How ya like me now?

I’m sure there’s a way in CSS to create a page with a left-hand column that’s fixed-width and a right-hand column that isn’t, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it by modifying this particular Blogger template.

So instead I moved the graphic elements around. Now the left-hand column shouldn’t disappear down to the bottom unless your window is seriously narrow or your resolution is seriously huge, in which case you’ve got bigger problems than trying to find the link to the list of all the major league baseball games I’ve seen.

The bold new look of

I was getting a little tired of the page design — in particular, the mishmash of archive links at the bottom. (I wish the archive links list could be set to display the most recent month first, but that doesn’t seem to be a Blogger option.)

We’re also now an associate, in addition to being an iTunes affiliate. The page listing baseball songs will

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be updated soon — actually, all the non-blog pages will, in order to match the new look. Rest assured that any money made from Amazon will be, of course, put towards baseball-related program activities.

R.I.P. Johnny Sain

This, the first ever cross-posting between my two blogs, is in honor of former major-league pitcher Johnny Sain, who died last week at the age of 89.

Sain was a member of the pennant-winnning 1948 Boston Braves, where his and teammate Warren Spahn’s success relative to the rest of the pitching staff led to the well-known rhyme, “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain.” (This past summer, some Cardinals fans altered the rhyme to read “Carp and Soup, the rest are poop.”) Sain went 139-116 with a 3.49 E.R.A. for the Braves, Yankees, and Athletics in an eleven-year career.

This obituary appears on both my book and baseball blogs because

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Sain is one of the most memorable characters in Jim Bouton‘s wonderful Ball Four (1970). Much of the drama and fun of the book comes from the distrust with which Bouton is viewed by his teammates, coaches, and the baseball establishment. After all, the man reads books on the team flights–and on top of that, he’s a knuckleballer. Throughout the book, Bouton clashes with his manager and pitching coaches. The biggest problem he encounters is resistance to the fact that, as a knuckleballer, he’s sharper if he throws pretty much every day, while ordinary pitchers perform better on a schedule with days off. Most of the other players and coaches refuse to accept that Bouton knows what he’s talking about; he’s seen, variously as a malcontent and a moron.

Sain, on the other hand, takes a minimalist coaching approach. He looks at each player and sees what works for him. You pitch better if you throw every day? Throw every day. You pitch better if you make sure to do your running? Do your running. Quiet but effective, Sain isn’t suspicious of difference, nor is he at all controlling; he’s just looking to make his pitchers better. Therefore, he stands in such stark contrast to nearly everyone else in the book that he appears a genius both of baseball and of life in general.

I’ve been told it was raining in Boston the day of Sain’s death. I guess that means Spahn started the next day for the Heavenlys, with Sain up the day after. After all, though I usually come down on the side of there being no heaven, if there were to be one, it would be inconceivable without baseball.

Yes, but you have to buy 5 gallons

Now on sale at for only $3,399.99: dinner with Yogi Berra and others. The web site says shipping and handling is included, and the dinner is in Arizona, so I assume you have to put yourself in a box and present yourself at a UPS facility.

While I’m at it, it’s too late to buy this one, but recently on eBay was a used


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Jones bat with a personal inscription: Here’s the eBay auction, and here are the uncensored photos of the bat.

Next thing you know, I’ll start voting for those guys with the (R) next to their name!

A mere week after I actually offered a toast* at a dinner party to Bud Selig, in appreciation of that nasty, nasty man’s surprise brokering of an amicable new baseball labor deal, I find that I again have to credit him: surprisingly enough, he made a truthful statement!

“Tony La Russa is not a shrinking violet. He can be very confrontational,” says Selig in Murray Chass’s column in the New York Times today on Kenny Rogers’s dirty, dirty hand.

Should I worry that my world is turning upside down?

*Stacey refused to join the toast.


Jim pointed out the other day that Ed Goren, the President of Fox Sports, wrote to the L.A. Times in support of Tim McCarver. Among other things, he said that McCarver is “the best first-guesser in the business.”

Now, much as I like to complain about McCarver, I’m sure there were times in this World Series when he displayed his reportedly impressive first-guessing ability. But the one example that Goren chooses to cite lays bare the reasons that Fox’s baseball coverage is so utterly terrible.

