Previous “Baseball Bloopers” posts

Coming to You Live From His Mother’s Basement 

Thursday, September 10th, 2020

OK, it’s not quite as ridiculous as the headline would suggest, but Dodgers announcer Charley Steiner is broadcasting the 2020 season from his own living room.

Weekend at Kansas City 

Friday, August 14th, 2020

As readers are already aware, Major League Baseball stadiums across America are full of fake fans. People have been having a lot of fun with these, but perhaps the single best cutout thus far is this one from Kauffman Stadium, the home of the Kansas City Royals.


[Photo credit: @AsteriskTour]

Rather Amusing Mockery From an “Organist” 

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

Major League Baseball is limiting the number of people at ballparks in 2020. Fans aren’t allowed to attend, and even MLB announcers are generally not watching the game in-person either. As such, it’s not clear to me why Atlanta’s organist Matthew Kaminski was present at their game against the Blue Jays last week., playing for a non-existent crowd.1 Nevertheless, I’m glad he was.

When Blue Jays catcher Reese McGuire stepped up to the plate, the organist could be heard playing Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” For those who don’t follow which MLB players have been caught publicly masturbating, the reference likely went over your head.

Now that’s some good, not-really-that-clean fun.


Footnotes:

  1. I suppose the answer is that he was also playing for the TV audience, which would likely be a nice addition to 2020’s strange broadcasts. ↩︎

Daniel Bard Beats the Yips 

Friday, August 7th, 2020

Many years ago, Daniel Bard was a promising young pitcher for my hometown Boston Red Sox. Then, his career was derailed by an affliction commonly known as “the yips”. Simply put, Bard’s abilities abandoned him, and he could no longer perform the fundamental task of throwing strikes.

After several comeback attempts, Bard finally threw in the towel and retired from playing. He became a coach and mentor to younger players, helping them with their own journeys in professional baseball.

Then one day, almost as if by magic, his skills returned. The yips, poof, disappeared. The joy of the game flowed through him. Now, Daniel Bard is once again pitching in the big leagues, and that’s incredible.

Fake Fans in Empty Stadiums

Friday, July 24th, 2020

Baseball is back. It’s back, and it’s goddamned weird. The abbreviated 2020 season kicked off with two games last night, and while they were strange for many reasons, one of the most obvious was the lack of any actual fans. Understandably, fans will not be permitted in the ballparks this season.

There is crowd noise being piped in, however, and approximately half of major league teams will also be putting representations of their fans in the stadium. This is being done with cutouts printed from fan photos. For your amusement, as well as for posterity, I recorded a comprehensive look at all of these fan cutout programs. Save this link for a few decades, then share just a bit of the weirdness of 2020 with your grandkids.

Atlanta Braves

Name: Braves Country Cutouts
Cost: $50, $25 for “A-List Members” [Link]
Beneficiary: The Atlanta Braves Foundation

Additional Notes: The parenthetical in this statement is so very depressing: “Truist Park will not feel like home unless we see (photos of) your faces in the stands”.

Boston Red Sox

Name: Monster Home Run Challenge
Cost: $500 [Link]
Beneficiary: The Red Sox Foundation

Additional Notes: This is by far the most expensive program in the majors, with a $500 donation only buying your cut-out 1/2 of the season.

However, the cutout will have some tremendous seats, on top of Fenway Park’s famous Green Monster. Also, if your cutout is hit by a Red Sox home run ball, you’ll win an assortment of prizes, including tickets to a 2021 ball game.

Chicago White Sox

Name: FANtastic Faces
Cost: $49 [Link]
Beneficiary: Chicago White Sox Charities

Additional Notes: Chicago’s program is unique in the bigs, as the cutouts will only be in the stadium for a single home stand. White Sox fan Paul Garrett purchased 100 identical cutouts, hilariously leading to this tableau:

Houston Astros

Name: Astros Fan Cutouts
Cost: $100 [Link]
Beneficiary: Unclear, though they list this as a “tax-deductible donation”

Additional Notes: Those who dislike the Astros should note that Houston’s program bars both “Inappropriate gestures” and “Obscene, lewd, explicit, discriminatory, derogatory, violent, offensive, infringing or otherwise inappropriate references”.

