some reason didn’t want to play in the game scheduled for the next day. So late at night they went to the ballpark, ran a hose onto the field, and turned it on. They went home to bed and left the hose to do its work. Some beer might have been consumed at some point, too.

The field was flooded, and the game was canceled. But, the guys, being high schoolers, and not that adept at lying or covering up, got caught and suspended. It’s always been one of my favorite stories of teenagers going to a fair amount of trouble to get out of doing something.

Maybe Toby can find the story in the Carmi Times archives and see if I’ve got the details right. I think I remember who the guys were, but I’d hate to libel someone.

Original comments…

Jon Solomon: I went to the Wilmington Blue Rocks game last night. There was a 70 minute lightning/rain delay in the top of the seventh inning. By the time the game ended, there were ~40 people in the stands out of the 4,500+ at first pitch. My friend Scooter and I moved down behind home plate and stood in the aisles, leading the crowd in cheers, trying to rally the home team (and earn a final appearance from Mr. Celery!). The Blue Rocks scored two in the bottom of the final frame to win 7-6. It was great.

Levi: Sounds like a great game, but I’m left with a lingering question:

Mr. Celery?

Steve: If I was a player on the Blue Rocks I’d want to be #2


Levi: I have since this post learned that players in the movie Bull Durham soak the field in this fashion. I’m not surprised to learn that my high school classmates got the idea from a movie, I suppose. Not as surprised as you probably are that I haven’t seen Bull Durham. I just added it to my Netflix queue.

Jon Solomon: Mr. Celery:

He’s a shy mascot, so he only comes out on the field when the Blue Rocks have a rally going, jumping up and down to “Song #2” by Blur. People in the stands shake stalks of celery at him. This is what we were doing behind home plate, produce held skyward.

Jason: Is Wilmington a strong celery-producing area? I’m not being sarcastic, I’m actually curious.

Jon Solomon: When I asked someone “why celery?” the first time I went to see the Blue Rocks play, the only answer I got was “exactly,” followed by silence.

The Blue Rocks’ new mascot this season is named “Rubble.” Rubble is a small blue rock who flew in the slipstream down from Philadelphia when the Vet was imploded. He looks like Meatwad from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, kinda.


Toby: I wouldn’t have to look it up in the archives because I can remember the whole thing quite vividly. But it was one of my better friends involved, so I won’t reveal any names.

BTW, Levi, the baseball team went 28-4 this season.

And thanks for the link…..

Levi: 28-4?

What’s up with Carmi sports this year? Seriously. We ought to field a polo team, synchronized swimming, and maybe a biathlon team, just to see if they could win, too. Clearly there’s success in the air this year.

Baseball-related press release of the day

Major League Baseball reminds you to buckle up. Remember that, Levi, when you’re driving home from Wrigley Field…oh, wait. Actually, what I love is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration spokesman’s awkward attempt to tie the message into baseball: “Just like a player would never face a 95 mph fastball without a helmet…” It’s almost up to the level of a fake advertising slogan Dave Barry came up with in a column some years back: “Hit a home run against nasal discharge!”

(Despite my mockery of the press release, I do agree with the underlying message. Why, I wear my seat belt at all times, except when I need to lean way out to use the drive-thru ATM or grab the Double-Double from the person working the drive-thru window at In-n-Out. But the car is stopped at those times, assuming I’ve correctly shifted into “park.”)

Original comments…

Levi: But what does Spider-Man have to say about buckling up?

Jim: “Since you probably can’t quickly shoot a protective stream of sticky webbing out of your wrists if it looks like you’re about to get into an accident…”

spidey: With the power of a drivers license comes the responsibility to buckle up.

Dr. Octopus: Don’t listen to him, the web-slinging fool!

Giving 110%

This isn’t about baseball, but I figure baseball fans can relate to Dick Grasso’s estimate of his efforts. Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly noted the following:

“New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has decided to sue Richard Grasso, the former CEO of the New York Stock Exchange, for using various forms of chicanery to overpay himself. Spitzer listed several main bullet points to support his contention, but this is my favorite:

On a 1-to-10 performance scale used to determine compensation, Grasso at one point assigned himself a 13, Spitzer said.”

Original comments…

Levi: Oh, and Eliot Spitzer’s one of my heroes. He’s going to make a great Vice-President or Attorney General in the Barack Obama administration in 2012.

Like a middle-school dance

That’s how my father described the atmosphere of Wrigley Field the first time he was there, astounded by the fact that seemingly no one ever sits down for more than a couple pitches before wandering off again hither and yon.

Ordinarily, because my season ticket seat is high up in the upper deck, where the slope allows me to see over the heads of the perambulators, that’s just a minor source of annoyance for me. Kind of along the lines of that caused by people who don’t understand that you let the passengers off the train first before attempting to board.

But Sunday, we were in the lower deck, section 108, where to see the game we had to see over or through anyone in the aisle. And everyone was always in the aisle. Which led me to a couple of possible solutions.

The first idea is for true baseball fans to work up an advertising and media campaign to make wandering fans realize that, come the Day of Judgment, their behavior at baseball games–like all bad behavior–will be held against them. Just as a good fan might get extra credit for, say, knocking the glove off an opposing fielder reaching into the stands to attempt a catch, a drunken lout will find his balance sheet slipping more into the red for every time he staggered back from the concession stand and unwittingly left most of his new beer down the back of, say, a nearby nun. The calculation that determines eternal damnation is a complex algorithm, of course, making Fermat’s Last Theorem look like the formula for figuring E.R.A., but I have faith that trips up and down the aisle while yammering into two cell phones have their part in it. We just have to make the drunks realize it.

The second option is to have Pedometer Day at Wrigley Field every day. Each fan, upon entering, would get a pedometer, which he would be forced to wear during the entire game. At the conclusion of the game, everyone’s pedometer would be checked, and anyone who walked more than the average beer vendor would have to stay and clean the park with a toothbrush. His own. This plan has the virtue of simplicity and a very American attempt to encourage good behavior through imprisonment and hard work.

Anyone have better ideas?

Original comments…

Steve: Maybe make a 3rd inning, 5th inning and 7th inning stretch where people can go to a designated area and exchange phone numbers.

At Wrigley only of course….

Media attention

Maura has invited us to drop by the studios of WPRB Radio in Princeton, New Jersey, and join her on her radio show on Friday, August 27. Quite a coincidence that Princeton is between Boston and Philadelphia, and she’s going to have such a conveniently scheduled Friday afternoon time slot, isn’t it? Anyway, the itinerary has been updated.

Original comments…

Jon Solomon: I suggest a show of nothing but songs about baseball. Speaking of which, Levi I have a gift for you when I see ya…

Levi: Maura: Will Tim Zarazhan be there? ‘Cause I don’t know if I can do a show without Tim around.

Jason: I onced listened in on Maura’s show on WPBR through the courtesy of internet streamline broadcasting (or whatever you call it). I called in, and it took her 8 guesses before I told her who I was. I should probably keep in better touch.

maura: ooh, tim. shiver. i was hoping for an all-baseball-related show, actually. i thought that would be lots of fun. especially since i’ve had barbara manning’s cover of ‘joltin’ joe dimaggio’ in my head for a good portion of the weekend.

thatbob: Mr. Announcer and Nibbles, together again at last!