You can’t beat a pizza at the old ballpark

Nice to see television slow-motion technology being used in this

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manner, during the broadcast of Monday’s Red Sox-Angels game.

Opening Day 2007: Hour 4

1:00Boston Red Sox at Kansas City Royals (ESPN and NESN)
Arizona Diamondbacks at Colorado Rockies (FSN Rocky Mountain)
1:01 — At last, a game is over: Marlins 9, Nationals 2.
1:05 — Mariano Rivera comes on for the Yankees. The Devil Rays were keeping it close for a while, but the Yankees now lead by 4.
1:11 — Hey, the Diamondbacks really did switch to red uniforms. If their fellow expansion team were to follow suit, though, they’d be accused of copying the Red Sox, their division mates.
1:14 — But they lost 9-5 to the Yankees, so maybe they should think about switching to red.
1:17 — Gary Sheffield is still swinging his bat wildly in an amusing manner as he waits for pitches.
1:18 — Didn’t help. He struck out.
1:22 — The Dodgers-Brewers game must have been a quick affair, since the postgame show is already airing.
1:29 — Ken Griffey Sr., in the FSN Ohio booth, claims he grounded his son a few times while they were playing together for the Mariners.
1:45 — I check my e-mail. Nothing much seems to be happening in the world except for Opening Day.
1:52 — It’s hard to come back from 9 runs down in the bottom of the 9th, and I’ll be surprised if the White Sox do it.
1:54There’s another Molina?!
1:58 — Turns out I’m not surprised, although the Sox did manage to score 2.

Recommended baseball reading

Jury duty is good for getting some reading in. For the past two days while I was in the main Los Angeles criminal courts building, I read Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Blunders. These are blunders not by players, but by coaches, managers, general managers, and owners. It starts with the White Sox getting rid of first baseman Jack Fournier in 1917 in favor of future “Black Sox” ringleader Chick Gandil, and ends with Joe Torre not putting Mariano Riviera into Game 4 of the 2003 World Series.

Yes, the penultimate chapter is about a certain sequence of events that occurred just six days earlier, in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, and the Devil Rays get an entire chapter (the idea being that the franchise got off on the wrong foot when they immediately traded away Bobby Abreu after taking him with their first expansion draft pick).

Mascot watch

We knew the Red Sox had a mascot named Wally

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the Green Monster — but it turns out they also have…well, see for yourself.

I’ve been reading lately

I have recently finished reading Jim Knows: The Book. Unfortunately, it was not written by me, it was written by a man named John Hodgman. And he chose not to call it Jim Knows: The Book, but instead The Areas of My Expertise. Obviously, since I’m mentioning it on this web site, there is some baseball-related content. It comes from the section titled “Some Prophets Who Were Not Actuaries.”

SARAH WOODHOPE grew up in the suburbs around Boston and was noted in her high school yearbook as the school’s only guitar player and its first practicing Wiccan. In the fall of 1985, at the age of seventeen, she had a strange and vivid dream: a Patriot win over the heavily favored Dolphins in the AFC championship. She only mentioned the dream to one or two friends. But when it came true, she tearfully confessed that she had been dreaming of sporting events every night since she had gotten into Bryn Mawr early. She saw flashes of hockey games, whole innings of baseball that would not be played until the following summer, the tips of Larry Bird’s fingers releasing the ball in what would be the last NBA game he would ever play. “I never asked for this,” she told the Boston Globe when her strange gift became known. “Why would Gaia put these awful images in my head? I only wish it would stop.”

Woodhope’s visions continued, however, and Bostonians will recall that she eventually agreed to share them once a week with local disc jockey Dale Dorman during his drivetime shift on KISS-108. Her glimpses of the sporting future did not always predict a winner, and indeed they were often incomplete and imperfectly understood by Woodhope herself: She never quite grasped the rules of football, for example, and expressed surprise when she was told that William “The Refrigerator” Perry was an actual human and not a fantastic invention of her unconscious. “I thought…,” she said in a laughing declaration that would be played by Dorman again and again over the years, “I thought he was some kind of beautiful ogre!” At the end of each segment, Woodhope would explain a principle of Wicca and encourage the listeners to help heal the earth through enlightened white magick. This was her condition for appearing, and her advocacy is at least partly responsible for the large number of covens in Boston today, as well as the tradition of burning incense before Bruins games.

