Previous “Baseball Bloopers” posts

This Hat Should Not Exist

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021

Recently, I saw someone wearing this hat:

An MLB hat, with the logos of all 30 MLB teams strewn about

In a word: Why? I’m fairly certain that the wearer was not Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, the only person I can think of for whom this awful hat might make sense.

I’m also completely certain it was not another Rob, Rob Lowe, who is rather infamous for once wearing a ridiculous “NFL” hat:

Rob Lowe wearing a hat that just says “NFL”
Sports!

No, this was a common man, wearing a thankfully uncommon hat for reasons I can’t comprehend. It would be strange to simply be a fan of baseball, without some allegiance to a particular team. But even in that weird case, the MLB has a fantastic logo, one which has influenced the logos of many other American sports leagues:

A much more attractive hat with just the MLB logo”

That’s a good looking hat! There is simply no reason to junk it up by festooning 30 disparate logos on it all willy-nilly.

Previously in terrible MLB hats: Those Are Some Bad Hats, New Era

Rest In Peace and Pizza, RemDawg

Monday, November 1st, 2021

Yesterday, news came of the death of Boston Red Sox fan favorite Jerry Remy. Remy played 10 years in the bigs, including 7 years with Boston in the ’70s and ’80s. However, he’s much better known for his 34 years calling Red Sox broadcasts on TV. A tremendous announcer, he became the voice of the team as they won four World Series since 2004. He will be dearly missed.

The Boston Globe posted a wonderful overview of his life, as well as collection of fond reactions from those who knew him. Though Remy was first diagnosed with cancer way back in 2008, he managed to work for much of the next 13 years. It’s worth appreciating all that additional time we got to share with him.

Back in 2011, I had the good fortune of meeting Jerry and his then-broadcast partner Don Orsillo before a flight to Cleveland. Somehow their travel had gotten rearranged such that they weren’t flying on the team’s plane, and I wound up on the same commercial flight.1 The pair was gracious enough to pose for a picture, one that’s brought a smile to my face since I heard this news.

Jerry Remy, your truly, and Don Orsillo
[Photo courtesy of P. Kafasis]

Around that time, I made a special note to myself to appreciate that I was in the midst of the good old days when it came to Red Sox broadcasts. Jerry was terrific, and hearing him each night was a special treat. The pairing of Remy and Orsillo in particular was tremendous. The duo was so beloved that they even got their own bobblehead:

Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo as bobbleheads
You can also enjoy a video of them acting as real-life bobbleheads.

After the 2015 season, management made the regrettable decision not to renew Don’s contract. Nevertheless, the duo can still be seen in many, many hilarious clips on YouTube.2 And of course, Jerry continued to do stellar work working alongside play-by-play announcer Dave O’Brien, as well as with his former teammate Dennis Eckersley and other colormen.

He had a long tenure in the broadcast booth, but around these parts, Jerry’s single most notable call is the wonderful “Here Comes the Pizza”. When I first heard it live in 2007, I knew it was something special, and I’ve done my best to keep it alive in the memories of Red Sox fans. Since news of Remy’s passing broke, the video I posted to YouTube has been viewed tens of thousands of times. I’m gratified to know that people can find a bit of joy in the face of this sad news. I think Jerry, with his sense of humor, would appreciate it too.

Jerry made his final public appearance at Fenway Park on October 5. He threw out the first pitch ahead of Boston’s win-or-go-home playoff game against the Yankees, a contest that echoed one he’d played in 43 years earlier. Unlike in 1978, however, the Red Sox were victorious in 2021. It was a fitting farewell for a Red Sox legend. Jerry, you will be missed.


Footnotes:

  1. As I recall, Jerry was in first class, while Don was not. I chatted with Don for a few minutes, and we joked that they make the play-by-play guy ride back in coach with the rest of us plebes. ↩︎

  2. Jerry had countless great moments on air, but “Jerry loses a tooth” has to be near the top of any ranked list. Look, at 162 games, the baseball season is long. There are bound to be at least a few stinkers, games that are blowouts, or just plain boring. Jerry always made it fun. ↩︎

The Brockstar Continues to Set Records 

Wednesday, August 11th, 2021

When Brock Holt (BROCK HOLT!) played with the Red Sox, he was a super-utility player who played a part in two World Series championships in 2013 and 2018. In the run up to that second title, he set a record as the only player to hit for the cycle in a postseason game.

