If it’s the last Thursday in March…

In Levi’s honor, Albert Pujols is on the cover of the Sports Illustrated baseball preview issue this year. And once again, here are their predictions, posted here so we can refer to them during the season and laugh at them in October.

NL East
1. Atlanta Braves
2. New York Mets
3. Philadelphia Phillies
4. Washington Nationals
5. Florida Marlins

NL Central
1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Milwaukee Brewers
3. Houston Astros
4. Chicago Cubs
5. Pittsburgh Pirates
6. Cincinnati Reds

NL West
1. L.A. Dodgers
2. S.F. Giants
3. San Diego Padres
4. Arizona Diamondbacks
5. Colorado Rockies

AL East
1. New York Yankees
2. Boston Red Sox
3. Toronto Blue Jays
4. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
5. Baltimore Orioles

AL Central
1. Chicago White Sox
2. Cleveland Indians
3. Minnesota Twins
4. Detroit Tigers
5. Kansas City Royals

AL West
1. Oakland A’s
2. L.A. Angels
3. Texas Rangers
4. Seattle Mariners

The two wild-card teams, they believe, will be the Angels and the Mets. White Sox vs. A’s in the ALCS, Cardinals vs. Braves in the NLCS, and White Sox over the Cardinals.

Radio daze

Remember, the Cardinals are no longer on KMOX. Now

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it’s also possible that the Pirates may be leaving their longtime radio home, KDKA.

What? More college baseball?

The usual Los Angeles-based Northwestern alumni suspects and I headed to Malibu to see our beloved Wildcats play the Pepperdine Waves in the final game of a 3-game series. The ‘Cats had lost the first two, but perhaps today would be different.

Why not Eddy D. Field Field?

Sorry, even if your pet really likes baseball, it can’t come in…

The Pacific Ocean is in this picture, although it’s doing a good job of blending in with the sky…

Pepperdine has quite the baseball tradition…

There was a range of Northwestern fans in the stands, from little to not quite as little…

Northwestern starting pitcher Julio Siberio held the Waves to 2 runs in 6 innings…

Northwestern outfielder Antonio Mule takes a cut…

In the top of the 9th, the Waves stood in front of their dugout and tried to put some mojo on the Northwestern hitters. It didn’t work; the ‘Cats tied the game at 2.

However, in the bottom of the 9th, Pepperdine DH Justin Tellam hit a walk-off home run and got mobbed by the rest of the team for his effort. Pepperdine 4, Northwestern 2…

Well, at least someone enjoyed his Fritos…

The scoreboard at the end of the game. It had begun to act up in the top of the 9th, just as Northwestern was threatening — but you’ll notice that Pepperdine got the short end of the stick.

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(Their scoring line was 100 001 002.)

One more note: although the start time of the game was supposed to be noon, when we arrived at 11:55, the second inning had just gotten under way. The same thing happened when Jason and I went to see Northwestern play Cal State Northridge last year. This is either some bizarre NCAA policy, or everyone’s so sick of Northwestern showing up in California and demanding to play baseball, they just want to get the games over with as soon as possible.

Spring is here, I hear

The Vernal Equinox has passed. It’s time for predictions.

Some ground rules:
1) Pick the Braves to win. Seriously. Just give up not doing so. I hate this rule, but if I’d followed it even once since 1991, I’d have picked better.

2) Pick the Royals for last.

3) If you’re really inspired, list the order of finish for each division in each league. If you’re lazy, pick each division winner and the wild card for each league.

4) Pick the MVP and Cy Young. Don’t pick Rookie of the Year, unless you pay more attention to the minor leagues than I do.

5) As you do your calculations, remember that Operation Shutdown is, so far as I know, still in effect. The Pirates will not have the use of the services of Derek Bell.

Play Ball, boys!*

*and girls. Girls are encouraged to post. Got lots of female friends who are rabid fans, don’t want to slight ’em.

We’d run out of puns on his name anyway

It occurred to me that

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I haven’t been following Tuffy Rhodes’ spring training adventures closely enough. Turns out, alas, the Reds cut him on Sunday after he hit .222 for the spring, and he’s calling it a career. Here’s an in-depth review of that career from the blog Get Up, Baby!

This, of course, gives us one more chance to brag that We Were There…

Life outside the diamond is a wrench

There’s one former Dodger in the title, and another former Dodger alluded to in the lyrics, and half of baseballrelated.com was in the audience, so of coursePiazza, New York Catcher” was performed in Los Angeles — even though Stuart Murdoch had to refer to a cheat sheet a couple of times for the lyrics. Of course, it now refers to a bygone era, but replacing “New York” and “Mets” with “San Diego” and “Padres” would break the rhythm.

