A definite Blue Jays difference

From the blog Torontoist, here is a great 1980 advertisement for Toronto Blue Jays-branded food items, exclusively available at Dominion supermarkets. The products are mostly of the “if you enjoy it at the ballpark, you’ll enjoy it at home” variety, but there are a couple of outliers: granola bars? Peanut butter?

There’s also milk in a Blue Jays logo glass. I assume that’s because they were selling Blue Jays glassware in the stores; however, I’d like to think it was a near-last-minute addition during the photo shoot when someone decided that, with the kids depicted eating baseball stadium “junk food” (a hot dog, popcorn, and potato chips), there should be some indication that they might be consuming something healthy at some point in the near future.

Despite having taken a year of French in college, I don’t remember having seen the French word for “peanuts” before — not even at Olympic Stadium in 2004 — and now that I see it on these packages, “arachides” is a little too close to “arachnids” for comfort. There better not be spiders roasted in those shells!

The trots

To start the new season, the indispensable Wezen-Ball has offered up yet another in their long series of pointless, yet wonderful investigations of odd dimensions of baseball: the duration of home run trots.

I’ll won’t share all the details so you’ll click over–you really should be reading Wezen-Ball every day already–but it won’t surprise you to learn that Molinas take two of the top five slots for slowest home run trots. That’s not to say that they’re showboats–I suspect Mrs. Molina wouldn’t have any truck with that nonsense–it’s just that they move like showboats. Nineteenth-century paddlewheel showboats. Takes ’em a long time to get going, and their top speed is best registered in hours per mile.

Scott Rolen, meanwhile, that hardworking Hoosier with a Show-Me State attitude, makes the other list, his head-down churn near–but not at–the top. Who’s the fastest? Well, leaving aside Stephen Drew’s inside-the-parker from a few days back, it’s an AL player who has been described by a teammate as playing “as if he hasn’t slept for four days.” Take a gander at how close his time is to Drew’s, and remember that Drew was trying to avoid being tagged out while he was running the bases. I picture a dugout full of laughing teammates.

Things to read

On the occasion of today’s Dodgers home opener — their 53rd in Los Angeles, if I am counting correctly — the L.A. Times printed an op-ed piece about why their interlocking “LA” logo is awesome.

Speaking of awesome, @raysjoemaddon has been quiet on Twitter so far this season. Fortunately, there is @cubshaiku to pick up the baseball-related slack, summing up each Cubs game succinctly and poetically.

First there is a lead
Then there is no lead because
One run not enough

That’s the haiku summary of Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Reds.

Notes from the first few days of the season

Expanding on a few tweets I’ve made while watching some games this week…

1. Nice to see Albert Pujols quickly rewarding our faith in calling him a Player to Watch by hitting two home runs on Opening Day. Obviously, he knows a Cardinals-friendly blog when he sees one.

2. When I got home from work Monday, the only game on TV was Giants-Astros. Things were going along unremarkably until an Astros pitcher named Sammy Gervacio came in for the top of the 9th. He had, it turned out, a bizarre pre-pitch ritual, wherein he would briefly stare down the third-base dugout while holding the ball up. I’m not really doing it justice here; suffice to say that Mrs. Levi thought he was a robot. The only videos I can find of it are only halfway decent; here’s someone’s shaky-cam from the stands on Opening Day, and a brief video from spring training.

He was effective on Opening Day, striking out 2 of the 3 batters he faced; however, he ended up taking the loss in the second game, giving up two hits and an earned run in a third of an inning. And then he went on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. But I hereby proclaim him a Player to Watch once he gets back.

3. The Rays should know better than to set off fireworks inside Tropicana Field, as they did before their Opening Day game, which was not on Opening Day, for unexplained reasons. The haze never dissipated during the game, and for me watching on TV, it made Tropicana Field look even darker and dingier inside than it normally is. At one point, Rays announcer DeWayne Staats had to read an ad proclaiming that game was broadcast in “beautiful HD, brought to you by H.H. Gregg.” That HD was not beautiful. If H.H. Gregg had that game on any of the TVs in the store, it would have caused potential buyers to run away screaming, going home to embrace their old standard-definition TVs.

4. Wednesday evening, I discovered that DirecTV was carrying the Rogers SportsNet coverage of the Blue Jays-Rangers game, including the Canadian commercials. Which, it turned out, weren’t all that exciting. In fact, Lowe’s is running the same commercials in Canada that they are in the U.S., just with a different announcer at the end saying “Canada’s new home improvement warehouse.” Also, movie ads in Canada don’t end with the rating, which make them seem incomplete — they just kind of stop.

