Head in the Clouds … Feet at Last on the Ground


Mountains of clouds stood high along the horizon as the 737 made its way to U.S. soil. Through my little window, a frame for the southbound view, I could see the little lights of America piercing the pink-gray haze of dusk.

A week had passed since I’d seen any trace of baseball. Deep in the Canadian Rockies, where elevating the heart rate via a custom called “hiking uphill” is the preferred way to pass the time, I had been denied the signals – both TV and Internet – that pump America’s own Pastime straight to the brain, and now, as I slanted toward the land that gave us infield dirt and its corresponding fly rule, I looked forward to leaving elevation behind and getting on with the custom of keeping up with baseball.

What, I wondered, had happened in my absence? The question echoed all the little inquiries that had paced through my headspace as I lay in my tent or tramped toward unreachable fields of snow. For seven days and six long nights, I had gone without news of beanball wars and replay controversies, winning streaks and hitless streaks, Tommy John heartbreaks and dramatic episodes of Puig Derangement Syndrome. I had opted, instead, to sleep in 30-degree (Fahrenheit!) temperatures, my head on a pillow of insomnia and mud.
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Field of Dreams II: An Abridged Novelization

“Hey, dad,” said Kevin Costner. “You wanna have a catch?”
“I’d like that,” said his dad.
They played catch.

Annie turned on the floodlights.
That’s better, thought Kevin Costner, this is a pivotal moment in my life, playing catch with my dead father. It’s good to be able to see the ball properly.

Kevin Costner heard a car. The car parked next to the baseball field. Then another. And another. Kevin Costner could see car headlights all the way up Dyersville East Road. There must’ve been over a hundred cars on the road.
“Hold on a moment, dad,” said Kevin Costner.
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Rule Change Means More Players to Choose From for Postseason Roster

Fans often are confused about which players are eligible for the postseason roster. Baseball actually changed the rule slightly this year, and it’s worth noting.

In the past, players on the 25-man roster as of Aug. 31 were eligible, along with players on the disabled list. The overall restriction was not that severe, however; any player in the organization could replace an injured player.

Ken Rosenthal, 9/1/14

The new rule, as the article goes on to explain*, is that teams may choose anyone for the postseason roster, past or present, living or dead, who ever spent any time in their organization at all. That means that should the Royals avoid a September collapse and make the postseason, they will be adding 1980 George Brett and a whole bunch of Bret Saberhagens to their roster, in the hope of beating out 1932 Jimmie Foxx, 1901 Nap Lajoie, 1931 Lefty Grove, and the rest of the A’s powerhouse squad.

“We think it’s more fair this way,” said no one.

“Definitely,” said Brian Cashman.

“But– but– wait–” said Andrew Friedman.

The motivation behind the rule change is so that Derek Jeter isn’t robbed of a final postseason and gets to continue to log World Series at-bats for all of eternity.

“Oh, you didn’t explain it like that,” said Friedman. “Now it makes sense. Anything for Jeter.”

Ernie Banks is really hoping the Cubs can make it to the postseason someday soon. George Sisler also reportedly taking batting practice in his grave. (Not sure who is reporting that, but we’ll promote them to chief investigative correspondent.) Unclear how this new rule will affect Ted Williams, given his cryogenic condition.

*it does not

Eating the Mariners’ Famous Mariner Dog

One of the problems with life in modern America is how difficult it is to know that you’re winning at it. In simpler times, it was enough to out-earn and out-consume our neighbors; now, most of us haven’t even met our neighbors. The horrors of the sepia-toned and antiseptic-scented nursing home has tarnished the allure of the long life. Fame, earned or purchased, is wasted on the lazy and disrespectful millenials, who seem to think their own lives are more important. Book clubs are out of vogue.

In such a world, it’s easy to become lost, to wonder why we bother to exist at all. We want to scatter our possessions and live out a Dave Eggers novel in the jungles of northwestern Brazil, or to donate our lives to some anonymous and probably corrupt charity organization. But instead, we have saved ourselves as a people by creating our own small hurdles to overcome. In search of tension to instill some vigor in our clichéd, meandering life stories, we have developed a fifth form of literary conflict: man versus food.

