Good morning, all. I have plans on going to the Twins Daily party this afternoon to watch the Twins play the Tampa Bay Rays. It will be at 612 Brew in Minneapolis (Google Maps that (redacted) if you need directions) and doors will open at 11:45 am so you can already have a beer in hand to toast Kevin Correia as he pitches himself into our hearts.
- I had great plans on posting this today, but it appears as though Randball's Stu stole my thunder about the Kickstarter project to get the sequel of Pelotero funded. Regardless, I'll be posting what I wanted anyway while sounding like a PBS pledge drive at the same time. The project is already 40% of the way to its goal ($10,613 of $25,000) with just under a month left, and you can donate anywhere from as little as $5 to as much as $10,000, and that's not a joke. You also get some goodies in return, and I feel the real value shows up when you donate at least $20, starting with a copy of Pelotero, a digital download of Pelotero II, and your name will be mentioned in the credits for the sequel film. I chose to donate $50 as that scored me an autographed Beloit Snappers bobblehead of Sano, though I fought the urge to send in $150 for a pair of Twins headphones. Oh, and in case you're wondering, the $10,000 donation gives you an all expenses paid trip to the Dominican Republic to watch the filming of Pelotero II, so you better hurry before Jon Marthaler forks over his life savings for that prize. Once again, here's the link if you want to help out, or at least to watch a little teaser video about Sano and Pelotero.
- Want another reason to hate Jeffrey Loria? Of course you do! Longtime Marlins season ticket holders Bill and Jan Leon bought 2 seasons worth of season tickets for the opening of Marlins Park, and were given seats along the 3rd base line for the first season. That was great until an advertising board was built right on the wall in front of their seats, partially obstructing their view of the entire 3rd base side of the infield. As Jan explained, the advertising board, while only a couple inches high, hides all grounders hit in foul territory, meaning that her and her husband could be hit by a screaming grounder with no time to react. They complained to the Marlins and eventually decided on an ultimatum that they would either get their seats moved or they would back out of paying the 2nd season of their tickets. Apparently this ultimatum had a hidden third option: A lawsuit filed by the Marlins for the Leons being 5 months overdue on paying for their 2013 season tickets. An update in the Miami New Times article states that the Marlins have offered the Leons new seats repeatedly, but claims that Jan Leon has refused to move every time. Of course she did.
- Jonah Keri of Grantland sat down with A's center fielder Coco Crisp to discuss the art of basestealing. Keri provides a bunch of animated GIFs to show Crisp's jumps on stolen bases against various pitchers, and Crisp responds with commentary of what he was looking for when he chose to take off. Some were pretty obvious, like running on Rafael Betancourt due to his high leg kick, but others are more impressive, like reading that Brian Duensing was throwing home because Duensing turned his head abruptly towards home before delivering the pitch.* It's a great Q&A about basestealing.
* That head turn is also a big reason the two lefties on my high school baseball team had an absurd number of pickoffs. They'd turn their heads towards home and lift their leg, making it seem like they were throwing home, and then they'd quickly fire off a throw to 1st base, nabbing the runner as he was making his secondary lead.
- I am linking to this Hardball Talk post simply because I feel Craig Calcaterra does an excellent job of describing the allure of baseball. He is responding to an article by FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi, who argues that regular season baseball is not as exciting or passionate as the games played in the World Baseball Classic. He specifically mentions the championship game between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, where fans were waving flags, blaring horns, and blowing whistles all throughout the game. Basically, just like a World Cup match. Calcaterra responds with what I think is the best explanation of what baseball really is (emphasis is mine):
In saying this — and saying that regular major league baseball should emulate the WBC in these respects — (Morosi's) ignoring the fundamental nature of the regular baseball season. He’s ignoring that the WBC lasts eight to ten games, not 162. He’s ignoring that it is utterly impossible for WBC-level intensity to last for six months. He’s ignoring that one the great joys of baseball is the slow build of intensity over time. An intensity which ratchets up once the pennant races get serious and then maintains over the course of the playoffs.
Despite his approving nods to football and basketball in the column, baseball is not football and basketball. Or hockey or soccer for that matter, to which he also alludes. It is not "the national competition." It is "the national pastime." It is a game which can and often does fade into the background over the course of months as opposed to demanding that we drop what we are doing and Take Notice. It is the soundtrack or score to the summer for most people. The accompaniment which complements our days and nights, not the concert or main event which demands that we block out those days and nights and refrain from other obligations. It is always there, not as a loud roar, but as a steady, comforting hum that maintains no matter what else is going on in our lives, and thank God for that, because our lives can and often do carry plenty of drama and intensity of their own.
Those who disparage baseball — and there are many — frequently claim these things to be the very problem with the game. But baseball’s calm and steady nature and its, eventually anyway, slowly-building intensity are features, not bugs. To suggest that the very aspects of baseball which make it unique and enjoyable to so many people constitute its essential problem is to fundamentally misunderstand its essential nature.
That part that I have in bold is very likely the best description I have ever seen about what makes this game great. I am in complete agreement that baseball does not require you to drop everything and pay attention. I often have the game on while playing some sort of computer game, glancing up every couple seconds to see the next pitch or the result of an at-bat. I don't need to watch every moment of the game to understand what is happening. If the Twins suffer a heartbreaking loss in the late innings, the pain has dissipated by the next day as a new game has arrived. I don't even care how bad the Twins are going to be, because I still find the game fun, the youngsters intriguing, the ballpark amazing, and the future bright. Despite watching all the other major sports, I don't always feel the same way. Those baseball gods are real, and this is the power that they hold over me.