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.

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.

Skip Caray, R. I. P.

The Skip Caray anecdote in this David O’Brien column from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution made me laugh embarrassingly loudly at my desk this afternoon, even after Craig Calcaterra of Shysterball warned his readers how good it was–and pointed out that it was most likely Chip Caray’s finest hour as well.

Enjoy, folks. And rest in peace, Skip.

Hit by pitch with the bases loaded: the most exciting play in baseball

And it’s even more exciting when it happens in the bottom of the 11th inning, thus becoming a walk-off hit by pitch, as it did in today’s Braves-Cubs game.

I watched this game because Levi e-mailed me this morning to tell me that WGN was doing a “retro” telecast to commemorate their 60th anniversary of broadcasting Cubs games, in time for me to use DirecTV’s web site to schedule my DVR to record it.

As it turned out, it was much less elaborate than when Fox gave the “retro” treatment to a Cubs-Dodgers game circa 2000. For the first two innings, WGN presented the game in black and white, with only a couple of camera angles; they also had their character generator on the simplest possible setting (white text only, but with a modern-day drop shadow), which continued through

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the entire game. And they used a cool “WGN 9 TV”

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logo that I hadn’t seen before — at least, I didn’t recognize it from any of the old Chicago TV Guides I have in my collection.

Also, this was the AT&T poll (which should have been the “Bell System” poll, but I know it can be hard getting sponsors to go along with such things):

Which of these new things are you enjoying the most?
A. Velcro
B. Vinyl 33-1/3 LP
C. Bikini
D. Scrabble
E. NASCAR

“Bikini” won in a landslide.

Opening Day 2007: Hour 3

12:00 — Salsa, chips, and cheese — lunch of champions!
12:07 — Say what you will about TBS, I enjoy their “scorecard” graphics.

12:09 — On WGN, they’re interviewing Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, who at one point refers to baseball as “the industry,” which is just a horrible way to refer to baseball, although I’m sure it feels like it from his perspective.
12:16 — Hey, Ken Griffey Jr. is in right field for the Reds! He’s still around?
12:17 — The Reds catcher still has the old Mr. Redlegs design on his mask (well, the old new Mr. Redlegs design, without a mustache, which has now been replaced by the new old Mr. Redlegs design).

12:20 — Ah, the Midwest!

12:25 — Mrs. Owner of the Dodgers is being interviewed at hipster hangout named Barney’s Beanery in West Hollywood, where I’ve been once. Various Dodgers people went to various establishments today to watch the game with the fans. Given the game action on the TVs in the background, I can tell that this interview is not airing live.

12:32 — A woman with a loud and high-pitched voice is sitting very close to a microphone that TBS is using to capture crowd noise, and she’s cheering for Tom Gordon: “Come on, Flash!”
12:41 — At this moment, both the Braves-Phillies and Blue Jays-Tigers games are tied at 3 with 1 out in the bottom of the 9th.
12:44 — At this moment, a cat has jumped onto my lap to watch her beloved Tigers.
12:49 — Tigers and Blue Jays go into extra innings. The Braves-Phillies game already went into extra innings, while I wasn’t paying attention.
12:54 — Bud Selig is in the booth at the White Sox-Indians game. Hawk Harrelson tells him he’s the best commissioner since 1959, with the late Bowie Kuhn second. Uh-huh.
12:57 — W.B. Mason has helpfully added “Office Supplies” to their outfield wall advertising this year. Now we can assume that things there are just like they are at Dunder Mifflin, as seen on TV’s “The Office.”

Opening Day 2007: Hour 1

When Opening Day came around a year ago, I was unemployed with no immediate prospects. Within a month, I had been hired for a full-time temp job. And by the time the World Series rolled around, I was hired as an actual employee.

So it’s clear that baseball is a force for good. Let’s see what it can do for me this year.

10:00Tampa Bay Devil Rays at New York Yankees (ESPN and YES)
Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies (TBS)
Toronto Blue Jays at Detroit Tigers (FSN Detroit)
Florida Marlins at Washington Nationals (MASN)
Time for everyone’s pre-produced “Opening Day” intros.
10:05 — The Tigers manage to get under way first.
10:06 — The Blue Jays have the first at-bat of the season — a walk.
10:08 — And the Blue Jays steal against Ivan Rodriguez. This season is going great for the Tigers so far.
10:09 — The Marlins steal third! Looks like this is going to be the Year of the Stolen Base, as the L.A. Times sort of predicted today.
10:11 — Carl Crawford leads off for the Devil Rays with a hit against the Yankees.
10:12 — Crawford steals second!
10:15 — Rocco Baldelli, whose name is on the back of the Devil Rays T-shirt I’m wearing, hits to the warning track. The Yankees announcers say it could have been a home run if the humidity were lower today.
10:19 — I have to go get my laundry out of the dryer. Meanwhile, things fall apart for the Devil Rays.
10:30 — The Yankees score two runs, which the YES graphics briefly award to the Devil Rays.

10:40 — Hey, it’s Adrian Fenty, the mayor of Washington, D.C., in the stands at RFK Stadium, being interviewed with a radio mike that’s not quite working properly.
10:49 — The Devil Rays get their first run of 2007. First of many, I’m sure.
10:52 — Not particularly baseball-related, but I get an automated phone call from the L.A. Times telling me that the “TV Times” section is being discontinued after next week, but I’ll still be able to get TV listings online. They don’t know I have a TiVo.

Wrigley Field has been around a long time

From YouTube, via the Uni Watch blog, here’s six and a half minutes of home movie footage shot at Wrigley Field. It starts off with 1930 Flag Day ceremonies prior to a game against the Boston Braves, including the raising of a 1929 NL championship pennant,

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and then switches to 1929 World Series action against the Philadelphia A’s (either Game 1 or Game 2, both of which were Cubs losses).

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.