(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘baseball

“Most players are just happy to get the bag on the board”*…

 

In 2000, Matt Guy [left-most in the photo above] began to notice his competition in professional horseshoes had gotten older, while no younger players came to replace them. There had never been big money to be made playing horseshoes, but Matt liked the competition and the opportunity to bond with his dad.

When his dad decided to retire from competition, Matt had risen as high as sixth in the world, but it was time for a change.

Soon enough, he was introduced to professional cornhole.

As Matt Guy rose among the ranks of professional horseshoe players, Frank Geers had his own dream. He wanted to create a sports league.

Geers figured his best bet would be a backyard lawn game, like horseshoes, ladders, or cornhole. He sought to emulate-lesser known spectator sports that still draw high levels of participation, like bowling. He eliminated some games for being too complicated or dangerous. Cornhole had obvious appeal for its simplicity and accessibility. Matt Guy noticed it immediately too.

“Horseshoes used in competition are two and a half pounds thrown over 40 feet,” Guy explained. “In cornhole, it’s one-pound beanbags being tossed 27 feet.”

Then, there was the money. Geers understood that people wanted to watch competitors win big prizes…

The two men leading the charge to turn the bean-bag toss into a major spectator sport: “Serious Cornhole.”  See also: “Life’s A Pitch When You’re The World’s Best Cornhole Player.”

* Frank Geers, founder, president and CEO of the American Cornhole Organization

###

As we limber up, we might recall that it was on this date in 1963 that Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra was hired as Manager of the New York Yankees.  Berra played almost his entire 19-year baseball career (1946–1965) for the Yankees, where he became one of only four players to be named the Most Valuable Player of the American League three times.  According to  sabermetrician Bill James, he is the greatest catcher of all time and the 52nd greatest non-pitching player in major-league history.  

Berra’s accession to leader of the dynasty of which he was a crucial part was a natural, and a storied success. Less expected was his subsequent move to manage cross-town rival the New York Mets– where he was, again, successful.  He is one of seven managers to lead both American and National League teams to the World Series (as a player, coach, or manager, Berra appeared in 21 Fall Classics). He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.

Berra is also remembered for the “unique”  observations on baseball and life with which he graced reporters during interviews:  e.g., “Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical,” “It’s déjà vu all over again,” “You can observe a lot by watching,” and “The future ain’t what it used to be.”  In The Yogi Book, Berra explained, “I really didn’t say everything I said. […] Then again, I might have said ’em, but you never know.”

 source

Written by LW

October 24, 2017 at 1:01 am

“Don’t ever forget two things I’m going to tell you. One, don’t believe everything that’s written about you. Two, don’t pick up too many checks.”*…

 

Ruth stepped out of the box after strike one, then stepped out again after strike two. Tired of being heckled, he pointed two fingers, which is where the controversy begins. In the legend, he was pointing to the center-field seats, four-hundred-plus feet away, calling his shot in the way of Minnesota Fats saying, “Eight ball, corner pocket.” Root’s third pitch was a curve—the deuce. Off the edge of plate, down, but Ruth swung anyway, sending it into deep afternoon. It landed exactly where he’d pointed, that’s what they said, beside the flagpole in back of the bleachers—490 feet from home. Lou Gehrig followed with another home run. The Yankees won 7 to 5 and went on to sweep the Series.

Ruth’s “Called Shot” is among the most famous plays in baseball history. Drawings show the penultimate moment: Babe, Bambino, the Sultan of Swat, arm outstretched, two fingers raised like the Pope giving a benediction. There’s a statue, movies. But it was disputed from the start. Did Ruth really call his shot, or did it just look that way?

Grantland Rice and Westbrook Pegler, among the most famous sportswriters of the day, had been watching from the press box behind home. Both claimed to have seen Ruth point to center, calling his shot. Franklin Roosevelt, then candidate for president, was at the game—he threw out the first pitch—and he saw it, too. Ditto Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak. Among the last living witnesses is retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who, then a twelve-year-old Cubs fan, was at the game with his father. The Cubs pitcher “Guy Bush was razzing Ruth,” Stevens told the writer Ed Sherman. “He and Ruth were in some kind of discussion back and forth. I heard years later it was over the Cubs being tightfisted and not giving a full share to Mark Koenig. I do remember Bush came out of the dugout and engaged in a colloquy with him … My interpretation was that he was responding to what Bush was saying. He definitely pointed toward center field. My interpretation always was, ‘I’m going to knock you to the moon.’ ”…

The most iconic event ever to occur in Wrigley Field did not star the Cubs—it unfolded in 1932, and starred the New York Yankees, with the home team serving merely as foil: The story of Babe Ruth’s most famous homer, “The Called Shot.”

* Babe Ruth

###

As we beckon to the bleachers, we might recall that it was on this date in 1911 that Ty Cobb was awarded the Chalmers Prize (an automobile), the equivalent of today’s MVP Award.  The “Georgia Peach” had achieved aa 40-game hitting streak and a .420 batting average, the highest in the league and record for the time; he led the league that year in numerous other categories as well, including 248 hits, 147 runs scored, 127 RBI, 83 stolen bases, 47 doubles, 24 triples and a .621 slugging percentage. Cobb hit eight home runs but finished second in that category to Frank Baker, who hit eleven.

