My goal is to add perspective to subjects other than the regular headlines.
Contact Stephanie at s.betweenthelines@yahoo.com



Thursday, August 16, 2012

Minor Leaguers Celebrating King Felix's Perfect Game

I found the video below through another article, but I had to share it here. I absolutely love this! Anyone associated with the minor leagues knows how close the players can be. It's great to see the farm team rally around their teammates brother (#45 Moises Hernandez) as Felix Hernandez notched his name in history!



Video credit and info: http://now.msn.com/minor-leaguers-celebrate-seattle-mariners-pitcher-felix-hernandezs-perfect-game

Jackson Generals homepage: http://www.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t104

-S

Friday, May 11, 2012

Chronicle: Fred Snodgrass, 1908-1916

This is the first installment of a monthly article based on a chronicle of an early era ballplayer that has meant a lot to me throughout my baseball life. For my very first set of this series, I've decided to retell the historic career of one of my all time favorites, Fred Snodgrass, who's stellar playing days were overshadowed by a rare World Series error.


Fred Snodgrass played for the New York Giants and the Boston Braves between the years of 1908-1916. He was a 3-time pennant winning, 5 foot 11 inch tall outfielder in a time when baseball was rampantly taking off in America. He began his career in 1908 at 20 years old for the New York Giants, and despite having very limited playing time in his inaugural season, he went on to have a very established and remembered career with early era baseball. The peak of his career was in his first and second full seasons when he hit a  hit .321 then stole 51 bases, respectively. He finished his career with a .275 average and 215 stolen bases. Now a days, he'd be considered an average player at most, but to me his character and accountability was that to idolized.



In the 1912 World Series, Fredrick Carlisle Snodgrass became infamous. It was the last game of the 1912 World Series in extra innings with the Giants leading 2-1 when Snodgrass dropped what would have been the final out to clinch the series for the Giants. The Red Sox player, Clyde Engle, that got on second base from the error, later scored the tying run of that game. Snodgrass was forever tarnished with the sole responsibility of losing of that game.
"Hardly a day in my life, hardly an hour, that in some manner or other the dropping of that fly doesn't come up... On the street, in my store, at my home . . . it's all the same. They might choke up before they ask me and they hesitate--but they always ask." Snodgrass was quoted in an interview some 30 years after the incident.

His obituary in 1947 even read, "Fred Snodgrass, 86, Dead; Ball Player Muffed 1912 Fly." It's a shame that people never remembered to tell the remainder of the story. He made an incredible catch right after the "muffed fly". It was a sharp liner that forced him to dive to his right in a spectacular, spearing fashion. Granted, I wasn't there to see it in person but it would be safe to assume that by most accounts, that ball doesn't ordinarily get caught and that's a guaranteed double, maybe triple. But, he did catch it and that still left the runner on second from his error the batter before. The very next play after those was another misque, but not by Snodgrass this time. A ball hit foul by Tris Speaker was called by Christy Mathewson to be caught by the catcher, Cheif Meyers. Meyers couldn't reach the ball, while the another fielder who could have easily caught the ball froze as directed by Mathewson. The Giants ended up wasting an out and on the very next pitch, Speaker took advantage and singled to score Engle from second.

Despite this, Snodgrass still took full blame. He referenced the first play that started the rally and said "Engle hit a great big, lazy, high fly ball halfway between Red Murray in left field and me. Murray called for it first, but as center fielder I had precedence over left and right, so there’d never be a collision. I yelled that I’d take it and waved Murray off, and –well–I dropped the darn thing.”


In a book I plug fairly often, The Glory of Their Times has the first person accounts of this actual game and the specific play. In one account, Harry Hooper, the hitter Snodgrass robbed after the "muff play", tells about being in this game:
"The famous Snodgrass muff. It could happen to anybody. I was up next and I tried to bunt, but I fouled it off. On the next pitch I hit a line drive into left center that looked like a sure triple. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred no outfielder could possibly have come close to that ball. But in some way, I don’t know how, Snodgrass ran like the wind, and dang if he didn’t catch it. I think he outran the ball. Robbed me of a sure triple.


I saw Snodgrass a couple of years ago at a function in Los Angeles, and I reminded him of that catch. “Well, thank you,” he said, “nobody ever mentions that catch to me. All they talk about is the muff.”

I don’t know about anybody else. But I remember that catch all right. I’m the one guy who’ll never forget it. After that, Steve Yerkes got a base on balls, and that brought up Tris Speaker. We’re still behind, 2-1, and there’s one out. Well, Spoke hit a little pop foul over near first base, and old Chief Meyers took off after it. He didn’t have a chance, but Matty kept calling for him to take it.

If he’d called for Merkle, it would have been an easy out. Or Matty could have taken it himself. But he kept hollering for the Chief to take it, and poor Chief–he never was too fast to begin with–he lumbered down that line after it as fast as his big legs would carry him, stuck out his big catcher’s mitt–and just missed it.

Spoke went back to the batters box and yelled to Mathewson, “Well, you just called for the wrong man. It’s gonna cost you this ball game.”And on the next pitch he hit a clean single that tied the game, and a couple of minutes later Larry Gardner drove in Yerkes with the run that won it."
As you can probably compare on your own by now, this player... this moment... that game... It all is eerily similar to a more recent encounter. Do you recall 2003? The NLCS Championship between the Cubs and Marlins? A fan in the stands accidentally interferes with a ball in play and a left fielder throws a tantrum on the field. It was the spotlight of the memorable loss. Hardly anyone forefronts the blame on the subsequent plays- the botched double play, the manager keeping the pitcher in too long, etc- All they remember is the one that they can't ever forget. Don't ever let the details pass you by. It's far too often the headlines are all we remember and that is why I love the story of the admirable, Fred Snodgrass.

