Notes from Opening Day morning

Wow, I stayed up longer than the Los Angeles Times sports department last night! They went to press with “the White Sox quickly took control and built a 10-4 lead after 7 1/2 innings,” but I was awake until I caught up with the TiVo recording in the middle of the 8th inning. Speaking of the L.A. Times, here’s noted class act Vin Scully, quoted today talking about possibly being in the broadcast booth when Barry Bonds passes Babe Ruth’s and/or Hank Aaron’s home run records: “I would just as soon it not happen against the Dodgers….If I had my druthers, I would rather have that awkward moment happen to somebody else.”

Thanks to advanced technology that is currently available to me, I’m now thinking I’m going to attempt to make a post here once an hour today, with the first one around two hours from now, at 11:00 A.M. Pacific/1:00 P.M. Central. I will also attempt to be online on AIM/iChat as trainmanplus all day while I’m watching TV, so feel free to chat. (If I don’t say hi back, it’ll be because the advanced technology has turned out to be too overwhelming.)

What good is this blog if we can’t use it to embarrass people we know?

Here is Oakland Tribune Giants beat reporter Andrew Baggarly appearing on Young People’s Week on the syndicated version of “Card Sharks” (with host Bill Rafferty) in 1987.

Unfortunately, it’s the last game of the week, so it’s a rushed, sudden-death kind of thing, and we don’t get to hear much from li’l Andy — especially since he doesn’t get to play the bonus round for the trip to Hawaii. (Oh, sorry, should I not have spoiled an 18-year-old game show?)

Thanks to TiVo for religiously recording the Rafferty “Card Sharks” once GSN started rerunning it earlier this year, and thanks to Jason for pointing out that this does have a connection to baseball and was therefore eligible for posting here.

Longer than there’ve been fishes in the oceans

Six hours into the broadcast — reflecting Fox’s ridiculously unrealistic 3-hour time slot plus the maximum 3 hours of TiVo padding, it was the top of the 14th…

The good news is that I had caught up to the live

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broadcast at 10:30, and set a manual recording for 11:00 until — well, just in case, I set it to go until, well, about the time the morning news was going to start. So I was a little disappointed that it was “only” 11:20 when the game actually ended. But I have to assume I was one of a very select few not in Houston or Chicago who actually saw the game from beginning to end, although it’s admittedly a lot easier to sit through 14 innings of baseball when you can fast-forward through the commercials…

That Chicago Sun-Times “Market Wrap” edition isn’t looking like such a silly idea now, is it, Levi? That might be the only way for Chicagoans to get the box score of this game in their newspaper tomorrow — uh, I mean today.

Hey, speaking of silly ideas, where was Aaron Neville in the middle of the 14th to sing the real song? Actually, Bud Selig probably would have insisted on a reprise of “God Bless America” for no good reason.

On a TV note: since I grew up in the Eastern time zone, I’m used to sporting events that run long being followed by the local affiliate’s 11:00 or 10:00 news in its entirety, whether it’s at 12:00, 12:30, or even later. Therefore, I was a little surprised to discover that Fox’s flagship station in Los Angeles must have their entire 10:00 news crew home, because when the coverage of the game ended, they went straight to their regularly scheduled 11:30 “Simpsons” rerun.

Not quite a baseball movie

Tonight I finally watched a movie that had been sitting on my TiVo since October: “The Cameraman,” from 1928, starring Buster Keaton. This is relevant to this blog because there is a 5-minute sequence filmed in the then-brand-new Yankee Stadium in which Buster’s character pantomimes a baseball game. (Well, of course he pantomimes it, it’s a silent film.) He does so because the plot of the film is that he’s attempting to impress a girl by becoming a newsreel photographer, and his attempts to film some sports action are thwarted by the fact that the Yankees are playing in St. Louis, so he sets his movie camera next to the pitcher’s mound and makes his own action. Presumably, he didn’t capture any of that action, because — that’s right — he was too busy playing fake baseball to crank the camera.

Anyway, it’s not as long, nor as pivotal to the film, as the baseball sequence in “The Naked Gun” (to name another non-baseball movie), but it is certainly fun, and funny.

Now it’s time for real baseball. Last year, I didn’t watch the Sunday night opener, and had to live vicariously through Levi’s tales of Johnny Damon. I’m not making that mistake this year; I’ve got the TiVo set.

And then comes Monday, and once again, I’m planning to watch Opening Day baseball all day, courtesy of the fact that the MLB Extra Innings package is free for the first week of the season, at least on DirecTV. Maybe I’m remembering wrong, but it looks like there are fewer Opening Day Monday games this year than there were last year (although there’s a game not shown on that schedule because it’s on ESPN 2 Monday evening, Cubs at Diamondbacks). For example, neither the Dodgers nor Angels start until Tuesday…although that means I won’t have to switch to a non-blacked-out channel at any point on Monday.

I don’t watch "Clubhouse" and you don’t have to

“Clubhouse” is gone, although it’s a little unclear whether CBS has just pulled it for the rest of November sweeps or it’s been canceled entirely. (Either way, they’ve shut down production, but there are still a couple of episodes unaired.)