Last week, he set a record of a different sort:

According to MLB.com’s Sarah Langs, Holt’s opening 31.3 mph called strike was the slowest pitch to be called a strike since MLB started pitch [tracking] in 2008. The previous slowest pitch had been a 41.3 mph beauty from Willians Astudillo in June earlier this year.

It’s really something to see.1 And now, almost everyone can say they can throw faster than a Major League pitcher.


Footnotes:

  1. The video is archived here, ↩︎

The Guardians of Traffic and Now Baseball 

Friday, July 23rd, 2021

As promised back in December, the Cleveland Baseball Club has announced their new name: The Guardians. They recruited renowned Cleveland actor Tom Hanks to narrate their introduction, and I think it’s great. I also like how much of the old name can be found in the new name. But best of all is the way this new name connects to the city and the Hope Memorial Bridge, which features incredible art deco “Guardians of Traffic”.

In related news, Washington, it’s time to quit faffing around.

There Was Also a Hot Dog Tasting Review 

Tuesday, July 20th, 2021

Just as 10 cent beers were a bad idea back in 1974, $1 “Thirsty Thursday” are a bad idea in 2021. When a beer costs just a buck, it should not be a surprise it becomes a projectile.

A Hot Mic at the All-Star Game

Thursday, July 15th, 2021

During the 2021 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, broadcaster Fox had players wear microphones and headsets during the game. With this technology, they actually conducted live, in-game interviews, including while players were batting. The hardest thing in sports used to be hitting a baseball. Now, it’s hitting a baseball while Fox announcer Joe Buck is nattering in your ear.

Nevertheless, the in-game interviews with players in the field were interesting, if a bit clunky at times. I don’t want to see this come to real games, but the All-Star Game is an exhibition with no real meaning, and it’s a fine place for such gimmickry. However, in addition to not bothering hitters at the plate, broadcasters might want to consider additional modifications. The need for one such adjustment became quite clear thanks to the foul mouth closer Liam Hendriks.

Hendriks came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth inning, looking to protect a lead and give the American League their eighth straight victory. If you know anything about baseball, or have even just seen the movie “Major League”, you know pitchers are often emotional. That goes double for closers, who are tasked with preventing runs in the most pressure-packed situations.

When Hendriks came to the mound, Buck attempted to talk to him. Though Hendriks gave no direct response, the audience could hear audio from him. When he began pitching, this became something of a problem. First came a very loud and very clear “Goddammit” after Hendriks threw a ball to Milwaukee Brewers catcher Omar Narváez.1 If the potential for danger wasn’t obvious before, that expletive certainly should’ve led producers to make some changes.

However, they didn’t cut the mic, or even put it on a delay. As a result, not long after we got an even worse string of expletives.2 It was quite something. After giving up a hit following that F-bomb, catched Mike Zunino came out to talk to Hendriks.

“You’re giving what the people want—you’re miked up,” Zunino said.

“No, it’s not working,” Hendriks replied. “I haven’t heard a thing all inning.”

Whoops! We all certainly had heard some things, because though the headset may not have been working for Hendriks, the mic certainly was. A piece of advice for anyone ever wearing a microphone: just assume it’s on.

“I would have been a little more conscious of (my word choice) if I had heard them back,” Hendriks said. “And it all turned out the volume was too low. Probably my fault. Probably user error. Makes for some interesting TV, I’m sure. Hopefully the bleeping guy was on point.”

Alas, the bleeping guy was not on point, or even present at all.

I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to mic up a closing pitcher, nor who opted not to put that mic on a delay. However, despite the rather disastrous outcome, they might still count themselves fortunate. That’s because Hendriks hails from the nation of Australian, where cursing is often as basic as breathing. Fox is lucky the man didn’t drop the non-cancer C-word on live television.


Footnotes:

  1. That swear is archived here. ↩︎

  2. And that even worse swear is archived here. ↩︎

Happy Bobby Bonilla Day! 

