Cardinals championship ruins joke

In 1996, I sent Levi a condolence card after the National League Championship Series, in which the Braves came back from being down 3 games to 1 to the Cardinals (including a 14-0 win at Busch Stadium in Game 5).

In 2004, I sent Levi a condolence card after the

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Red Sox swept the Cardinals in the World Series.

This year, if the Rangers had won in Game 6 or Game 7, what I would have sent Levi is some random sort of greeting card — perhaps a My Little Pony birthday card that would normally be intended for a 5-year-old girl — and writing in it, “I asked my friend Tony La Russa to call and order a condolence card.”

Of course, I don’t think Levi necessarily minds that he didn’t get to fully enjoy that joke.


You’ve got to like a baseball movie that can, at the most crucial situation depicted in the film, have the audience hoping for a walk.

Not to mention any movie in which the very first image depicted on screen is that of Johnny Damon. (Unfortunately, he’s only in the movie via archive footage and as a topic of conversation, so we don’t know who would have played him. Instead, we know Stephen Bishop as David Justice and Chris Pratt as catcher-turned-first-baseman Scott Hatteberg.)

Jonah Hill seems particularly good — or maybe it’s just surprising to see him acting dramatic in a drama. Of course, the only reason he’s in this movie is because Paul DePodesta and his Harvard economics degree wouldn’t sign off on the use of his name and likeness, so instead

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they created a completely different character: one with an economics degree from Yale. (Wikipedia claims that Paul DePodesta would have been played by Demetri Martin, who you may note has a slightly different body type than Jonah Hill.)

Since I remember 2002 fairly well, I was of course on the lookout for anachronisms, and the only one I remember seeing was the current logo of KICU being used, although I’m sure there were some uniform details that were wrong, and they’ll probably get brought up soon on Uni Watch. (Something that did correctly make it in to the movie was the ad on the outfield wall at the Coliseum for “Fox Sports Net/Cable Channel 40.”) I also heard a huge anachronism, but I’ll leave that out of this post to avoid spoiling it for future nitpickers.

A very good baseball movie, and it also has plenty of Brad Pitt displaying emotion for people who don’t like baseball. If you don’t like either of those things, well, too bad for you.

2011 predictions

Oh, it’s this thing again. The Sports Illustrated picks, and our ridiculous mathematical picks. SI didn’t include a Player to Watch feature this year, which is good, because it means I don’t have to write 30 stupid jokes about baseball players’ names.

Actually, I do have one legitimate Player to Watch: Evan Longoria, now that we know he is an enthusiastic gun enthusiast, enough that he brought an AK-47 to spring training.

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Seriously, watch him. Watch out for him.

Sports Illustrated
AL East
1. Boston Red Sox (100-62) 1. N.Y. Yankees (98-64)
2. N.Y. Yankees (92-70) 2. Tampa Bay Rays (92-70)
3. Tampa Bay Rays (84-78) 3. Boston Red Sox (91-71)
4. Baltimore Orioles (78-84) 4. Toronto Blue Jays (82-80)
5. Toronto Blue Jays (77-85) 5. Baltimore Orioles (65-97)
AL Central
1. Minnesota Twins (90-72) 1. Minnesota Twins (92-70)
2. Detroit Tigers (89-73) 2. Chicago White Sox (85-77)
3. Chicago White Sox (84-78) 3. Detroit Tigers (83-79)
4. Cleveland Indians (70-92) 4. Cleveland Indians (68-94)
5. Kansas City Royals (67-95) 5. Kansas City Royals (66-96)
AL West
1. Oakland Athletics (87-75) 1. Texas Rangers (89-73)
2. Texas Rangers (85-77) 2. L.A. Angels (86-76)
3. L.A. Angels (77-85) 3. Oakland Athletics (79-83)
4. Seattle Mariners (63-99) 4. Seattle Mariners (69-93)
NL East
1. Philadelphia Phillies (93-69) 1. Philadelphia Phillies (96-66)
2. Atlanta Braves (89-73) 2. Atlanta Braves (89-73)
3. Florida Marlins (85-77) 3. Florida Marlins (82-80)
4. Washington Nationals (75-87) 4. N.Y. Mets (76-86)
5. N.Y. Mets (74-88) 5. Washington Nationals (66-96)
NL Central
1. Cincinnati Reds (89-73) 1. St. Louis Cardinals (88-74)
2. Milwaukee Brewers (84-78) 2. Cincinnati Reds (87-75)
3. Chicago Cubs (81-81) 3. Chicago Cubs (78-84)
4. St. Louis Cardinals (78-84) 3. Milwaukee Brewers (78-84)
5. Pittsburgh Pirates (65-97) 5. Houston Astros (75-87)
6. Houston Astros (64-98) 6. Pittsburgh Pirates (59-103)
NL West
1. San Francisco Giants (91-71) 1. San Francisco Giants (91-71)
2. Colorado Rockies (90-72) 2. Colorado Rockies (86-76)
3. L.A. Dodgers (82-80) 3. L.A. Dodgers (85-77)
4. San Diego Padres (76-86) 3. San Diego Padres (85-77)
5. Arizona Diamondbacks (71-91) 5. Arizona Diamondbacks (67-95)

