When the rain comes, they run and hide their heads

I hope nobody was watching yesterday afternoon’s emergency collection of “King of the Hill” reruns on Fox 11 in Los Angeles with their fancy new plasma TV, since the “RAINOUT” graphic that was continuously in the upper right-hand corner would have been burned in forever.

When I had the world’s most informal internship at independent station WTMV in Tampa in the summer of 1992 (they’ve since changed their call letters twice and started using Popeye’s parrot as a mascot), they carried games from three of the teams that then had spring training in the Tampa Bay area: the Cardinals, the Reds, and the Blue Jays. The agreed-upon broadcasting technique for a rain delay/rainout is that the announcers will fill exactly 10 minutes at the scheduled start time before returning control to the affiliates. WTMV’s second- and third-hand equipment was horrible enough that it would be problematic and awkward for them to backtime a half-hour show and join it in progress at the 10-minute mark, so instead, they had a 20-minute tape of baseball-related music videos that they probably got free from Major League Baseball to carry them to the next half-hour. Then they could start filling time with whatever sitcoms were lying around the control room, which usually meant reruns of “The Munsters Today.”

Original comments…

thatbob: Huh, so that’s how the sausage gets made.

The Golden Years

Despite my crankiness in the comments to Jim’s post about the Sports Illustrated piece about baseball being in good shape right now, I do agree with the general premise. We’re in a great era for baseball.

Over the weekend, which we spent being rained and eaten by John Kruk-sized mosquitoes in Door County, Wisconsin, I was reminded of one example of why it’s a good time to be a baseball fan. I thought of this recently when we were in Lake Tahoe and I was reading the Sacramento Bee, and it came to mind again while I was reading the Green Bay Press-Gazette last weekend.

Both cities, lacking major league baseball teams, cover teams from nearby cities, with the Bee leaning towards Oakland but covering the Giants as well, and the Press-Gazette covering the Brewers. But, their home cities being medium-sized, the papers don’t have extensive sports sections. They run bare-bones box scores. You get the at-bats, runs, hits, RBI. You get basic pitcher stats. You get the time of game and the umpires. And at best, you get a capsule summary of a paragraph or so to go with the box score.

Which brings me to my point. I’m spoiled. Reading a big-city paper or two or three every day, I’m used to getting the bells and whistles on my box scores. I want the pitch count, batters’ walks, batting average, details of the types of errors made.

And that’s just the beginning. When I moved up here in 1992, the expanded box score and the capsule summaries were my only way to follow Cardinals games that I couldn’t pick up on KMOX. Once in a while, I got to see a Post-Dispatch at a newsstand. But most days, I was deprived of a lot of
the fun of following a major league team: I got no rumors, no human-interest stories, no detailed stories of exciting wins. And, lacking cable, I got no replays.

Twelve years later, being away from the Internet and a big-city paper for a few days reminds me of just how much things have changed. I now have more baseball information than I could ever use, from all the stats in baseball history to great Cardinals commentary to the Post-Dispatch. And, though the design sucks (I keep hoping a certain Major League Baseball employee will get it fixed.), mlb.com is fantastic. The audio portion alone makes it a godsend to people like me rooting for out of town teams. Add in the video highlights (like a bit of thievery by Jim Edmonds that’s currently available on the Cardinals site), and you’ve got the best thing Major League Baseball has done since barring Pete Rose.

Add in all the other reasons already discussed in the earlier post, and it’s sure a good time to be a baseball fan.

Original comments…

maura: oh, starla.com, how i coveted you back in the day…

Levi: Yeah, I should probably fix that so it links to, say, your page instead of Hasbro’s.

Ok. Now it does.

Jason: What were you doing in Door County?

Levi: Not making a documentary about Wisconsin. Instead, we were camping. In the rain and a mosquito convention.

Twice the baseball?

I’m surprised Levi didn’t mention this in the previous entry: that Cardinals-Pirates game that was rained out on Tuesday is most likely going to be made up as part of a doubleheader when the Pirates next visit St. Louis…which happens to be August 19th through 22nd, coinciding with our planned visit on the 22nd. So what are the odds they’ll choose to do a Sunday doubleheader, and we’ll get to see two games?

