26 February 2003
Bland in the bleachers

I gripe a lot about local radio, but the fact is, all 15 of my automotive presets (five AM, ten FM) are filled, and usually there's a reason for each and every one of them: I normally don't have much use for talker WKY, but they've been carrying the games of the Oklahoma RedHawks baseball club, so they get a button. (Of course, I'll be at The Brick when the Albuquerque Isotopes come to town.)

It's hard to think about baseball, though, when the third batch of freezing drizzle in four days is descending upon you; it's a whole different type of slider.

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:59 AM)
17 October 2003
It wasn't meant to be

Of course, in the event of an actual Cubs-Red Sox World Series, you can expect a blast from Gabriel's trumpet halfway through the National Anthem.

For now, there's the Baseball Crank:

Dreams do come true in life. David does beat Goliath. Hollywood endings do happen.

But not in the Bronx. The New York Yankees were put on this earth for one reason — to remind us that Goliath usually wins, and that Hollywood endings are the stuff of dreams precisely because life so rarely works out that way. Cubs fans believed; Red Sox fans believed. Yankee fans just expect, and they are yet again rewarded. Yankee Stadium remains the place where dreams go to die.

The only question left is how many of this year's Marlins will be with the same club next year.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:53 AM)
19 November 2003
We got your baseball right here

The Oklahoma RedHawks, Triple A farm club of the Texas Rangers, have been sold.

The Oklahoma Baseball Club LLC acquired the team from Gaylord Entertainment, the Oklahoma Publishing Company spinoff that operates the Opryland complex in Nashville. Majority owner is Bob Funk, who also owns the Oklahoma City Blazers of the Central Hockey League; the managing partner is E. Scott Pruitt, who represents District 54 in the Oklahoma House.

Gaylord has owned the team for ten years, during which time it changed names (from the Oklahoma City 89ers), league (from the American Association, since disbanded, to the Pacific Coast League), and home park (from All Sports Stadium at State Fair Park to the downtown SBC Bricktown Ballpark). Former owner Jeffrey Loria went on to buy the Montreal Expos of the National League and presently owns the Florida Marlins.

Last year the 'Hawks were 70-72, finishing third in the PCL East, 10½ games behind Nashville.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:35 AM)
12 September 2004
Well, crud

The Oklahoma RedHawks won their division with an 81-63 record, eight games ahead of the Memphis Sounds, but the post-season is already over: the Iowa Cubs will be going to the Pacific Coast League championship, having dispatched the 'Hawks in five games, including a 6-2 shellacking this afternoon that wasn't as close as it sounds.

Yeah, I know, there's always next year.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:38 PM)
20 October 2004
There's no digesting in baseball

How exciting is the American League Championship Series this year? Says Cam Edwards:

You know it's a good series when your in-game snacks consist of Rolaids.

Indeed. I went to bed around the seventh-inning stretch and tuned in the game on the radio (WWLS), thinking for some inscrutable reason that the broadcast crew would lull me to sleep. Needless to say, it didn't happen, and not just because Joe Morgan is a highly-opinionated fellow.

Of course, a curse is a curse, of course, of course, so the Sox must lose tonight. Still, deep in my heart of hearts, I don't want to see anyone from Massachusetts lose until next month.

(Update, 11:15 am: The pertinent Fark thread reads: "Red Sox win game 6. Now one game from gut-wrenching heartbreak.")

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:50 AM)
24 October 2004
How about those Expos?

Deacon at Power Line wonders just how it is that the Boston Red Sox became the national symbol of futility:

A Red Sox fan born in 1949 has seen his (or her) team play in three World Series and has enjoyed three and a half consecutive decades of exciting, mostly winning baseball. His counter-part from Washington D.C. (me, for example) has seen his team move twice, one season of winning baseball, and no baseball for 33 years. A comparable Chicago Cubs fan has never seen his team in the World Series and has endured mostly losing baseball for decades. A Chicago White Sox fan will have seen his team in one Series, if he was lucky enough to have become a fan by 1959. A Houston Astros fan has never had his team in a Series. A San Francisco Giants fan has seen his team (like Boston) play in three Series without success. A Cleveland Indians fan endured decades of futility broken only by some success in the 1990s, during which the club lost the only two Series it's appeared in since 1948.

