CONTINUUCAST 9 featuring @StaceGots, WBC News and a special BIZARRE BASEBALL CULTURE announcement!

The Baseball Continuum Continuucast’s ninth episode with special guest Stacey Gostulias (and her cat)! Hit play above, download by right-clicking here, follow the RSS feed here or follow on iTunes here or Stitcher here (if the latest episode isn’t up yet, it will be shortly).

The 9th Continuucast, now able to fill a NL starting lineup!

 

First, Dan talks to Stacey Gotsulias (and her cat) about the Yankees, New Yankee Stadium, the super-expensive seats in said stadium, the possibility that baseball may one day have ads on uniforms, baseball’s attempts at broadening it’s fanbase, and more. Big thanks to Stacey, who can be followed on Twitter at @StaceGots!

 

Next, Dan give his opinions on Jim Leyland being hired for Team USA in 2017.

 

Finally, Dan previews the next Continuucast, and makes a special announcement about another area that the Baseball Continuum is expanding into! Fans of BIZARRE BASEBALL CULTURE will want to hear this!

 

Music/Sounds Featured:

 

“The National Game” by John Phillip Sousa

 

“Here Come The Yankees”

 

The World Baseball Classic Theme

 

“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)

 

The Theme from Fallout 4

 

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

 

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30 Teams, 30 Posts (2016): The Tale of Dandy, the Short-Lived Yankees Mascot

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post (of varying amounts of seriousness) about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2016 season. Earlier installments can be found here. Today, I speak of Dandy, the short-lived Yankees mascot.

Every team in MLB has a mascot, with three exceptions: the Angels (although they do have the Rally Monkey), the Dodgers… and the Yankees.

But, believe it or not, the Yankees did indeed have a mascot at one point! His name was Dandy, and he looked like this:

dandyCreated by Bonnie Erickson (who also designed Miss Piggy) and her husband and creative partner Wayde Harrison (together, they created the Phillie Phanatic, Youppi!, and other famed mascots), Dandy came to be in an attempt for the Yankees to replicate Phanatic Phever. With the Erickson/Harrison pedigree, a friendly and huggable shape, and a epic mustache, Dandy seemed destined for success. Even George Steinbrenner seemed interested in him, haggling with Erickson and Harrison to make sure that the color of Dandy’s pinstripes were the right shade.

And Dandy may have gotten away with it too, if not for that meddling Chicken. Two weeks before Dandy was to debut in 1979, Lou Piniella took umbrage at the San Diego Chicken (on loan to the Mariners) putting a hex on Ron Guidry and threw his mitt at him. After this incident, Steinbrenner declared that mascots had no place in baseball.

Still, a deal was a deal, so Dandy went into action- in a greatly reduced capacity. His opening debut, which would have involved a pre-set routine and theme music, was scrapped, never to be seen. The Yankees did everything in their power to make him as unimportant as possible, even saying in their team guide that he was just there to amuse the kiddies and stay as far away from the action as possible. True to their word, he was confined up in the cheap-seats.

To make matters worse, for a time Dandy was banned from the stadium outright because his mustache called to mind Thurman Munson, who died in a tragic plane crash.

So, perhaps it isn’t surprising that the few years that Dandy existed were ones of obscurity. As early as the 1990s, people who worked for the Yankees claimed that there never even was a mascot. At one point, during a rare public appearance, Dandy was attacked by a group of drunk bankers, causing the guy inside of the costume- somebody named Rick Ford- to hold it for ransom.

Amazingly, though, it wasn’t the Yankees who cancelled Dandy. It was Erickson and Harrison, who hated how marginalized their creation was. They took him and went home when his lease was up, despite the fact the Yankees were interested in renewing it. To this day, they still own the rights and design, so if you are an eclectic millionaire looking to have a obscure mascot at your next birthday party… give them a call.

Sources:

“Mascots R Them” by Erin St. John Kelly

“Not so Fine and Dandy: The History of The Yankees Mascot” by Josh Eisenberg

“The Short, Sad History Of The Yankees 1980s Mascot, Dandy” by Jen Carlson

“Yankees’ Long-Forgotten Mascot” by Scott Cacciola

(Blogathon ’16) Jason Cohen: Reminiscing about Chien-Ming Wang and What Could Have Been

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.

Former Yankees pitcher Chien-Ming Wang signed a minor league deal with the Royals, making that the eighth organization (ninth if you count a short stint in indy ball) the right-hander has been a part of since returning to pitching in 2011. After tearing his shoulder capsule during the 2009 season, Wang missed all of 2010 to recover and the Washington Nationals picked him up in hopes of getting the pitcher he once was for such a short amount of time. He last pitched in the big leagues during the 2013 season for the Toronto Blue Jays and it was a disaster, but it wasn’t always that way.