Incidentally, $30 for a concert, not including the Ticketmaster “convenience” charges that brought it up to nearly $45, and I didn’t even get to sit down! Baseball is truly your best entertainment value, although it’s somewhat unlikely that you’ll hear a lot of Scottish art-school alterna-pop at a baseball game. (But if you are very lucky, you will hear “Walk Away Renee” — referred to in “Piazza, New York Catcher” — played on the organ.)

Which reminds me…only two weeks till the season starts.


Way back when we were in Detroit, Levi made a joke on this very blog about the Garfield movie, which was the film being promoted by the “LodgeNet” card on top of the hotel room TV.

The HBO channels are free this weekend on DirecTV, and in looking through the listings, I discovered that “Garfield: The Movie” was showing on MoreMax, so out of curiosity, I set the TiVo.

As it turns out, this movie is worse than you can possibly imagine. I couldn’t get past 10 minutes, which means I didn’t even see Jennifer Love Hewitt. What is in the first 10 minutes is Breckin Meyer as Jon Arbuckle microwaving a round plastic container of “Hash in a Dash” for breakfast — a container and a food that are pretty much indistinguishable from Garfield’s liver-flavored cat food, so I’m sure you can imagine the hilarity that is supposed to have ensued. Then Garfield goes outside and has some wacky misadventures with Nermal, who is a Siamese cat in the movie but the “world’s cutest kitten,” a gray tabby, in the comic strip. Now, cats that are a mixture of Siamese and gray tabby tend to be as cute as can be, but surely the filmmakers didn’t set out to specifically remind everyone of my cat; obviously, the problem was that they couldn’t get their hands on a well-trained gray tabby, just a well-trained Siamese. This is because while Garfield is completely a CGI creation so that he can look vaguely like he does in the comic strip, all the other animals in the film only have CGI applied to their faces when they’re talking, so it’s completely creepy and strange.

Then we are led to believe that there is a dairy that delivers old-fashioned bottles of milk to homes that are within sight of the downtown Los Angeles skyline, and Garfield uses Nermal as a pawn as part of a Rube Goldbergian scheme to get some of that milk. After his drink, Garfield is none the worse for wear — he doesn’t start throwing up everywhere, unlike real cats.

Fortunately, “Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don’t Come Back!)” appeared on HBO Family a little later — it has a few problems of its own, but it managed to get the bad taste of “Garfield” out of my mouth.

What’s with the Carrot League baseball today?

Levi claims to be busy with work, but figuring that I’d have plenty of time on my hands now that I’ve been unemployed for almost four months, he asked me to pass this along: “Bugs Bunny, Greatest Banned Player Ever,” a scholarly analysis of the 1946 Warner Bros. Friz Freleng/Michael Maltese cartoon “Baseball Bugs.” It places the game depicted — apparently an exhibition game at the Polo Grounds — into historical perspective, and even provides some explanations for the “cartoon physics” on display. It’s definitely worth a read if you’ve got more time than Levi does.

Since I supposedly have so much time on my hands, perhaps I should work on analyzing my other favorite baseball cartoon, Tex Avery’s “Batty Baseball” (1944). Unfortunately, it’s a series of vignettes and blackout gags, rather than the complete game depicted in “Baseball Bugs,” and probably defies analysis.

At last, a reason to go to Sauget, Illinois

This season, the Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier League will be featuring “Baseball’s Best Burger” at their concession stands.

It’s a bacon cheeseburger, served on a Krispy Kreme doughnut instead of a bun. Yes, I would eat one — remember, I’m the one who had a Schmitter for dinner in Philadelphia, breakfast at Eat ‘n’ Park in Harrisburg, and then a Primanti Brothers sandwich for lunch in Pittsburgh.

R.I.P. Kirby Puckett

Not much to say that Bat-Girl doesn’t say here.

What a fun ballplayer he was to watch.

In the 1991 World Series against the Braves, with the Twins facing a Game 6 that they had to wing, Puckett told his teammates in the clubhouse, “Climb on my back, boys. I don’t know who’s going to take care of Game 7, but I got this one.”

He proceeded to single, steal a base, triple, bring in a run with a sacrifice fly, and score a run. He saved a run with a wall-crashing catch in the third.

And then, in the 11th, his home run prompted Jack Buck’s “We’ll see you tomorrow night!”

What a ballplayer.