“The Disappointment League, AKA The Mudville Faithful”, a baseball play I wrote in college

In 2011, while taking a drama class in college for some reason, I wrote a 5-page play that looked at how “Casey at the Bat” might have been perceived from the stands. It was then promptly forgotten, until it was found in the deepest depths of my computer in a file of old things. The following is that play. With the exception of two name changes (due to them being too close to the names of actual people I know) and a few small edits for grammar, format, or clarity, the following is exactly what was handed in in 2011, warts and all. All rights belong to me but if you absolutely positively want to put it on, let me know and I’ll probably give you the okay so long as you film it so I can see it and share it. So without further ado….

The Disappointment League (AKA The Mudville Faithful)

Characters:

Bill, a sports fan who is often disappointed by the poor performance of his teams.

Harold, Bill’s father.

June, a regular at the ballpark who is friendly but easily annoyed. Somewhat of a deadpan delivery.

Annie, a female fan whose love of the game is matched only by the power of her vocal cords, keeps a scorecard.

Benny, loud-mouthed, entitled, Italian-American fan of the opposing team. He is heavily intoxicated.

Announcer, off-stage PA announcer

Other fans are there, but do not have lines beyond the occasional crowd chant.

Setting: A raised stand full of seats at a stadium, we can’t see what is going on in the field, but the seats are filled with people in team jerseys- most of them in white and red (including Bill, Harold, June and Annie). But there is one person who is in a black-pinstriped white jersey (Benny). There is a walkway behind the seats where the fans could exit and enter, and there is a railing on that walkway for standing room only crowds to lean on. A baseball team’s dugout can be placed in front of the front row, for things like sodas and food to be placed, but otherwise it can be just assumed to be there but invisible. While the seating can be anything from just one or two rows to a whole bleacher of it (the logical extreme would be to hold it in a actual baseball stadium), some things are important: Bill and Harold are sitting next to each other, Annie is as far away from Bill and Harold as possible while staying in the same section seating, June is either two seats to the right of Bill and Harold or is one seat over and one row up from them, Benny is sitting either next to or kitty-corner to June. The rest of the seats are filled out with others, but they aren’t really important. The crowd should be jostling in their seats, the occasional “C’mon Nine!” and “Get a hit!” echoing from the extras, but now, it is a quiet murmur.

Announcer: Due up in the bottom of the ninth for Mudville- Cooney, Barrows and Flynn. Coming in for New York… Sparks Hagen.

(A grumble rises from the crowd.)

Bill: Well, this is it, dad. Down 4-2, one inning left.

Harold: Yeah, we’re in trouble. I mean, Hagen…. jeez.

Bill: Annie? How many people have to get in for Casey to come up?

(ANNIE looks at her scorecard for a second.)

Annie: Well, let’s see, Cooney, Barrows, Flynn, Jimmy Blake…. then there’s Casey.

June: There’s no way we’re getting there. Especially if…..

(Benny gets up and yells.)

Benny: Woooooah, Bombers! Let’s finish this thing, Hagen!

(JUNE turns to Benny and gives him a deathly glare, the ANNOUNCER then comes on the PA system.)

Announcer: Now batting for Mudville, Ernest Cooney….

(BILL claps.)

Bill: C’mon, Cooney!

(The sound of the crack of a bat. The crowd makes a brief rise in noise, but it then quickly goes down in disappointment, except for Benny, who stands and goes “YEEEEEEAAAAHHH!”)

Annie: (Looking down at scorecard, which she is annotating) Cooney… grounded out to short.

(Benny stands up again.)

Benny: WOOOOOOO! NEW YORK! TWO OUTS AWAY!

Bill: (turning) Shut up!

Benny: WOOOO! NEW YORK!

Harold: (under his breath) Drunken idiot.

(Everyone calms down for a second as the announcer comes up again.)

Announcer: Now batting for Mudville, Lawrence Barrow….

June: He better not swing at the first pitch.

(Sound of a bat hitting ball. A groan emanates from the crowd except for Benny, who cheers. ANNIE turns to her scorecard.)

Annie: Barrow lines out to first.

