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March 11, 2016


And Iowa and Iowa State too, but they're not officially in yet.

I will be so glad when the faux-amateur NCAA basketball season is over. So I can concentrate on a real game, where the people playing are actually getting paid (and not under the table): baseball.

The sooner the universities drop football and basketball altogether, and go back to being focused on something other than being sports franchises, the better.

Don't get me started on baseball and it's privileged position of having both the largest # of games and the only portion of the sports calendar when it's not competing against the other 3 major sports in the U.S.

The tedium is galling, and I agree with everything Bryce Harper says about the game being tired here.

That said, MLB is useful for taking young children to in a way that the NFL and NBA are not.

You have to remember that baseball is the national passtime. Not the national fanaticism.

As for the fanaticism with which Keown characterizes the game at the professional level and its top players -- so?

Those who get to the top in pretty much any endeavor are the ones who are focused on what they do. And devote what the rest of us would consider ridiculous amounts of time to getting better at it. (Even the ones with lots of natural talent.) You don't have to embrace the 10,000 hours meme to know that.

You have to remember that baseball is the national passtime.

in the 1850s, when the label was first used, sure. not today.

Hmmm...maybe I should rephrase.

I find the game of baseball generally boring. That each team has 162 games to play and MLB has the entire month of July to itself, plus a week or three on either end, makes it that much harder for me, personally, in listening to sports coverage during that time. Baseball also receives an inordinate amount of coverage of "Spring Training," which is rivaled only by the NFL's preseason. They also announce the various awards (MVP, Cy Young, etc.) after the World Series, extending the coverage that much longer.

The unwritten rules and the general "if you take too long to leave the batters box someone is going to try to hurt you" stuff adds to the aggravation.

I will also say that off-season coverage of the NFL has gotten out of hand. The most recent example being a front page ESPN.com story about a mock "Expansion Draft!!!!" Who cares.

One man's signal is another man's noise these days. Make a big deal out of anything, and you might get enough people to pay attention to make it worth your while.

Sometimes I miss the olden days when you only had a few TV channels and they stopped broadcasting at 2 AM or so, with a close up of a big American flag gently blowing in the breeze and the national anthem playing.

"WPVI now concludes its broadcast day."

the stations where i grew up always closed with the Apollo launch films

how many young people today have ever even seen a test pattern?

How many would even recognize the term?

Iceland used to switch off TV broadcasting completely during the (long) summer vacation season because people tended not to be at home and their summer domiciles either lacked TV sets or people saw no reason to use them. The Lazytown TV series* (for kids) was originally conceived to restore the basic idea ("kids, switch off the TV and go outside instead for some bodily activity!").

*I guess most people get the first impression that this must be a US version of something Japanese and few would guess Iceland as the country of origin (the original stage plays were admittedly a good deal darker and edgier).

Well, the BBC test card will probably live on for some time in popular culture:

A few hours short of 23 days until Major League Baseballs' Opening Day.

What took it so long?

Seems like I've been a man in a desert since whenever.

I have my first baseball practice tomorrow. I can't wait until I hear the baseball plock off the bat.

My car is in the shop getting new brakes, not like there isn't at least one person here who didn't know that, so I'm going to take the bus to and fro, like a kid, with my spikes hung over my shoulder, and my glove slipped over the handle of my maple bat, which I've been swinging lately in the parking lot, to visualize all of the fastballs I'm going to absolutely murder this year.

As a friend of mine who has two daughters who, when asked at what age it would be OK for them to have sex, answered: "When I'm dead!", which is exactly the same time it would be acceptable for me to have the baseball season shortened from either end to accommodate these other so-called sports youse people allude to, including ice hockey.

It's summer. The ice has melted. Wait your turn, and then stop on April 2. Whattaya gonna do when global warming really picks up steam?

That's a sport with a penalty box, for eff's sake.

As for who might get hurt for not leaving the batter's box soon enough, you can commence running that dinger out NOW, or it can be arranged for you to be carried back to the dugout on a stretcher via the shortcut.

After all, there's football, which features guys being hurt regularly and so badly they can't walk and have to dribble into a cup not too many years later, not to mention answering to the name Hermione Gingold when their wives call them for supper at age 51.

And then there is basketball. Nuff said.

As for college sports clogging up the airwaves at the neighborhood bar all the way into July, here's some delay of game I'd like to see. Get off the field and delay the interminable playoffs until AFTER the Baseball World Series is over, mmmmkay?

They call it "baseball season" for a reason.

Whatsamatter wit you, ya bums?

By the way, I liked the Bryce Harper article.

His attitude isn't really too far off from the way things once were in major league baseball.

I don't know who is going to break it to him that the season should be shortened by some unidentifiable number of games.

