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.

(Blogathon ’16) Jonathan Weeks: The Greatest Man I Have Known

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.

The Greatest Man I Have Known
by Jonathan Weeks

Don Weeks
(Nov. 23, 1938 – Mar. 11, 2015) 

When my father was born in 1938, the Yankees were finishing up a run of four consecutive world championships. He vividly remembered the teams of the late-’40s/ early-’50s and would regale me with stories of their on-field adventures. Though I began my formative years as a fan of Cincinnati’s “Big Red Machine,” I was officially converted in 1976 when my father took me to Yankee Stadium for the first time. I still remember the smell of hot dogs and beer, the shouts of refreshment vendors hawking their wares and the row of billboards lining the facade in center field (among them ads for Brut cologne and Marlboro cigarettes). Most of all, I remember my father’s passion as he told me about the exceptional men who had worn pinstripes over the years. Though I was only eleven at the time, I left the stadium with a vague notion that the game of baseball is a metaphor for life itself–how some men rise to the occasion while others wilt in the spotlight. Throughout my childhood and into my adult years, my father was one of the heroes. He taught me about courage, perseverance and fair play. He led by example–especially during his twilight months when he endured the unexpected loss of his beloved wife (my Mom) while fighting bravely through chemotherapy and radiation. Even as he lay dying, his body ravaged by an insidious disease known as Merkle Cell Cancer, he had a kind word for everyone who entered the room. When he eventually became incapable of speech, he offered smiles instead.

In honor of this great man, I would like to share the boxscore from the first game we attended together:

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 10.45.57 PMFor anyone interested, I (Jonathan Weeks) am the author of several baseball books—three nonfiction works and one novel. My latest nonfiction project is being released in the summer of 2016 by Rowman and Littlefield. It’s entitled “Baseball’s Dynasties and the Men Who Built Them”. (The title kind of says it all) You can access my blog at jonathanweeks.blogspot.com.

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.

On C.C. Sabathia and Addiction

I know a man who struggled with addiction. It nearly cost him everything. To this day, he admits that facing it isn’t an easy thing to do, and neither is staying sober. It is a fight, one that may never truly end.

And that’s what makes what C.C. Sabathia did so notable and, in a way, noble.

As you probably heard already, Sabathia has checked himself into a alcohol rehabilitation center. He will miss the postseason, although that certainly isn’t what is important right now.

What is important is that Sabathia has recognized he needs help, and is apparently serious enough about facing his demons that he is doing it despite the fact that the playoffs are about to begin.

Hopefully that is a good sign, a sign that Sabathia is fully committed, and that he will win this fight. In one way, however, it could be said he already has done some good: his actions have brought this issue into the public eye, raising awareness, and perhaps inspiring others to seek help.

And that is a more important thing than any game.

Get well, C.C.

The Best Unofficial Baseball Shirts for Postseason Teams!

Last month’s look at unofficial and unlicensed baseball shirts was a big hit, even being picked up by SI.com’s Extra Mustard. So, since I’m never the type to quit while I’m ahead, I’ll do another. So, with the postseason starting tomorrow, here are the best unofficial and/or unlicensed (or, in extreme circumstances, just plain cool) t-shirts for those teams. Click the links to be brought to the stores that are selling them.

(Note: Some of these are not technically unofficial, but are rather licensed by individual players or the Hall of Fame. You’ll see, for example, a HOF Reggie Jackson shirt that conspicuously doesn’t have any Yankees logos on it.)

(GO BELOW THE JUMP FOR MORE)

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The Greatness and Legacy of Yogi Berra

We may know Yogi Berra by his quotes. That’s how I paid tribute to him on Twitter this morning (I woke up inexplicably briefly at like 4:00 this morning before falling back to sleep, explaining how early some of these tweets are):

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But then there is what comes after:

 

Those final facts are often the ones forgotten. Lost amongst the legend of his “Yogi-isms” is the fact that he was one of the greatest catchers of all time, as well as a an esteemed coach and manager (three of his WS titles came not as a player, but as a coach with the Mets and Yankees, and he was the manager of the 1964 Yankees team and 1973 Mets teams that lost their World Series).

He was a Forrest Gump of Baseball, seemingly involved in countless major events connected to baseball from the end of WWII (where Yogi served as a gunner’s mate on a navy ship, including during the D-Day invasion) until his death. He was the soul of Casey Stengel’s Yankees. Jackie Robinson played against him and had perhaps his signature moment- the steal of home in the World Series- off of him (to the end, Yogi claimed Jackie was out). When Don Larson had his perfect game, it was famously Yogi who leaped into his arm, leading Larson to say “Damn, Yogi, you’re heavy.” When Bill Mazeroski hit his walk-off home run, it was Yogi who watched it fly over the left-field fence. When Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s record, Yogi was on deck. The “Miracle Mets’ had Yogi Berra as a coach.

And, perhaps above all, he was a hell of a player. As Tom Verducci pointed out in his article on Yogi, he never struck out more than 40 times in a season. He and Joe DiMaggio are the only players in history to have 350 home runs or more with fewer than 500 strikeouts. He was by most accounts a defensive catcher and pitch-caller of fine quality- at one point he held the record for consecutive games behind the plate without an error. One does not become a All-Star so many times being merely average.

In the end, perhaps Casey Stengel summed up Berra the best (it’s included in Yogi’s obituary), even though it was 1949 when he said it, very early in Yogi’s career:

“Mr. Berra,” Casey Stengel said, “is a very strange fellow of very remarkable abilities.”

 

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