Thanks for reading and keep living The Baseball Life
-S





Friday, April 13, 2012

Thoughts on Ozzie

By now we've all heard Ozzie Guillen's profession of love and respect for the "Hitler" of Cuba, as well as his apologizes for expressing them vocally. Even though I am not Cuban, or even Jewish (re: Hitler reference) I still found a connection to the intolerance of his comments. That's my stance. Fidel is a coward - just like Osama Bin Laden, just like Hitler. They reign in terror in order to subdue the masses from revolting against them. I understand whole heartly the pain the cuban community must have felt upon hearing something like this from someone they may idolize. Here in America we are blessed to have freedom - freedom to speak our minds, freedom to express ourselves, without fear of death. But, with that freedom comes responsibility. Those on a public stage are responsible for conducting themselves in a manner that enriches (or in the least, does not devalue) the freedoms of those around us. While we have been granted this freedom, we must remember to remain sensitive to the freedoms of others.

With that being said, the Marlins knew what they were getting when they signed Ozzie. You don't need to be from Chicago to know what it is that draws appeal to the skipper - he's famously featured on sports shows for his rants, explosions, and garbled English. He draws a crowd. A new franchise with new uni's, stadium, and star free agents was sure to create an even bigger media buzz with his hiring. The 5-game suspension is more telling to me than anything else. To me, it's a satisfactory- at most -PR move to acknowledge the fans anger with a "punishment". But, 5 games? If he was a starting pitcher I'd say, OK. But this just took him out of the loop for less than a week. I know this is going to eventually pass on, but not within a week. There are boycotts forming. There are people who's culture has been humiliated. Miami's Cuban population for the most part, is outraged. It seems as though Miami likes that they are in the news and it appears, in my opinion, as they are living by the "No publicity is bad publicity" mantra. Enough to please the bitter folks, yet not severe enough to make people turn away from the situation and accept it. The lax 5 game suspension has caused just as much uproar as the actual comments made in the first place. Er go, the drama continues.

Now, I'm not calling for his head or anything. I've learned from the "Milton Bradley" school of thought where no matter what you say or do, if you can perform (or manage) on the field, you will always get a second, third, fourth, fifth.. chance. Most people have a relatively short memory: What you've done recently outshines the mistakes you've made in the past. What do I think is the worst part of this debacle? Twitter. Facebook. Social media. If you are tweeting Ozzie's sons and telling them that their father deserves to die and that their family will be killed, you are no better a person as the one who's comments sparked your outrage. There is NO excuse to succumb to a level of hate towards a man's children. How would you feel if you made a huge mistake and then your children had to bear it's burdens? To me, that just isn't fair. Ozzie will wear whatever is thrown at him but it is not humane nor civil to threaten a man's children no matter what his crime. Hold Ozzie responsible, do not condemn his kids. You may have pre-conceived notions about his outspoken family, but we are all human and we all make mistakes. Unfortunately for Ozzie, this mistake may not ever be forgiven.

I will not forget what Ozzie said. I will tread lightly on his comments from here on out. I've never quite agreed with his candor and in this case, I will choose not to fill my time worrying about his comments nor his opinions.

TBL,
-S

PS. I was a fan of the Florida Marlins, the young, humbled, gritty ballplayers fighting the odds and winning 2 World Series within a 7 year span. Their 2009 starting rotation was one of my all time favorites. Now, the Miami Marlins? I'm undecided.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Burnett Makes the Best Trade for #34

Sometimes when Major Leaguer's are traded, they want to keep the same jersey number. The problem is, many times that number is already occupied by a member of their new team. What's a millionaire to do?!

Since I have a special place for #34's, I took great notice to the trade between New York and Pittsburgh that sent starting pitcher AJ Burnett to the Pirates, and I wondered what a fellow #34 would do since his signature number already adorned Daniel McCutchen's back. Why worry about this? As I wrote in a previous article "Jersey Numbers" many players feel a particular attachment to certain numbers. Whether it be their lucky number, the digits they wore in high school or college, or a even a tribute to a family member or favorite player growing up, there are countless reasons as to why a player feels attachment for a certain number... and there are infinite ways he can win it back.

AJ Burnett is widely recongized with the #34 on this back

So, back to my question... What is a ballplayer to do when his jersey number is already in possession of someone else? As I noted, most of these guys are millionaires and as you would probably guess, they use some of those millions (usually closer to the thousands) to buy the number off the new teammate. Other times, it gets much more creative. For example, in 1993 when Rickey Henderson was traded to Toronto he paid $25,000 to the then-owner of #24, Turner Ward in order to gain the rights to his treasured, hall of fame number. Roger Clemens, who was once turned down by Paul O'Neill to get his prized #21 when Clemens signed with the Yankees, did win the bid in Toronto with Carlos Delgado by offering a $15,000 Rolex in exchange. This past month, even Jonathon Papelbon exchanged a Rolex-for-a-Number with Antonio Bastardo so that he could keep his #58 with his new Phillies team.

When the Giants acquired Carlos Beltran on their 2010 playoff run a reporter asked Bruce Bochey, who wore #15 as the Manager what he was going to do once Beltran (who also wore #15) got to the team. "Nothing that a Rolex can't fix," joked Bochey. In Beltran's official press conference announcing his introduction to his new team he added, "I asked him if he wants one with or without diamonds." Bochey had no sentimental value to the number, and forked it over to the all star after the joking with the media. And the joking didn't start here. John Kruk, one of baseball's more colorful players, once traded the ownership of this number to Mitch Williams... for two cases of beer.

All of this brings us to the best yet, in my opinion, and that involves how AJ Burnett reacquired his beloved #34. The current owner, Daniel McCutchen, is a league minimum player, which means while he still makes a hefty salary of $415,000+ per Major League year, he still doesn't come close to the likeness of Burnett's contract originally from the Yankees which is a five years/$82.5 million deal. McCutchen has a baby due in May of this year, so instead of offering a flashy piece of jewelry, Burnett is doing something a little more personal and lot more respectable. He is starting a college fund for his new teammates unborn baby. I first heard this on MLB Network Radio's Inside Pitch show and the news resonated by the shows host, Jim Bowden matched that of my own - pure adoration for such an unlikely gesture. This is my area of baseball, the ethical, person-behind-the-uniform part. The part where the human element prevails on their public platform. Where they make a gesture that, while normally in plain fun, is now something to be idolized because of the recognition of future values. Burnett is making a gesture to the McCutchen's family, not just the player himself.