Benny: ONE OUT AWAY, BABY!

(JUNE turns around.)

June: (Grumpy) Uh-hum!

(Benny ignores her. Meanwhile one or two of the extras have gotten up and left early to beat traffic.)

Benny: WE’RE GONNA WIN AND YOU MUDVILLE LOSERS WILL FINALLY HAVE TO ADMIT HOW AWESOME WE ARE!

(BILL finally has had it, and gets up, as the ANNOUNCER calls the next batter.)

Announcer: Now batting for Mudville…. William Flynn!

Bill: (To Benny) Wait until the last out, butt-head!

Harold (putting hand on Bill’s shoulder): Calm down, son.

Benny: Oh yeah! What makes you think you can win this, kid?

Bill: Casey can still come to the plate, and he could end it with one swing!

(The sound of a baseball hitting a catcher’s mitt is heard.)

Annie (ignoring the argument between BILL and Benny): GOOD EYE, FLYNN! JUST GET ON BASE!

Benny (still talking to Bill): C’mon, Casey isn’t coming up. Your bench is empty, and Flynn is a has-been and Blake is a piece of cake!

Bill: This is baseball, anything can happen.

(Harold nods. The sound of bat hitting ball is heard and the crowd erupts.)

Harold: Get down, get down!

Annie: THAT’S A HIT! (Turns to her scorecard and marks it a hit.)

(The crowd is getting excited, more shouting of “C’mon Mudville!” and similar things.)

June: One more hit to Casey….

Benny: There ain’t gonna be a hit!

Harold: He doesn’t need a hit, he just need to get on.

Announcer: Now batting, Jimmy Blake!

Annie: C’MON BLAKE!

Bill: JUST GET ON BASE, BLAKE!

(The sound of a ball hitting a glove.)

Benny: YEAH! TWO MORE STRIKES!

Bill: Will you be quiet?

June: He isn’t gonna listen, Bill. Don’t even try.

(The sound of a ball hitting a glove.)

Annie: GOOD EYE, JIMMY!

Harold: He needs to wait for his pitch.

Benny: PLEASE, BLAKE COULDN’T HIT WAY OUT OF A PAPER-

(Benny is interrupted by the crack of the bat. The crowd goes wild.)

Annie: GO! GO! GO!

Harold: C’mon…

Bill: Send him! Send him! [beat] DON’T SEND HIM! DON’T SEND HIM!

June: He’s going to be out at third….

(The crowd erupts into a giant roar.)

Bill: SAFE!

Harold: SAFE!

Benny: C’MON! UMP! ARE YOU KIDDING ME! HE WAS OUT!

(The crowd starts to build in noise as the announcer again comes on the PA.)

Announcer: Now batting for Mudville…. Phineas Casey!

Annie: (Catching up on scorecard) Blake doubled, Flynn to third…

(The crowd begins to chant “CA-SEY! CA-SEY!” Except for Benny.)

Harold: A hit to tie, a homer to win…

Annie: JUST GET A HIT, CASEY!

Benny: YOU SUCK, CASEY!

(The pitcher throws the sphere, and everyone groans about the pitch as it hits the catcher’s mitt. Strike one.)

Harold: That was his pitch.

June: Ye-ep.

Benny: Ha! I bet the selfish bum just didn’t think that big fat pitch wasn’t his style.

Bill: Oh, be quiet!

(Another pitch. The sound of the ball hitting the glove. Everyone begins to boo and yell.)

Bill: OH, COME ON UMP! YOU ARE A FRAUD!

Annie: IF IT WEREN’T ILLEGAL, I’D KILL YOU UMP!

Benny: ONE STRIKE AWAY, BABY!

June: Settle down, all of you!

Harold: He’s got to swing at this, if it is at all close.

(The crowd gets to it’s feet, growing louder and louder….. and louder… and louder and then….)

(The lights go out, except for one, which is shown on Bill.)

Bill: Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Casey has struck out.

(Bill slams a fist into his hand, in anger and disappointment, and walks off dejectedly.)