Signed as an amateur free agent by the Yankees in 2000, he made his professional debut at the age of 20. After missing the 2001 season to injury, it took him another four seasons to reach the majors. He wasn’t expected to be a star, but somehow he managed to turn into one, albeit not a very famous one. In 2005, he managed to pitch at an above-average level while the rotation fell apart around him. That year, Carl Pavano, Jared Wright, Kevin Brown, all broke down during the course of the season. Wang was hurt too, but he returned late in the second half and was even able to pitch in a playoff game. His first year was solid, but maybe not much to remember.

What followed, though, were probably two of the most important seasons for the Yankees in that decade. Between 2006 and 2007, Wang pitched to a 3.67 ERA and a 3.85 FIP over 417.1 innings, averaging somewhere between six and seven innings per start–something the current Yankees would love to dream on. He led the league with 19 wins in 2006, was the runner-up in the Cy Young vote to Johan Santana, and placed 24th in the AL MVP vote. His numbers weren’t the most dominating–a 3.9 K/9 rate over that time would attest to that–but his power sinker made him a real threat to hitters with a ground ball rate over 60%.

Some of his best games in 2006 include his two-hit, two-walk, complete game shutout of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. There was also a game where he produced a total of 20 ground balls outs in a single game against the Atlanta Braves. He even struck out 10 batters in 2007 on his way to complete game while allowing just two runs against the New York Mets. It seemed like he was always going into the seventh, eighth, or ninth inning with less than 100 pitches. Everyone was so focused on the strikeout that they never realized that contact could be such an effective means to utterly dominate your opponent. It’s a pity he had the literal worst defense in baseball playing behind him from 2005-2007, because who knows what things would have been like if they had even a league-average group then.

He ended up being worth 7.5 WAR over those two years, ranking right next to Mussina and Andy Pettitte during that period. He was top-20 in innings pitched, ranked third in ground ball percentage behind only Derek Lowe and Brandon Webb, and his 2.40 BB/9 was just outside of top 20 in baseball at the time. Wang was never the best, but when the Yankees needed him most, he was at least one of them. At a time when the Yankees were paying Carl Pavano not to pitch and had a disappointing two years with Randy Johnson, Wang filled in at the league minimum. He was invaluable.

The most exciting thing about it was that he arrived on the brink of a new day. He came up at a time where the Yankees were still filled with bloated contracts for underperforming veterans and his presence was a breath of fresh air. He made his debut just as Robinson Cano was entering the league and Melky Cabrera was getting a chance. Joe Torre was finally on his way out after a decade in the dugout. Pretty soon there would be Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, and though we have the benefit of hindsight to know how terrible that all worked out in the end, Wang was there before it was cool to be young and he was great.

Unfortunately not everything worked out as expected. As much promise as the 2007 season brought, 2008 proved to be the cruel reality check that none of us wanted. Hughes and Joba got hurt, and Wang, while rounding the bases in Houston, tore a ligament in his foot and a muscle in his leg to end his season in June. All these injuries and disappointing seasons likely led the Yankees to go heavy on that year’s free agent class, coming away with CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett to nail down their weakened and underperforming rotation. Many believe that Wang’s injury threw him off and he struggled in his return during the 2009 season before ultimately tearing his shoulder capsule and destroying the Wang we all knew.

I’ve written about Wang before, I even asked him to retire and put an end to the ghost that he has become because it was just too painful to watch. He’s a member of the Pinstripe Alley Top 100 Yankees and he has a legacy in the Bronx that won’t go away with time. It’s just incredibly weird to think that you’ve peaked doing your life’s work before the age of 30 and it’s not really anyone’s fault. You can’t even say he just didn’t work out–he got hurt. Situations like this ruin–even end–people’s lives. I’m a few years away from 30 and would like to think that I haven’t come close to my peak, but if I knew it had already come and gone, I have no idea how I’d be able to keep doing what I was doing.

Then you look at what Wang has been doing and maybe it isn’t sad to see a 35-year-old man–already gone from the man he once was–continue to plug along. He made it once, he could make it again, but even if he doesn’t maybe there is something to look at, maybe even emulate, in Wang’s determination to do the only thing he very well might be good at. There’s no shame in that and if he pitches another 10 years, even if it’s at the Triple-A level, we should all be so lucky. In the meantime, I’ll remember who Wang was, but never ignore who he has become.

