I will not be playing music this week, but instead hosting a Cincinnati Reds opening day party at World of Beer (503 S. Front St.) starting at 4:05 pm (First Pitch), Thursday April 5th. I will come armed with a few Reds trivia questions and a fistfull of prizes as well. Join me to watch Reds V Marlins, drink a beer and talk baseball.
Though I am a sucker for any kind of competition involving a ball, baseball has always been my favorite sport. Not exactly sure why, as it is boring most of the time, but here goes nuthin'...
1) Growing up in Worthington, Ohio, we would visit my grandparents in Baltimore, MD quite often. They lived in a one bedroom apartment with a small balcony overlooking a small courtyard. Looking back, it wasn't glamorous, but a candy dish and a bag of UTZ potato chips is a great masking agent to a young boy. Every evening, my grandad would retreat to that balcony with a small transistor radio and listen to the Orioles game.
Even at a young age I thought, "that looks peaceful". Though I never found the same feeling at mass on Sunday morning, i still carry a small radio with me to listen to Reds games during the summer and it brings me peace.
2) I grew up with a paper route and back in the pre ESPN days, those baseball box scores (along with a couple comics) were the ONLY thing that mattered in the paper. Before we would rubber band anything, we would rip open the sports page to see who hit a HR the night before. I still remember the excitement the year George Foster hit 52 home runs for the Reds. 50 bombs? Oh, that was just crazy. To this day at the coffee shop, a morning without box scores is a gloomy morning indeed.
3)Bill James. I have no idea how we got turned on to Bill James back when we hit drinking age, but once we got our hands on the Bill James Baseball Abstract, many late nights were spent with cans in hand, Replacements in ears debating who was a better hitter: Ted Williams or Stan Musial. Even more, Bill's fanatical writing style helped me find my writing voice, for better or worse. (see:" My Obession, Ranking the Songs of Cheap Trick" in the archives)
4) Fantasy Baseball. Fantasy sports were invented by baseball fans. Obviously. Who else would crunch numbers like that? NFL fans? I think not. I joined my first fantasy baseball league back when the commissioner would keep track of the standings by hand and SEND YOU A PRINTED UPDATE IN THE MAIL!! Try to imagine that.
Since those heady days, the NFL have dumbed the whole thing down and now the masses enjoy a skilled match of fantasy football every week during football season. Fantasy Football is king as well it should be. But if fantasy football is a 5k charity run, fantasy baseball is a marathon. Despite countless hours of preparation and one league title (2010!), i've been a second division player 15 out of 20 years. What can I say? The numbers don't lie, I'm just not that bright. Funny. I make the fantasy football playoffs virturaly every year with no preparation. Not sure what that means but you get the idea. I'll post my fanatsy draft in just a bit
5) Baseball Literature. so many great books/writers. I'll spare you a list but "The Glory of Their Times" and anything by Thomas Boswell is a good start.
6) Baseball Parks. For some reason they matter more than football stadiums/ basketball-hockey arenas. I've been to old Yankee Stadium a couple of times but not the new one. This pains me and it must be rectified. Yet, I couldn't care less to revisit the "new Meadowlands". My favorite ballparks: Wrigley Field- this is why baseball is popular: Friends, beer and sun. If the game is exciting, that is a bonus. Camden Yards, Pittsburgh, Fenway Park, Great American Ballpark.
6A) Huntington Park in Columbus. I grew up going to old Cooper Stadium on the West side and though I have many fond memories there (Marshall Brandt autographed baseball, Hello!) the "New Coop", is a baseball Mecca. It might be my favorite place in the whole city. It's construction was a life changing event. Similar to the Columbus Zoo, it's damn near perfect and Kids get in for $3. Go Clippers, ring your bell.
7) Playing catch. Field of Dreams sort of mushed up the concept, but what is more enjoyable than a good game of catch? I would throw with my Dad in the backyard and now I throw with Owen. Watershed brings mitts on the road and throws between soundcheck and show time.
Fantasy Outlook 2012!
After twenty years of trying, I finally captured my first fantasy baseball title last year. My secret? Lots of luck and great pitching. Kershaw, Haren, Sheilds, Nova, Kimbrel, Feliz were throwing seeds all year. How did I respond to my first championship? In typical fashion, partying hard through the off season and showing up to this year's draft unprepared and out of shape. I did spend a number of hours coming up with a new team name which i feel good about. (W O P R - You know, from War Games "Would you like to play a game?" get it?.) In retrospect, I should spent 30 minutes to learn who was closing for each team. Alas.. The grisly results are as follows:
|172||Jesus Montero, Sea DH|
|189||Brandon McCarthy, Oak SP|
Clay Buchholz, Bos SP
Isn't he supposed to be good or something?
|213||Mike Trout, LAA OF|
|220||Aroldis Chapman, Cin RP|
Kenley Jansen, LAD RP
I like big arms over medocure starters. They will find a role
|244||Gordon Beckham, CWS 2B|
|261||Jim Johnson, Bal RP|
Alfonso Soriano, ChC OF
Alfonso way low
|285||Jonny Venters, Atl RP|
|292||Zack Cozart, Cin SS|
|309||Rafael Furcal, StL SS|
|316||David Robertson, NYY RP|
|333||Placido Polanco, Phi 3B|
|340||Carlos Ruiz, Phi C|
David DeJesus, ChC OF
I would cut these last three if I could right now.
To conclude: i'm way thin on power and wins, but full of saves and steals. A good manager could do something with that. I on the other hand....