Daniel McCutchen with his former number.

It's a heart warming story for sure, and while it shows the value these players hold for the digits that don their backs it also shows the value they hold for one another. It's a story that connects teammates not by money, but by personal virtues and that is always something to be idolized and preached to fans of the game. AJ Burnett just earned some incredible accolades... and who knows, maybe the baseball gods will send some good karma his way this year!

The Baseball Life,
-S


To hear the best baseball insight, tune in to MLB Network Radio on Sirius/XM radio. For more info, click here: http://www.siriusxm.com/

For more information on the college 529 fund, visit this link: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/7-things-didnt-know-529-080150781.html

Thursday, February 16, 2012

RIP Gary Carter

It was just made public that Gary Carter has passed away, after a terrible fight with brain cancer. I'm sitting here at work completely beside myself. It's very tragic when a hero passes on, especially one the baseball world was so close to. To all his family, friends, former teammates, and fans... you're in my prayers. The legacy of this hero won't ever fade.

In his rememberance I'd like to share the MasterCard commercial that shows his former pitcher, Ron Darling standing up to cancer on his behalf.


-S

Friday, February 3, 2012

Josh Hamilton


Keeping Josh in my prayers today, hoping he can keep battling his demons. We must remind ourselves not to cast judgement upon those we don't fully understand. Let's please remember his family is suffering and to be respectful to them along this process.

It is difficult to comprehend our hero's failing us, but I'm sure I echo everyone when I say that I hope to see him get back up and continue improving his life while he battles with addiction.

We are praying for you Josh, and your family....

-TBL

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Offseason blues & a Tribute to McDonough

Most of us are stuck in this limbo right now of baseball purgatory. It's a scattered mixture of anticipation for the coming season haunted by continual days that lack game play. For the most part though, we have all started our count downs and planned our spring training vacations, while continually checking our spots on season ticket waitlists. This past weekend and the next two are fan conventions league-wide that serve as a kick off party for fans to celebrate the anticipated season. Being from Chicago, I am proud to note that I have been a Cub Convention attendee for most of my life (and even a few Sox Fests!) Fan fests are the ultimate for die hards, especially autograph collectors. It allows you to sit in on seminars where management discusses their philosophies and future plans. It even lets you ask the players questions, stock up on merchandise, and learn more about your team all while enjoying fun filled days with your friends. Now let me ask you.... who invented fan fests?

John McDonough.

Mr. McDonough is an outstanding man. Growing up, I referred to him as the marketing guru. He was hired in 1983 by the Chicago Cubs and by 1985 he had launched the first ever Cubs Convention- it was the first fan fest of any kind in professional sports. When Harry Caray died in 1998 it was McDonough who started having guest conductors come to Wrigley. Today, its a huge fan favorite as celebrities sing the stretch while paying homage to the late Caray.

In 2007, I had the pleasure of meeting McDonough. I was at Skyharbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona and I was on standby waiting for a flight back to Chicago after games 1 and 2 of the NLDS (Cubs @ Dbacks). We had been at the airport for about 6 hours with little-to-no chance of getting a seat on any upcoming flights, and in the corner of my eye I spotted McDonough walking past us. I woke up my friend and pointed (not very subtly) and he confirmed my suspicion - it was him! With absolutely nothing else to do at the airport, we interrupted our waiting-game and we approached McDonough to introduce ourselves - mind you, we were still unshowered and wearing our cubs attire from the game the night before, while being majorly hungover (Cubs fault - we did shots to all their miscues).


Like many, John McDonough went on to bigger and better things. Shortly after their playoff catastrophe, McDonough joined the neighboring Chicago Blackhawks hockey front office and immediately introduced his concept of fan fest to the organization. He was a large factor in bring the Winter Classic to Wrigley Field in 2009 as the Hawks faced off against rival Detroit and drew over 40,000 in attendance while boasting the highest ratings for any hockey game in 34 years. Another McDonough PR move was bringing back Hall of Famers and re-introducing them to the public as ambassadors for the sports.  Forbes later named the Hawks under his guidance “The Greatest Sports-Business Turnaround Ever.” Since then, he has been promoted to President and Chief Executive Officer.

Well folks, hope you've been hanging in there. We are almost there!
-S

Friday, December 9, 2011

CJ Wilson Thanks his Fans

I thought this was pretty cool, especially since CJ Wilson is one of the few players who goes above and beyond to connect with his fans. This morning at about 5:30am CST time, he uploaded a message to his facebook account that read as follows:

I just want to say thank you to all the ranger fans who have supported me, and my efforts in the community the last six years in Texas. Surely it's both hard for some to understand that I left for a different team let alone a division rival- it was bittersweet for me as well. At the end of the day the rangers didn't make a push to keep me on the team. The angels an marlins wanted me on their... teams and proved it. everything written about an asking price etc was media speculation and never had an ounce of truth. The rangers are a great organization with talented front office and players and will be a difficult team to beat and it's very sad to leave such awesome teammates and fans. The last few years in ranger stadium were special- going from a losing team to bankrupt to american league champs was a complete transformation and obviously everyone should be proud of it. The charity will continue even stronger now and we will continue to support North Texas kids as well as SoCal kids. Please keep that spirit of philanthropy alive for your local causes like cooks children's hospital, Scottish rite, dallas children's and the boys and girls club. - C.J. Wilson

I thought that was an appropriate and grateful response given by the 31 year old southpaw. It wasn't needed nor required, but it goes to show you how much his fans mean to him. Not only will CJ be joining a new team on a 5 year/$77.5MM deal, but he will also be going home. Wilson grew up in Southern California in the city of Newport Beach. Like Pujols, Wilson was offered more to play with the Miami Marlins, but declined. I think the Angels are a perfect fit for CJ... if you follow him on Twitter (twitter.com/str8edgeracer) or are friends with him on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/#!/TheLefty) then you know the Cali lifestyle was made for him. Comfortability can go a long way in someones career, just ask Carl Crawford.