Here’s Goren’s example: “Who else would have suggested that Tony La Russa remove right fielder Chris Duncan for defensive purposes in Game 5 before he botched a fly ball into a double?”

Hmm. Who else? Let’s see:

1) Steve Stone

2) Me

3) Any Cardinals fan who had seen Duncan play at any time in person on on television, or who had heard a Cardinals game on the radio in which he played. Those people would know that Duncan is by trade a lousy first baseman, but that, given that there’s no place for non-MVP first basemen in St. Louis this decade, he’s learning to play the outfield. And he’s not very good at it.

4) Any fan of one of the teams the Cardinals played against this season after Duncan was called up and began playing regularly.

5) And, oh, yeah: Anyone who had watched Game 5 of the 2006 World Series up to the point when McCarver suggested replacing Duncan . . . and who had therefore seen Duncan’s earlier error, an embarrassing botched pop fly.

That Goren didn’t realize himself that it might be worth removing Duncan is bad enough.

That he also didn’t realize that many, many, many of the people watching might have figured out on their own that removing Duncan might be a good idea is bad enough.

But that he realizes neither of those obvious facts, and then, therefore, thinks that Tim McCarver is a genius because he points out what we’ve all realized tells you all you need to know about why Fox’s coverage of baseball is so bad.

They do not care about, like, enjoy, or understand the game. Nor do they care about or understand those of us who do.

Another footnote to TV history

Despite Joe Buck assuring us repeatedly that it was “the most anticipated new game show of the year,” Fox’s “The Rich List” has been canceled after one episode aired. Thus, it now joins Jackie Gleason’s “You’re in the Picture” as a game show canceled after one episode; and, more on-topic here, it joins “South of Sunset” as a series canceled after one episode due to low ratings despite

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heavy promotion during the World Series.

Also, Fox Sports president Ed Goren has written a letter to the L.A. Times defending Tim McCarver (“He is the best ‘first-guesser’ in the business”).

Seven Octobers

Seven Octobers now we’ve been hosting Baseball Open House at the Rocketship, and this year’s has to rank as our most successful: * We had good friends in attendance throughout, ranging from two or three people all the way to a high of eleven (plus me and Stacey) for Kenny Rogers’s glorious (pine-tar-aided?) dismantling of the Yankees in the LDS. * Half a dozen or so friends made their first Baseball Open House appearance. * We hosted people for every night game in the entire playoffs except three, two of which were graciously hosted by TITANIA, and the other, the World Series opener, which we watched with the whole Stahl family at my brother’s house in Indianapolis following my running of the Indy marathon. * We cooked up a mess of food, relying more than in any previous October on the seasonal produce that we get each week from our membership in a local community-supported farm; in that way, we were closer to the autumn outdoors than ever before. * Stacey’s baseball jack-o-lanterns ran their World Series game-winning streak to 10. Damon went 4-0 in 2004, Ozzie Guillen went 4-0 in 2005, and the Yadi-o-lantern went 2-0 to close out the 2006 series. * Despite the brevity of many of the series–the teams only played six games over the minimum this October–we saw some very exciting baseball. As my mom put it on the phone minutes after Adam Wainwright struck out Carlos Beltran with the bases loaded to put St. Louis in the World Series, “That one nearly killed me!” Even the fans without a rooting interest in the game knew what she meant. * We had champagne in the fridge, and we got to use it. We drank some after the aforementioned strikeout of Beltran, and we put back more of it after Wainwright snapped off the same curveball against Brandon Inge . . . which leads to the final reason this Baseball Open House was such a success . . . . * THE CARDINALS WON THE WORLD SERIES! FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE I WAS EIGHT YEARS

OLD AND NOT YET REALLY A FAN! Thanks, Cardinals. Thanks, everyone who came out. Thanks, Jim, for another season of BRPA. I’ll try to be a more reliable poster in 2007, and maybe you can make it for Baseball Open House next October. The only proper way to end this is to turn the mike over to the Rajah:

“People ask me what I do in the winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”–Rogers Hornsby

Pitchers and catchers report in about 100 days.