My TiVo didn’t even get the one episode that aired in the Saturday night time slot; because of the last-minute episode change a few Tuesdays ago, TiVo thought it had already recorded that episode within the previous 28 days. But I didn’t care, because the actual baseball playoffs had enough drama for me. Also, they were less preachy.

Original comments

Levi: Only something that would get the kids to watch could save that series. Something like . . . Scooter!


Dan: That above link is quite dirty, by the way.

Jose Lima bean

A thought on Saturday night’s Dodgers-Cardinals game: since Joe Buck was off for his NFL football broadcasting duties, wouldn’t it have been great if Fox had told Tim McCarver to stay in St. Louis and instead had the game called by a certain Los Angeles-based announcer who’s been around since the last Ice Age and has more broadcasting talent in his little finger than Tim McCarver has in all the shoe-polished strands of his hair combined?

No such luck, and even if I had been watching live instead of TiVo-delayed, I couldn’t have listened to him on the radio because of the delay inherent in DirecTV. Eventually, I put the TV on mute and listened to Brian Wilson’s “Smile” on my iPod instead.

Original comments…

Toby: Levi, Did you happen to catch Fox Sports’ “Beyond the Glory” special on Kirk Gibson’s WS Game 1 HR in 1988? It was narrated by Joe Buck. …Was a great piece.

The thing that struck me, though, was that they played Vin Scully’s call of the homer first, then used Jack Buck’s a little later. I had never heard anything but Jack Buck’s call of that homer. It was very interesting.

You’re so right about Vin Scully and McCarver, though. Why does he seem to worry so much about how deep the outfielders are playing?

Toby: Whoops – Just noticed that Jim posted that. Regardless, my comments wouldn’t change–just direct it at Jim, instead of Levi.

Jim: They did an entire “Beyond the Glory” on Kirk Gibson’s home run? Wow. I’ve closed-captioned a couple of those, and they’re pretty good, but I’ve never watched one at home.

In the video of the home run, you can see one car in the parking lot beyond center field leaving early. Its taillights suddenly come on just as the ball leaves the stadium, and it apparently syncs up perfectly with Vin Scully’s call, as if the occupant of the car was listening to the game on the radio and reacted to the home run by slamming on the brakes.

By the way, it turns out that if you actually go to a Division Series game at Dodger Stadium, not only do you not have to listen to Tim McCarver on your TV, you get to listen to Vin Scully’s calls of memorable moments from the past season. His call of Steve Finley’s grand slam to clinch the division was something like:

“Wherever it comes down, the Dodgers are division champs.” (35 seconds of crowd noise)

Can you imagine Tim McCarver being quiet for 35 consecutive seconds?

Toby: NO! He’d be talking about how one of the fans in the seventh row was playing too deep to catch the home run ball.

maura: chris berman was silent after vladdy’s grand slam the other night. as was ALL OF FENWAY. it was totally creepy and everyone at work was just looking at each other all alarmed-like.

thatbob: fucking yanx

Parenting, revisited

Sunday night, we were watching the baseball highlights. During the highlights of the Twins’ 18-inning loss to Oakland, Stacey made me pause the TiVo. The Twins had just pulled to within one run on a two-run homer by Justin Morneau in the bottom of the 18th, and the camera panned across the crowd. In the foreground of the shot, a boy with a ball glove and a Twins cap was leaping up and down in front of his seat, pumping his arms in the air and screaming.

What had caught Stacey’s eye, though, wasn’t the cheering boy, but his mom, visible over his shoulder. She was leaning forward, chin resting on a hand, gazing a bit bleary-eyed at the field. The full weight of 18 innings of baseball and nearly five hours of stale Metrodome air was clearly visible.

But tired or not, she was there. And so was her son. She was the heroic opposite of that mom I saw at Comiskey in July. I bet if the Twins had tied the game, she would have sighed, ordered a beer, and smiled indulgently as impish little Dakota continued to scream his lungs out. I bet she wouldn’t even use her cell phone to tell her husband how long to microwave the tuna casserole, since she’d be having dinner–and maybe breakfast–at the ballpark. Or if she felt she had to call in, she’d do it discreetly, between innings.

Given that my own mother is out of the running, because that wouldn’t be fair, I hereby nominate that mom for mom of the year.

Original comments…

thatbob: Maybe you ought to write letters to the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, Catholic Spirit, Prensa Minnesota, and several other area papers. Some recognition is probably just what she needs.

Maddux: CCC

I TiVoed the Cubs-Giants game today, because they’re still inconveniently scheduling baseball games for hours while I’m working. This would not have been a bad choice for a national Game of the Week, but I guess Fox and MLB are still firmly committed to the “regional” concept for the Saturday afternoon Fox coverage. Too bad it’s nearly impossible to see any Saturday afternoon game other than the one being shown in your local area (they’re not carried on the MLB Extra Innings pay-per-view package).