####

 

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Pictures from #GlickTrip16 (Part 1)

At the end of August and the very beginning of September, I went to Chicago (and Milwaukee) with my father on a long-delayed trip to the three MLB stadiums there, as well as some museums and other sites. This is the first of three or four installments featuring pictures and memories/neat stuff I remember. Go below the jump (after the first picture) to see them:

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(Blogathon ’16) Mike Oz: The History of Baseball Players Rapping, Abridged

This guest-post is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page. Also, please note that the opinions and statements of the writer are not necessarily those of the Baseball Continuum or it’s webmaster.

As someone who loves both hip-hop and baseball, it’s a daily disappointment that these two lanes of my life don’t intersect more often.

It happened recently, when Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman made his rhyming debut, dropping a verse on Mike Stud’s “These Days” remix from his new album of the same name. There’s more here than just the same ol’ story of an athlete thinking he can spit a few bars. Stud is the nom de rap of Mike Seander, who was a college teammate of Stroman’s at Duke University.

After Duke, Stroman went on to a successful MLB career and Stud became a notable figure in the Drake-influenced frat-rap scene. So more than baseball players trying to get into rap, this was two friends reuniting for fun. Nonetheless, Stroman was surprisingly good. Better, in fact, than you’d think.

Using Stroman as a jumping off point, this seems like a timely opportunity to talk about other baseball-rap crossovers. Please enjoy this Abridged Version of the History of Baseball Players Rapping.

1. DEION SANDERS
When Prime Time jumped into the rap game, no one took it all that serious. He was hanging with MC Hammer and had already established himself as a profession-juggler. So, rapping, why not? He released an entire album in 1994, aptly titled “Prime Time” that people will mostly remember for the somewhat popular song “Must Be the Money.” It wasn’t good, but it was at least ahead of its time in the sense that modern day hip-hop also values people who rap about being rich even if they have no actual talent.

Notable lyric: “Hey, my snakeskin shoes gonna change into gators / Hey, my library cards gonna change into credit cards
/ You know what I’m sayin?”

2. KEN GRIFFEY JR.
Somehow, The Kid’s foray into rap doesn’t get nearly enough attention. In 1992, Seattle rapper Kid Sensation got Griffey to jump on a track called “The Way I Swing.” How that happened? Emoji shrug. History doesn’t remember any of this too well, but you know what? The beat to the song isn’t bad. Griffey isn’t a Hall of Famer spitter, but this is at least somewhat respectable.

Notable lyric: “Ken Griffey is a swinger, not a singer / A def rhyme bringer / A home-run hitter but I’m not a dope slinger.”

3. COCO CRISP
As part of the 2005 album, “Oh Say, Can You Sing,” veteran outfielder Coco Crisp showed his flows on an original song called “We Got That Thing.” This might be baseball’s version of Cedric Ceballos rapping on that NBA rap CD where you’re like, “Huh? This guy is rapping and … he’s not bad.” It’s bouncy and interesting and actually sounds good more than 10 years later. Well done, Coco.

Notable lyric: “That chain you wear is dental floss to me.”

4. JOSE REYES
It’s a surprise we don’t hear more Spanish-language rap coming from Latin baseball players. We do get it from Jose Reyes, though. His history in rap is more prolific than most people here, as he’s appeared on a number of different songs, usually as an offseason hobby. It’s hard to judge his lyrics, as a non-Spanish speaker, but his flow doesn’t sound bad.

Notable lyric (translated): “There are no friends / A friend is a dollar in my pocket / As soon as you turn your back your friends want to stab you in the back.”

5. TREVOR BAUER
The now-Indians pitcher made headlines a few years ago for his hobby rap tracks. There was even one that was perceived as a diss to former D-backs teammate Miguel Montero. That would be a baseball first. Bauer isn’t very good. Even he admits that. And these days, he seems more focused on pitching than rapping, but he at least has proven he can be his team’s hip-hopping cheerleader.

Notable lyric: “So what do y’all know bout Swisher and his swag / Smokin pitchers like cigars / Are you picturing that?”