Ty Cobb, left, and Joe Jackson, whom he bested for the 1911 batting title

source

Written by LW

October 11, 2017 at 1:01 am

“Just take the ball and throw it where you want to. Throw strikes. Home plate don’t move.”*…

 

In the major leagues this season, batters have been hitting the ball so hard, and so far, that pitchers are suggesting foul play. “There’s just something different about the baseballs,” one veteran reliever complained earlier this summer. “I don’t have anything to quantify it, but the balls just don’t feel the same.” It’s been an unprecedented year for home runs: hitters are on pace to shatter the previous single-season record for them (5,693), which was set in 2000, at the height of the steroid era, when sluggers were making widespread and illegal use of performance-enhancing drugs. In June, players hit more home runs than in any previous month in the game’s history (1,101), sometimes in gaudy fashion, as when seven different players hit grand slams in a single day (another record)…

Under the circumstances, it was easy to miss another major-league record being set this week. Granted, it was somewhat obscure. It concerned one of baseball’s most pleasurable and least appreciated feats: the immaculate inning.

Rick Porcello [above], the starting pitcher for the Red Sox, threw one in a win against the Tampa Bay Rays on [August 9]. He struck out the side—three up, three down—on nine consecutive pitches. It was the eighth immaculate inning pitched this season, which topped the previous high (seven), from 2014…

Rarer than a no-hitter: “The ephemeral perfection of the Immaculate Inning.”

And check out The Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s “Treasures from the Baseball Diamond.”

* Satchel Paige

###

As we contemplate control, we might consider its opposite, recalling that on this date in 1909, in the first of two games at South Side Park, Dolly Gray of the Washington Senators entered the record book by walking eight White Sox in the 2nd inning, with seven of the walks in a row (each feat a Major League record that stands to this day). The six runs scored were enough for a 6 – 4 Chicago win, although the Sox managed only one hit against Dolly.

 source

 

Written by LW

August 28, 2017 at 1:01 am

“God’s a Skee-Ball fanatic”*…

 

In the early 1900s, the thing Joseph Fourestier Simpson desired most was to create something people respected. A career hustler—real estate agent, cash register salesman, and railroad clerk were just a few of the many jobs he held—Simpson longed to invent something he could patent that would have lasting appeal.

A handful of his inventions made minor waves: He perfected an egg crate that could protect shells during bumpy transportation routes, and created a new kind of trunk clasp that kept luggage tightly shut. None of it made him rich, but one invention in particular would at least gain him some national recognition. It was a ramp that could be set up in arcades and amusement parks, a kind of modified form of bowling that allowed players to lob a wooden ball over a bump and into a hole with a pre-assigned point value. He dubbed it Skee-Ball after the skee (ski) hills—and especially the ski jumps—that were then becoming popular in American culture.

Simpson filed for a patent in 1907 and received it in 1908. Later, he would see his Skee-Ball become a popular and pervasive attraction along the Atlantic City Boardwalk, in Philadelphia, and across the country. But Simpson wouldn’t see any profit from it. In fact, he’d suffer financial ruin. Even worse, history would become muddled to the point where most people wouldn’t even realize it was Simpson who had invented it…

The tale in its entirety at “The Hole Story: A History of Skee-Ball.”

* “Rufus, the thirteenth apostle” (Chris Rock) in Dogma

###

As we roll ’em true, we might recall that it was on this date in 1933 that the first Major League Baseball All-Star Game was played at Comiskey Park in Chicago.

Lou Gehrig (back to camera) and Al Simmons at the plate as Babe Ruth approaches to bat. Ruth homered to give the American league a 4-2 victory.

source

 

Written by LW

July 6, 2017 at 1:01 am

“The score never interested me, only the game”*…

 

All you need is a ball and a wall.

The mantra of handball players everywhere is also a manifesto on the sport’s accessibility. A deceptively simple game with a steep learning curve, handball — in one form or another — has been played since at least the 15th century, when its earliest recorded occurrence (1437) has King James I of Scotland ordering the blocking of a cellar window that was interfering with his courtyard play.

In 1884 the rules for modern handball — in short, you hit a ball against a wall with your hand until your opponent fails to return it — were made official by Ireland’s Gaelic Athletic Association, and the rest is history…

The perfect game?  “‘Tennis for savages’: A visual history of handball in America.”

* Mae West

###

As we revel in the “twack,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1915 that Wilbert “Uncle Robbie” Robinson, a career major league catcher who had become the manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, decided to try to set a record of sorts by catching a baseball dropped from an airplane being flown 525 feet overhead.   The team was in Daytona Beach, Florida for spring training and in the market for a publicity stunt; they settled on the idea of a world-record catch.  And when all of his players demurred, Uncle Robbie agreed to do it.