I am really, really tired of people in the front row leaning way over to try to get foul balls, or worse, fair balls that have rolled foul and are still in play. During this game, someone went all the way over the rail to try to get a foul ball, but jumped right back over. Fox practically made him into a folk hero, to the point of including him in the “play of the game” poll…and his play was, of course, the choice of a majority of the cell-phone-using people who bothered to vote. I contend he should have been thrown out of the stadium.

Maybe I’m slightly jealous of people who get to sit that close, but I’d still like to see the year-by-year numbers of fan interference calls…although I guess they’d have to be adjusted for the fact that most of these new stadiums have more seats closer to the action than the stadiums they replaced.

Anyway, speaking of people who get to sit close, the one celebrity Fox could find in the stands was Jim Belushi (and he was sitting in an upper deck anyway). Didn’t any Fox stars want to go to this game? If I were a cast member on a Fox show, I would have demanded tickets for me and Caroline Dhavernas, late of “Wonderfalls,” who I believe still technically counts as a Fox star. (Wait a minute, by that same logic, I could also go to the game with Paget Brewster of “Andy Richter Controls the Universe” and Sarah Silverman of “Greg the Bunny”! All right, enough of my rich fantasy life.)

In conclusion, if Levi were near a computer this weekend, he’d probably be saying something about Larry Walker.

Original comments…

Levi: Does Jim Belushi even count as a celebrity? Even for Fox?

Jim: Jim Belushi is the star of a surprisingly popular sitcom on ABC. He’s got his name in the title of the show and everything! A lot more people have heard of him than have heard of Caroline Dhavernas, that’s for sure.

Toby: Is Paget Brewster related to Punky Brewster? Or is that a whole separate family of Brewsters?

Levi: When I returned from the rehearsal dinner at midnight (Stacey had fled earlier with the niece and nephew, because she was worn out from, well, being around the niece and nephew.), I turned on the highlights and almost passed out. Larry Walker? I wanted to call my brother or bang on his hotel room door or something. But then I thought more sensibly, decided he needed a good night’s sleep on his wedding weekend, and went to bed instead.

But I did wake Stacey to tell her.

Jason: Why would Fox be pointing out an ABC ‘star’? Couldn’t they find a shot of Calista Flockhart eating a hot dog?

Eternally yours was represented today at the 2004 induction into the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals, a.k.a. the parallel universe version of the Hall of Fame. The best part is that I didn’t have to go all the way to Cooperstown for the inductions; instead, I took public transportation to Pasadena.

Where else are you going to hear Lester Rodney, the 93-year-old former sports editor of the Daily Worker, tell Jackie Robinson stories? Probably nowhere. The story about Pee Wee Reese putting his arm around Jackie never fails to move me.

Later, Dick Allen waxed eloquent about having to play Roberto Clemente and the rest of the “Lumber Yard”: “They’d keep us on defense for 35, 40 minutes, and then we’d only be in the dugout for 7 minutes.”

After I got home, I watched my TiVo recording of (what turned out to be) a 10-4 Cardinals victory over the Reds. DirecTV has had another free preview of the MLB Extra Innings package for the few days following the All-Star break, hoping to sell a few people on ordering it for the second half of the season (for only one-third less than what it cost at the beginning of the year). I figured I should watch the Cardinals so Levi and I will have something to talk about all those days in the car. That Scott Rolen certainly is a good player! Also, the Reds held my interest by bringing in a member of my All-Name team, Todd Van Poppel. (Among the other members of my All-Name team: Quinton McCracken and Delino DeShields.)

Since it was a home game for the Reds, it was the feed from Fox Sports Net Ohio, and something strange was going on every time announcer George Grande would do a “Reds baseball on Fox Sports Net is brought to you by…” announcement; he’d read the plugs, and then would shut up for 15 or 20 seconds until the music bed ended. (And 15 to 20 seconds of a baseball announcer being silent seems like an eternity!) My semi-educated guess is that local cable systems put in their own sponsorship announcements there, but if anyone knows differently, please use the comments below. Actually, since I don’t watch much baseball on TV, for all I know, all the Fox Sports Net affiliates are doing that now.

Original comments…

Jim: Two things I forgot to mention…the induction ceremony was being interpreted for the benefit of the “Dummy” Hoy contingent, and because I was seeing it over and over, I now know the sign language for “baseball”: bring your fists together in front of your chest, elbows out, as if you’re in a batting stance.

Also, the first person to leap to his feet to give Lester Rodney a standing ovation was a man wearing a Dennis Kucinich T-shirt.

Levi: No, the pause is the new system where you, the viewer, supply the ad copy. Then you send Fox money.

Toby: What a Smart Alec Levi is. Yes, Jim, that slot might be for local inserts or it could be for a local station identification.

And I certainly hope Montreal’s Terrmel Sledge makes your All-Name list.

Was Buck O’Neal at this gathering you attended?

More Tank McNamara, TiVo, and baseball

Whoever colorized today’s “Tank McNamara” strip has apparently never seen a TiVo remote. The buttons are in a variety of festive colors, not just red, assuming you consider gray and black to be festive colors.

Also, the colorizer has made everyone but the main characters orange, but that’s less of a problem.