Happy offseason,
TBL,
-S

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Good for Albert Pujols

Congrats to Albert Pujols. Today it was announced via internet blast, that the best player in baseball has agreed in terms to sign with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for 10 years/$250MM contract.

Good for him. Sincerely.

I am a fan of Albert Pujols. In fact, I am a fan of any hard working ballplayer who leads a respectable life on and off the playing field. I am a fan of players who take advantage of their time in the spotlight by leading the world with a good example. I am a fan of players who spend their extra time to promote charity movements or volunteer their time and effort to help those less fortunate.


Like him or hate him, Pujols has earned respect. And not just from us fans, but from teammates, opposing players, coaches, general managers, front office personnel, and children around the world. He has been everything expected from an allstar. He has produced results on the field that have pushed him into a category of his own while maintaining a respectable life off the field. He has no arrests or steriod issues surrounding his name. His pictures online are those of him playing, not of him galavanting around with numerous women or of alcohol infused escapades. He has been a strong role model for young kids around the world. He's made valuable contributions to countless charities and remained active in participating in his free time.


Pujols was offered many lavish contracts this offseason, but thats not what he was going for. Pujols gave each team the opportunity to present him with a contract based on what those teams felt he deserved. The Marlins offered an outlandish 10 year deal, some say amounting to $300MM, but they did not include a no-trade clause. Seriously? If Aramis Ramirez "earned" one with the Cubs, then surely Pujols should have that respect given to him, as well. In the end, the Angels seem to have offered Pujols the contract and life he wants for him and his family for the next ten years of his life.

My facebook newsfeed and twitter timeline are littered with complaints about Pujol's decision. GREEDY. SELFISH. SELLOUT. These are not words to describe a man who has committed his life towards bettering himself at baseball and as a human. Here is a man who has worked his behind off his entire life, perfecting every little detail about his mechanics in order to gain the level he has with us today as one of the elite, arguably best ballplayers of all time.


Here's my persepective. I understand that Cardinal fans can be irrate. But don't blame the man for taking an offer from a team that probably showed him a better deal, not just financially, but respectfully. Albert Pujols has worked his whole life for the chance to decide where his life can go from here. If he wants his family to live in California, without having to be uprooted for the next ten years, then respect his decision. Disagree all you want, but greedy? selfish? sellout? Yes contracts are outlandish. Yes millions upon millions is hard to rationalize for someone who "plays a game" for a living, but that is the market. There are other rediculous contracts out there but if anyone has earned it, it's Pujols.

TBL,
-S

Monday, December 5, 2011

Remembering Ron

Remembering Ron

By: Stephanie Paluch
12/03/2010

It’s been hours now since the news of our beloved Chicago icon has hit the airwaves, and we’ve all dealt with the passing in various ways. When I first got the news, my initial thought was “I have to be at Wrigley. I have to be home.” I've spent the majority of today in thought - remembering Ron in his best, recounting all the times I've met him, and rationalizing how Wrigley will ever be the same.

When I originally wrote this article, I was on a flight to Arizona. Now that I am here, I keep re-reading what I've written, trying to find the right words, but none of it does him justice. Our language has not given us enough words to thoroughly explain how much this individual who lived among us means to us and will always mean to us. No phrase or paragraph written here seems to fulfill the honor of the life of Ron Santo.

For that matter, no amount of grieving has been suffice. With some instances, you assure yourself that in a few hours life will come back to your body- maybe you’ll wake up tomorrow and feel a little better. You rationalize that maybe instead of missing the passed, you will be able to celebrate their former life. I’m not sure how long it will take, but the tears don’t stop. With every memory, I dive deeper into sorrow.

Ronnie mean't a lot to us in Chicago; he mean't a lot to us in the baseball world. Ronnie was as true a Cub and you can find. He was the ultimate fan, and those of us who watched the games with the volume muted and Pat & Ron live on the radio, we know how much he loved these Cubbies. He respected us as fans. He accepted us into his family, and he graciously acknowledged everyone who came to meet him.

When I woke up this morning at 6am and heard the news, the only thing I was certain of was that I needed to be at Wrigley with my family... with my cubs family. I couldn’t risk missing my flight, so I promised myself I'd go straight to Wrigley as soon as I got home on Tuesday. When I checked in at the airport it was 9:30am- 2 hours away from my scheduled departure. As soon as the lady behind the counter told me the flight was already delayed an additional hour, I wasted no time. I literally ran, like my life depended on it, down the corridor opposite the security check point. I bought myself a $5 fare for the L-train, hoped on and headed straight for Wrigley Field. I had tears in my eyes the whole way through as I struggled to find the right words. I had 20 minutes on the train before I'd be at Wrigley and I couldn't for the life of me decide what to say or do.
When I got to Wrigley Field, the sorrow intensified. It was very quiet, yet not isolate. People roamed the streets - Sheffield, Waveland, Addison and Clark. Cubs fans wandering, one to the other, hugging and crying... remembering their favorite stories to reporters.

I had found some words and wrote them the other half of my boarding pass while on the train. Holding the paper in my fingers, I walked up to the stadium and knew this was going to be hard, not only today but for every future game. I walked up to the stadium wall and leaned in close putting my bare hand against the concrete wall. I closed my eyes and remembered Ron. I smelled the air in Wrigley and I heard the cheers with Ronnie leading the way. For a few moments I just stood there replaying my favorite memory, over and over again.