Kansas City Royals

Name: Fanbassador
Cost: $40 [Link]
Beneficiary: “A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Royals Respond Fund, a Royals Charities effort that supports Kansas City area nonprofits who focus on food insecurity as it relates to the coronavirus pandemic.”

Additional Notes: It appears this program is only open to Royals season ticket holders, and initially limited to 500 people.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Name: Los Angeles Dodgers Fan Cutouts & Pups at the Park
Cost: $299 (Pavilion Home Run Seats/Dugout Club), $149 (Field Level/Loge Level), $149 (Pups at the Park (Loge Level)) [Link]
Beneficiary: “Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, as they tackle the most pressing problems facing Los Angeles with a mission to improve education, health care, homelessness, and social justice for all Angelenos.”

Additional Notes: Of course Los Angeles, land of the purse dog, sent out a separate press release announcing the $149 option to have your dog at the ballpark. As well, the Dodgers list the fair market value of the cutout itself at $11.25.

Milwaukee Brewers

Name: Brewers Cutout Crew
Cost: $50 [Link]
Beneficiary: Brewers Community Foundation & the Wisconsin Humane Society

Additional Notes: The photo guidelines note “A shirt color on a same color background will make you look like a floating head”, but it’s unclear if this is viewed as a negative or a positive.

Also, Milwaukee is photographing the cutouts in place so fans can see themselves, as seen below:

Minnesota Twins

Name: Twins Mosaic
Cost: Free [Link]
Beneficiary: N/A

Additional Notes: The Twins aren’t doing cutouts, but will instead have a massive 53×38 foot mosaic of fan photos looking down over the field.

New York Mets

Name: Mets Fan Cutouts
Cost: $86 [Link]
Beneficiary: Mets Foundation

Additional Notes: The New York Mets last won a World Series 34 years ago, and their $86 pricing reflects that 1986 championship. This also appears to be the only program that requires team gear, stating “Mets gear is a must!”.

Oakland A’s

Name: Coliseum Cutouts
Cost: $89 for general fans and pets, $49 for “A’s Access” members (Unclear if pets can join A’s Access), $129 for the Left Field Foul Ball Zone, $149 for the ALS CURE Project Right Field Foul Ball Zone [Link]
Beneficiary: ALS CURE, Tony LaRussa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) & the East Bay SPCA

Additional Notes: The A’s program has a lot going on. Most notably, when a “Foul Ball Zone” cutout gets hit by a ball, the fan will receive that ball.

Of note, A’s outfielder Stephen Piscotty’s mother was stricken with ALS in 2017. Before the 2018 season, Piscotty asked for a trade to be closer to home. Rather remarkably, this was granted, with the Cardinals sending him to Oakland. Sadly, his mother passed away during the 2018 season, but he’s now honoring her by providing autographed items and balls to raise money for ALS research. Good on you, Stephen.

Philadelphia Phillies

Name: Phillies Game Face
Cost: $40, $25 for season ticket holders [Link]
Beneficiary: “[P]roceeds benefiting Phillies charities”

Additional Notes: On opening day, healthcare workers will be honored free of charge. Details will be forthcoming on how fans can do the same for later games.

Also, in the true spirit of 2020, the incomparable Phillie Phanatic is the subject of a trademark battle, and has been redesigned. The rejiggered mascot will be at the park during games though, and thankfully, you’ll probably recognize him just fine.


Before and After

San Diego Padres

Name: Military Padres Fan Cutouts
Cost: Free [Link]
Beneficiary: N/A

Additional Notes: Initially, the team is honoring military personnel with free cutouts. Later cutouts will “follow themes that honor different groups and causes”, according to Padres President of Business Operations Erick Greupner

San Francisco Giants

Name: Giants Fan Cutouts & Cutouts for a Cause
Cost: $99, free for season ticket holders who rollover their account credit to 2021 rather than taking a refund [Link]
Beneficiary: Seemingly, the San Francisco Giants themselves

Additional Notes: While nearly every other program is charitable in nature, it seems the Giants are just planning to pocket this money. They are offering fans the chance to “sit” near celebrity cutouts, while raising money for the celebrity’s cause.

Seattle Mariners

Name: Mariners Seat Fleet
Cost: $30 [Link]
Beneficiary: “The Mariners will donate a portion of every purchase to non-profit organizations supporting COVID-related relief efforts in our communities.”