Maybe write him a letter, so you can get a head start when he goes beseek.

I think I'd settle for a return to the League Championship and World Series. Plus, you know, make the rules the same in both leagues. What is this, Varsity and JV?

Other than the designated hitter nonsense, what significant rule differences do you see?

I'd agree that it is desirable to have the same rules in both places. I'm just not deep enough into the game to know what else might be different.

I think that's it, though a pretty big difference in a sport where failure is the norm for the hitters, I would say.

I guess it might be nice to have the fields all the same size, foul territory too. The differing sizes seem a bit odd, not unique to one League though.

I mean, the Astros had an actual effing hill in center field and that's okay? Then they announce they're getting rid of it and bringing the fence in by 25+ feet, and that's okay?

Having the field (except for the pitcher's mound) anything but flat shouldn't happen. No idea how the Astros were allowed to get away with that.

As for the sizes of the fields. Tradition! A standard distance down the foul lines which would be acceptable most places would leave Wrigley Field (and probably others) hurting. If we want more standardization, get rid of the Astroturf!

Natural grass would be best, for football too.

Tradition! and Charm! OTOH, it's hard to argue that 162 games (or most of the single season hitting and pitching records) is a sacred number when someone is playing home games indoors with a short fence and limited foul territory, and others outdoors with a long fence and wide expanses beyond the foul lines. [Insert Kevin Costner's speech in Bull Durham about the difference between hitting .250 and .300 here]

Seems like it happens a fair bit where the announcer says "if that one was hit in X Field, it would have been caught/outta here."

I love ballpark field idiosyncracies.

Hate indoor stadiums.

No Astroturf.

Not fond of the hill in center field, but on the other hand I wasn't too enamored of the wooded falloff, leading to a creek, in my Mom's backyard that I used to dive head first into for errant flyballs.

But when I made the catch, it was glorious.

If the hill in Houston didn't exist, we would never have witnessed this:


See, I like it when baseball retains some of the caroms and angles of stick ball in the streets, when kids played pickup by themselves without adults providing immaculate facilities, uniforms, and caution.

Old Yankee Stadium had some wonderful dimensions, and if you scroll down on the page, you'll find a photo of the monuments for Miller Hutchins, Lou Gehrig, and the Babe, which used to be ON the field in deep center, so Mantle had to dodge them to make catches.


As the text points out, kids once thought those guys were buried out there in center field, and when I found out they weren't, I was deeply disappointed in the human race.

Heck, Lennon and Harrison and George Martin should be buried in center field too.

Instead it's just Hoffa

Kent used to have a lime tree which until recently stood inside the boundary of their Canterbury cricket ground.
It had its own section of the laws of cricket covering what should happen when a ball struck it.

Sadly, fungal disease and a storm put paid to it.

Lords cricket ground, the home of cricket, has a notorious 'slope'... which is almost imperceptible.

@Countme-In: That sent me on a Wikipedia goose chase which ended up in boggling over the number of minor-league stadiums that have duplicates of the Fenway Park Green Monster.

On the same page as that astros catch, there was this:


If that old conservative bat, now Trump champion Schafly, who has done enough damage to the late, great United States of America in her notorious goofball Republican, too lengthy lifetime ever leans in over the plate again, I hope Bob Gibson plonks her with high cheese a little up and in, and not because she spent too much time LEAVING the batter's box, but because it took her so long getting INTO the box, on account of the time it took her to adjust the crotch of her bunny suit.

Roberto Clemente, among many stellar others, would throw her out at FIRST base from the 376 foot right field wall in Forbes Field.

Why Black Lives Matter et al don't show up armed to protest at Trump rallies and use deadly force like a Republican George Zimmerman would if THEY were physically assaulted is beyond me.

Liberals are too civilized for their own good.

"Why Black Lives Matter et al don't show up armed to protest at Trump rallies and use deadly force like a Republican George Zimmerman would if THEY were physically assaulted is beyond me."

Because the USA is only one Reichstag fire away from electing Trump?

Natural grass would be best, for football too.

Tradition! and Charm!

More than tradition and charm, natural grass is safer. For those peculiar folks who actually have any concern about the safety of football players.

I like the fact that baseball stadiums vary in dimensions. It adds to the interest, the history, the fascination.

Why have cookie-cutter stadiums named after MegaCorps? Both teams play on the same field, so it doesn't really matter during the game. Idiosyncratic dimensions do confer an advantage in personnel selection. Give me a short right field line and suddenly the occasional power left-handed hitter is worth more to me than to others.

To my mind, what's wrong with sports, among other things, is what I think of as "ESPNization." Coverage is all highlight reels, and every game is critical to the future of the republic. The hyperventilation style - see Vitale, Dick - is seriously annoying, to the extent I can't watch it.

