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.

For #NationalVideoGamesDay: How many sports has Mario played?

The question of who the greatest video game athlete of all time is a hard one. Many go with Bo Jackson, with good reason. Still others (such as the Cespedes BBQ duo) wisely go with the Secret Weapon himself, Pablo Sanchez. But for sheer variety, none can defeat Mario, the most versatile athlete in video game history, who, by coincidence, celebrates the 30th anniversary of the release of Super Mario Brothers today!

And today, to honor National Video Games Day, which I just found out exists like ten minutes ago on Twitter, I’m running down every single sport Mario has ever played.

(Go below the jump for more)

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Bizarre Baseball Culture: Popeye and “The Twisker Pitcher”

In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.

Today we have a cartoon from 1937 starring Popeye the Sailor Man. It’s called The Twisker Pitcher, and it’s dark as hell. Seriously, this cartoon has…

A) Rampant steroid use (the spinach)

B) Violence, both on the field and in the stands

C) A near total disregard for rules and the space-time continuum

D) A total disregard for player safety.

Oof. So, go below the jump for a summary of this, the 47th Popeye Cartoon:

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The music that gets stuck in my head every Spring Training

For reasons I’ve never been quite able to understand, the theme from Dennis Quaid film The Rookie gets stuck in my head every spring training. So, in order to inflict the same effect on you, here it is:

 

Happy Pitchers and Catchers, everyone!

BIZARRE BASEBALL CULTURE/CONTINUUCAST 4: “THE DAY BASEBALL DIED”

In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.

This installment of Bizarre Baseball Culture can only be found through the Baseball Continuum’s Continuucast! Hit play above, download by right-clicking here, follow the RSS feed here or follow on iTunes here (if the latest episode isn’t up yet, it will be shortly).

The Continuucast has it’s first true “Bizarre Baseball Culture” segment as Dan looks at the 1946 Columbia Workshop radio-play, “The Day Baseball Died.” In addition, he takes a quick look “Around the Continuum” of international baseball and has a brief complaint about the fact MLB Network doesn’t show the Caribbean World Series.

Music/Sounds Featured:

“The National Game” by John Phillip Sousa

“Flight of the Bumblebee” (AKA The Green Hornet Theme) by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov performed by the US Army Band (special “Bizarre Baseball Culture” remix by Dan Glickman featuring the Pablo Sanchez Theme and clips from previous and future Bizarre Baseball Culture pieces)

“Prelude to Act I” from Carmen by Georges Bizet (AKA the Bad News Bears theme)

Excerpt of “Pennant Fever” from the Major League soundtrack

All sound and music used is either public domain or is a short snippet that falls under fair use.

 

Go below the jump for links to previous Bizarre Baseball Cultures.

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FINALLY UPDATED FOR 2014! Songs of October: A Retrospective (Because Why Not?)- 2014 Edition

For the far-too-late update on what happened in 2014, 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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You, too, can own a Minecraft Costume once owned by the Schilling Family

Although nowhere near as creepy as going through Stan Musial’s wallet or as (arguably) outright random as a Mr. Peanut costume that hung out with Reggie Jackson, today’s strange find on eBay is a nice mix of both. Now available on eBay: a Minecraft box mask from the Curt Schilling estate, just in time for Halloween!

“But Dan,” you say, “Curt Schilling isn’t dead! He recovered from that cancer!”

Correct! And thank goodness for that. Instead, his estate sale was a result of a disastrous post-career stint into the Video Game industry that sent him into bankruptcy. Or maybe it was because they just wanted to downsize and so they got rid of a bunch of things. Depends on what story you read.

Still, as a result of that estate sale, we see stuff like this on eBay:

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 2.42.36 PMNow, a few things to keep in mind:

1) There is no way of proving this actually was worn by Curt Schilling or (more likely) any of his kids. There isn’t any certificate of authenticity or anything.

2) Look at how likely it is that that thing could break in shipping!

3) It’s kind of disturbing that that belonged to Curt Schilling’s kids and now it’s just being sold online.

4) If you absolutely must have a Minecraft head, I’m sure that there are cheaper ones available, especially once you take shipping into account.

Still, if YOU want this unique piece of tangentially baseball-related “history”… you can.

Off-Topic Thursday: Starting next Thursday, Off-Topic Thursday returns with a new feature… Bizarre (Not-Baseball) Culture!

It’s been since last July that I had an Off-Topic Thursday, where I write about things that aren’t baseball. I’ve felt bad about that, so, starting next week, I’m proud to announce that Off-Topic Thursday (and it’s off-season cousin, Off-Topic Tuesday) will return, carrying with them a brand new feature here at the Continuum:

 

BIZARRE NOT-BASEBALL CULTURE.

Yes, all the fun of Bizarre Baseball Culture, only with… less baseball. What does “Bizarre” mean? Well, whatever I want it to mean, but in general it’ll mean something other than the usual mainstream. One week it could be a comic book, the next week an episode of a TV series, or it could be several weeks full of Godzilla movies. In other words, every Thursday that I’m able to, you’ll see something… uhh… different.

And don’t expect the usual Bizarre Baseball Culture to disappear, oh, it very much will continue to appear on it’s irregular schedule that can best be described as “when the time is right”.

But, until then, I hope you come back next week for the first installment of Bizarre Not-Baseball Culture