Some five-thousand two-hundred and eight feet above sea level, a scene of utter despair played out Tuesday night. Tens, possibly hundreds, had the misfortune to see it with their own eyes.
Officially, 20,239 people saw the Rockies and the Mets play in 36 degree weather at Coors Field. Unofficially, well, you tell me:
As error after error piled up — five, in all — and the game ran into hours three, four and eventually five, the declining mood of the freezing crowd noticeably declined. And understandably so — Coors Field was a brisk 36 degrees at game time and was only getting colder.
But there’s Dinger, the Rockies’ persistent mascot. “Dinger has been the Colorado Rockies biggest fan since he first hatched from his egg at Mile High Stadium on April 16, 1994,” the Rockies’ site claims. And indeed, there’s Dinger, jumping and cheering a tenth-inning walk as the rest of the fans selfishly shield themselves from the elements.
I salute you, Dinger. Just keep doing you.
The film character Jeffrey Lebowski, colloquially known as “The Dude,” is well known for his fashion choices. A personal favorite of mine as a baseball fan comes from the “Requiem” scene, in which The Big Lebowski informs The Dude that the former’s wife has been kidnapped. The Dude arrives wearing this shirt:
I recently acquired this shirt from Found Item Clothing, and I’m told the “Little Lebowski” store in Manhattan also carries it. As you can see, it’s a faithful reproduction:
The best detail? The player in the shirt was a real Japanese player by the name of Kaoru Betto. Betto was, according to the Baseball-Reference bullpen, one of Japan’s first power hitters. He also owned arguably the best baseball nickname possible: “The Gentleman of Baseball.” I know I wish that was my nickname.
Also worth noting: the shirt was apparently a favorite of Bridges, as he also wore it in the films Cold Feet and The Fisher King.
Merry Christmas from Heath Bell and NotGraphs!
According to Ed Coleman of WFAN 660, the Mets have signed third baseman David Wright to a seven-year, $122 million contract extension, the biggest in franchise history. The contract makes Wright a Met until 2020 — and quite possibly a Met for life.
Coleman broke the news just before 3 AM in New York City. Here’s a picture from the scene:
Stay tuned for more hot tips.
News yesterday that Orioles prospect L.J. Hoes will be playing for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League. That adds another area code to the list of area codes in which the Orioles have assigned L.J. Hoes.
As usual, click to embiggen.
What precedes is (as one will find out if they click to embiggen) a map of the area codes in which the Baltimore Orioles have assigned outfield prospect Jerome O’Bryan “L.J.” Hoes. The detailed list:
Gulf Coast League Orioles (Sarasota, FL)
Delmarva Shorebirds (Salisbury, MD)
Aberdeen Iron Birds (Aberdeen, MD)
Frederick Keys (Frederick, MD)
Bowie Baysox (Bowie, MD)
Norfolk Tides (Norfolk, VA)
It pales to the amount of area codes in which Ludacris claims to have regular hoes, but that’s some impressive work by the Orioles and Mr. Hoes nonetheless.
This is but one page from a wildly entertaining bit of merchandise I purchased while in Minneapolis for SABR 42: a 1990 Milwaukee Brewers game program. It’s a fluff piece on then-new commissioner of baseball Fay Vincent. I’m sure many similar pieces appeared in programs across the league and across the country, but I found it interesting for one paragraph in particular:
Many say that he is a perfect blend of former commissioners Peter Ueberroth and Bart Giamatti. If that is the case, then Francis T. “Fay” Vincent, baseball’s eighth commissioner, will help lead the game into a new era of prosperity this decade — a decade in which the business of the sport will be greater than ever before.”
Vincent would receive an 18-9 vote of no confidence from the owners in 1992 and resign his post to current commissioner and then-Brewers owner Bud Selig. 1994, of course, saw the strike, and many would argue that baseball wasn’t fully revived until the 1998 home run chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. And, of course, this was the beginning of that whole “steroids era” thing. A great new era of prosperity this decade indeed.
Frank Deford, a legend of sportswriting at Sports Illustrated for over half a century, was awarded the Red Smith Award for outstanding contributions to sports journalism last Friday. In his acceptance speech, he touches on the direction of sportswriting. One sentence in particularly speaks directly to what we at FanGraphs (and much of the “new sports media”) write.
I don’t want to see sportswriting be overwhelmed by statistics. I want to read about the heart and blood of athletes and their stories, which has made sportswriting so special.
Deford is absolutely right. Sportswriting needs the feature stories that allow us to see the stories of these athletes. We need Molly Knight on Matt Kemp. We need Chris Ballard on Tim Duncan. We need Jimmy Breslin on Joe Namath.
Seriously, if you haven’t read that Breslin story, drop everything and read it now.
The best feature writers make us feel like we’re in the room with our favorite athletes; like we can somehow identify with them as they perform absurd, superhuman acts on the field of play. It adds an immeasurable and necessary amount to our sports experience.
But I also think there are immeasurable stories to be told about the game itself. How it is won or lost, over the course of a season or a game or an inning or even one single play. I want — and surely Deford does as well — good, quality writing about both the players and the game they play for us.
I care about the guy putting up MVP numbers for his team, but I also care about what it means for his team and how it helps them win. I’m interested in the man who hits the walk-off home run, but I also want to see how and why it happened. Statistics — sport’s silent historians — are our vessel to that end.
Deford is right in another fashion: sportswriting, even when it comes to dissecting the game itself, cannot be listing numbers off a page. There is always more to it — some nuance, some insight that brings us above simply what happened and starts answering questions. Why? How? Answering these questions can move us too.
So yes, Mr. Deford, let’s not overwhelm the word of sportswriting with statistics. Let’s just allow them to do their part.
With Freddie Freeman putting up a huge game last night immediately upon the arrival of his new sports goggles, don’t be surprised if we see some people in the media making a big deal about it. The first of Freeman’s three hits was a booming home run to center field, and a few Braves were pretty dang excited for him. Most notably? David Ross. Check it out.
And I believe that’s Brandon Beachy in the background, showing with his hands that yes, Freddie Freeman was wearing goggles as he hit the home run. Apparently, unlike for Radioactive Man, the goggles, they actually do something.
The Baltimore Orioles franchise may finally have reached it’s nadir. The following sign is now on display at KBA (that’s Korea Baseball Association) parks everywhere (via Daniel Kim via C.J. Nitkowski on Twitter):
In case you’re not familiar, the Orioles were effectively banned from Korea after failing to follow certain protocols in their attempts to sign 17-year-old pitcher Kim Seong-Min. That’s a hilarious enough story in itself, but it’s still stunning to see it on paper and rendered in a picture on the internet. To me, what really hits home is the exclamation point at the end of the Korean version of the statement. These guys mean business.
Heck, maybe the Orioles need to have the KBA fax some of those over to the home base in Camden, considering the Orioles already blew up their own scouting department?