Thursday, April 23, 2009

Expensive seats, the Natinals and No Hitters.

So there are quite a few things in baseball the last week or so that has caught my eye. First, the feel good story of Patrick Schuster. If you haven’t heard of him then you are not paying attention. Schuster is a high school senior in Trinity, FL and has pitched four consecutive no hitters. He is 18-years old, is 6’2, 165 pounds and has not allowed a hit in 26.1 innings while striking out 60. That’s pretty good.

As Crash Davis would say, “You got a gift, when you were a baby the gods reached down and turned your arm into a thunderbold.”

His most recent no-hitter came with reports of over 1,000 people on hand, national news media and countless scouts with radar guns positioned behind home plate. He’s committed to a college already, however I am guessing with a 90 plus fastball and a killer slider, the lefty is wondering how much of a signing bonus he could get in the upcoming draft. Ahh, to have that type of choice in life…college or millions of dollars.

Then there is of course the story out of DC about the Nationals jersey’s being changed to the Natinals. There is a clear shot of Adam Dunn wearing the jersey as it’s misspelled. The “O” is suppose to be on the left side of the shirt but is clearly missing.

My question would first be to the company who made the jersey and to Majestic Athletic’s credit, they promptly issued an apologized for the gaffe. However, how many people looked at that jersey and didn’t realize it. It went from Majestic, to the Nationals clubbie, to Dunn. Who knows, maybe a few more people in there too.

I am no way blaming Dunn, because for the most part guys will just take the jersey that is hanging in their locker and put it on, even if it's bright pink.

Of course, every “quick witted” sports caster and writer this year is now going to call them the Washington Natinals. If only I was so clever.

Finally, to the New York Yankees. I don’t think they can be classified as the Evil Empire anymore, because not even Darth Vader would be dumb enough to charge $2,500 for seats, even though his storm troopers were bested by a bunch of small furry animals with nothing more than bow's and arrows and some very well placed logs.

Gone are the days in New York of kids scrounging up money to afford a seat at a ball game. Gone are the days of a Dad taking his sons to witness the greatest sports franchise in history. Gone are the days of trying to sneak down to the lower bowl.

I feel sorry for the people that have to sell these tickets. The fun part for me when going to a game is sitting around with other people and talking baseball, laughing, cheering and all the camaraderie. Not too much of that in Yankee Stadium, especially when the closest person to you is six seats away.

Memo to the Yankees. Those high profile business type people that come to the game in ties and dress pants are not your fan base. It's the ones in the cheap seats that have all the Yankee gear on. The hard working American who spends his money on a cold beer after work and gets the latest Yankee jersey or hat to wear to that said bar...because of course he can't afford to go to the game anymore.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Kalas Was One of the Greats

It’s a sad day in the sports world with the announcement that Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas has passed away. This has been a rough start to the baseball season, first the tragic news of the Angles young 22 year old pitcher Nick Adenhart being killed in a hit and run traffic accident. Now 73 year old Kalas passes away.

Adenhart had a world and lifetime of baseball still to experience and was taken away at a much too early age after working six scoreless innings in a start for the Angels. Then on the other hand you have Kalas who experienced a lifetime of baseball and collapsed and died in the Phillies broadcast booth in a setting he had come to know and love.

Being from St. Louis I remember hearing Jack Buck always say how he wanted to go out while calling a game. Kalas came close.

While living in Wilmington, DE I had the pleasure of actually meeting Kalas while at a Phillies game. I know he never would remember me, however I will always remember the greeting I got from him.

I was in the press box and introduced myself to him. He politely shook my hand and we had a little small talk. I told him I spent a summer working for the Phillies Single-A team and we talked about a few players coming up. Then he asked me if I had everything I needed and I said yes and then we parted ways.

Only a brief meeting, but long enough to know he was a nice guy and didn’t brush off some young guy who was trying to make it in the world of broadcasting.

The baseball world is going to miss these two guys, one for what he could have been and one for all that he did.