Yet somehow the Red Sox fans managed to obtain a near monopoly on the "woe is me" lament. To me, this represents the triumph of "hub-of-the-universe" arrogance coupled with the philosophy [of] victimization.

That and the fact that the Red Sox had a clearly-defined villain. The Cubbies or the Tribe could pass themselves off as lovable losers, maybe, without pointing fingers or dissuading their fans; Bosox Nation, on the other hand, preferred to mutter dark imprecations about the Evil Empire in the Bronx.

Of course, if they actually win this Series...but never mind, let's not go there. At least, not now.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:51 PM)
3 March 2005
Pinch-hitting for Penderecki: Alban Berg

Fritz Schranck reports on the new District of Columbia baseball team, the Washington Atonals.

Hey, it looks like that to me.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:20 AM)
10 March 2005
Sending Monsanto to the showers

Back when I was your average Young Married Suburban Lout, I had a porch covered with AstroTurf, and it was every bit as hideous as you think it was. But no matter how horrid it might have looked at my house, the Evil Syntho-Grass is at least a bazillion times worse with base paths cut through it.

So it's a joy to report that the National League, in addition to avoiding modern-day abominations like the designated hitter, this season spurns AstroTurf; with the former Montreal Expos now making unmelodic sounds in the nation's capital, there are no NL stadia remaining with plastic grass.

I note that out here in the Pacific Coast League, only one team plays on pseudogreen: the Portland Beavers. You'd think a bunch of Oregon grinders would have a genuine organic environment, but no.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:26 AM)
6 June 2005
Starting rotation

Jon Ledecky's Big Train Holdco (named for Hall of Famer Walter "Big Train" Johnson, who pitched 21 seasons for the Washington Senators) is one of a number of groups seeking to buy the new Washington Nationals baseball club, currently owned by the other twenty-nine Major League Baseball teams and due to be sold this summer, perhaps for as much as $300 million. (MLB acquired the team, then the Montreal Expos, for $120 million in 2002.) One of the investors in BTH is leftist billionaire George Soros.

Should BTH prevail, the White House won't take the looming presence of Soros lying down, says Eric at Off Wing Opinion:

[L]ook for the White House to issue an order mandating that the President visit a different city every year to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

In alphabetical order.

Does Anaheim Los Angeles get to go first?

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:27 AM)
28 July 2005
Your salary cap is backwards

This is now a "free-agent nation," says Reason Online's Tim Cavanaugh:

If there's a model for labor negotiations in the future, it's the model of the Major League Baseball Player's Association, which works out very bare-bones collective agreements featuring salary basements and basic work rules and benefits, but doesn't punish high achievers for the good of the benchwarmers. Unions have been grotesquely slow to learn the benefits of flexibility in the workplace. A strategy for the lumpenproletariat has no future in a country where even the fattest of fat slobs like to think of themselves as all-stars.

My slob credentials are unquestioned, but now I wonder if I'm going to be traded — and if so, for what? (Best guess: a color laser printer and a masochist to be named later.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:27 PM)
31 July 2005
Before skyboxes and designated hitters

You gotta love this: a reenactment of 70s baseball.

That would be the 1870s.

"Gloves? What gloves?"

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:59 PM)
28 September 2005
The ever-popular What If

So ... what if the Indians, the Yankees and the Bosox all finish with identical records? Who gets to be the wild card?

The Baseball Crank has the answer. (Hint: it involves a single-game playoff.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:30 AM)
3 December 2005
Changes coming at the Brick

Baseball's Winter Meetings start Monday in Dallas, and lots of deals will be made, but a few things have already happened that are pertinent to the RedHawks.