The Sweeney story

Mike Sweeney: player for a small-market team, and victim of a conspiracy that’s kept him

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from being recognized.

The 2010 predictions in review

Once again, it’s time to look back and see how two entities did with their predictions for the 2010 season: Sports Illustrated, with their decades of baseball expertise, and this website, with a simple formula I have from an old Bill James Abstract and a deep desire to make fun of baseball players’ names.

In the “actual results” columns, for the most part, the “Player Who Should Have Been Watched” was the team’s leader in the Runs Above Replacement Player statistic — which I only vaguely understand, but fortunately, there are websites aplenty that don’t make you understand it, they just print the results. In a few cases, though, it seemed obvious that someone else (or something else) should have gotten all the scrutiny.

Sports Illustrated Actual results
Prediction Player to Watch Prediction Player to Watch Prediction Player Who Should Have Been Watched
AL East
1. N.Y. Yankees (100-62) Javier Vazquez (RHP) 1. N.Y. Yankees (98-64) Derek Jeter (SS) 1. Tampa Bay Rays (96-66) Evan Longoria (3B)
2. Tampa Bay Rays (95-67) Jeff Niemann (RHP) 2. Boston Red Sox (95-67) Kevin Youkilis (1B) 2. New York Yankees (95-67) Robinson Cano (2B)
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) 3.

Boston Red Sox (89-73)

Adrian Beltre (3B)