Original comments…

Levi: Have you worked up a doubleheader itinerary, in case every game we see ends up being a doubleheader? Can we make all the games if that happens?

And, on a side note, you do have a passport, right? Because I don’t think they let you into Canadia without one these days.

Jim: If every game ends up being a doubleheader? I don’t think that’s going to happen unless we get some “Day After Tomorrow”-style weather within the next couple of months but things clear up by mid-August. For now, the doubleheader plan involves getting up earlier and/or driving faster.

Yes, I have a passport. Don’t you have every post on this blog memorized?

Levi: I know it’s unlikely that every game would end up a doubleheader, but do you want to be caught short if that happens? What’s the only thing more impressive than ten games in ten cities in ten days? Why, it’s 20 games in 20 cities in ten days!

Jim: I think you mean 20 games in 10 cities in 10 days, unless you’re thinking the doubleheaders are going to be long enough that the home team is going to relocate between the two games. Which is a possibility for the Expos, I guess.


Thursday night, Stacey and I helped out some friends who have six-week-old twin boys, staying overnight at their 37th-floor apartment and sitting up with one of the boys. While we were there, we got to watch a wild thunderstorm over the city, the park, and the lake. It was pretty amazing–I finally got to see the multiple lightning strikes on the Hancock Building that are captured in those time-lapse photos that are sold as posters in tourist shops downtown.

In the park below, four baseball fields were being flooded. In the morning, there was standing water all over the infield. That–and the Cardinals/Pirates rainout last night–reminded me of a time in high school when two ballplayers on the Carmi Bulldogs for some reason didn’t want to play in the game scheduled for the next day. So late at night they went to the ballpark, ran a hose onto the field, and turned it on. They went home to bed and left the hose to do its work. Some beer might have been consumed at some point, too.

The field was flooded, and the game was canceled. But, the guys, being high schoolers, and not that adept at lying or covering up, got caught and suspended. It’s always been one of my favorite stories of teenagers going to a fair amount of trouble to get out of doing something.

Maybe Toby can find the story in the Carmi Times archives and see if I’ve got the details right. I think I remember who the guys were, but I’d hate to libel someone.

Original comments…

Jon Solomon: I went to the Wilmington Blue Rocks game last night. There was a 70 minute lightning/rain delay in the top of the seventh inning. By the time the game ended, there were ~40 people in the stands out of the 4,500+ at first pitch. My friend Scooter and I moved down behind home plate and stood in the aisles, leading the crowd in cheers, trying to rally the home team (and earn a final appearance from Mr. Celery!). The Blue Rocks scored two in the bottom of the final frame to win 7-6. It was great.

Levi: Sounds like a great game, but I’m left with a lingering question:

Mr. Celery?

Steve: If I was a player on the Blue Rocks I’d want to be #2


Levi: I have since this post learned that players in the movie Bull Durham soak the field in this fashion. I’m not surprised to learn that my high school classmates got the idea from a movie, I suppose. Not as surprised as you probably are that I haven’t seen Bull Durham. I just added it to my Netflix queue.

Jon Solomon: Mr. Celery: http://www.llij.net/pictures/mr-celery2.html

He’s a shy mascot, so he only comes out on the field when the Blue Rocks have a rally going, jumping up and down to “Song #2” by Blur. People in the stands shake stalks of celery at him. This is what we were doing behind home plate, produce held skyward.

Jason: Is Wilmington a strong celery-producing area? I’m not being sarcastic, I’m actually curious.

Jon Solomon: When I asked someone “why celery?” the first time I went to see the Blue Rocks play, the only answer I got was “exactly,” followed by silence.

The Blue Rocks’ new mascot this season is named “Rubble.” Rubble is a small blue rock who flew in the slipstream down from Philadelphia when the Vet was imploded. He looks like Meatwad from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, kinda.



Toby: I wouldn’t have to look it up in the archives because I can remember the whole thing quite vividly. But it was one of my better friends involved, so I won’t reveal any names.

BTW, Levi, the baseball team went 28-4 this season.

And thanks for the link…..

Levi: 28-4?

What’s up with Carmi sports this year? Seriously. We ought to field a polo team, synchronized swimming, and maybe a biathlon team, just to see if they could win, too. Clearly there’s success in the air this year.