Rest in peace Harry and Nick. Hopefully the baseball world doesn’t lose anymore this year.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Religion of Baseball

Some people tell me I have an unhealthy addiction to baseball. I don’t know about that, I just love the game. People have different things in their lives that bring them joy, mine is baseball. That is why I chose to pursue a career in the game, because I wanted to work in a job that I love.

Some people choose to work in baseball for just the pure fact that it’s a job. Then there are people like me that can’t get enough of it and would live at the field given the opportunity.

It’s tough on me to be away from the game this season; however being away makes me think about how much I love it even more. Despite all the scandals that happen at the big league level with steroids and contract disputes, working in the Minors has really made me appreciate the game even more.

Baseball really has become a religion for me and the stadium like my church.

I usually would be one of the people that got to the ballpark early because of my job, having to prepare the media notes for the day and get ready for the broadcast. Often times I would get there at eight in the morning but I loved it because there is nothing better then smelling the fresh cut grass of the infield or hearing the rhythmic sound of the sprinklers as I ran around the warning track for an early workout.

Getting to the ballpark early in the morning not only served to give me some much needed alone time, but it was also like going to church before the crowd and choir got there. You could just take it all in, think, clear your head and reflect. It also allowed me to get my work done relatively early because then I could be at the field when the players got there.

For anyone that has ever been in an empty church listening to the choir rehearse and hearing every note reverberate around the empty walls and echo through the halls, that is the best way to describe being at a ballpark in the afternoon for early hitting.

Every crack of the bat is echoed throughout the empty grandstands. You get to hear the sound of the ball hitting the bat, the sound of the fielders’ glove popping when catching a ball. The crunching sound of players cleats as he runs around the infield dirt. The clanging sound the weighted donut makes around a baseball bat and the laughter of players and coaches talking about previous games.

It’s a beautiful thing to see and hear.

As the day goes on and the gates open up, the church starts to fill up. Just as beautiful as the sound of a choir playing in an empty church is, it’s just as magnificent hearing the loud organ pipes and entire congregation singing in unison.

That’s how it is during a game. The stands are packed, everyone cheering for a single to left, or an RBI double down the right-field line or if you are lucky, a majestic two-run homer to win a game.

It really is true there is nothing like the sights, sounds and even the smells of the ballpark.

For me day baseball was the best, especially when it seemed like God himself was smiling down watching the game and awarding the lucky faithful with a day full of endless blue sky. The smell of the burgers and barbeque drifting across the air along with the smoke from the grills really painted quite a scene.

It is summer at its best and truly makes a day at the yard one of the best places to be.

I know there are a lot of individuals that work in the Minors for the sole purpose of making it to “The Show.” That is what I wanted; work for the Cardinals in my home town of St. Louis has always been a dream. However, for me it seems the Minor Leagues are just so much more pure.

Those big cathedrals in the city sure are nice, but it’s being in the small country church that really makes you feel at home.

Good luck to all my friends and colleagues working in baseball this year and enjoy another summer under the sun.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Web Site Change...Again

So I decided to update my web site…again. This is probably the fifth time I have changed the overall design and look of it. Generally I like to take ideas from other web sites and see if I can incorporate them into mine.

While the layout is the same, you will notice the colors and graphics have all been changed. The idea behind the design change is to make the web site a little more bright and inviting.

I really liked the previous design and color scheme of black and green, however this new look seems more cheery and based on comments I got from the old design; it was a little too dreary.

Anyway, I have gone back to the color blue, which I have used in the past and tried to use more of a baseball theme to the graphics since the majority of my career has been spent in baseball.

Some may say that is a bad move if I want to appeal on a broader spectrum. However I say, go with what you like. It’s not over the top baseball, just enough to let you know I am a baseball broadcaster first and foremost.

Hope you like the new look, I might change up the blog too, haven’t decided yet. For now, I just changed the colors to somewhat match the web site.

I plan on writing a lot more on this blog too now that baseball is back. I am also trying to put together some notes and thoughts I have had over the years in what I hope I can turn into a book.

So keep coming back for updates and I really enjoy hearing your comments.