Jason Cohen is an editor at SB Nation’s Pinstripe Alley where he holds the world record for most articles written and it isn’t even close. He is an unapologetic Yankees fan who loves bat flips, calling people out when they say something offensive, and isn’t quite comfortable talking about himself in the third person. You can normally see his writing at Pinstripealley.com and his tweets at @Jason00Cohen.

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.

Bizarre Baseball Culture: Marvel’s Menagerie of Yankee Stadium appearances

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.

Sometimes, baseball plays a role in a piece of fiction, but not really a big enough one where I can do a full piece on it. Take Marvel, for example. The fact that 95% of their heroes are in New York City means that there are plenty of stories where heroes or villains visit Yankee Stadium but where their visit isn’t long enough or baseball-focused enough to really justify giving them the full Bizarre Baseball Culture treatment.

So, this time, I’m killing many birds with one stone and showcasing some of Yankee Stadium’s appearances in Marvel comics. Go below the jump to see some of them:

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Bizarre Baseball Culture: Cal Ripken orders the 2001 Yankees to Save The World

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.

Wolverine of the X-Men has a habit of appearing in comics he technically isn’t supposed to be in, simply because he’s popular. Well, Cal Ripken is the Wolverine of Baseball Comic Books.  He’s joined forces with Batman, led the Shortstop Squad, and been the subject of a bio-comic. Also, like Wolverine, Cal Ripken seemed to be able to recover from any injury, no matter how severe. But, it’s the first similarity that I’m focusing on, because, in the comic I will be looking at today, Cal Ripken appears in a story about the 2001 New York Yankees being Superheroes.

Let that sink in. The New York Yankees, in a comic that they themselves ordered and gave away, still had Cal Ripken in their comic and had him on the cover too.

YanksCalCover

Entitled “Championship Challenge” and given out September 28, 2001, it stars, as you can see, four of the greatest stars the Yankees had that season. Mariano Rivera! Tino Martinez! Jorge Posada! And, of course, the Once and Future Captain, Derek Jeter himself. But, of course, we also see Cal RIpken on the cover, letting everybody know that the Iron Man will be there! With such Ultimate Sports Force stalwarts as Rick Licht writing and Brian Kong doing the art, this was partially made as part of the Ripken farewell celebration, and it becomes even more obvious when you realize that originally Ripken’s final series would have been at Yankee Stadium if not for the schedule reshuffling that MLB did after the 9/11 attacks.

Anyway, go below the jump to read about the story:

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Tanaka signing sets up what could be an Apocalyptic year for the Yankees

The word “apocalypse” does not, technically, mean the end of the world. It instead means “uncovering” or the revelation of something. In that truest sense, the New York Yankees have set themselves up for an apocalyptic year in 2014. Because with the signing of Masahiro Tanaka, they have turned their back on any semblance of the financial restraint they showed last year in a quest to possibly get under the luxury tax and are going with the good old fashion weapon of the Yankees of old: money. Lots and lots of money.

Problem is, with the team that that money has bought, it has yet to be uncovered whether that’s going to do it anymore… at least the way the Yankees did it this offseason.

What do I mean by the way the “Yankees did it” this offseason? Well, what I mean is that the Yankees have, for a lack of a better word, assembled a team that recalls the “Jurassic Park at Camden Yards” Orioles of 1998. Having fallen in the ALCS the past two years, Orioles ownership threw a bunch of money at the problem, signing past All-Stars and award-winners… leading to a team that actually had a higher total salary figure than the Yankees. Problem was, these are the past All-Stars and award-winners who they got (not counting re-signings of players like Harold Baines and Brady Anderson):

The 1998 Orioles average age was 33.3 years old, their most common batting orders had no players that were younger than 30 at the end of the season, and of the eight pitchers that would start 10 or more games that year, only two of them were under 30. The “Jurassic Park at Camden Yards” Orioles underachieved greatly, finishing 79-83, 4th in the AL East, and beginning the long string of under-.500 years that would last until 2012. Carter, Charlton and Guillen were all gone from the team by the end of the year (although Guillen, admittedly, had mainly been gotten as a backup infielder), while Drabek retired at year’s end.

Now, look at what the Yankees did this off-season:

  • Signed Brian McCann, who will be 30 in 2014
  • Signed Jacoby Ellsbury, who will be 30 in 2014 and has a history of injuries
  • Signed Carlos Beltran, who will be 37 in 2014
  • Signed Matt Thornton, who will be 37 in 2014
  • Signed Brian Roberts, who will be 36 in 2014 and has a history of injuries
  • Signed Masahiro Tanaka, who will be 25 in the 2014 season.