The following September, Woodhope went to Bryn Mawr, where she became an English major and would go on to write feminist fantasy novels. According to her autobiography, Cauldron Sister, her dreams ceased once she left Massachusetts. But there was one final vision she held back from Dorman: She dreamed of a short grounder along the first-base line, the ball hop-rolling gaily through the legs of an instantly ruined Bill Buckner and continuing on over the queasy green outfield at Shea Stadium. It was, of course, Game 6 of the upcoming 1986 World Series. This was the first time, she wrote, that she actually understood what she had seen, and what it would mean to Dorman and his listeners: that Boston would have to wait another eighteen years before it could break the curse laid on the Red Sox by Babe Ruth, that noted warlock of swat.

“I couldn’t put that kind of sadness out into the world,” she wrote, “especially since I knew it would only come back to me threefold: that is the Law.” Still, an unlikely friendship had developed between the DJ and the composed young witch, and so on her last broadcast that Labor Day, she kept her silence, offering only a hopeful Wiccan farewell: “Hoof and horn, hoof and horn, all that dies shall be reborn. Corn and grain, corn and grain, all that falls shall rise again. So mote it be!”

I actually wish this had been written before the 2004 World Series so it didn’t include the “another eighteen years”; it’s obviously much more melancholy if you think about a vision of the Red Sox never winning the World Series.

Yes, if you like this excerpt, you will like the book. As another endorsement, when interviewed on “The Daily Show” about this book, John Hodgman made Jon Stewart laugh repeatedly to the point that he had trouble getting his questions out, in a way I have not seen before or since. Why, if there had been a wall behind him, he might have hit his head from throwing it backwards as a result of all the uproariousness.

Now, please feel free to comment on all this, so that I can continue to post excerpts from books under the guise of “fair use for the purpose of criticism and commentary,” at least until spring training starts.

In the news

In addition to today’s front pages, has newspaper front pages from certain historic dates since they’ve been collecting front pages.

Here are the newspapers in the U.S. that ran a front-page news photo relating to the White Sox’s win today, October 27, 2005 (as opposed to a photo used in a referral box at the top of the page or down the side): Arizona Daily Star (Tucson); Los Angeles Times; The Record (Stockton, CA); San Diego Union-Tribune; Ventura County Star; Denver Post; Rocky Mountain News; Hartford Courant; The Ledger (Lakeland, FL); Augusta Chronicle (Georgia); Chicago Sun-Times; Chicago Tribune; Daily Herald (Chicago); Peoria Journal-Star; Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, IL); Rockford Register-Star; The Times (Munster, IN); Quad City Times (Davenport, IA); St. Louis Post-Dispatch (with the special added bonus of Weatherbird wearing a Sox shirt); Las Vegas Review-Journal; The Press (Atlantic City, NJ); New York Times; Albany Times-Union; Columbus Dispatch (Ohio); The Morning Call (Allentown, PA); Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Jackson Sun (Tennessee); Abilene Reporter-News; Austin American-Statesman; Corpus Christi Caller-Times; Dallas Morning News; Fort Worth Star-Telegram; Houston Chronicle; Rumbo (various Texas cities); San Antonio Express-News; San Angelo Standard-Times; Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City); USA Today; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; and The Post-Crescent (Appleton, WI).