And I don't get basketball fans who find baseball boring. College basketball games are essentially indistinguishable from each other. Why don't they just play for five minutes, with say, two fouls allowed per player. You could squeeze in a lot more games, without all that wasted time.

Cricket, golf, Australian rules and baseball are the major sports which don't have a fixed ground size:

I'm afraid that golf's charms are entirely a mystery to me.
And Aussie rules looks like way too much hard work.

I can sort of see the appeal of golf. It gives you an excuse to walk about in the fresh air. Some people otherwise cannot justify, in their minds, just going for a walk. I guess they think their time is too valuable to "waste" taht way.

Why anyone would want to sit and watch golf on TV is, however, entirely a mystery to me.

Question: has anyone encountered a radio broadcast of a golf match? Just wondering. Even baseball has enough going on for that. But golf?

How to enjoy golf:

1. The Clicking of Cuthbert, P. G. Wodehouse

2. Back Nine, Loudon Wainwright

has anyone encountered a radio broadcast of a golf match...

The BBC seems to give over several entire days to the British open on its sport/news channel R5. And the Ryder Cup.
Excruciating tedium doesn't even begin to describe five minutes of this stuff.

IMO, of course.

I haven't actually heard a golf radio broadcast, which I would like, but I often listen to the golf announcers while I type in blogs on Saturday afternoon. They don't describe things as well as I suspect they would on radio. But I can switch screens to see replays.

Many thanks to "ral" for the Loudon Wainwright III link - I was lucky enough to hear him twice (thirty years and about 15,000 miles apart), but didn't know this song.

For the record, I have watched and enjoyed baseball (MLB, minor leagues, and college), football (HS, college, pro), soccer (EPL, etc.), Australian Rules Football, Rugby (both union and league; also Sevens), track (including Olympic Trials and World Cups), cricket (test matches), tennis, and doubtless other sports I've forgotten, in person. Enjoyed them all: if it moves and they keep score, I'll watch it. Never saw auto racing (any variety), horse racing, cycling or golf in person. I watch golf on TV for the same reason I watch the Tour de France: SCENERY PORN. Plus, they're both so slow-moving that one can read the newspaper and do the puzzles without missing anything. Perfect for retirement.

As Wodehouse's Oldest Member once said (or at least close), "You can learn everything you need to know about a man's character by watching him play golf." As a side note, in my playing days my observation was that women generally score much better on the character scale than men do.

Is there another athletic endeavor that puts you so often in a position to cheat without getting caught, but the expectation is that you won't? Or that if you inadvertently break a rule, you'll turn yourself in?

@ Nigel-

I had no idea that tree had come down. That's a genuine loss, another great eccentricity levelled out.

has anyone encountered a radio broadcast of a golf match? Just wondering. Even baseball has enough going on for that.

Baseball is actually fabulous on the radio, at least if the announcers aren't sealed up in a booth, and you can hear the crowd, the vendors, and some sounds from the field.

One of the things I loved about baseball when I was in college was that I could listen to it while working engineering problem sets. Work a problem; then something happens in the game; then do another problem; then something happens. It had just the right tempo to fit.

One of the things I loved about baseball when I was in college was that I could listen to it while working engineering problem sets.

When I was a graduate student in Operations Research at UT-Austin in the 1970s, I sometimes sat in the most distant bleachers along the third-base line, doing homework at the game (those bleachers were essentially empty at a typical game, and you could buy beer at the ball field). Occasionally the guy on the PA system gave me a bit of recognition, usually in the form of "It's a high foul ball, headed right at that guy with the books in the third-base bleachers."

Michael Cain, it would have been great if the coach had run down to you between innings in an extra-inning tied game wherein UT-Austin had just taken a one run lead going into the bottom of the 16th inning and said, "Hey, kid, I'm plum out of pitchers and we're desperate to win this thing.. ... can you throw a strike? Whattaya say?

You would answer: " Can I throw a strike? What took you so long to ask? You think I've been sitting here every game studying? Where do I suit up, Coach?", and then gone in, and without warming up, struck out the side.

I use to love listening to the game on the radio and I especially savored the pauses in the play-by-play when all you heard was the crowd and the hawkers, like you were sitting right there.

Unfortunately, except for maybe Scully, most announcers are now cookie-cutter trained talkers from broadcast school and sound the same from city to city. Few idiosyncratic turns of phrase left, nor do you hear many regional accents.

Too much talking over the action now too with conversation that's irrelevant to the game.

It's been awhile since I've listened, so maybe things have improved.

Are we "open" to the horrific violence that's coming in this country, and it's certainly not going to be against Republicans, from the looks of it, unfortunately.