Don’t expect many more posts like this from me during the season, since I’ll be watching a lot less baseball once DirecTV’s free trial of the MLB Extra Innings package is over. This really should be Levi’s type of post, but he has unfortunately turned his attention to his “I’ve Been Reading Lately” blog, and to other literary activities, in the past couple of years. Just in case you’re wondering where he is…

Opening Day and hot dogs

For years, at two different employers, I had a Tuesday-through-Saturday work week. One of the few times I miss that schedule is on Opening Day Monday, when the MLB Extra Innings package is free on DirecTV, and it is thus possible to watch local baseball coverage all day. At least I get home from work around 4:15 (Pacific time), so I’ll be able to watch much of the “prime time” games. Tomorrow night, I’ll definitely be watching the Rays’ home opener — I think this may be the first time they’ve ever opened the season at home, albeit shoved to Tuesday, probably so their proximity wouldn’t taint last night’s Red Sox-Yankees game. (Incidentally, the L.A. Times baseball writer actually picked the Rays to finish first in the AL East.)

And as seen on The Consumerist: since hot dogs and baseball go together like, um, hot dogs and buns, here’s a press release from the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council with more details than you’d ever thought possible about ballpark hot dog and sausage menu options and consumption. I can definitely vouch for the Fenway Frank and, especially, the Dodger Dog. I cannot vouch for the hot dogs served at Wrigley Field, which aren’t very good — I suspect the reason they sell so many is that there aren’t a lot of other food options at Wrigley Field, particularly

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at the upper-deck concession stands.

Many of the “specialty” dogs mentioned in the press release sound good to me — but not necessarily while I’m at a baseball stadium, where I don’t particularly want to get hot dog toppings all over myself. I’m happy with just mustard (and I prefer “spicy brown” to yellow), and maybe onions.

The 2010 predictions

Hey, the baseball season starts tomorrow! Here are the 2010 predictions from both Sports Illustrated and a quick-and-dirty Bill James formula [(2009 wins*2)+(2008 wins)/3].

Sports Illustrated picked one Player To Watch for each team, so I’ve done the same. However, instead of actual analysis of each player’s strengths and what they bring to their teams, it’s mostly just making fun of their names.