6. MARCUS STROMAN
This brings us back to Stroman who, compared to Bauer, is easily the best rapping pitcher in the game. He doesn’t plan to rap a bunch — he’d much rather lead the Jays back to the postseason — but Stroman did sound at ease on his Mike Stud cameo.

Notable lyric:“Yeah, my vision is to get it while I’m living / I’ll keep winning / Legendary comeback, ACL incision”

Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. You can find him on Twitter at and on Facebook. He lives in Central California and likes dope beats and tacos.

This guest-post has been part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page. Also, please note that the opinions and statements of the writer were not necessarily those of the Baseball Continuum or it’s webmaster.

(Blogathon ’16) Jake Mintz and Jordan Shusterman: Nelly’s “Batter Up”

This guest-post is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page. Also, please note that the opinions and statements of the writer are not necessarily those of the Baseball Continuum or it’s webmaster.

Throughout the baseball community, St. Louis baseball fans have a bad reputation. The “Best-Fans-In-Baseball” moniker is frequently used to ridicule Cardinals fans for their own brand of self-righteous blind homer-ism (to be fair, this is a phenomenon every single fan base exhibits to some extent). We’re not here today to discuss whether or not St. Louis has the best fans in baseball, we’re here to show you that St. Louis has THE best fan in baseball. His name is Cornell Iral Haynes Jr. — but you probably know him as Nelly.

Nelly is easily St. Louis’ most well known and successful rapper. His songs ‘Ride Wit Me’, ‘Hot in Herre’, ‘Dilemma’, and ‘Shake Ya Tailfeather’ have been certified platinum. But Nelly’s most important song — and thus his most important music video — is ‘Batter Up’, which combines a hook based on the theme song from The Jeffersons with Nelly’s love for baseball to form an undisputed artistic masterpiece.

Released in 2001, the music video for Batter Up is 4 minutes and 41 seconds of pure baseball delight. It’s got barbecue, bunt home runs, scantily clad women, and George Jefferson himself. So sit back, relax, and let us take you on a journey through the brilliant baseball mind of Cornell Haynes Jr.

0:03-0:14

Right off the bat we meet our announcers, two old balding white guys in ugly suits that are quite obviously not being portrayed by old balding white guys. Not trying to start a controversy here, but the one on the right bears a suspicious resemblance to Nelly.

nelly1

0:17

We are introduced to the scoreboard operator: a heavyset man in a white tank top that is absolutely doused in BBQ sauce. This gentleman seems to be using the ribs as a paintbrush in order to carry out changes to the scoreboard. Notice how not a single pitch has been thrown, yet there are already three balls.

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0:20

Sherman Hemsley!

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“And now, please rise for the singing of our National Anthem!” Hemsley proclaims. Was this a legitimate attempt to get Batter Up to be our new National Anthem? Nelly knows no bounds.

0:29

So many questions about this hat/hair combination. Is the glove embedded into the woman’s hairdo? Is it simply one enormous hair piece? Does Lids have any available in a 7 3/8?

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0:39

Here we see something unprecedented in the baseball world: an entire team pre-inning huddle on the mound. Did the outfielders come into the infield after the catcher threw down to second? It looks like the coach is in there too. Maybe they’re drawing up some type of trick play.

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Let’s take a look at the scoreboard in centerfield. Under it we see our old friend, the heavy set barbecuin’ chef. And oh, the score is somehow 62-0 in the top of the 1st inning. 62-0! The first pitch of the game hasn’t even been thrown yet. Could it be that Nelly and his St. Lunatics were at such a disadvantage that the other, seemingly more put-together outfit, spotted them 62 runs? Just some food for thought. Perhaps more importantly, what is even the circumstance of this game? Is it just a men’s league? Independent ball? Are the St. Lunatics barnstorming around the country challenging any semi-pro team that thinks they can take down Nelly & Co.? It’s just a peculiar match-up by all accounts.

0:42

What kinda shift is this? There’s supposedly no one on base yet (as evidenced by the ridiculous team huddle) but the middle infielders are in double play depth. And even if there was a dude on first, this would be extreme.