Count, it may start that way. But I suspect the gun enthusiasts are in for a bit of a shock if/when it happens. Because there are a lot of us who have no fondness for guns . . . but do know how to use one.

I recall a line from a TV show called Leverage. The heavy on the good guys side seriously dislikes guns. Says so on a regular basis. (He mostly likes to punch people.) But in one episode, he goes sliding across an oil-slick floor on his knees, with a gun in each hand, blowing away the bad guys with every shot.

After the fight, one of his fellows says, "I thought you said you didn't like guns." To which he replies, "I don't. Never said I didn't know how to use one though."

Of, God forbid, it comes to that, I think there are going to be a lot of gun enthusiasts who are going to in for a (probably quite brief) surprise.

No, football - that is, soccer - is the major sport without a fixed ground size, on account of being the most majorest sport there is.

Variation in pitch size and quality is part of what makes home games easier for home teams, and it's always nice if home teams have a small advantage, particularly against visiting giants. It makes the odd upset a little more likely.

You are of course quite right, sanbikinoraion.
I can only plead my lack of interest in soccer.

I should have said shape, not size. A soccer pitch is invariably and necessarily a rectangle. A cricket field might equally be an oval, or a perfect circle and conform to the laws of the game.

I tried to turn my clocks forward last night, but they kept jumping back to March, 1933.

Hey, kid, I'm plum out of pitchers and we're desperate to win this thing.. ... can you throw a strike? Whattaya say?

Even in those days, the answer was "Sorry, coach, my TA and RA appointments make me ineligible for NCAA-sanctioned sports. Even after I struck the side out with my amazing power and control, you'd have to forfeit the game."

Since it's an open thread, the NCAA has gone overboard on the whole compensation thing. I'm on the executive committee for the Colorado Division of the US Fencing Association. We're a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. It can be an expensive sport, particularly for kids good enough to compete for national and international points. We are in the process of setting up a system through the Kroger grocery chains' donation scheme (part of their loyalty program) that relatives could use to offset some of the costs of tournament fees. How and where the cash can flow, and the record-keeping involved for even small payments, in order to keep the kids NCAA-eligible, verges on the ridiculous.

The distinction between amateur and professional has been rather silly and artificial since the day of WG Grace. Though back then it was the 'Gentlemen' versus the 'Players':

Grace, an amateur, made more money from cricket than any of his contemporaries.

It was said of All-American running back Hugh McElhenny [sp?] of U Washington back in the 1950s that he took a cut when he signed with the SF 49ers.

That was before (watching, and sometimes betting on) the NFL became our National Pastime.

"Grace, an amateur, made more money from cricket than any of his contemporaries."

Which was only reasonable, as he could easily double the gate for any match in which he was playing.

Probably the first true sporting superstar... since Gaius Appuleius Diocles:


There you have it.

Cold-blooded killers, the lot of them.

Look what the all-powerful, almighty Obama has done now, hanh:


But, look, it worked:


I wouldn't mess with Obama. He's so ineffectual.

truly the most diabolical all powerful failure of all time..........and a wuss to boot!

Ah, Putin tries the "declare victory and depart" approach to get himself out of the mess he's discovered he's in.

Still, if you are stupid enough to get yourself into something like this, I suppose there is something to be said for realizing it and cutting your losses sooner rather than later. (Compare the USSR in Afghanistan.)

for count:


I once made out the features of John Lennon's face in an egg I was poaching, but I ate it before I had a chance to call Ripley.

Thanks, Marty.

I once had a partly eaten piece of toast that looked very my like the state of Delaware. I didn't make it that way on purpose. It was purely an accident. Very weird!

"Trump took the winner-take-all contest for nine GOP delegates in the Northern Mariana Islands."

The Trump juggernaut rumbles on, winning another huge prize!

I used to live in Bisbee, Az, a lifetime ago, on the side of a canyon that was dotted with houses on very steep roads that ran off the "main" road.

The effect was there were shadows at night thrown by the lights of each house or street light. We would walk over to the end of our road at the canyons edge, sit on a rock and play a game where one person would identify a shape in the shadows across the canyon, the others had to find it.

I never saw the state of Delaware, but we could have found John's face.

Bisbee, huh? Nice weather - in the sweet-spot elevation-wise. Not too hot, like Phoenix is.

Often 20 degrees cooler than the desert floor on the other side of the tunnel. Just over a mile high, backed up to a government reservation that had great hiking,really an amazing place. Went to visit, twenty years later, the friends that bought the house I rented when I lived there (for 5k), it was still great. And the best turquoise in the world.

Pomo Trump on Glacierology (complete with teh whiskey!):


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