Sports Illustrated Baseballrelated.com
Prediction Player to Watch Prediction Player to Watch
AL East
1. N.Y. Yankees (100-62) Javier Vazquez (RHP) 1. N.Y. Yankees (98-64) Derek Jeter (SS), who I’m expecting to find himself distracted by his gigantic house in my old neck of the woods in Tampa. A lot of things can go wrong with a house that size, beginning with satellites crashing into it, having been attracted by its gravitational pull.
2. Tampa Bay Rays (95-67) Jeff Niemann (RHP) 2. Boston Red Sox (95-67) Kevin Youkilis (1B), because I like saying “Yooooook.”
3. Boston Red Sox (93-69) Mike Cameron (CF) 3. Tampa Bay Rays (88-74) Pansy the Wuss-Wuss Fish Who Can’t Keep It Up (mascot), for what should be obvious reasons.
4. Baltimore Orioles (76-86) Nick Markakis (RF) 4. Toronto Blue Jays (79-83) Marc Rzepczynski (LHP) — want to find out how to pronounce that.
5. Toronto Blue Jays (64-98) Ricky Romero (LHP) 5. Baltimore Orioles (65-97) Cesar Izturis (SS) — enjoy his salad, like him on “The Dog Whisperer.”
AL Central
1. Minnesota Twins (88-74) Orlando Hudson (2B) 1. Minnesota Twins (87-75) The Minnesota Weather (environment) now that the Twins are in an outdoor stadium.
2. Detroit Tigers (82-80) Johnny Damon (LF) 2. Chicago White Sox (82-80) Gordon Beckham (2B) — we know he can play soccer, but what about baseball?
3. Chicago White Sox (79-83) Jake Peavy (RHP) 3. Detroit Tigers (82-80) Johnny Damon (LF), of course, of course.
4. Cleveland Indians (66-96) Fausto Carmona (RHP) 4. Cleveland Indians (70-92) Fausto Carmona (RHP), who has obviously sold his soul to the devil in order to beat the Yankees, who are unfortunately in a different division.
5. Kansas City Royals (65-97) Zack Greinke (RHP) 5. Kansas City Royals (68-94) Zack Greinke (RHP) — surely some Kansas City-based agribusiness research facility is working on cloning technology as we speak that would allow the Royals to have a rotation of five Greinkes.
AL West
1. L.A. Angels (89-73) Ervin Santana (RHP) 1. L.A. Angels (98-64) Jered Weaver (RHP) — I have a co-worker named Jarad who is originally from the greater Anaheim area. What is it with Orange County and weird spellings of “Jared”?
2. Texas Rangers (87-75) Josh Hamilton (RF) 2. Texas Rangers (84-78) Jarrod Saltalamacchia (C) — always fun to see how they manage to cram his name onto the back of his jersey.
3. Seattle Mariners (83-79) Milton Bradley (LF) 3. Seattle Mariners (77-85) David Aardsma (RHP) — first in war, first in peace, first in alphabetical order.
4. Oakland Athletics (79-83) Ben Sheets (RHP) 4. Oakland Athletics (75-87) Coco Crisp (CF), who always makes me hungry for cereal.
NL East
1. Philadelphia Phillies (100-62) Cole Hamels (LHP) 1. Philadelphia Phillies (93-69) Placido Polanco (3B), who should be singing the National Anthem before every game — or am I thinking of Enrico Palazzo?
2. Atlanta Braves (89-73) Billy Wagner (LHP) 2. Florida Marlins (86-76) John Baker (C) — okay, that’s how he registers at hotels, but what’s his real name?
3. Florida Marlins (82-80) Ricky Nolasco (RHP) 3. Atlanta Braves (81-81) Jair Jurrjens (RHP) — hopefully he’s less annoying on the Braves than he was in The Phantom Menace.
4. N.Y. Mets (79-83) Daniel Murphy (1B) 4. N.Y. Mets (76-86) Angel Pagan (OF) — most oxymoronic name in baseball.
5. Washington Nationals (67-95) Nyjer Morgan (CF) 5. Washington Nationals (59-103) Nyjer Morgan (CF) — great XTC song: “Making Plans for Nyjer.”
NL Central
1. St. Louis Cardinals (87-75) Colby Rasmus (CF) 1. St. Louis Cardinals (89-73) Albert Pujols (1B) — how can you not watch Albert Pujols?
2. Chicago Cubs (81-81) Geovany Soto (C) 2. Chicago Cubs (88-74) Carlos Zambrano (RHP) — because I still can’t remember which one is Carlos and which one is Victor.
3. Cincinnati Reds (79-83) Homer Bailey (RHP) 3. Milwaukee Brewers (83-79) Trevor Hoffman (RHP) — has anyone yet done a polka version of “Hell’s Bells” in his honor?
4. Milwaukee Brewers (77-85) Alcides Escobar (SS) 4. Houston Astros (78-84) Roy Oswalt (RHP) — his brother Patton is very, very funny.
5. Houston Astros (69-93) Brett Myers (RHP) 5. Cincinnati Reds (77-85) Homer Bailey (RHP) — with a name like Homer, how did he end up as a pitcher and not a hitter?
6. Pittsburgh Pirates (65-97) Andrew McCutchen (CF) 6. Pittsburgh Pirates (64-98) The Primanti Sandwich (concession) — sadly, again this year, probably going to be the best thing that makes its home in PNC Park.
NL West
1. Colorado Rockies (91-71) Todd Helton (1B) 1. L.A. Dodgers (91-71) Manny Ramirez (LF) — because no doubt he’s going to make something interesting happen.
2. L.A. Dodgers (87-75) Chad Billingsley (RHP) 2. Colorado Rockies (86-76) Huston Street (RHP) — waiting to see if he gets a street named after him, and if it’ll be handled the same way it was handled when Eugenius H. Outerbridge had a bridge named after him. (Actually, there already is a “Street Road” in the Philadelphia area. Maybe he should go to the Phillies.)
3. San Francisco Giants (83-79) Brian Wilson (RHP) 3. San Francisco Giants (83-79) Barry Zito (LHP), who wears his pants cuffs high and will therefore be showing off the Giants’ awesome new striped socks.
4. Arizona Diamondbacks (82-80) Mark Reynolds (3B) 4. Arizona Diamondbacks (74-88) Augie Ojeda (IF) — I always wonder if his father’s name is Ojeda Daddy.
5. San Diego Padres (66-96) Kyle Blanks (LF) 5. San Diego Padres (71-91) Will Venable (RF) — waiting for him to be around long enough that he becomes Will Venerable.