I walked by the Billy Williams statue, where the Harry Carey statue once stood, and remembered my first time meeting Ron at that very spot. It was early in the morning and he was so full of joy, so optimistic. I saw him in passing and said with a smile, “Hi, Mr. Santo!” and he stopped in his path, greeted me just as excitedly and lead the conversation beginning with our beloved Cubbies. Ron was always like that, with every fan. He took his time to greet anyone who wanted to speak to him, signed for children if they asked, and always, always told those who would listen stories from his past.

I saw Ronnie a lot after that, and every time he always seemed to remembered me, or at least I think he did. But that was the thing that made him special - even if Ron had never met you, he acted like you were family.

Last year, in 2010, I didn’t see Ron as much around the ballpark. He was hospitalized a lot more, as expected with his diabetes, but still every time the fans would greet him, a huge smile would stretch across his face and you’d feel his glow of optimism. The last time I spoke to Ron one-on-one, I was working at Wrigley for MLB Network Thursday Night Baseball. It was early August 2009, and the Cubs were set to play the Brewers that day. To get ready for a 7pm game, we started setting up in the production truck around 10am. One of my jobs was running things from the trucks outside to the press box and then to the field if needed. There was one break in the chaos, where all I had to do was wait - and no better a place was this asked of me than when I was in the Cubs dugout. So I sat down on the bench in the Cubs dugout, admiring the field, and waited.

Within half a minute, Billy Williams came and took a seat right next me, sighs, and says, “What a beautiful day for a ball game.” “Absolutely, Mr. Williams,” I replied, “It’s breathtaking from this view.” I sat there and smiled and tried to take in what had just happened, and Billy kept talking. At the end of our short conversation about the weather and cubs, I shook his hand, told him it was a pleasure to meet him and told him I’d see him later in the booth.

Walking down the tunnel, back to the concourse I turned the corner and there was Ron Santo, who exclaims, “Look who’s behind the scenes!” and comes over to hug me. Never before had I hugged Ronnie, but he saw me back there probably looking frantic and in a rush and decided to stop me and say hi. I quickly kidded back by saying, “Ssshhhh! I snuck in!” and held my finger to my lips. We laughed for a second, told him I was on the go and said that I’d say bye before I left the stadium that night. I was never able to see Ronnie again and talk to him after that, and I never said goodbye. Had I moved from that dugout just a moment before or after I had, I would have missed him completely and never would have had that experience.

I will miss Ron, the joy he brought to the ballpark, his voice on the radio, and the optimism he entered each season with. I’ll laugh every time I re-listen to one of his broadcasters, where the cubs just can’t do anything right! And every time I enter Wrigley I'll remember him, and I'll honor him by loving the Cubbies and respecting the game.

I'll see my fellow cubs family at his visitation in Chicagon on thursday where we can all say our goodbyes.

Love you all and thank you to everyone who had reached out to me today. I appreciate all the support we have as a united family. Go Cubs Go!

The Baseball Life,
-S

12/06/2011
Wrigley was not the same this year. I found myself only attending the games I worked for FOX, instead. We still miss Ronnie, everyday and wish he could have been alive to hear the Hall of Fame announce his acceptance, one that was greatly overdue. But we can all rest assured, he is celebrating above us and within our hearts. Thank you to the veteran committee for finally making this right.
#10 you are always with us...
-S

Friday, December 2, 2011

Best Sports Stadiums, Wordwide!

Recently, a lady named Katina from ZenCollegeLife.com forwarded a link to my email entitled “The 10 Most Spectacular Sports Stadiums in the World". After viewing the article, and learning that she's a long time reader on my site (bonus!) I thought I'd share it with everyone here, since it really does blend well with the content already in place. The article highlights the ten most interesting stadiums in the world... not just baseball, but we do have some reprensentation.

Sports are a huge part of our daily lives. The incredible popularity of sports has made them big business, with the most elite teams and the most successful franchises building incredible stadiums to hold the millions of adoring fans who loyally follow their favorite teams. These stadiums have become an essential part of major cities and whole continents throughout the world. They are a source of local and national pride and feature some of the most innovative technology and entertainment advances that the world has ever seen. Here are the top 10 most spectacular stadiums in the world: CLICK HERE to read the rest of the story...




Feel free to pass along your articles or other interesting ones you think the readers here will enjoy, our own little pay it forward in the baseball enthusiast world ;-) Also, keep in mind the site will be changing it look soon as I've been working with a graphic designer to spruce the place up! Always, thanks for your dedication & happy offseason.

-S

Friday, November 11, 2011

Just a Little Marlins Magic on the Day of their Countdown!

On today, 11/11/11 most people are busy making wishes and celebrating with friends for the hope of a little bit of additional luck in their lives... me? Well, I'll just be waiting to see the Marlins unveil their new uniforms, stadium, and logos tonight.

I have a dog named Annabelle Sanchez (literally, its on her dog tag) because when she was abandoned at my door step in the Summer of 2010 she became oddly obsessed with my authentic Marlins hat I had accidentally left on my coffee table. Anytime in those first 2 weeks I had her in my home, she'd sneakly grab the apparal left out on the table and hoard it in her new dog cage. Once I decided I was going to keep her, I had to find a perfect name. From her constantly frightened demeanor and actual fear of all men, it was clear to me that this dog had been a victim of abuse, so much so that should would cringe any time anyone tried to pet her. Her luck was bound to change, especially once she found me. I figured I'd bypass a generic "Lucky" name for the dog left abandoned and decided to don her with the "super-lucky" Anibal Sanchez tag, cleverly changing the spelling in the first name to make her a little more feminine.

I justified her being named Annabelle Sanchez for a few reasons. For one, she was obsessed with cap. I assumed she like the colors, or maybe hated the Cubs (2003 reference, my bad). But mostly, due to the fact that Anibal Sanchez  had a no hitter against the odds of a Marlins defense that had ranked as one of the worst defenses ever fielded by the organization. Six rookies started in that game on September 6, 2006 against the Arizona Diamondbacks including Sanchez who was making only his 13th Major League start of his career. That alone was a record for a no hitter in terms of the number of rookies used.

