Posts Tagged ‘baseball’
As baseball has skyrocketed to popularity in other countries, particularly Japan and Latin American nations, the days of the United States claiming it exclusively are long over. The sport’s premier international tournament, the World Baseball Classic, featured 12 teams from across the globe this year, with the Dominican Republic coasting undefeated all the way to a championship. The tournament set ratings records in Japan, where it was the most-watched sporting event of the year and even out-performed the 2012 Olympics. In Taiwan, the WBC was the highest-rated cable program in the country’s history.
[More photos-- from South Africa to Iraq to China-- at FP]
Baseball has an estimated 500 million fans around the world… which ranks it seventh overall. To put that in context, the number one sport, football (or “soccer” as Americans are wont to call it), has 3.5 billion fans; the number two pastime, Cricket, 2.5 billion.
As we step up to the plate, we might recall that it was on this date in 1863, at The Freemasons’ Tavern on Great Queen Street in London, that the Football Association (or simply, the FA) was established; after centuries of football rules that varied from pitch to pitch, the FA established a single set of rules that has governed the game in England ever since. And given that it is the oldest such association in the world, its rules and procedures have shaped the game all over the world.
If every state in the union had to choose an official sport, what would they pick? Football, football, lacrosse, football, skiing, football, football … and Alaska gets the one with sled dogs. But what if you had to assign one sport to each state, and could use each of those sports just once? How would you disperse our favorite pastimes among the 50 states and Washington, D.C.?
Now that’s a more interesting parlor game. Only 12 states have bothered to name any kind of “official sport,” which leaves a lot of room to impose one’s sporting will on the American people…
And that’s exactly what Josh Levin, executive editor at Slate, has done. Read the rules he followed and explore the results in detail at “The United Sports of America- If each state could have only one sport, what would it be?“
As we oil our wheels, we might recall that it was on this date in 1845 that the first known baseball box score appeared in the New York Morning News, a month after the first set of rules were written by Alexander Cartwright and some his fellow Knickerbockers.
At CoolSerialNumbers.com, Nashville musician and currency collector Dave Undis brings together like-minded digit-heads who have little interest in the history of money or even the denomination of a given note. Instead they are after certain patterns and series that fall under the flexible heading of “fancy” serial numbers.
Low serial numbers, from 00000001 to 00000100, are sought after, as well as palindromes (23599532), solids (with a digit that repeats eight times), seven-of-a-kinds (66666665), ladders (45678901) and important dates (12071941). The criteria get even more obscure from there: Undis is seeking a pi note, with the number 31415927. But the more apparently jumbled the digits, the less likely it is that anyone with the bill in their wallet will ever notice.
Which is too bad when you consider how much these fancy numbers can sell for—quite a bit more than the bill’s face value, in some cases. Right now, on Undis’ website, you can buy a $1 bill with the serial number 00000002 for a whopping $2,500. If that sounds like chump change, consider that a $5 bill with the number 33333333 goes for $13,000.
You can also peruse the Cool Serial Numbers collection, displayed via Google+, and get a sense for how oddly soothing a row of zeros can be, although “radar repeaters” have an interesting effect of their own, and who could resist collecting the elegant numbers of the Fibonacci sequence?…
Read all about it at “A ‘fancy’ serial number can make a $1 bill worth thousands.”
As we comb through our currency, we might recall that it was on this date in 1920, his first season with the New York Yankees (after being traded from the Red Sox), that Babe Ruth hit a record 54th home run. While seven years later Ruth raised the record to 60– a mark only topped in 1961 by Roger Maris– it was this first year in pin stripes that changed baseball forever: at Boston, Ruth had been a starting pitcher; but the Yankees moved him to right field, making him a regular hitter. And hit he did. Ruth ushered in the “live-ball era” of the sport, as his big swing led to rising home run totals that thrilled fans, but more fundamentally helped baseball evolve from a low-scoring, speed-dominated contest to a high-scoring power game.
And, of course, he did it without the aid of modern performance enhancements… just cigars and booze.
As we play with our cotton candy, we might recall that it was on this date in 1939 that another essential summer rite was first telecast: the first major league baseball game was broadcast on New York television station W2XBS (now WNBC-TV). The double-header, between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Cincinnatti Reds was at from Ebbets Field in Brooklyn; the announcer was the now-legendary Red Barber.
W2XBS was something of a pioneer in television sports: it had produced the very first televised baseball game (a college match up between Columbia and Princeton) four months earlier; later that year it televised the first football game; and the following year added basketball and hockey.
The milligrams of caffeine per ounce vary from chain to chain as wildly as the mood of someone hopped up on six cups from McDonalds… or one cup from the Death Wish Coffee Company.
As we add a shot of espresso to that, we might recall that it was on this date in 1953, after a year of experimentation, that marine engineer and retired semi-pro baseball player David Mullany, Sr. invented the Wiffleball. (He patented it early the following year.) Watching his 13-year-old son play with a broomstick and a plastic golf ball ball in the confines of their backyard, Mullany worried that the effort to throw a curve would damage his young arm. So he fabricated a full- (baseball-)sized ball from the plastic used in perfume packaging, with oblong holes on one side… a ball that would naturally curve. The balls had the added advantage, given their light weight, that they’d not break windows.
David Jr. came up with the name: he was fond of saying that he had “whiffed” the batters that he struck out with his curves. The “h” was dropped, the name trademarked, and (after Woolworth’s adopted the item) a generation of young ballplayers– and their parents– converted.