September 25th, the past, the future, and what lies between.

There are some days that burn themselves into the history of sports.

Some of them are for good reasons: Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier on April 15, 1947, for example.

Some of them are for bad reasons: September 5 and 6, 1972 were the days when the Munich Massacre happened at the Olympics.

And some of them are for reasons both good and bad: June 17, 1994 was perhaps the most eventful day in sports history. There was even a documentary about it. Game 5 of the NBA finals was in New York. The New York Rangers had their victory parade. The first World Cup on American soil began. Baseball wasn’t on strike yet. Arnold Palmer (I’ll get back to him) played his final US Open round. Overshadowing it all, though, was Buffalo Bills legend OJ Simpson in a white Bronco.

Yesterday, September 25, 2016 was one of the last kinds of those days. The mixed kind. For you see, yesterday saw both the past and the future die. It also saw the present live.

Jose Fernandez was the future. An immigrant who fled Cuba after years of trying, diving into the water to save his mother during the trip. He pitched with a joy that few have seen, and his pitching brought that same joy to all except those who opposed him. His determination was also legendary: when he arrived in America at 15, he was by all accounts a far cry from the stud pitcher he became. It was only through hard work that he became a prospect, then a super-prospect, and then a ace.

And then he got hurt, and was mostly missing for two whole season.

And then he came back, better than he was before. A rising star who was an attraction by himself, and with endless potential ahead of him. One of the new faces of baseball, every bit as amazing as Trout, Harper, Machado and their ilk.

Except, in some ways, Fernandez was more than any of them. He represented the ideal of the game of baseball that in some ways has only existed in our minds. The game where everyone can play, regardless of where they come from or what language they can speak. The game where people can have fun like they had when they were kids, even if they are being paid absurd amounts of money. The game that is a game, not a war (like football).

And now he’s gone. A potential Hall of Fame career, up in smoke along the Florida coast, along with the lives of two of his friends. What he could have been, whether he could have met that potential and continued to bring so much joy to a game that at times desperately needs it… we will never know.

We do, however, know what Arnold Palmer had. He had quite the past. He wasn’t the greatest golfer ever, but he may have been the most famous, and with good reason. He has a drink named after him- not even Babe Ruth has that (he had to settle for a candy bar that officially isn’t even named after him). He loved the sport he played, and was one of the best at it. While it is tragic that he has passed, he lived a full life, and left his mark upon the sports world that his talent deserved.

Arnold Palmer, in other words, lived the life that Jose Fernandez could have lived.

Between mourning the lost future of Jose Fernandez and the glorious past of Arnold Palmer, the games went on, as they almost always do. It was full of the moments- good and bad and in-between- that define sports, and life. Vin Scully said goodbye to LA, yes, but there was also a walk-off HR to clinch the division. Football and golf went on, bringing their usual pains and triumphs. There is less than a week left to go in the MLB season, with some races still be decided, some careers still left to be finished and continued.

Yes, the games go on. They won’t show us what Jose Fernandez could have become, or what Arnold Palmer once was, but they will go on. And they will help us ease the pain and nostalgia, just as they help us forget the woes of everyday life on any given day.

After all, that’s what we love sports for, is it not?


World Baseball Classic Qualifier Preview: Brooklyn (Brazil, Israel, Great Britain, Pakistan)

The final spot in next year’s main WBC tournament is up for grabs this week in Brooklyn, in an eclectic pool of four countries that lack major baseball facilities and thus sort of have been thrown into Brooklyn in hopes that New York’s diverse population will come out to see the games. While Brazil and the American-heavy Israeli team should be considered the favorites, GB shouldn’t be totally counted out. The biggest mystery (and likely last-place finisher) is Pakistan, a newcomer to the WBC that has rarely participated outside of the regional level. You can see the rosters (which have since changed slightly due to call-ups and injuries) here.

Continue reading

World Baseball Classic Update (September 14, 2016): A Minor Update

A small WBC update today, with just two pieces of news:

First off, David Peralta of the Diamondbacks is unlikely to play for Venezuela next year due to wrist surgery.

Secondly, according to the the excellent “Pinceladas del CMB” Twitter feed and Twitter’s translation feature, there is the news that tickets for the Guadalajara pool will go on sale in November.

…And that’s it for this installment. If you have any WBC news, let me know! Thanks!


“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)


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.)


Bill: (turning) Shut up!


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.


(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.)


(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!



(The sound of a ball hitting a glove.)


Bill: Will you be quiet?

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

(The sound of a ball hitting a glove.)


Harold: He needs to wait for his pitch.


(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!


(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…



(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.)




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.)



World Baseball Classic Update (Sept. 6, 2016)

Due to my trip and other responsibilities, I’ve been slacking on WBC updates. So, here is one.