Was that enough luck for this little pup? No chance. I also took into account the fact that despite his 4 walks issued in the game, he only yieled 103 pitches in the 9 innings at home. This also came at a time where we, as fans of Major League Baseball, had gone the longest without enjoying a no hitter - 6,364 games since Randy Johnson's perfect-o May 18, 2004 for the Dbacks. Therefore, I rationalized that her unlucky streak would be broken, as well.


Needless to say, I like to keep my dogs current on their teams so I will be ordering a new hat for little Annabelle tonight at 11pm when the on-line store at http://www.marlins.com/ opens orders.

To new begininings, cheers!
-TBL, S

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Obsessed with the World Series

The title says its all.. I am literally, 100% obsessed with the World Series. I can even name every World Series winner since 1903 without cheating - and I can name them all in less than 15minutes thanks to http://www.sporcle.com/. In high school I studied narratives depicting the early 1900's fall classic with the Philly A's and New York Giants. One may ponder as to why I am so excited with the World Series, considering as a Cubs fan I have never been able to actually celebrate it with my own team. Bitter? Never. I genuinely feel like "its the year" every year, and when it's not (103 years and counting) it only takes a breif offseason depression before my hope are renewed in the next spring.

Nevertheless, I am consumed with the Fall Classic. I get teary at the opening ceremonies, excited to hear the National Anthem, exhuberant with every good play. I get so involved I pray like my life depends on it that "my team" wins. I'm enamored with the Fall - its' beautiful weather makes the night games feel like real baseball. For me, the World Series is the kick off to my holidays!

Now, I'm not going to make predictions (cough, Rangers in 5, cough) nor throw around stats and probabilities because everyone else is already doing that. I'd only overkill it. So instead, I'm going to share with you my some of the historic logos of theWorld Series in the current era. Have you seen this years yet (look to the left!)? It's wonderful! It makes me want to rake leaves into a giant pile and jump in the them and turn them into confetti! Okay, a little much... but in all seriousness looking at the logo makes it legitimatly feel like the Fall Classic... and boy has it come far from its proceeding images (thank you high-def). So below are some logos I've found and looking at them gives me the sensation of seeing the highlight reels and game day footage play before me. They stamp the annual occuance and mark our jerseys and programs as historic evidence of the great winners in this game. And it's cool to see how creative (or lack thereof) they have been over time.




































World Series fun fact? In 1903, 1919, 1920 and 1921 the World Series was a 9 game exhibition. Every year between and after has been 7, like we are use to today.

Enjoy the World Series, don't let it pass you by, and don't take one play for granted. This is where it all counts!

The Baseball Life,

Friday, October 7, 2011

The New Marlins, 11-11-11

On 11-11-11 the Miami Marlins
will be introduced to the baseball world....
Along with their new logo, uniforms, and stadium.



The above logo was leaked recently, and while it's been refuted as anything but likely I still want to visit the issue. Logan Morrison has publicly compared it to the monopoly logo, holding them side by side to reporters and said they'd be "the skill boys chasing the rainbow..." Fans have publicly shared their outrage at the lack of creation in the image and most hope the front office can come up with something better. Most used word to descrive the leaked image? "Horrendous." I didn't particularly think of it as atrocious, but I also did not care for it. It in no way compels the argument for the "future of baseball" to an organization that so badly needs to instill a consistant fan base. It may grab the attention of some baseball purists, but would not draw interest from the young, new, or most importanly casual fans.


As a part of the 1993 MLB expansion, the Marlins never had a real chance for success, in terms of building a fan base. Their chance to become a real, professional market in Florida never thrived because they never had their own marketable identity, as they were forced to share a playing surface with the local NFL team, the Miami Dolphins. In their commencing year in 1993, they drew over 3 million in attendance and averaged 37,838 per game. The fans were there, and they were excited for a ball club in their city. But, in their sophomore season attendance fell by over a million and kept a steady decline for the years following until their first Championship season in 1997 where their attendance spiked back up to a little over 2.3 million. But, by 2002 the team fell to its shortest attendance ever, reaching under 1 million for the whole season. In their second Championship season in 2003 they averaged only 16,290 fans per game, but in the following two years they hiked that number up a little to over 22,000 per game. In 2011, their 19th season, the Marlins drew short of 1.5 million by 22,538 in attendance. Looking at these past figures, you can see why the Marlins organization has pushed so hard for a new stadium. It is hard to create a brand while you are sharing your main profit with another organization. The exclusivity of having their own stadium will help structure a fan base for the rest of it's existence.


With that being said, the other part of the 11-11-11 unveiling is their unbelievable new stadium. One of my favorite websites, http://www.ballparksofbaseball.com/ has a complete review including pictures of the uncompleted ballpark. In their review they write that one of the distinct features of the ballpark will be matching 600 gallon saltwater fish tanks on each side of the backstop behind homeplate that will be made out of bulletproof glass to prevent foul balls from shattering the glass. Construction on the $634 million dollar stadium began July of 2009 and is almost complete. The Miami Marlins will kick off their new franchise versus the New York Yankees on April 1st of 2012 in a pre-season match, while the regular season will commence on April 4th, 2012 versus the St. Louis Cardinals. And the best news for Florida fans... a three panel retractable roof that will only take 13 minutes to open/close. No more rain delays. No more sharing a field with a football team. The stadium will also be a futuristic design, somewhat similar to the Chicago Bears stadium, in my opinion. No brick exterior depicting old era ball, instead it will be white stucco with silver detailing. Large white columns will showcase the Miami skyline against 37,000 dark royal blue seats. Dead center field is designed at 420 feet from homeplate, with the lines measuring 340 to left and 335 to right. The pictures below are from http://www.ballparksofbaseball.com/.

Outside view of the stadium, retractable roof built in with an oversized awning

Image of the Miami Marlins new, baseball only, stadium

View of the outfield concourse/bullpen - white columns open to the Miami skyline

Aerial view of the new stadium, where the Orangle Bowl was previously held.