For one thing, Bobby Jones, who has managed the 'Hawks for the last four years, will be joining the parent Texas Rangers as first-base coach; his replacement is Tim Ireland, who has managed the Rangers' Double-A clubs and whose teams made the playoffs seven out of twelve years.

There's also a new pitching coach at the Brick: Andy Hawkins, who pitched for ten seasons in the majors. His lifetime record is an indifferent 84-91, but he's remembered for two accomplishments, one significant, one, um, less so.

The Tigers beat the Padres 4-1 in the 1984 World Series; Hawkins, in relief, got the win for San Diego, the only Series game the Padres have ever won.

In 1990 at Comiskey, Hawkins, starting for the Yankees, pitched seven innings of no-hit ball. In the eighth, he retired the first two batters, but then things started to go to hell:

  • Sammy Sosa hit a bouncer to third baseman Mike Blowers who back-handed but dropped the ball and then threw hurriedly to first. Sosa beat the throw amid a cloud of dust generated by his head-first slide. Initially there was some dispute over whether the play constituted a hit or an error, but it was quickly resolved. Later, Blowers readily emphasized it was clearly his error. Sosa then stole second.

  • After running the count full, Ozzie Guillen walked.

  • Lance Johnson also walked on four straight bad pitches, loading the bases.

  • On Hawkins' next pitch, Robin Ventura lofted what started as a routine fly to rookie Jim Leyritz in left. Leyritz had been listed as a catcher but had played primarily at third with just a few games in the outfield. Fighting the swirling wind, Jim changed direction several times before the ball dropped off the tip of his glove for a two base error. All three runners scored, and Ventura stopped at second.

  • The next batter, Ivan Calderon, also hit a high fly ball, this one to deep right-center. Jesse Barfield, normally an excellent outfielder, struggled with the sun, gloved the ball but dropped it. Ventura scored, and Calderon ended up on second.

  • Dan Pasqua finally ended the torment by popping out to short.

Scoreless through seven and a half, it was now White Sox 4, Yankees 0, and Hawkins still hadn't given up a hit. When the Bronx Bombers bombed out in the top of the ninth, that was the final; Hawkins got the loss despite having pitched a legitimate no-hitter. (It was later de-legitimized by a redefinition of "no-hitter" by the Gods of Baseball.)

Last year's RedHawks had the best record — 80-63 — in the Pacific Coast League; however, they lost in the first round of playoffs to Nashville, who in turn was beaten by Sacramento for the league championship.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:57 AM)
16 February 2006
A nod to Oklahoma's seafaring heritage

Jeffrey Loria, who owns the Florida Marlins and who used to own the Triple-A Oklahoma City 89ers, is shopping for a new location for his franchise, and Lieutenant Governor Mary Fallin reports that he's been thinking about coming back to Soonerland.

Says Fallin:

They are looking at several cities, but I think we are in the mix.... I thought, Why not Oklahoma City? We're filling the Ford Center for the Hornets and we ought to be able to convert that enthusiasm to welcome baseball, too.

Minor details:

  • We already had a facility worthy of the NBA. We don't have a ballpark suitable for MLB; the Brick is a wondrous place, as good as anything as you'll find in the minors, but it doesn't have anywhere near the capacity you'd want in a major-league park.

  • Is this town big enough to support two big-league teams? (And if you're thinking it is, what does this do to the argument that New Orleans, depleted as it is, can't handle both the NFL and the NBA?)

  • Jeff Loria almost makes George Shinn look saintly.

  • Does the phrase "too much too soon" mean anything anymore?

Fallin says she's going to be talking to the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce and whatever interested parties happen by, in an effort to draw up a preliminary pitch.

(Obviously, if this does come off, the team will have to be renamed something a bit less, um, waterborne; suggestions are welcomed.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:46 PM)
14 March 2006
And he fields, too

Bugs pitched only one game (in 1946) at the Polo Grounds, and it wasn't a complete game at that — he came on in the fifth inning — but contemporary research suggests a speed of at least 150 mph (!) for his "powerful, paralyzing, perfect, pachydermous percussion pitch."