4. Baltimore Orioles (76-86) Nick Markakis (RF) 4. Toronto Blue Jays (79-83) Marc Rzepczynski (LHP) 4. Toronto Blue Jays (85-77) Jose Bautista (RF)
5. Toronto Blue Jays (64-98) Ricky Romero (LHP) 5. Baltimore Orioles (65-97) Cesar Izturis (SS) 5. Baltimore Orioles (66-96) Luke Scott (1B)
AL Central
1. Minnesota Twins (88-74) Orlando Hudson (2B) 1. Minnesota Twins (87-75) The Minnesota Weather (environment) 1. Minnesota Twins (94-68) Joe Mauer (DH)
2. Detroit Tigers (82-80) Johnny Damon (LF) 2. Chicago White Sox (82-80) Gordon Beckham (2B) 2. Chicago White Sox (88-64) Paul Konerko (1B)
3. Chicago White Sox (79-83) Jake Peavy (RHP) 3. Detroit Tigers (82-80) Johnny Damon (LF) 3. Detroit Tigers (81-81) Armando Galarraga (RHP) — should have been watched a little more carefully by Jim Joyce.
4. Cleveland Indians (66-96) Fausto Carmona (RHP) 4. Cleveland Indians (70-92) Fausto Carmona (RHP) 4. Cleveland Indians (69-93) Shin-Soo Choo (RF)
5. Kansas City Royals (65-97) Zack Greinke (RHP) 5. Kansas City Royals (68-94) Zack Greinke (RHP) 5. Kansas City Royals (67-95) Royals Hall of Fame at Kaufmann Stadium (exhibit)
AL West
1. L.A. Angels (89-73) Ervin Santana (RHP) 1. L.A. Angels (98-64) Jered Weaver (RHP) 1. Texas Rangers (90-72) Josh Hamilton (RF)
2. Texas Rangers (87-75) Josh Hamilton (RF) 2. Texas Rangers (84-78) Jarrod Saltalamacchia (C) 2. Oakland Athletics (81-81) Dallas Braden (LHP) — should have been watched by more than 12,228 on May 9th.
3. Seattle Mariners (83-79) Milton Bradley (LF) 3. Seattle Mariners (77-85) David Aardsma (RHP) 3. L.A. Angels (80-82) Kendry Morales (1B) — should have been watched more carefully to make sure he doesn’t break his leg jumping onto the plate after hitting a home run.
4. Oakland Athletics (79-83) Ben Sheets (RHP) 4. Oakland Athletics (75-87) Coco Crisp (CF) 4. Seattle Mariners (61-101) Ichiro Suzuki (RF)
NL East
1. Philadelphia Phillies (100-62) Cole Hamels (LHP) 1. Philadelphia Phillies (93-69) Placido Polanco (3B) 1. Philadelphia Phillies (97-65) Roy Halladay (RHP) — should have been watched in case he threw a perfect game in the regular season and a no-hitter in the postseason.
2. Atlanta Braves (89-73) Billy Wagner (LHP) 2. Florida Marlins (86-76) John Baker (C) 2. Atlanta Braves (91-71) Brian McCann (C)
3. Florida Marlins (82-80) Ricky Nolasco (RHP) 3. Atlanta Braves (81-81) Jair Jurrjens (RHP) 3. Florida Marlins (80-82) Dan Uggla (2B)
4. N.Y. Mets (79-83) Daniel Murphy (1B) 4. N.Y. Mets (76-86) Angel Pagan (OF) 4. N.Y. Mets (79-83) Angel Pagan (OF)
5. Washington Nationals (67-95) Nyjer Morgan (CF) 5. Washington Nationals (59-103) Nyjer Morgan (CF) 5. Washington Nationals (69-93) Stephen Strasburg (RHP) — okay, no “should have been” here; was watched, by everyone, everywhere.
NL Central
1. St. Louis Cardinals (87-75) Colby Rasmus (CF) 1. St. Louis Cardinals (89-73) Albert Pujols (1B) 1. Cincinnati Reds (91-71) Joey Votto (1B)
2. Chicago Cubs (81-81) Geovany Soto (C) 2. Chicago Cubs (88-74) Carlos Zambrano (RHP) 2. St. Louis Cardinals (86-76) Albert Pujols (1B)
3. Cincinnati Reds (79-83) Homer Bailey (RHP) 3. Milwaukee Brewers (83-79) Trevor Hoffman (RHP) 3. Milwaukee Brewers (77-85) Rickie Weeks (2B)
4. Milwaukee Brewers (77-85) Alcides Escobar (SS) 4. Houston Astros (78-84) Roy Oswalt (RHP) 4. Houston Astros (76-86) Michael Bourn (OF)
5. Houston Astros (69-93) Brett Myers (RHP) 5. Cincinnati Reds (77-85) Homer Bailey (RHP) 5. Chicago Cubs (75-87) Marlon Byrd (OF)
6. Pittsburgh Pirates (65-97) Andrew McCutchen (CF) 6. Pittsburgh Pirates (64-98) The Primanti Sandwich (concession) 6. Pittsburgh Pirates (57-105) The Pittsburgh Skyline As Seen from PNC Park (view)
NL West
1. Colorado Rockies (91-71) Todd Helton (1B) 1. L.A. Dodgers (91-71) Manny Ramirez (LF) 1. San Francisco Giants (92-70) Brian Wilson (RHP) — should have been watched for beard-related shoe-polish purchases.
2. L.A. Dodgers (87-75) Chad Billingsley (RHP) 2. Colorado Rockies (86-76) Huston Street (RHP) 2. San Diego Padres (90-72) Adrian Gonzalez (1B)
3. San Francisco Giants (83-79) Brian Wilson (RHP) 3. San Francisco Giants (83-79) Barry Zito (LHP) 3. Colorado Rockies (83-79) Troy Tulowitzki (SS)
4. Arizona Diamondbacks (82-80) Mark Reynolds (3B) 4. Arizona Diamondbacks (74-88) Augie Ojeda (IF) 4. L.A. Dodgers (80-82) McCourt vs. McCourt (trial)
5. San Diego Padres (66-96) Kyle Blanks (LF) 5. San Diego Padres (71-91) Will Venable (RF) 5. Arizona Diamondbacks (65-97) Justin Upton (RF)

“What baseball team should I root for?”


