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.

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 half hour until my alarm was set to go off.

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.

Rolled triple 1s for Tyler Colvin

On a flight from Houston to L.A. today (saw the Astros beat the Reds Friday night), I reread The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop..

A bat splinter puncturing the lung of a player on the basepath is definitely something from J. Henry Waugh’s Chart of Extraordinary Occurrences.

And we’re off! Sort of.

Baseball Related Program Activities for 2010 have begun!

And what better way to kick things off than with a 3-1 Cubs win over the Pirates at Wrigley Field that is best described as “crisp”? Both teams played solid defense, both teams pitched well (or, perhaps more likely, given these two teams, hit poorly), and in a mere 2:23 we were out of there and into the car . . . I mean, onto bicycles and L cars for the ten-minute trip back to my house.

Notes from the game:

* Stacey came along, thus taking the honorable position of our first official BRPA 2010 hanger-on.

* The game wasn’t the only thing that was crisp: a game-time temperature of 65 degrees combined with a constant breeze to keep the upper deck just cooler than cool, and convince me to pack some jeans for the trip. Maybe mittens, too: we are, after all, going to Minneapolis.

* Some fans two rows behind us, seeing Stacey taking our photo, correctly guessed that we were on a road trip. We didn’t really try to explain that while, yes, we were on a road trip, I have been sitting in that very seat for a dozen years. (Our caps may also have clued them in: I was, as usual, wearing my Cardinals cap, while Jim was wearing what must have been a Time Bandits cap–it said “TB” on the front, and I have a hard time believing that he was rooting for tuberculosis.)

* Alfonso Soriano apparently ate all his Home Run Crunch before the game, as he hit two absolute bombs.

* I’ll be surprised if anyone even comes close to taking the title of Best Shoes of BRPA 2010 from Lastings Milledge. I can’t believe that all his teammates haven’t followed his lead and started wearing yellow-trimmed cleats. Dude looks sharp.

* Jim didn’t vomit on the usher until after the fourth bag of cotton candy. Wait, no: he didn’t vomit on the usher at all, because he refused my offer to buy all his meals on the entire trip if he would eat only cotton candy at the ballpark every night.

And now to bed–tomorrow at this time, we’ll be in Kansas City!

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.

Baseball HD chili

“HD” stands for “Highly Delicious” (or, shop perhaps, “Holycow, Dodgers!”).

In retrospect, Levi and I saw this coming at Wrigley Field on September 2nd, when we saw the Astros beat the Cubs 9-7 in 11 innings — a game which obviously impressed neither of us enough to write about it on this blog. (Also, that game lasted long enough that we had to get to bed, one of us to go to work, and the other of us to catch a flight back to L.A.)

Tracking team travels

Both the Cubs and White Sox use United Airlines charters for their travel needs, and United always assigns them the same flight numbers: 9904 for the Sox, 9907 for the Cubs.

And therefore, it’s possible to track their flights: 9904 and 9907. Because it’s a charter service, you’ll see some airports that aren’t normally served by United but that are closer to the hotel or stadium: Wheeler Downtown Airport in Kansas City to meet the Royals, for example, or St. Petersburg/Clearwater International for Rays games.

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

“Bikini” won in a landslide.

Also in attendance

At tonight’s Cubs game, though I didn’t notice it, both Stacey and our friend Becky assured me that the message board between innings at one point read:

The Chicago Cubs welcome Smellosaurus Rex

I don’t think he

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was in our section.

Wrigley Field

As I’m about to head out into the cold and show to enjoy yet another Opening Day at

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Wrigley Field, I thought it would be appropriate to point out Michael Barrett’s thoughts about the future of the ballpark. The Tribune asked him, and some other Cubs, about the ballpark because of the uncertainty created by impending new ownership. Barrett, it turns out, thinks the ballpark should stay exactly the same. The same, that is, except for one little improvement:

“Ideally, especially for this time of year, you’d like to see a dome put on the outside of it,” Barrett said. “Don’t change anything about Wrigley Field. Just reinforce it and have a dome covering it.”

Well, that should be easy enough.