Now, here’s the list for the Red Sox from Thursday, October 28, 2004: Anniston Star (Alabama); Anchorage Daily News; Daily News (Los Angeles); Los Angeles Times; Oakland Tribune; Record Searchlight (Redding, CA); Sacramento Bee; San Diego Union-Tribune; San Francisco Chronicle; Fresno Bee; The Press-Democrat (Santa Rosa, CA); Ventura County Star; Rocky Mountain News; The Gazette (Colorado Springs); The Day (New London, CT); Hartford Courant; Norwich Bulletin (Connecticut); Record-Journal (Meriden, CT); Republican-American (Waterbury, CT); Washington Post; Charlotte Sun (Florida); The Ledger (Lakeland, FL); Miami Herald; The News-Press (Ft. Myers, FL); El Nuevo Herald (Miami); Palm Beach Post; St. Petersburg Times; Bradenton Herald (Florida); Augusta Chronicle (Georgia); Honolulu Advertiser; Idaho Statesman (Boise); Chicago Sun-Times; Chicago Tribune; Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, IL); Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA); Portland Press-Herald (Maine); Sun Journal (Lewiston, ME); The Sun (Baltimore, MD); Boston Globe; The Enterprise (Brockton, MA); The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, MA); The Sun (Lowell, MA); Kalamazoo Gazette; Pioneer Press (St. Paul, MN); Springfield News-Leader (Missouri); St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Las Vegas Review-Journal; Reno Gazette-Journal; Concord Monitor (New Hampshire); The Telegraph (Nashua, NH); Union Leader (Manchester, NH); The Press (Atlantic City, NJ); The Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ); Albuquerque Journal; Buffalo News; Hoy (New York, NY); New York Sun; New York Times; Post-Standard (Syracuse); Poughkeepsie Journal; Times Herald-Record (Middletown, NY); Albany Times-Union; Charlotte Observer; News & Observer (Raleigh, NC); News & Record (Greensboro, NC); Winston-Salem Journal; Cincinnati Enquirer; Columbus Dispatch (Ohio); Dayton Daily News; Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH); Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, OK); Beaver County Times (Pennsylvania); Tribune-Review (Greensburg, PA); Philadelphia Inquirer; Morning Call (Allentown, PA); Providence Journal; Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN); Abilene Reporter-News; Al Día (Dallas, TX); Amarillo Globe-News; Austin American-Statesman; Beaumont Enterprise; Dallas Morning News; Fort Worth Star-Telegram; San Antonio Express-News; The Monitor (McAllen, TX); Times Record News (Wichita Falls, TX); Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City, UT); Salt Lake Tribune; Rutland Herald (Vermont); Culpeper Star-Exponent (Virginia); Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA); News Leader (Staunton, VA); Richmond Times-Dispatch; USA Today; Olympian (Olympia, WA); Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA); Columbian (Vancouver, WA); Charleston Gazette (West Virginia); Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; and The Post-Crescent (Appleton, WI).

I had a point, but after typing all those in, I forget exactly what it was. Something about the Red Sox list being longer and it being evidence of what a well-publicized “curse” can do for you. Oh, and I also want to note that both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times used the same front-page headline for the White Sox victory (“Believe It!”) — so now that they’ve both used that, what do they do when the Cubs win? Actually, there may not be such a thing as newspapers by the time the Cubs win.

Score that play 6-3, and thus ends 2005

Wow, every time Levi’s wife makes a jack-o’-lantern involving a baseball personality, their team with which they’re associated wins the World Series! Levi, how does it feel to be married to someone with magic powers? I hope you’re more accepting of it than Darrin Stephens!

No, seriously, I’m sure Stacey would be the first to tell you there’s nothing otherworldly about her pumpkin carvings. However, consider the following: we started this blog at the beginning of the 2004 baseball season, and since then…

  • The World Series was won by a team that hadn’t won in 86 years.
  • Then the World Series was won by a team that hadn’t won in 88 years, after winning the American League pennant for the first time in 46 years.
  • Also making a World Series appearance was a team that had never been there before, in 43 years of trying, and their uniforms look a lot better now than they did for many of those 43 years.
  • The Yankees have not gone to a World Series.
  • The first four “Complete Peanuts” volumes have been released, right on schedule, and they are awesome.

Clearly, the existence of this blog has been a major force for good in the world of baseball. Therefore, I’m considering starting a few more blogs.

  • Cure-for-Cancer-Related Program Activities
  • Democratic-Party-Related Program Activities
  • Origin-of-the-Universe-Related Program Activities
  • Jim’s-Sex-Life-Related Program Activities

Uh, but just for interest’s sake, Stacey, whose face do you foresee rendering on a gourd next October?

Faux News

This just in: Fox has invited the Yankees and Red Sox to play a seven-game series in the consolation bracket. The games will be broadcast in prime time Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the NLCS and the ALCS play-by-play will be delivered via telegraph

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and local re-enactors. Or, if you prefer, you’ll be able to get a radio broadcast by Scooter.