Other than Tanaka, the list looks shockingly like what the Orioles did- getting old all-stars. And, like the Orioles of 1998, the Yankees will likely have their line-up made up entirely of players older than 30-years old. Although, to be fair, the Yankees rotation is younger and I’d definitely take a 30-year-old McCann over a 33-year-old Lenny Webster or Chris Hoiles and a 30-year-old Ellsbury over a 34-year-old Brady Anderson. But still, you can’t help get this sinking feeling that maybe, just maybe, the Yankees money-hammer isn’t going to work this time, that the players they have acquired are too old and too injury prone to bring them to the promised land.

Still, It’s not hard to see why the Yankees are doing this. After all, they missed the playoffs last year and were lucky to end up tied for third with the Orioles in the AL East. And, as that happened, their ratings and attendance plummeted, and probably would have been even lower if not for the attention the grand Mariano Rivera farewell tour got. So, what were they going to do? Just spend money on some younger and cheaper players? Let Tanaka go to the Cubs or Dodgers? Pfft. They wouldn’t let that happen, they are the Yankees. And, hey, the money approach has worked before, and it may well work again. And they better hope it does, because if it doesn’t, it could turn into a baseball apocalypse in the Bronx of a somewhat more dire kind.

Every way (well, 25 ways) the A-Rod madness might end (HUMOR after awhile)

Oh boy. The whole saga over Alex Rodriguez keeps getting weirder and weirder. With each passing day, he seems to be finding some new doctor, tweeting out something, making some sort of appearance on radio or TV, or coming under some sort of further Biogenesis news.

So, how does it end? I have come up with EVERY POSSIBLE OUTCOME, and listed them below:

  1. Alex Rodriguez does early August rehab and is back with the Yankees sometime that month before getting suspended in some way by the end of the year. Because, really, at this point, there is no way he is avoiding getting suspended.
  2. Alex Rodriguez goes through rehab, but then is suspended for going over the Yankees’ head with getting a second opinion, so he doesn’t actually start until late August. THEN he gets suspended by MLB.
  3. Alex Rodriguez uses various legal tricks and appeals to play but then is suspended in the off-season.
  4. Alex Rodriguez is suspended by MLB before he can actually play in the majors this season.
  5. Alex Rodriguez suffers another injury set-back and doesn’t play.
  6. Alex Rodriguez just up and retires to avoid all of the Biogenesis and injury stuff.
  7. Alex Rodriguez cuts a deal with MLB about this whole Biogenesis stuff, is out the rest of the season and probably next year too, but then tries to make a comeback in 2015.
  8. Alex Rodriguez fights the Biogenesis investigation, loses, and is either suspended for a very long time or is just upright banned.
  9. Various variations of 1 through 8.
  10. (From this point on, it’s humor) It is revealed that the Alex Rodriguez everyone has been watching since he went to the Rangers is actually a magically-hidden centaur doppelganger and that the real Alex Rodriguez has been in a cryogenic chamber somewhere near Seattle since 2000.
  11. Brian Cashman, finally having reached his breaking point with all of this nonsense, challenges A-Rod to a duel to the death.
  12. Alex Rodriguez is seen with somebody like Lindsay Lohan or Amanda Bynes or something, causing Deadspin and TMZ to collide, forming a black hole that sucks up the entire internet.
  13. Alex Rodriguez begins to go under the alias of “Carlos Danger”.
  14. Alex Rodriguez, hoping to show just how fine and game ready he is, does a workout in his driveway in front of assembled media.
  15. Alex Rodriguez announces that his home planet needs him, leaves, and is never heard from again.
  16. Alex Rodriguez tries to sneak onto the field of a Yankees game by trying to go incognito as Dandy, the Yankees’ short-lived mascot.
  17. It turns out that “Biogenesis” was the name of his sleigh.
  18. It is revealed that Alex Rodriguez’s entire career has taken place inside of a snowglobe and the imagination of an autistic child.
  19. Goes to Taiwan, where people will still pack the stadium just to see him.
  20. Alex Rodriguez goes and buys some Shwarma.
  21. Alex Rodriguez moves to Vegas and spends the rest of his days signing memorabilia.
  22. Sits in his room for rest of his days eating ice cream and watching Ice Station Zebra. Hey, it worked for Howard Hughes.
  23. He not only makes it back, but he hits a dramatic walkoff home run that hits the light standards and causes them to explode.
  24. Due to a quirk in the CBA, is suspended but is able to continue playing in the minor leagues, where he tutors young prospects or something.
  25. Alex Rodriguez wakes up from his nap, turns and sees Ken Griffey Jr. in the locker next to him, and says “You won’t believe the dream I just had.”