Now, after seeing all the plans, projected images, and style of the new stadium it seems near impossible to imagine such a retro logo to be the new franchise marker of the Marlins. Many Marlins sources have denied any link to the image that has been circulating, and I hope they are telling the truth. My guess, and this is without any information from any sources, is white on royal blue with grey. Blue is futuristic to match the stadium, white is classic and timeless. If they added some orange (or other complimenting color) bordering, that would serperate them from the Royals or Blue Jays. But, I would not be surprised to see the Miami Marlins go the classic route and add some dark cerulean blue pinstripes to their home attire. Either way, I am interested to see how they end up and fit into the overall theme of the new franchise.

Below is a video tribute to the New Miami Marlins

Thanks for reading & Happy Playoffs!
TBL,
-S

Friday, September 30, 2011

Today's Baseball News

Linking to a few of my favorite sites/writers. Although I may not write about the big headlines, these guys do a great job with the best insight.... check them out!

Francona expected to leave Red Sox
by Ken Rosenthal/ FOX Sports, CLICK HERE.


Rangers appear to have edge, but Tampa Bay has resilience
by Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com, CLICK HERE.

First Division Finish
by Ted Leavengood/ Seamheads.com
No, the Nationals are not headed for the playoffs, and yes, the smug fans up the coast will shake their heads in bemusement at the joy we share at finishing in the top half of the 30 Major League baseball teams. CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE...


GM: Don't expect quick Jose Reyes deal
by Adam Rubin/ESPN.com, CLICK HERE.


10 Numbers for the ALDS: Tigers vs. Yankees
by Alex Remington/ BigLeagueStew.com
As the start of the postseason approaches, Big League Stew's Alex Remington will take a look at the statistics that might make a difference in each series. Up next are the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees, who will kick off their series tonight in the Bronx. CLICK HERE TO READ.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

MLB 2011 Postseason Schedule - 1st Round


                 AL Division Series (TBS) 
Game 1:    DET @ NYY (Friday, 9/30)
                 TB @ TEX (Friday, 9/30)
Game 2:    DET @ NYY (Saturday, 10/1)
                 TB @ TEX (Saturday, 10/1)
Game 3:    NYY @ DET (Monday, 10/3)
                TEX @ TB (Monday, 10/3)
Game 4*   NYY @ DET (Tuesday, 10/4)
                TEX @ TB (Tuesday, 10/4)
Game 5*   DET @ NYY (Thursday, 10/6)
                 TB @ TEX (Thursday, 10/6)

                NL Division Series (TBS)
Game 1:  STL @ PHI (Saturday, 10/1)
              ARI @ MIL (Saturday, 10/1)
Game 2:  STL @ PHI (Sunday, 10/2)
              ARI @ MIL (Sunday, 10/2)
Game 3:  PHI @ STL (Tuesday, 10/4)
              MIL @ ARI (Tuesday, 10/4)
Game 4* PHI @ STL (Wednesday, 10/5)
              MIL @ ARI (Wednesday, 10/5)
Game 5* STL @ PHI (Friday, 10/7)
               ARI @ MIL (Friday, 10/7)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Midwest League Playoffs/ Attendance

I spent this past weekend in Davenport, Iowa to watch the Quad Cities River Bandits (Cardinals, single A) play in the second round the the Midwest League Playoffs against the Kane County Cougars (Royals, single A). This past Saturday, September 10th was the first of the three game series for the second round of playoffs. The Bandits had home field advantage after clinching a playoff spot in the frist half of the season, so they started the series in Geneva, Illinois at Elfstrom Stadium where the Cougars call home. It was a beautiful day with a late afternoon start of 4:00pm CST. And an entire 785 tickets were sold.


The Cougars draw particularily well of the Midwest League teams, sometimes selling out with over 7,500 fans in attendance. For the past 8 years they have been affiliated with the Oakland Athletics, but prior to this season they swapped farm teams with the Royals sending the A's out to Burlington, Iowa. The loyalty of fans did not drastically change throughout the regular season, still with big enthusiastic crowds but now sporting more blue than dark green. This past Saturday in Geneva was 74 degrees and partly cloudy. The starting pitcher, Trevor Rosenthal threw a 4 hit complete game shut out to put the bandits up 1-0 in the 3 game series. Of the 785 tickets old, 500 people may have stuck around to see the 7-0 victory for the Bandits.

On Sunday, the Bandits resumed play at their home field, Modern Woodman Park where they typically draw 4,000 -5,000 for a weekend game. Intensified by the current playoff race and going for their second sweep in the postseason this year, you'd figure again to see a decent crowd. Wrong again. 582 tickets were sold and from the looks of it maybe 200 actually showed up. Both were perfect days weather wise.

Sunday in Davenport, Iowa was 78 degrees and sunny with a few overcast clouds. Sitting in the stands on Sunday I kept thinking, "what perfect baseball weather." It was the enough-to-get-a-light-tan-without-sweating-perfusely kind of weather. To top all of this off, the bandits came back from a 5-0 deficit to win in walk off fashion in the bottom of the 9th on a 3 run homer by Nick Longmire to sweep the Cougars and advance to the Midwest League Championship series.



The team celebrating their walkoff in the bottom of the 9th (notice the mostly empty stands)


For a majority of the current River Bandits, this could be their second Championship ring in as many seasons. Last season in Johnson City, the low A affiliate of the Cardinals, they took home the Championship and many of those same players advanced to full A this season and are on the same track. That being said, I think Cardinal fans should be especially proud of the crop of talent they have in their minor leagues.