I consider myself indeed fortunate to have witnessed this event, albeit after the fact, on film.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:22 AM)
22 March 2006
Some things make you feel Yawkey

Today's "Ewwww...."-inducing entry: Annalisa Ellis lists the Red Sox players she'd do.

No, really:

With the recent theft of Johnny Damon, I really had to sit down to ponder which Red Sox I would genuinely have sexual encounters with. I mean, obviously, Johnny was number one. There isn't a repressed housewife on the East Coast that wouldn't do him. He?s the Joe Namath of baseball. I mean, c'mon, he has twins. TWINS! How freakin cute is that?

But, now that Mr. Damon has switched over to the dark side ... I've taken a long hard (pun intended) look at the Boston roster and revised my list.

Trot Nixon should be pleased:

Trot Nixon hit the only grand slam I've ever seen in person. I would do him solely on that. Plus, his name is "Trot." Done and done.

And yes, she knows he's really Christopher Trotman Nixon. Some things just don't matter.

[Insert vague reference to "The Curse" here]

(Via Deadspin.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:13 PM)
29 March 2006
The Phanatic just smiles, sort of

Deadspin reports on a dubious milestone:

[T]he Phillies are about to become the first professional franchise to reach 10,000 losses. They currently have 9,879 losses in their franchise history (8,676 wins).

It won't happen this year, unless the Phils go 41-121, a level of phutility that would rival the '62 Mets.

And this, of course, assumes that you don't consider the Phils the successor to the old Worcester Ruby Legs/Brown Stockings (now that's a fashion faux pas if ever I saw one), who were booted from the National League after the 1882 season to make room for the Phillies, and who posted a 90-159 record in their three-year existence. (I don't.)

I admit to a certain sentimental fondness for the Phillies, perhaps because when I saw my first Oklahoma City 89ers game in 1976, the Niners had just become the Phillies' Triple-A farm club. (The affiliation was switched to the Rangers in 1983; the team was reconstituted as the RedHawks in 1998 as they moved downtown to the Brick.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:01 AM)
31 March 2006
'Hawks on the horn

For the past two years, WKY radio has carried Oklahoma RedHawks games. It would have been reasonable to suspect that they might drop the games after their switch to a regional-Mexican format, and sure enough, they have: Clear Channel has signed a one-year deal to broadcast the 'Hawks on KEBC (1340), except for when the Yard Dawgz are on, in which case baseball migrates to KTOK (1000).

What's more, there's actually going to be a RedHawks network this year: four other state radio stations will pick up the games.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:53 PM)
4 April 2006
A damn dirty ape call

Dr. Zaius predicts the American League East.

(Via Deadspin.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:00 AM)
Needling the players

Someone asked me once if it was possible to be way over the bounds of acceptability and still be funny.

Well, of course. For instance: a fan lobbed a syringe at Barry Bonds last night in San Diego.

Now, throwing anything on the field is indefensible and not to be encouraged under any circumstances. Bonds, properly, handled the matter with the utmost disdain. Still, the punchline will not be denied.

A better one, though, was a sign in the stands that read simply "*".

(Via the Crank.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:03 PM)
8 April 2006
Meanwhile across town

The RedHawks opened a four-day homestand against the Memphis Redbirds on Thursday night, and while it would be clichéd and overdramatic to say that the feathers flew — well, the 'Hawks won the first two, though it took 13 innings to take the first, 5-4, and in the second, a late-inning rally gave Oklahoma a 9-5 win.

Attendance at the home opener was 8,366; last night, with nastier weather and the Hornets playing at the Ford, 5,972 showed up.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:49 AM)
5 May 2006
The bad news Birds

This has not been a great spring for the Oklahoma RedHawks. After winning their first five, they've dropped to 9-18, which means they've been playing .182 ball of late.