Additional Notes: This is the most affordable program in the bigs, and if your cutout is hit with a foul ball, you’ll get it sent to you. However, this is one of just two programs (along with the Mets) which explicitly states you will not receive your cutout at the end of the season. Then again, I don’t know what someone would actually do with a cutout of themself.

Tampa Bay Rays

Name: Rays Fan Cutouts
Cost: $60, $40 for season ticket holders [Link]
Beneficiary: Seemingly, the Tampa Bay Rays themselves

Additional Notes: Do the Tampa Bay Rays actually have season ticket holders?

Texas Rangers

Name: DoppelRangers
Cost: $50 [Link]
Beneficiary: Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation

Additional Notes: The Texas Rangers are opening a brand-new stadium this year, and I can’t think of a worse way to do it than with no fans. On the other hand, their program has the best name, bar none.

Toronto Blue Jays

At present, the 14 remaining teams have no cutout program. Among them, however, the Toronto Blue Jays are worth calling out specifically. That’s because they lack not just a fan cutout program, but a home ballpark in which to play.

Canada isn’t providing any exception to allow players to enter the country, and thus far, no American city has accepted the team. The baseball season has now begun, yet this poor team doesn’t even know where they’re going to play.

So yeah, this shortened 2020 baseball season in the middle of a pandemic seems like a great idea which will surely play out with no issues whatsoever.

Astro the Grouch 

Monday, May 25th, 2020

It’s Memorial Day in America, a day to honor and mourn veterans who died wile serving in our armed forces. Paradoxically, it’s also the unofficial start to summer, and ordinarily a day of beaches, barbecues, and baseball. As a result of COVID-19, however, the 2020 Major League Baseball season has yet to start. Even so, baseball fans can still indulge their disgust for the cheating 2017 Houston Astros, thanks to a promotional item from Minnesota’s St. Paul Saints.

As the Saints’ staffers planned the 2020 promotional schedule, they plotted how to roast the newly sanctioned Astros. A trash can? Of course. Inside? Knockoffs of Oscar the Grouch and Orbit, the Astros’ mascot, carefully designed to skirt copyright violations.


Pressing the button will unleash a couple of bangs, or even a specific pitch.

With the season in doubt, the Saints have now decided to sell the item online, with a portion of the rather steep $35 price going to charity. Personally, I’ll be content to chuckle at the fact that this exists, write about it, and then move on.

Hopefully, This Isn’t the High Point 

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

For nearly a decade, this blog has been tracking the baseball exploits of one Christopher Michael “Mike” Carp, in the hopes that he could be added to this list. In 2015, Carp made it to the right city, though he was affiliated with the wrong team. In 2019, news of his independent league baseball success with the New Britain Bees of Connecticut was shared.

It appears the Bees experienced some sort of colony collapse, but never fear. Carp has been picked up by North Carolina’s High Point Rockers for the 2020 season.

Also signed for next season are pitchers Jake Buchanan and Drake Owenby, catcher Stuart Levy, outfielder Bryce Brentz, infielder Matt Fields and three from the disbanded New Britain Bees — Mike Carp, Darren Ford and Logan Moore.

Sure, the team’s logo is a rocking chair, an almost painfully on-point allusion to retirement. And yes, Carp hasn’t played in the big leagues since 2014. Of course, there’s little sense hiding from the fact that he’ll be turning 34 shortly, which is surely an unlikely age to return to pro ball. Nevertheless! Until Mike Carp hangs up his spikes for good, this blog will continue to track his career. If we can raise his profile enough, perhaps the Los Angeles Angels1 will finally see the light.


Footnotes:

  1. They’ve got a new/retro name, and it’s damned efficient! Truly, it just looks so good on them. Those wise team owners clearly know a good idea when they see it!↩︎

Those Are Some Bad Hats, New Era

Thursday, March 5th, 2020

While researching last month’s feature on ugly spring training caps, I came upon an entirely different set of awful Major League Baseball hats, one worthy of its own post. Seemingly released in early 2020, the New Era “Big Boys Lil Player” series is aimed specifically at kids. The name of the collection is a clunky, contradictory mouthful, and things just get worse when it comes to the artwork. Here’s a quick appetizer:

A hat with a poorly drawn cartoon of Aaron Judge

Remarkably, this is actually not the most awful New Era cap featuring a cartoon Aaron Judge. It takes second place, behind this ghoulish monstrosity:

Another hat with a terribly drawn image of Aaron Judge, this one looking quite like a stereotypical zombie
I get the feeling somebody at New Era really doesn’t like Aaron Judge.
[Photo courtesy of P. Kafasis]

But let’s return to the Big Boys Lil Player 9Fifty caps. If you try to locate these hats on New Era’s website, you’ll strike out. Their site offers what has to be the worst online search I’ve ever seen. It’s truly astounding in its awfulness. To give just one example, a search for “Votto” returns 18 hits: 1 “Rocket Power Otto” hat, along with 17 hats that have the word “cotton” in their names. Adding search terms, which ought to narrow the results, only compounds the folly. A search for “Joey Votto” gives 675 results, starting with a completely unrelated “Joey Logano” hat.

Instead, you’ll need to head to Macys.com to find the New Era Big Boys Lil Player 9FIFTY Snapback caps. It appears Macy’s is the exclusive retailer for this line aimed at kids, and what a coup that must be for them. On the Macy’s website, you can find 25 different New Era® Big Boys Lil Player 9FIFTY Snapback caps. Of course, there are 30 teams in Major League Baseball. The five teams missing from the New Era® Big Boys™ Lil Player 9FIFTY Snapback cap series are:

  • Atlanta Braves

  • Baltimore Orioles

  • Chicago Cubs

  • Houston Astros

  • Toronto Blue Jays

Frankly, those clubs are the lucky ones, as they can simply be ignored. There are two additional hats show players who are no longer on the relevant team:

  • Arizona Diamondbacks: Featuring Zack Greinke, who was traded to the Houston Astros in the middle of the 2019 season. The hat’s price has been cut more than 50% off, which is nice, but hardly enough.

  • Boston Red Sox: Featuring Mookie Betts, who was sadly traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers just last month. This one gets a pass, though it should also now get a steep discount.

The rest of the New Era® Big Boys™ Lil Player® 9FIFTY Snapback caps can be seen in all its awfulness over at Macy’s, but here’s a further sampling:


Nolan Arenado, in cartoon form


Mike Trout, in cartoon form


Christian Yelich, in cartoon form

While some of the representations look vaguely like the named player, most really do not. In fact, even with the name stitched on the cap, the Cardinals “Paul Goldschmidt” hat is listed as being for Matt Carpenter, and no one has noticed or cared:

A hat that says Paul Goldschmidt, while the listing refers to Matt Carpenter

To be sure, those two men look not at all alike:

A hat that says Paul Goldschmidt, while the listing refers to Matt Carpenter
Paul Goldschmidt on the left; Matt Carpenter on the right

And yet, if one simply adds a beard to the cartoon rendering, it’s clear that it can work equally well for either of them:

A hat that says Paul Goldschmidt, while the listing refers to Matt Carpenter

My favorite cap of all is the offering for the Washington Nationals, which features Max Scherzer. Scherzer has heterochromia iridum, which means his eyes are two different colors. His left eye is brown, while his right eye is blue.


[Photo credit: MLB.com]

As you can see, heterochromia iridum is tremendously distinctive. They could have made the rendering on this hat incredibly obvious, just by including this very rare trait. Did they?

Swing and a miss!

Ultimately, the drawings on the New Era® Big Boys™ Lil Player® 9FIFTY™ Snapback caps are just plain bad. For the most part, they don’t look like the players they’re supposedly modeled after, nor do they look very good at all. Worse still, they seem to be ripping off a lot of the style of Gen X favorite “Beavis and Butthead”:

Jacob deGrom next to Butthead
Jacob deGrom does not actually look like Butt-Head.

Macy’s has probably sold scores of terrible New Era® Big Boys™ Lil Player® 9FIFTY™ Snapback® caps to well-meaning grandparents around the country. Perhaps Mike Judge should sue for royalties.

The Houston Astros Should Knock It Off 

Thursday, February 27th, 2020

It’s going to be a very long season for the Houston Astros and their supporters, not to mention baseball fans in general. Hell, I’m tired of the stories of their cheating already. Still, I have to give credit to this clever headline.

No Nazi Friars 

Thursday, February 13th, 2020

After much ridicule, at least one MLB team has pulled away from their poorly designed spring training caps. The San Diego Padres will largely be avoiding wearing their not not a swastika caps, sticking instead with a more traditional interlocking SD logo.