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At last, baseball research of real importance

Over at Baseball Prospectus, Larry Granillo has figured out

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the date of the Cubs-Braves game that’s featured in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: June 5, 1985. And the follow-up from Al Yellon at SB Nation: through the magic of film editing, Matthew Broderick, Mia Sara, and Alan Ruck weren’t actually in the stands that day; they and some extras were there on an off day, probably in September or early October 1985. (Which would have been my guess anyway. My college degree is in That Sort of Thing. And I knew that the “Danke Schoen”/”Twist and Shout” scene was filmed at the actual Chicago Von Steuben Day parade in September 1985.) As noted, Ferris Bueller catches a foul ball in the actual movie, but Principal Rooney isn’t looking at the TV at the crucial moment. In

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the MAD satire (“Fearless Buller’s Day Off”), Rooney later tells his secretary Grace that he knows Ferris is at the Cubs game

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because “they announced his name when he came in to pinch hit.” This paragraph was written from memory.

The Eephus League

As seen on the Uni Watch blog: The Eephus League of Baseball Minutiae was the senior graphic design project of Auburn University student Bethany Heck. I think I can safely speak for Levi and say that this is right up the alley of both of us here at BRPA, both in terms of

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and the baseball.

The highlight is the “Shop” page, which you unfortunately can’t shop on (yet). I love all the posters using old photos from the Library of Congress collection, but if I were going to actually buy anything, it would have to be the scorekeeping pencils in a can.

October means baseball…-related dreams

It was early in spring training, perhaps the very first day, for the Cubs. I was standing at about shortstop position, albeit in front of the infield dirt, fielding ground balls that were being softly hit to me.

I looked down to see that I was wearing a blue Cubs jersey and that my number was either 36 or 38. (You may note that the blue Cubs jerseys don’t actually have numbers on the front, and that both 36 and 38 are currently in use by actual Cubs players.)

I was slow getting to a ball, and by the time I reached it, someone had already thrown the pitcher a new ball. I kept trying to kick the ball away, but it only went a very short distance no matter how hard I kicked it.

Then they opened the gates of the stadium and I stood in a small group of players in the infield — one of whom was hanger-on Maura while a group of fans walked over to us. The first fan to reach us was a woman who shook everyone’s hand. Behind her was another woman to whom I said, “Happy new year!”, which made her giggle. (Now that I’ve thought about it, that is exactly what baseball players should say to fans at the beginning of spring training!)

At that point, the first woman turned back to me to say that she’d been looking for the song “Stand Up for Peoria” by either Jane Rogers or Jane Douglas. I mumbled something noncommittal. Once that woman went away, I reached down to get the notebook that was lying on the

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ground at my feet. I opened it and pointed out to Maura that I had it on my list of CDs I’d like to buy used. I started wondering how, even if I found that song, I was going to get a copy of it to that woman. (Peoria is home to a Cubs minor-league team. I am impressed by that association being in the dream.)

Then I woke up and it was about

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A troubling thing here is that, although the playoffs are about to begin — with my team in them — my

subconscious is already looking forward to spring training, and thinking about a non-playoff team.

Should’ve been searching with Bing this whole time

A complete kinescope of the NBC telecast of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series has been found in Bing Crosby’s private vault. (“Along with several of his classic child beatings.” — J. Elvis Weinstein)

MLB Network will apparently be showing it later this year, giving it the same treatment they gave Don Larsen’s perfect game: digging up everyone who’s still alive so they can be interviewed by Bob Costas for wraparound segments.