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The bizarro double play shift looks even more absurd because this game is clearly being played on a field with Little League/softball dimensions. Making grown men play on a Little League size field has to be some sort of safety risk.

0:44

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Yeah, that’s not a baseball field.

0:48

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Posture – 40

Balance – 55

Torque – 30

Hat Content – 20

Early 2000’s Reebok Cleats – 80

0:55

Up first for the St. Lunatics is Ali. Let’s see what kind of swing he has… oh, that’s a pitbull.

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If this game is being played in a baseball universe that permits batters to bring pitbulls up to the plate with them, the pitbulls should at the very least have to be in the batter’s box.

Despite the potential advantage intimidation-wise — is the pitcher even going to throw the ball if the catcher is too afraid to crouch? — you’d have to think that having a pitbull with you in the batter’s box would probably have a negative effect on offensive production. Not only does it force you to swing with only one hand, but you become significantly more susceptible pitches low in the zone.

1:00

Maybe because both the umpire and the opposing team are so intimidated by the presence of his pitbull, Ali bypasses the traditional rules of baseball and is awarded a single run without having to even swing the bat.

All you, barbecue scoreboard guy.

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YOU CAN PUT IT ON THE BOOOOOOOARD, YESSSS.

 

1:22

Kyjuan steps up to the plate with, as far as we know, no one one base. Looks like he’s gonna try and bunt for a hit. Odd strategy at this point in the game, and considering his stolen base totals in recent years, but he must know something we don’t.

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WELL THEN. The pitcher thought he could go up and in but Kyjuan brings his hands in and launches the ball over the centerfield wall…while bunting. He saunters down to first with pride. It’s basically Super Bunt from MLB 2K6.

2:17

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We’re usually all for unique uniforms, but this one just seems impractical. Can you imagine sliding headfirst on dirt in that thing? THE HIGH HEELS! Also, WHY ARE YOU CALLING A CURVEBALL! At least the pitcher is smart enough to shake him off.

2:28
And even after calling off the curveball, the pitcher manages to airmail it into the press box. The umpire rules that the runner go to first, which makes zero sense unless that was ball four. More confusing is the outrage expressed by the catcher, the opposing manager, as well as the announcers. Who are they mad at? The umpire for calling ball four? The pitcher for throwing ball four? The batter for not wearing any clothes? What we do know for sure is our scorekeeper is still very much enjoying his barbecue:

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3:17

This is a confusing shot for a few reasons. While we acknowledged that this is clearly not a professional sized field, and the dugouts most likely aren’t very big, it’s still rather odd to see the entire team out of the dugout standing in a line, expressing their discontent simultaneously. Also…is the manager wearing a World Series ring? Is this team supposed to be good??!?!

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3:28

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Our clean-up hitter for today’s game is Murphy Lee, who struts up to the plate with what appears to be his cell phone in one hand and his bat in the other. Without taking his eyes off his game of Tetris, he squares the first pitch up and launches it to right-center.

3:41

Murphy Lee apparently hit a 358-run dinger and now the score is 420-0. Starting to wonder why they needed to be spotted 62 runs from the start.

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3:43

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At least this ball actually went over the fence. Looking at you, Nyjer Morgan.

3:53

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Our final batter of the day is Nelly, who promptly calls his shot. And the pitch…

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BOOM. Absolutely crushed. Time to trot…

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Oh?

Nelly21

OH.

Nelly is now going to drive his car around the bases.

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Based on previous at-bats, it’d be safe to assume that this monstrous hit was indeed a home run, and thus, no defense was in need of being played. But apparently not! As Nelly Tokyo drifts around third, we see him heading towards the catcher who is prepared to field the ball.

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And you thought Chase Utley was reckless.

4:41

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The St. Lunatics. The Best Fans in Baseball.

Jake Mintz and Jordan Shusterman are the guys behind “Cespedes Family BBQ” and co-host the “Cespedes Family Barbecast“. They can be followed at @CespedesBBQ.

This guest-post has been part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page. Also, please note that the opinions and statements of the writer are not necessarily those of the Baseball Continuum or it’s webmaster.