Thus I found myself in the concession line of Safeco Field under the turbulent skies of an early autumn. I must do this, I thought to myself, as two boys in front of me asked for a refill for their collectible bottomless plastic soda cup without receipt. I must do it for myself, and I must do it for everyone.

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No, Really, Is Dustin Ackley Fixed?

Forget about whether he’s now learning how to selectively pull for power and hitting fewer weak ground balls, the real question that I hoped Tony Blengino’s (excellent) piece on the main site would answer is whether Dustin Ackley is “fixed” — whether his reproductive organs have been removed.

Initial evidence seems to indicate they haven’t been. He married his longtime girlfriend before the 2012 season. (A girlfriend whose cousin seemed to enjoy posting about their engagement on shady-looking Internet message boards).

But — check this out — he and his wife reportedly have two Yorkies:

As for Ackley, marriage has altered his life. He loved Justine for years, but now there are two young mouths to feed — Yorkies Dudley and Elli.

Ackley is smitten.

“I’ve always had dogs, usually bigger dogs like golden retrievers. When Justine wanted a dog, she wanted a Yorkie,” he said. “I can’t go more than a couple days without seeing them now, or I start missing them.

“Dudley might be the smartest dog I’ve ever known. I get dressed in the morning, he goes to the front door and waits. He knows I’m leaving. “He’s like a human in a dog’s body.”

The real question is: are his Yorkies fixed? And — conspiracy theory — if Dudley is so smart, a “human in a dog’s body” — perhaps Ackley is in fact a “dog in a human’s body,” the two have switched souls, and when Dudley was supposedly at the vet’s office for his procedure… Ackley was in fact the one being fixed.

Just something to think about if you really, truly, have nothing to think about on this fine Tuesday afternoon.

IMAGE: is that a baseball… or a baseball… if you know what I mean.

A Day in the Year 1915, in 2015


The Atlanta Braves celebrated the centennial anniversary of the franchise’s World Series title over the Boston Athletics recently by wearing replica 1914 uniforms and showcasing their base-ball skills in the absence of modern music. Despite the vomiting, diarrhea and night sweats of fans pretending (quite convincingly, it turns out) to suffer under the incipient flu pandemic, the Braves considered it a great success, so much so that they’re now planning an August 18, 2015, commemoration of the 100-year anniversary of the old Braves Field.

What follows is the list of scheduled on-field tributes to the year 1915:

Each player will wear a replica 1915 uniform.

The stadium will feature a manually operated scoreboard.

The sound system will carry the popular songs of the day.

Freddie Freeman will sign the Treaty of London.

B.J. Upton will be sworn in as Portuguese President Teofilo Braga.

Chris Johnson will set an altitude record of 11,690 feet.

Julio Teheran will patent the neon discharge tube.

David Hale will make the first coast-to-coast telephone call.

Andrelton Simmons will formulate the theory of general relativity.

(Unknown free agent acquisition) will write “In Flanders Fields.”
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This Is an Ice Cream Sandwich Festooned with Tiny Jesus Montero Heads

In the dual interests of news cycle observance and amateurish, hot dog-fingered use of photo editing software, I present to you — without pride or any sense of agency — an image of an ice cream sandwich festooned with tiny Jesus Montero heads …

Delicious concession item

This has been what it has been.

Introducing the New SCOUT Leaderboard


This is Noah Syndergaard, Mets pitching prospect. Would you like to see his statistics, perhaps cycled through Carson Cistulli’s famed SCOUT formula? Well, go ahead type in “SCOUT Leaderboard” into the Fangraphs search bar. I’ll wait.

I have created a transcript of your failed endeavours below.
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Hopeless Joe Predicts The Pennant Races (American League)

It’s just about that time of year, when teams start calling it quits, Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder starts to rear its droopy head, and glum Internet baseball columnists are forced to turn to Kickstarter in a Hail Mary effort to keep on going, because the section of website they write for is soon to disappear.

In the meantime, I thought I’d predict this year’s pennant races, not that anyone really wins anything as long as 9-year-olds are still shooting people to death while their parents film it on their cell phones.


Well, the Orioles can’t actually still be in first place, so something has clearly gone wrong. Which it has, for every other team in the division. If someone had told me before the season that Chris Davis would be hitting .190 on August 27th and the Orioles would still be in first place, I would have wondered who’s talking to me, and did it mean I have a friend, a real, honest-to-goodness friend? I would have listened to all of his predictions about the Orioles– and wouldn’t have even interrupted him to tell him that Mike Boddicker is not in fact still on the team, and definitely isn’t the ace of the pitching staff. Oh, the Yankees are still clinging to hope too, despite the team’s average age of 62 and Martin Prado leading the team in OPS, despite a .308 on base percentage (not a misprint). I think I could probably play for the Yankees, and I’m blind in one leg.


Another topsy-turvy division, where the Kansas City Devil-Dealers are trying to hold off the Detroit Oopsie-Daisies. Would anyone on the Royals even crack the Tigers’ starting lineup? You’d think Alex Gordon might, but Victor Martinez’s son J.D. is having an incredible season at the plate, so do you really take him out of left field? I remember when I was removed from left field during a Little League game, when I was 14 years old playing on the 9-11 team (I was small as a child — even smaller than I am now, as an adult). I had gotten confused when a ball was hit my way. I thought I was supposed to cover my face and run away from it, screaming. That’s how I learned to play baseball. Be afraid of the ball. Keep your eyes on your feet. Swing like you’re hitting a pinata. And never let the other players urinate in your pants– do it yourself, like a big boy. The Indians are still hanging in there too, kind of like the Native Americans. Sure, they can have a few wins. Not too many though.


A classic pennant race, between the Angels and A’s. As first place swings back and forth, the teams battling it out, who will get that playoff spot and who will go home to their million-dollar mansions where all the toilets probably flush and you almost certainly can’t hear the neighbors practicing the bassoon in the middle of the night (oh, but they’re lovely people aside from the bassoons — they only steal some of my mail, not all of it!). Oh, wait, they’re both going to make the playoffs. Because that’s how it works in the socialist world of Major League Baseball in 2014. In the real world, it’s winner-takes-all, fight-to-the-death, we-only-need-one-person-to-clean-the-toilets-so-you’re-fired-Joe. But in baseball, pretty much everyone makes the playoffs, and pretty much everyone is rich beyond their wildest dreams. So who the heck cares whether the A’s win more games than the Angels or the Angels win more games than the A’s? It doesn’t matter, any more than it matters what the gunk coming out of my ears actually is. It’s gunk. As long as I don’t touch it, or eat it, or show it to a doctor I’ll be fine. And that’s the American League and where it stands.

Proposed: New Gestures For Those in Need of New Gestures


To watch a baseball game these days is to watch a pageant of deliberate body language. Fernando Rodney is a post-save archer, Rafael Soriano a post-save slob, Joe Nathan a no-save Italian stereotype. Some say the trend began with the 2010 Rangers and their “claw and antlers” signs, while others contend that it started with Ty Cobb and his frequent use of the throat-slashing “I’m going to kill you” gesture.

Whatever the inspiration, each game now resembles the International Semaphore Symposium sharing assembly-hall space with the Annual Wanna-Be Gangbangers Colloquium. Problem is, at some point, players will run out of gestures, just as suburban teens must now resort to Fonzie’s thumbs-up to signal their affiliation.

To thwart a possible shortage, I hereby propose the following gestures:

Open palm to side of head, tilt head, close eyes: The traditional symbol of “naptime,” this gesture is used whenever Josh Beckett takes more than the allotted six minutes (or whatever it is) between pitches, and also whenever Justin Morneau, during a conversation with the runner at first base, discusses his favorite cheese.
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