This leaves us with the question, Why are these games not high in attendance? They are on weekends with great weather at their respected home fields. Two weeks ago in the regular season they were sellouts. After asking around at the stadiums to various employees, the overall concensus was that the playoffs never sell out, nor do they ever come close. Why is there not more advertising? Is there a lack of care or could it be that the NFL week 1 was in progress? I am not quite sure, but one thing I know is that all these fans that came out for the season needs to get to their ballparks! This is the most exciting time for the players and fans. Just because the give aways are not bobbleheads does not warrant an empty stadium. This does bring me back to a reoccuring theme on my blog that baseball is advertising to the mass audiences when they should be focusing on the fanatics. Rightly so, it is short notice that the public recieves on when the games will be played but I would like to see other suggestions on how to expand the exposure of the Minor League playoffs. I feel as if this is a goldmine for fans just being completely over looked. We have high round talents playing for Championships for crying out loud! Please email me at s.betweenthelines@yahoo.com with any additional info or suggestions.

If you are interested, the Quad Cities River Bandits will be playing the Championship series starting Wednesday at the Lansing Lugnuts. They will play games 1 and 2 of the 5 game series at Lansing, and will then come home to Davenport for games 3, 4 (if necessary) and 5 (if necessary) on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday respectibly. I will be there for all three games in the Quad Cities, as well. This is for the Midwest League Championship so come out and support your baby birds! If you have to drive super far, I may just buy your ticket for you... email me!
The Baseball Life,
-S

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September Call Ups

Today marks the first day Major League rosters convert their 25 man rosters to 40 for the duration of the regular season. For many of these call ups, its their first taste at the Major League level - friends, family, and fans can revel in the enjoyment in seeing the beginning of the future for these hard working rookies.

The expanded rosters can provide to be a valuable tool for teams vying for post season play, but unless the player was on the 25 man active roster before midnight on August 31st, he is not eligible for the post season roster.

The September expansions are as equally important to non-condending teams as they are for the playoff hopeful. Bringing up young talent now, is a great way to alleviate some pressure in the transfer from minors to majors as it give them an early audition for the following season. It can also give front office personal a chance to assess the talent they have in the minors and see how they perform in the role of a Major Leaguer.

On the other hand, many players being called up will be expected to help their teams decrease that *magic number* and push them into the playoffs. For example, with the Yankees currently trailing the Red Sox 1.5 games in the standing, they will look to their prized catching prospect, Jesus Montero, to make his debut (today) and serve as an extra bat on the bench. He would be given a start and mostly some spot AB's and if he's hot, he could take over the role Eric Chavez has held as DH or even lock down a starting postition to carry into the following year.

That being said, the month of September is arguably the most crucial for our teams' farm systems. Friends and family will be filling the ballparks to cheer on the debuts of players everywhere and fans will be anxious to see the talent of their teams come alive in front of their own eyes! To all the fans who's teams are in contention (not mine) congrats and enjoy this last month before the playoffs!

Congrats to all the September call ups!
The Baseball Life,
-S

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Enjoying the All Star Game

Enjoying the All Star Game
By: Stephanie Paluch

Last night, I anxiously hurried home from work in anticipation for the 2011 MLB All Star Game. I even prepped before hand - picking up dinner and taking the dogs for a nice long walk so that I wouldn't have any interruptions during the game. I got myself situated, logged on to twitter and facebook and then it began - the massive amounts of complaints.

Let me start by saying, I understand if baseball is not your thing... but don't sit on the internet and voice how annoyed you are with the drawn out intros or long innings. If you aren't aware, baseball doesn't run by a clock and if you prefer your sport to do so, then there's always the option of football or basketball.

Also, please refrain from complaining about how its a "worthless" or "meaningless" game. I think most purists and die hard fanatics would prefer that the game actually have no real meaning other than being able to see a crop of the best players in baseball represent the two leagues while playing in the ultimate fantasy showdown. The only reason why meaning was awarded to the game was so that casual fans would be enticed to watch, thus raising television ratings to gain a larger profit for the business. If the purists and addicts had our way, we'd much rather watch for the pure enjoyment of seeing the elite baseball talent on the same field, battling for merely bragging rights.

I also understand that not everyone is happy with the choice in broadcast talent. Although we should know what to expect with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver at this point, we still have our opinions are rightfully awarded so. Along with that, Chris Berman has been the voice of the Homerun Derby, literally since the year I was born. So after 25 years, his "back, back, back, back, gone!" calls should pretty much be engrained as a tradition for the derby. Yet again, both twitter and facebook were consumed with Buck and McCarver hate fests as well as Berman's over-reaction to every ball hit over the wall. There is always room for improvement, so what will make us happy? Instead of complaining we can try to instill some new ideas. The power of the web even urges us to share ideas amongst each other. Write to FOX and let them know your candidates. Go on twitter, like @thebaseballcube and post an idea of your own:


This of course prompted me to ask my followers who they'd prefer hosted the games. Most said Vin Sculley, Bob Uecker, or even Pat Hughes. So what if the fans voted on broadcasters? Obviously other factors come into play, like who they are employed by or if FOX can get rights for that, I'm not sure of the specifics. But the point is, it's an idea. My favorite quote that I live by is "If you don't like something, then change it. If you can't change it, then change your attitude." I don't expect everyone to jump on board and just agree with me, but I also question why you complain about something if aren't willing to do something to change it?

My facebook status last night probably was a bit dramatic but at the same time I was annoyed with the consistent amount of complaints clogging my newsfeed. So, yes even I succumbed to complants for a little while but then took my keyboard skills to twitter and decided to opt for others opinions on improving the events.


It would be thrilling if this were a perfect baseball loving world and we could have an All Star Game based on pure love of the game, showcasing the best talent while still being competitive. Yet, as Americans we need it to mean something in order to have an interest in it. And baseball needs the mass audience to care so that the ratings are high and top dollar is generated. But, that's business. There is never going to be one solution to suit the masses but there are areas of improvement, I am sure. Whether there are improvements or not, it's an annual occurance we should learn to just appreciate for what it is... a spectacular game of baseball with the players we voted in. Sometimes it doesn't need to be perfect... it just needs to be enjoyed for what it is.

Take care all & happy baseball life,
-S