Thursday, July 1st, 2021

Many, many years ago, Bobby Bonilla was an All-Star baseball player. He played for many teams and earned some of the richest contracts of the time. Though Bonilla retired way back in 2001, the New York Mets have just paid him nearly $1.2 million, just as they do every July 1st. “Why?”, you ask. A ridiculous deferred contract, that’s why. Wikipedia provides a succinct summary:

After his subpar 1999 season, the Mets released Bonilla, but still owed him $5.9 million. Bonilla and his agent offered the Mets a deal: Bonilla would defer payment for a decade, and the Mets would pay him an annual paycheck of $1.19 million starting in 2011 and ending in 2035, adding up to a total payout of $29.8 million. Mets owner Fred Wilpon accepted the deal mostly because he was heavily invested with Ponzi scheme operator Bernie Madoff, and the 10 percent returns he thought he was getting on his investments with Madoff outweighed the eight percent interest the Mets would be paying on Bonilla’s initial $5.9 million.

I can’t imagine how former Mets owner Fred Wilpon got so rich, because he’s clearly an idiot. If you were regularly getting 10% returns, you should have 1) been at least somewhat suspicious and 2) still, not given away a guaranteed 8%, just to try and get more of that supposed 10%!

Banana Ball 

Friday, March 19th, 2021

Recently, friend-of-the-site Oliver Y. alerted me to a hot new sport sweeping the nation a modified version of an existing sport that’s locally popular in southeastern Georgia. That’s where a team called the Savannah Bananas play Banana Ball, a variant of baseball where fans can catch foul balls for outs, walks are now sprints, and there’s a strict two-hour time limit.

Check out this video, where Bananas owner Jesse Cole runs down the rule changes. I never need to see another mound visit for the rest of my life, so bringing at least a couple of these revisions to Major League Baseball would be just fine by me.

Banana Ball is unlikely to replace baseball any time soon, but I’d love to take in at least one game. While I won’t be able to catch their 2021 one city world tour, tickets are still available if you’re going to be in Mobile, Alabama on March 27.

Progress in Major League Baseball

Tuesday, December 29th, 2020

Winter has just begun here in America, but recently, two positive announcements were made relating to the boys of summer. First, at some point in the near future, Cleveland’s baseball team will have a new name.

The decision follows a similar move by the NFL’s Washington Football Team. Unlike the Washington Football Team, however, Cleveland’s baseball team will continue to be known as the Indians — the name it has carried since 1915 — until a new name is chosen and various branding and trademarking issues are resolved.

I’m not sure why they’re taking a half measure for now, but it will be good to get rid of this name (and worse, the terrible “Chief Wahoo” logo). For now, there’s nothing stopping all of us from just calling them the Cleveland Baseball Club, and I intend to.

Shortly after Cleveland’s announcement, Major League Baseball stated that the the Negro Leagues would now be considered as ‘Major League’.

Major League Baseball is correcting a longtime oversight in the game’s history by officially elevating the Negro Leagues to “Major League” status…With this action, MLB seeks to ensure that future generations will remember the approximately 3,400 players of the Negro Leagues during this time period as Major League-caliber ballplayers. Accordingly, the statistics and records of these players will become a part of Major League Baseball’s history.

From 1920 to 1948, African and Latin Americans players competed at a tremendously high level, but were excluded from the all-white Major League Baseball. That exclusion can never be undone, but recognizing the accomplishments of those players is a positive move nonetheless.

Both of these changes have been a long time coming, but late is far better than never.

Inbox Abuse at the Hands of Major League Baseball

Friday, December 11th, 2020

At 12:30 PM on November 23, I received an email from MLB.com’s shop, advertising site-wide 30% off savings. Because officially licensed gear for professional sports teams is always ludicrously overpriced, this has the effect of bringing the cost of a $260 “authentic” jersey to a still grossly overpriced $182. To say I was uninterested is putting it mildly.

However, I did notice that this email advertised the deal as “Early Cyber Monday Savings”.

