Previous “Baseball Bloopers” posts

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’re regularly getting 10% returns, you should 1) Be suspicious and 2) Not give away a guaranteed 8%, just to try and get more of that 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.

Major League Baseball’s Bad Example

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

In the 6th inning of game 6 of the 2020 World Series, Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell was lifted by his manager, Kevin Cash. Snell had just given up a one out single to the number nine batter Austin Barnes, but that was only the second hit of the night for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Further, the next three batters Snell was due to face had gone 0-6 against him, with 6 strikeouts. It’s essentially impossible for a pitcher to more thoroughly dominate the top of the order.

Following the move, the Dodgers plated two runs to take a slim lead over the Rays, 2-1. That pitching change will no doubt be questioned for a long time by Tampa Bay’s dozens of faithful fans. However, while second-guessing is an enjoyable part of watching any sport, I’m focused on this change for a different reason. It turned out to be the first part of a chain reaction which led to Major League Baseball’s quintessential finish to the 2020 season.

You see, in the eighth inning, Los Angeles still held that slim 2-1 lead. Though the game’s result was certainly far from certain, Dodgers starting third baseman Justin Turner was abruptly removed from the lineup. At the time, the change was even more inexplicable than Snell’s, with announcers speculating about a possible injury. Only later was the reason for the switch revealed: Turner had tested positive for COVID-19. In an effort to stop the spread of this deadly virus that has taken so much and so many from the world, he was immediately isolated.

Until he wasn’t. When the Dodgers got the last out in the ninth and captured baseball’s ultimate prize, Turner made his way out of the designated isolation room. He came back onto the field to join the party. Sometimes masked, and sometimes not, he celebrated with his teammates. He hoisted the championship trophy. He posed, grin shining through his fiery red beard, for team photos:

Maybe Turner believed the nonsense coming out of the White House, including the outright lie that Donald Trump’s administration has ended the COVID-19 pandemic. Here in the real world, however, positive cases are soaring to horrifying new heights. Hospitals in America are being overwhelmed, and hundreds of thousands of people have died from a disease that continues to spread like wildfire. Despite all that, a professional athlete was shown on television being incredibly reckless with the health of those around him.

I can certainly understand Turner not wanting to miss a moment he’d worked his entire life for. The desire to celebrate with the rest of his team was a natural one. I hope there are no further cases among the Dodger organization, and that no other players, coaches, or family members get sick. Perhaps this incident can quietly die down to a mere footnote.

But even if that happens, it will be by sheer luck. There is a deadly virus going around and around the globe, and we can’t simply ignore it. We can’t pretend our way out of this thing. The picture above is emblematic of the fact that collectively, we Americans still haven’t learned that sacrificing for others is essential in getting past this pandemic. That’s not something to celebrate.

Major League Baseball took incredible, unprecedented precautions to enable teams to play a 2020 season. Yet over and over, even in the final game of the year, the virus still broke through. Now, it’s left a stain on what should be the game’s ultimate triumph.

Getting Into Blaseball 

Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

Earlier this year, I heard about a hot new game: blaseball, an online riff on baseball. However, when I couldn’t figure out if it was pronounced blace (rhymes-with-place) ball or blasé (as-in-apathetic) ball, I moved on.

Recently, friend-of-the-site Alex S. sent along a couple useful links about the game. To start, what exactly is blaseball?

Blaseball is an online, alternate reality, surrealist fantasy baseball game. At the same time, it is not any of those things at all. The game transforms week-to-week, and while it models itself after America’s favorite pastime, it’s slowly getting further and further away from the sport.

That answer comes from Polygon’s useful blaseball Q&A, which is worth a read. Intrigued, and want more? Here’s a video covering the weirdness in even more depth. It’s really quite something.

I haven’t yet really had the time to partake in blaseball’s extreme weirdness, but after reading about it, I strongly support the absurdity. The MLB season will be over by next Wednesday, but the next blaseball season starts very soon.