The Pools for the 2017 WBC have been revealed:

The biggest piece of WBC news in the past few weeks is probably the reveal of the actual pools and locations for the tournament. They are:

Pool A (Tokyo Dome): Australia, China, Cuba, Japan

Pool B (Geocheok Dome in Seoul, South Korea): Taipei, Korea, Netherlands, winner of Brooklyn Qualifying pool (more on that later)

Pool C (Marlins Park in Miami): Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, USA

Pool D (Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Guadalajara, Mexico): Italy, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela

Pool E (Tokyo Dome): Top two of Pool A and Pool B

Pool F (Petco Park in San Diego): Top two of Pool C and Pool D

Semi-Finals and Finals are in Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

Rosters for the Brooklyn Qualifier have been revealed:

Late in August, the rosters for the final qualifying pool were revealed. Baseball America has a good rundown of them, and I’ll go more in-depth on them when I do my preview of the group later in the month. But my early impressions say that Brazil and Israel will be the main teams to beat in the pool, although the UK could surprise.

Other WBC News:

Kim In-Sik, the manager for Team Korea, is pessimistic about the team’s chances due to a lack of pitching, especially right-handers. He hopes to get Seung-Hwan Oh, but problems with a gambling situation in Macau that led to his suspension from KBO and NPB (it’s complicated and I’m not entirely sure if I fully understand it, but it has to do with rules in Korea and Japan that frown upon gambling even if it’s in a place where it’s legal) make that less than a slam-dunk. On the position player side, Dae-Ho Lee and Byung-Ho Park have been supportive, although Park’s injury makes it unlikely he will take part. Among the KBO players Kim is looking at is Jae-Kuk Ryu, who had some time in the majors from 2006 to 2008. Another article suggests that Hyun-Soo Kim of the Orioles is a certainty to be on the team, but that other MLB players besides him and Dae-Ho Lee are iffy due to the fact they all have had injury problems throughout the year.

Ervin Santana is eager to represent the Dominican at the next WBC, and hopes that Miguel Sano can join him. However, based on conversations that Sano has had with Latin American scouting sources for the Twins, it’s possible he’ll be the odd man and might be better served staying with the Twins, since the DR likely will have players like Adrian Beltre and Edwin Encarnacion filling the roles that Sano would likely would be most fit for.

Noah Syndergaard is likely to receive an invitation from Team USA, although it’s unknown if he would accept.

21-year-old Tyler O’Neill, named the Mariners’ best Minor League player this season by the Seattle Times, is a candidate for Team Canada.

Ken Rosenthal speculates that Clayton Kershaw and A.J. Ellis may have a reunion on Team USA next spring. However, he notes that there are plenty of “ifs” connected to that, especially related to Kershaw’s health and whether Ellis would even be considered for Team USA given America’s depth at the position.

Russell Martin has said he intends to play for Canada if he is healthy. John Axford is also excited to participate.

Omar Vizquel will be scouting the Venezuelan League to keep an eye on people who are on Team Venezuela’s shortlist.


BIZARRE BASEBALL CULTURE: Take “The Human Target” Out To The Ballgame

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.

Comic Book universes are huge and diverse, going through countless genres and containing both nitty-gritty realism and utterly fantastic science fiction or fantasy. And yet, they all take place in the same universe, no matter how different they seem. You can get a idea of just how crazy this is by looking at Marvel’s movie/TV empire, where Daredevil and Guardians of the Galaxy are both taking place in the same universe despite the fact that one of them is about a guy beating up mob bosses (and the occasional ninja) while the other one has both a talking raccoon and a talking tree.

However, as a result of this, sometimes characters get lost in the shuffle. They are technically part of the universe, but they rarely interact with it. Maybe it’s because their adventures are on the more mature side, maybe they are stuck in another dimension that the usual heroes don’t go to so often, or maybe, they aren’t seen because that’s just the way they want it…

Such is the case of Christopher Chance, AKA the Human Target. He’s not a completely unknown character- he’s been the subject of two short-lived shows based on his comics (the most notable being a two-season FOX series starring Mark Valley and James Earle Haley), but he’s firmly in the D-list of DC Comics. And those were both pretty different from the comics and had little indication of taking place in a world of DC Comics. In fact, when it was announced that the Human Target would be coming to Arrow, some people were surprised to find out that he even was a DC character. That’s probably because he doesn’t interact with the rest of the DC Universe all that much. Or maybe he does, but we just don’t know it.

Because, you see, the Human Target is a master of disguise. He becomes the would-be assassination victim using heavy prosthetic-work and a knack for copying voices and body language. And in this installment of Bizarre Baseball Culture, Christopher Chance figuratively steps up to the plate:

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 10.29.36 AM Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 10.30.43 AMGO BELOW THE JUMP FOR MORE:

Continue reading

Can I interest you in Cy Young’s padlock?

There have plenty of weird finds on eBay of tangentially-related-to-baseball memorabilia. Cy Young’s coffee pot, a Mr. Peanut costume that hung out with Reggie Jackson, Lefty Grove’s tax returns, and, of course, STAN MUSIAL’S WALLET AND IT’S CONTENTS!

And to this, we add another piece of memorabilia that has been touched by a Hall of Famer: a padlock owned by Cy Young!

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 4.26.46 PM

Yes, for the low price of $149.95 (plus shipping), you can own this padlock that was owned at one point by the winningest pitcher of all time. Of course, you may “need a locksmith to open it,” says the listing, but how can you say no to  “a rare piece from the Pitching Legend.” I mean, never mind that it had nothing to do with baseball whatsoever and is probably like countless other padlocks around the world… Cy Young’s fingers touched this thing. And that’s gotta be worth almost 150 dollars, right?