A banner reading “Early Cyber Monday Savings”

As you may know, “Cyber Monday” is a marketing term for the Monday after American Thanksgiving, when many online stores offer special deals. This year, Thanksgiving fell on the November 26, making Cyber Monday the 30th. November 23 was thus not “early Cyber Monday”, it was nothing at all. This email represented just the latest example of calendar abuse by some crack marketing team.

It was also the beginning of some monstrous mailing list mismanagement. Just six hours later, I received an email letting me know that these “Early Cyber Monday savings” were “ending soon”.

A banner reading “Early Cyber Monday Savings - Ends Soon”

Another three hours later, at 9:30 PM, a third email arrived letting me know this deal was “almost outta here”, and in its “final hours”.

A banner reading “Early Cyber Monday Savings - Final Hours”

The sale was ending at midnight, so I assumed that would be the last I’d hear about it. Three emails in one day is too much, but I could see the repeated contacts being effective with some potential customers.

The next day, however, I received the shocking news that “Early Cyber Monday” had been “extended” into Tuesday. Did MLB explain that this was due to overwhelming demand, which had perhaps crashed their servers and thus prevented hopeful buyers from placing orders? They did not. Did they at least use a bit of clever baseball lingo, perhaps saying that the sale had “gone into extra innings?” There again, the answer is no. OK, but surely they changed the design of the email for some variety?

A banner reading “Early Cyber Monday Savings - Extended”

Well, the badge on the bottom of the banner was a different shade of blue, yes.

That evening, I received yet another email, letting me know this was my last chance to take advantage of this 30% off.

A banner reading “Early Cyber Monday Savings - Last Chance”

I was rather incredulous at the idea of sending five emails in two days for a mediocre sale. Still, I found the overzealousness amusing, and I assumed that would be the end of it. I was completely unprepared for what would follow over the next two-plus weeks.

To avoid trying your patience, while still demonstrating the abuse my inbox suffered in late November and early December, here is a simple list of the various sales promotions MLB.com emailed about. Lest you think I made these up, I’ve included images from the most ridiculous emails:

  • Thanksgiving Eve Savings

    A banner reading “Today Only! Thanksgiving Eve Savings”
    Except perhaps when discussing travel, “Thanksgiving Eve” is really not a thing.

  • Thanksgiving Day Sale

  • Black Friday Sale

  • Black Friday Extended

  • Cyber Monday Sneak Peek

    A banner reading “Cyber Monday Sneak Peek”
    The extensions led in to sneak peeks, then back to sales.

  • Cyber Monday Sale

  • Cyber Monday Extended

  • A non-specific “Countdown” event

  • Friends & Family Savings Event

    A banner reading “Friends & Family Savings Event”
    Lamentably, I am not in the Major League Baseball family. After all this, I’m not feeling very friendly either.

  • The Holiday Gifting Sale

  • 3 Days of Saving

  • One Day Sale

    A banner reading “Friends & Family Savings Event”
    OK, this one cracked me up.

  • Holiday Savings Event

Throughout the course of this, the discounts seemed to fluctuate. Many of these sales advertised “up to 65% off”, which really tells you just how much this merchandise is ordinarily marked up. Others contained more standard 20-30% off discounts. The numbers were impossible to keep straight, as they changed constantly.

Similarly, my own reactions bounced around quite a bit. My initial mirth quickly grew to disgust at the marketing that occurred just before, and on, Thanksgiving. I was then horrified at the onslaught of emails surrounding Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I eventually grew numb, and just let the spam wash over me. Finally, I settled on bemusement, enjoying watching just how far this would go and wondering when it would ever end.

But today, enough was truly enough. This morning, MLB.com hit my inbox for the 50th time in under three weeks. That is just utterly insane behavior. I’m sure that MLB wants to juice their merchandise sales after a down year in 2020, but the idea that this is the way to do it beggars belief. It is inexplicable that anyone with any sense at all could think the above was appropriate.

So I’m out. I’ve unsubscribed, and I hope to never hear from these dingdongs again. Sure, I’ll miss their “Christmas Day Sale” (Warning, gifts will not arrive by Christmas), the “Tuesday After Christmas” event, and the “New Year’s Eve Eve” savings the day after that, but I think I’ll be alright.