Wednesday night in Round Rock, the 'Hawks and the Express were scoreless in the sixth, when John Rheinecker served up what looked like a called strike three. For some reason, it was ruled a wild pitch, and a runner scored from second. Oklahoma manager Tim Ireland was not pleased, and, says the Austin American-Statesman:

For a moment the scoreboard showed Round Rock with a 1-0 advantage, and it was around that time that Ireland came roaring out of the dugout and straight into the faces of the umpires. He was almost instantly ejected as he kicked dirt onto the umpires' shoes and then onto home plate. Eventually, Ireland made his way to the visitors' clubhouse, wiping out the chalk line delineating the third-base and left-field line on his way there.

The umps — temporaries, as the regular Pacific Coast League umpires, who started the season by going on strike, won't be back until Monday — eventually rescinded the call and voided the run. The Express won it in the ninth, 1-0.

The next day, Tim Ireland got the news from PCL HQ: he was being suspended for ten games for his "extended display."

I imagine the 'Hawks are happy to be out of Texas for now, but tonight they start a four-game series at Albuquerque, and the Isotopes are 19-9.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:20 PM)
6 May 2006
One in the Los column

Michelle Malkin seems peeved that the Texas Rangers would rework their uniforms slightly for Cinco de Mayo the commemoration of the Battle of Puebla: instead of "Rangers," the team's shirts read "Los Rangers."

I can't bring myself to get worked up over this. There has been a substantial Hispanic presence in major-league baseball for decades, and there isn't anything wrong with tacitly acknowledging that fact. And while "Los Rangers" looks, well, sort of silly, this gesture strikes me as more "Oh, what the hell, it'll be fun" than "Let's do something for reconquista."

Although I think it would have been funnier had the visitors that night seen fit to replace their standard "New York" shirts with, say, "Damn Yankees."

I did like Rick Moore's barb:

Just for last night's game, stolen bases were known as "undocumented bases", and no one was allowed to be thrown out.

Incidentally, Los Rangers lost, 8-7.

And if we ever have a Cleveland/Atlanta World Series, expect the rhetorical fur to fly.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:00 PM)
12 May 2006
Make that suspension permanent

Seven games through his 10-game suspension, RedHawks manager Tim Ireland was sacked by the parent Texas Rangers over what Rangers management called "philosophical differences."

Mike Boulanger, hitting coach for the 'Hawks, who has been filling in for Ireland, will take over the position full-time. This is his first managing job at the Triple-A level.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:15 AM)
11 June 2006
Bombing outside the Bronx

Former New York Mayor and perennial Yankees fan Rudy Giuliani is seeking to become an owner of the Chicago Cubs.

Possible comparisons, in terms of sheer incongruity:

  • Sylvia Plath and Keith Richards, best friends forever;
  • Tropical Storm Whatzisname takes full aim at Bemidji, Minnesota;
  • Paris Hilton pulls a Greta Garbo and is never seen again in public. (Now this one I like.)

More to the point: Is the nation ready for a Republican presidential candidate with "baseball club owner" on his CV?

(Via Plum Crazy, where Jon notes, "At least it's not the Boston Red Sox.")

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:04 AM)
21 June 2006
How about those 'Hawks?

I'm almost afraid to bring this up, lest I jinx the team at the beginning of a homestand, but geez, the RedHawks have practically redeemed themselves.

After going 11-22 under the suspended, then sacked, Tim Ireland, the Beaked Wonders under Mike Boulanger have gone on a 24-13 tear. Yeah, they're still in last place, but they're back up to .500 now, and they trail the first-place Round Rock Express by a mere 7½ games, the narrowest first-to-last gap in the PCL.

So the next nine games may be even more important than they look: five against the New Orleans Zephyrs, who have a one-game edge over the 'Hawks, and then four against the aforementioned Express. The Zephyrs have lost their last four; unfortunately, the Express have won their last seven.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:09 PM)
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The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

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