(Blogathon ’16!) The Sliding Scale of Fictional Baseball Realism

This post is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

Earlier today, in my look at Touch, I mentioned that you can make a 0-10 scale of baseball realism in works of fiction, with zero being baseball-in-name-only and ten being actual footage of a game.

Well, I’m going to expand upon that:

0: Baseball In Name Only

In this category, it’s not really baseball at all. They may call it baseball, but it certainly isn’t the actual sport that we know. The Moe Cronin version of baseball fits here.

1: Utterly Absurd

In this category, while it’s clearly meant to be baseball, the rules of the game and the laws of physics have clearly taken a vacation. Some classic cartoons fall into this category.

2: Very Absurd, but still with some realism

In this category, the work might have cartoonish physics and occurrences, but it still is grounded in reality enough to have the rules of baseball still be mostly the same. In theory, a baseball movie where the rules are not consistent or are wildly different but where everything else is played straight could also qualify here. Classic cartoons that aren’t “utterly absurd” usually fall in this category.

3: Absurd, but mostly consistent

Works in this category are clearly absurd and cartoonish, but are at least consistent: the laws of physics may not be what they are in the real world, but they don’t suddenly change mid-game, nor do the rules suddenly change simply because the story demands it. Most “cartoon” baseball video games, like Backyard Baseball and the Mario Baseball series, fit in this category.

4: Many absurd elements

While clearly meant to be a realistic world that has our baseball’s rules and our laws of physics, the amount of absurd, cartoonish or unrealistic elements in the work make it more strange than realistic. Consider Mr. Go, for example, which has two baseball-playing gorillas, a little girl acting as a first-base coach and a finale that involves the baseball coming undone into a million pieces, which sort of overwhelms what would probably otherwise be a 6 if, say, it only had one gorilla.

5: Equal Mix of Realism and Fantasy

A work that sort of teeters between being realistic and being bizarre. This is more of a transitional spot on the scale, as it’s rare that anything ever stays at 5, inevitably going to 4 or 6 instead.

6: Realistic, but with one or two “big lies”

This is mostly realistic but it has one or two big elements (or the equivalent of one or two big elements made up of lots of smaller elements) that keep it from being something that you can honestly expect to ever happen in the real world. Sidd Finch could fit here, as could most of the movies in which a kid becomes a big league skipper or ballplayer.

7: Realistic, but highly unlikely

There’s nothing in this work that couldn’t happen, but it’s highly unlikely and any real event like this would probably instantly become one of the most notable things in baseball history. You could argue that Major League fits here, sort of.

8: Near total-realism

While some rules might be bent or not enforced on a strict basis, and some things might happen that are unlikely (although not nearly as unlikely as things that fall at seven on the scale), this is pretty realistic. Casey At The Bat, the classic poem, could be considered as this, with only the ability of everybody to seemingly hear everything keeping it from being a nine.

9: Utter realism

The only things that are not realistic in works of this category are omnipresent techniques like camerawork and editing for time, or stylish touches added in to indicate, say, that a player is angry. Bull Durham could, in theory, fit in this category, as could most (but not all) fairly true-to-history biopics and most realistic baseball video games.

10: Actual Baseball Footage used/Documentary

If you are watching an actual baseball game, or watching a documentary that uses baseball footage and does so without changing things for dramatic effect, you are watching a 10.

 

Feel free to consider where on the sliding scale your favorite piece of baseball fiction would fall!

6 PM: First References

This post has been part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

 

(Blogathon ’16) Songs of October (Post-2015 update)

This post is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

For the far-too-late update on what happened in 2015, go to the bottom of the post after the jump.

In 2013, there was a sensation that spread across the nation: Mups. Their spread was unstoppable, to the point where some like the “Cespedes Family BBQ” and Jesse Spector had begun to engage in a “#Mupwatch”. But some wondered: What was a Mup? Were they some sort of Muppet? Were they dangerous? And why were they being lit on fire?

Well, the answer lay in the commercials that had been playing in the lead-up to and during the post-season, featuring Fall Out Boy’s “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark”. Here is an example of such a commercial. While officially they were saying “Light ’em up”, it sounded, especially during the echoing segments, like they were actually talking about things called “mups”.

And thus continued a long tradition of October songs that have graced our televisions and infected our ears, whether we liked them or not. And, usually, if we DID like them at the start of the postseason, we ended up being sick of them by the end just from hearing them so many times.

And, what’s more, these songs and how they have become memes aren’t from a universal source. Most of them, for example, have been part of TBS’ coverage, but others, including the Fall Out Boy song, have actually been of MLB’s doing. In 2013, for example, TBS was using a different song*, and MLB Network itself also had a different song for the commercials for it’s two games**. Rarely if ever have they been actually about baseball, usually selected more for their choruses or imagery.

*Using Google searches of the lyrics I was able to decipher, I’ve figured out it’s 30 Seconds to Mars’ “Do or Die”.

**Again using Google, I’ve found that the commercials use the chorus from Papa Roach’s “Still Swingin’“.

Still, with that out of the way, here’s a history (after the jump) of the Songs of October:

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Coming later this month: “International Baseball Culture”

Bizarre Baseball Culture is perhaps my most popular segment on the Baseball Continuum. In it, I, as I say: “…take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.” It’s seen comic books, video games, novels, TV episodes, animated shorts, a radio drama, and even a full-length movie. They’ve ranged from the well-known to the hyper-obscure, leading Michael Claire to dub me the “Indiana Jones of baseball comics“, which I guess isn’t the worst thing to be put on a tombstone.

Anyway, in search of good material, I have recently began to look overseas. Some of my favorite Bizarre Baseball Culture posts have been from elsewhere in the world. The Pokémon episode, for example, was pretty popular. Mr. Go might have been the most fun I’ve ever had doing Bizarre Baseball Culture (well, until you see what the 50th installment is). My most recent installment was, of all things, an episode of an Ultraman TV series.

However, here’s the thing: it is stupid to assume that everything foreign is bizarre. Oh, to be sure, plenty of it is, just like how the American-made works of fiction I’ve covered here on the Continuum have been bizarre (intentionally or not). I mean, no matter what country it was made in, a movie about a gorilla playing baseball would have been bizarre.

But to say it is all bizarre, simply because it is foreign, would be highly ignorant and also disrespectful. These are places with their own traditions, not only in baseball but in their popular culture. To immediately dub a fairly mundane (i.e. no baseball-playing gorillas or evil glove monsters) baseball comic from Japan or a baseball film from Korea “bizarre” would be like being the baseball entertainment equivalent of the crotchety old columnist who claims that Latin American players aren’t playing the game the “right way” despite the fact that that’s the way they’ve played all their lives. And, guess what, I am not a crotchety old columnist, although I wish I was being paid like one.

So, with that out of the way, I am proud to announce that, starting with a piece in this year’s blogathon, there will be a new recurring feature on the Baseball Continuum: International Baseball Culture. It will cover baseball entertainment from outside the United States and sometimes Canada* that isn’t “bizarre”. Now, there will continue to be foreign-sourced baseball works in Bizarre Baseball Culture, but they will only be those that would qualify for the series due to their content. If it turns out that there’s a Mexican movie in which luchadores play baseball against mermen from Atlantis, that’s still going into Bizarre Baseball Culture. But if it’s a serious drama about a baseball team called the “Luchadores” who are playing a team called the “Mermen”, that would be International Baseball Culture.

So, please join me during the Blogathon when I begin my International Baseball Culture travels with the beginning of a series of articles on Mitsuru Adachi’s Touch, a baseball dramedy/romance manga and anime that won awards, set viewership records in the 1980s, and was in 2005 named one of the ten greatest anime ever… and yet has never seen an official release in North America.

*I’ll be taking Canada on a case-by-case basis. For example, you could argue that the works of W.P. Kinsella are Canadian because Kinsella is from Canada, but you’d be ignoring the fact that most of his baseball stories are set in America and deal pretty specifically with American baseball. But if somebody were to make a French-language drama about a man and a woman who fall in love over their shared longing for the return of the Montreal Expos, that would probably fall under International Baseball Culture.