The Dodgers recruited Ruth Law, an aviatrix in town to drop golf balls in another publicity stunt, to execute the “throw,” but at the suggestion of a member of her ground crew, Law substituted a grapefruit (from a mechanic’s lunch box) at the last minute and tossed that from her cockpit instead of the rawhide.

The grapefruit hit Robinson in the chest– and made such a mess that he thought he had lost his eye (because of the acid burn and the blood-like splatter that covered him).  But he twigged to the gag when he saw his teammates burst out in laughter.  Outfielder Casey Stengel, later a successful manager himself, claimed to have convinced Law to make the switch; but Law herself told the true story in a 1957 interview.  From this point on Robinson referred to airplanes as “fruit flies.”

Wilbert Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945.

 source

 

Written by LW

March 13, 2017 at 1:01 am

“The Olympic Games… purport to follow the traditions of an ancient athletics competition, but today it is the commercial aspect that is most apparent”*…

 

The above graphic from HowMuch.net, a cost information site, visualizes data from a recent study by Oxford University to compare the budgets of previous games.

The study found the average cost overruns for Olympic Games to be a whopping 156% from 1968 to 2016. This means that the Rio Games were a budgeting success, at least in relative terms, by ‘only’ running 51% overbudget.

It should be noted that the study accounts only for sports-related costs, such as those relating to operations or building venues. The study excludes indirect capital costs such as upgrading transport or hotel infrastructure, since data on these costs is harder to come by, and is often unreliable. Also, some Olympic Games were omitted from the study, as they did not have available public data on the costs involved.

The good news for organizers is that cost overruns, as a percentage, are generally going down.

The 1976 Summer Games in Montreal caught everyone off guard after going 720% overbudget, and the city was saddled with debt for 30 years. Lake Placid (1980), Barcelona (1992), and Lillehammer (1994) were all grossly overbudget as well with 324%, 266%, and 277% overruns respectively.

However, recent games – with the exception of Sochi (289%) – have all been pretty good as far as Olympics go. The average cost overrun since 1998 has been just 73%.

The bad news for organizers is that costs, in general, are still going way up. Organizers are just getting slightly “better” at budgeting for them.

Here are the total costs for all games in the study – note that costs are adjusted to be in 2015 terms.

More– and enlargeable/zoomable versions of the graphics– at “Rio Games a success at ‘only’ 51% over budget.”

* Ai Weiwei

###

As we pass the torch, we might note that it was on this date in 1791 that the town of Pittsfield, Massachusetts voted to ban the game of baseball (and other activities that had disturbed many of the townspeople).

Until about a decade ago, it was widely believed that baseball was created by Abner Doubleday (or his contemporary Alexander Cartwright) in 1846; and indeed, the “modern” game– baseball as we know it– was. But historian Jim Thorn’s discovery of the Pittsfield Bylaw, fifty-five years older, is the earliest known reference to the game.

The relevant section: Be it ordained by the said Inhabitants that no person or Inhabitant of said Town‚ shall be permitted to play at any game called Wicket‚ Cricket‚ Baseball‚ Batball‚ Football‚ Cats‚ Fives or any other games played with Ball‚ within the Distance of eighty yards from said Meeting House – And every such Person who shall play at any of the said games or other games with Ball within the distance aforesaid‚ shall for every Instance thereof‚ forfeit the Sum of five shillings to be recovered by Action of Debt brought before any Justice of the Peace to the Person who shall and prosecute therefore And be it further ordained that in every Instance where any Minor shall be guilty of a Breach of this Law‚ his Parent‚ Master‚ Mistress or guardian shall forfeit the like Sum to be recovered in manner‚ and to the use aforesaid.

source

Written by LW

September 5, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Juggling is sometimes called the art of controlling patterns, controlling patterns in time and space.”*…

 

email readers click here for video

Part friendly circus act, part vicious duel: welcome to the world of combat juggling. Unlike the variety show clowns that would entertain you as a child, combat juggling is no joke; this is a competitive contact sport and there can only be one person left standing … er, juggling…

Great Big Story recently sat down with Denver, Colorado variety performer Sam Malcolm to learn more about the competitive and sometimes vicious sport of combat juggling.  [Via]

* Ronald Graham

###

As we keep ’em in the air, we might recall that it was on this date in 1900 that Luther Haden “Dummy” Taylor made his Major League debut.  A deaf-mute right-handed pitcher, he was a key feature of the New York Giants’ National League championship teams of 1904 and 1905.

Taylor communicated on-field with his teammates– all of whom learned sign language– with his hands. He is credited with helping to expand and make universal the use of sign language throughout the modern baseball infield, for example, the use of pitching signs.   And Taylor contributed to signing’s repertoire of profanities, frequently cussing out umpires with his hands (and largely getting away with it…  except when, as with Hank O’Day, he encountered a ref who knew sign language).

Taylor was also a consummate showman, an accomplished juggler who would often put on “a grand juggling act” in front of the Giants’ dugout to amuse the fans.

 source

 

 

Written by LW

August 27, 2016 at 1:01 am

%d bloggers like this: