Showing posts with label Baseball. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Baseball. Show all posts

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Review of Spring Training in Baseball

Source: Pixabay
Spring Training is a period of training and exhibition play beginning in late February and lasting up to Opening Day of Major League Baseball.

For about four weeks, experienced players and rookies alike train and play at small parks in Arizona or Florida, getting ready for the beginning of the baseball season.  It is a unique baseball experience for fans, giving them up-close access to favorite players and a chance to see blossoming prospects who could go on to be the next big star. 

For me, the Baseball Contributor here on Review This and a huge baseball fan, Spring Training is a sign that the long, cold winter is nearing an end and warm weather and the joys of baseball season are about to begin.  I believe in the quote:




Spring Training



Spring Training is nearly as old as baseball itself, although it was not the big business it is today with designated parks just for Spring Training games and winter excursion packages to games in Arizona and Florida for snow-weary fans. 

In bygone days, training games were held locally to save money, training indoors in inclement weather. Later, teams began training in the south, but there were no organized training leagues until after 1910.  Today it is as much a marketable enterprise as the regular baseball season with two distinct leagues, one in Florida and one in Arizona.


Cactus League in Arizona


Source: Pixabay

The Cactus League holds spring training in the desert for teams from both leagues (American and National). These teams are generally located around Phoenix and include:


  • Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  • Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Chicago Cubs 
  • Cincinnati Reds 
  • Cleveland Indians 
  • Colorado Rockies 
  • Chicago White Sox 
  • Kansas City Royals 



Grapefruit League in Florida


Source: Pixabay

The Grapefruit League holds spring training in various parts of Florida, both the Gulf coast and the Atlantic coast. This league includes the following teams: 


  • Atlanta Braves 
  • Baltimore Orioles
  • Boston Red Sox 
  • Houston Astros 
  • Miami Marlins 
  • Minnesota Twins 
  • New York Mets 
  • New York Yankees 
  • Philadelphia Phillies
  • Pittsburgh Pirates 
  • St. Louis Cardinals 
  • Tampa Bay Rays 
  • Toronto Blue Jays 
  • Washington Nationals 


Following is a famous quote by Roger Hornsby, the well-known second baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals (1915-1919), that definitely says how I feel when there is no baseball.




Summary


Will  you be attending any Spring Training games this year, or have you done so in the past? Leave me a comment telling me where you went and what team you got to see. 



Mary Beth Granger
*Blog Note:  Mary Beth Granger, our own MbgPhoto here on Review This, travels with her husband to Jupiter, Florida each February to attend their beloved St. Louis Cardinals Spring Training games.


For the rest of us, join me in welcoming the beginning of the Major League Baseball season and the fact that this represents an end to winter and the return of the 'Boys of Summer'. 




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Lets Play Ball! 








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Saturday, August 4, 2018

Baseball and the Star-Spangled Banner

Baseball Sports Decor Wall Hanging
Reviewing how the Star-Spangled Banner became associated with sports. 

September 14, 2014, marked the 200th anniversary of the “Star-Spangled Banner”.  

It originally was a poem called "Defence of Fort M'Henry" written by Francis Scott Key 0n 9-14-1814 after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. Key was inspired by the American victory and by seeing the American flag flying over the fort.  The poem was later set to music and published under the name “The Star- Spangled Banner”.

The song gained popularity throughout the 1800s and was played by bands during public events.  On July 27, 1889, Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Tracy made it the official tune to be played at the raising of the flag. 

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson ordered that "The Star-Spangled Banner" be played at military and other appropriate occasions. 

And on March 3,1931 President Herbert Hoover signed a law officially adopting “The Star-Spangled Banner” as America's National Anthem.


How Did Our National Anthem Become Associated with Sports?



The National Anthem
So, how did the song become associated with baseball?  It happened during the 1918 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox.  A band had been hired by the Red Sox owner for each game in the World Series and, as a tribute to enlisted players and other soldiers in Europe during WWI, they played “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the seventh inning stretch.  The song was many years away from becoming our national anthem, but players still stood at attention and saluted the flag during the performance.  Servicemen in the crowd found themselves cheering and everyone burst into applause at the end of the song.  

Near the end of that World Series, the tune was played before the first pitch at Fenway Park and it was the beginning of a tradition that became a baseball game standard during World War II.  Eventually the playing of the American National Anthem became a custom adopted by other American sports and continues to this day.

This reminds me of that oldest of baseball jokes: "What are the last two words of the national anthem? Play ball!" 



Custom Baseball Flag Shirt on Etsy




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Saturday, March 31, 2018

Baseball Facts & Favorite Moments Review

Image Source: Pixabay
Hello once again from the Baseball Contributor here on Review This!  It's Springtime, which means the thoughts of baseball fans everywhere turn to the start of the new MLB season.

Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE baseball. It consumes my time from Opening Day to the last moment of the final game of the World Series every year.  During the season, the first thing I do every morning is check the baseball listings on TV ~ then plan my day around the times the game(s) are broadcast. I am a died-in-the-wool FANatic, and proud of it. 

In the winter I 'pine' for baseball season and spend my free time reading baseball books and watching baseball movies

My very favorite quote is by Bill Veeck:

There are only two seasons – winter and BASEBALL

Therefore, as we enjoy Opening Day and all the baseball games this year, I'll share some baseball moments and a few baseball facts to get you in the mood for the Major League Baseball season and any Minor League games you might be fortunate enough to be able to attend.


Baseball Honors Number 42 on Jackie Robinson Day


Jackie Robinson (Wikimedia)
April 15th is known as 'Jackie Robinson Day' throughout baseball, celebrating the life of Jackie Robinson and the retiring of his number 42. April 15, 1947 was the date of his MLB debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

In 1997, the 50 year anniversary of Robinson's debut, his No. 42 was retired across all of Major League Baseball. Only one player at the time was wearing that number (Mariano Rivera) and he was 'grandfathered' in and was the only active player allowed to wear No. 42 until his retirement in 2015.  Since then, no other active player will ever again be assigned number 42.  Instead, on April 15 each year, all players and teams throughout baseball wear number 42 on their uniform honoring Jackie's major contribution to baseball, which was that of breaking the color barrier.  In addition to the honor, celebrations are planned at many stadiums.

Jackie's 'legacy' lives on through 'Jackie Robinson Day' each April 15. Number 42 was special. 


The Shift – in Baseball


Normal baseball positioning
I've been watching baseball games all my life, yet there are still terms I haven't heard and/or don't know what they mean.  Most baseball terms have been coined over the years by sports writers and announcers as they reported the action on the field or the results of the game.

Baseball has its own ever-changing language, so its not surprising that even long-term baseball fans still have to look things up in order to understand what the broadcaster said.

The term 'shift' has been part of baseball terminology for many years, yet I can't recall it being used as often as it has in most recent years of baseball.  “The Shift is on”, the sportscaster tells us.  All of a sudden it seemed to me as if it was happening in every game I watch.  Finally I got out my trusty Baseball Dictionary and looked it up!


The 'Shift' means “to change fielding position;' to move defensive players from their traditional positions in the field to defend against a particular batters' way of hitting, or to be in a better position for a double play.”

All individual players move left or right to step into the path of the ball for fielding, But the shift in most recent years seems to involve half the players on the field moving to another position all at the same time before the batter even hits. I've begun paying closer attention to this move now that I know what they are talking about. My baseball education continues..... 


Doubled Off First Base


I watch a lot of baseball, following the games and players and listening to the announcer's descriptions of the action on a regular basis.


Derek Jeter at Bat  (Wikimedia)
On a Saturday afternoon in August 2014 I was watching the Red Sox-Yankees game being played at Fenway Park. Derek Jeter was on first base and took off for 2nd base when Jacoby Ellbury hit the ball into the outfield.  Unfortunately, the ball was caught and Derek was too far off base to get back safely.

The announcer stated that Jeter had been 'Doubled-Off'.  I basically knew what it meant, but even though I've heard the term often, I never really thought about the definition.  Suddenly quite curious, I got out my Baseball Dictionary to look up the exact meaning.  


To be 'doubled-off' means 'caught off base and put out before tagging up after the batter has flied out, resulting in a Double Play!'   


This 'doubled-off' double play was a most unusual happening for Derek Jeter.  Not to worry, his two-run double in the third inning sparked a 4-run inning, and the New York Yankees won the game 6-4.


Minor League Memories


Rochester Redwings Frontier Statium (c) Personal Photo

My family are fans of the Rochester Redwings, the top Triple A minor league baseball team for the Minnesota Twins located in Rochester, NY, and we go to their games often.  A long ball was hit one night directly toward where my family was sitting.  Everyone is jumping up & down hollering "I've got it, I've got it", except my mother who remained sitting down.  Like a 'heat-seeking' missile, that ball headed straight for my mom and hit her right over the heart. She wasn't badly injured, but had a huge bruise for weeks.  My brother really wanted to have the baseball, but mom wouldn't give it to him, saying she had the badge of honor proving she'd caught it.



Source: Pixabay

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

One Last Strike - Baseball Book Review

Available on Amazon
The Remarkable Story of the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals

I was living in St. Louis in 2011 watching my favorite baseball team, the Cardinals, on TV every day. As the season dwindled down, I watched and worried and agonized with the rest of the city with 'fingers crossed' while our team fell further behind, ending up more than 10 games out with less than a month left in the season. As we went through September, the Cardinals came close to catching up, but every one of the last 5 games of the regular season was an elimination game.

In "One Last Strike", Tony La Russa, the third winningest manager in baseball history, takes us through his Cardinals' 2011 season, which was also his last season as a baseball manager. He describes how the team came from ten and a half games back to make the playoffs on the night of the final game of the season and how they went on to win the World Series despite being down to their last strike 'twice' in a comeback like no other! At the beginning of September 2011, not even Tony could have foreseen the magical and memorable ride the Cardinals were about to take.
 

Manager Tony La Russa and his St. Louis Cardinals Team


You don't need to be a St. Louis Cardinals fan to enjoy this book. Any baseball fan will love the 'behind-the-scenes' look into how a manager makes game by game and inning by inning decisions to bring his team to a win. The Cardinals had to have those 'wins' over and over to first make it to the playoffs, and then to the World Series in this hard-fought 2011 baseball season.


 

Busch Stadium - Home of the St. Louis Cardinals

In his book "One Last Strike", Tony writes,

 “all the cliches we (the Cardinals) used about never giving up on yourself, believing in yourself, bouncing back from adversity – they're all true!”

Tony La Russa describes how he used his 33 years experience managing baseball teams from the Chicago White Sox to the Oakland A's to being the St. Louis Cardinals' longest serving manager to bring the Cardinals to their final game of the World Series .. and win. He gives great credit to team unity and determination.



 
Tony La Russa (Source: Wikimedia)


Tony La Russa's Rules as a Baseball Manager


La Russa had simple rules as manager.

  • Don't do something to lose the game when on defense.
  • Do something to win the game on offense.
  • Be good enough and tough enough... and keep believing.

In a team meeting prior to the beginning of the 2011 MLB Baseball Playoffs, La Russa tells his players that sports are unpredictable. The best team or player can have an off day. Just come in as prepared as you can be and play the best of your ability.

He summed it up with “Play as if each game is the 7th game of the World Series --- or the last (baseball) game of your life, and play only one game at a time.”
 

Tony La Russa talks about his book "One Last Strike"

 


More Baseball Books...

 

Available on Amazon

Additional stories about manager Tony La Russa and his analytical manager mind applied to a game.


Written by Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights, Three Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak, and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager is about a three-game series between the Cardinals and Cubs in 2003. It describes manager Tony La Russa's decisions for each batter and each inning of this 3-game series, based somewhat on computer data, but more importantly his experiences managing nearly 4,000 games. 



My 'Salute' to some special St. Louis Cardinals




If I were to create my perfect 'Dream Team' for the St. Louis Cardinals, using players from the past to the present at each position, this is what it would look like.

Your Review This Baseball Contributor and Article Writer, Wednesday Elf, is a Big Baseball Fan!


When I'm not 'watching' baseball... or 'talking' about baseball, I love reading books about baseball. It was great fun to relive the St. Louis Cardinals' magical 2011 season through the eyes (and words) of manager Tony La Russa. What a wild ride he had in his final managerial season!

"One Last Strike" is their story. I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed being part of the St. Louis Cardinals 2011 season while living in the team city!



Article Originally Written © 2014 Wednesday-Elf.  Updated for Review This! Blog on 3/1/2018.





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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Review of a Tour of a Major League Baseball Stadium

Busch Stadium View
If you are looking for an interesting place to take children on a tour, I would suggest a major league baseball stadium.  In July my granddaughters, age 10 and 12, were visiting us and it was a hot and sticky July summer in St. Louis.  I was looking for an interesting place to spend some time with them when someone suggested a tour of the baseball stadium.

Busch Stadium in St. Louis opened in April of 2006.  This huge stadium has seats for 43,975 people and offers a beautiful panoramic view of the downtown skyline.  Fellow Review This author, Pat, wrote about her visit to the stadium in this article

I went online and found information about the tour of Busch stadium and was delighted to find out that tickets  included a tour of the stadium and a visit to the Cardinal Hall of Fame and Museum.

Tour of Busch Stadium

Our tour of Busch Stadium started just outside Gate 3 of the stadium.  This gate has a statue of baseball great Stan Musial just outside the gate and the entrance to the gate is a tribute to the Eads Bridge with a large bridge-like structure arching over the entrance.  The Musial statue is often a meeting place for fans coming to the ballpark.  Here is a photo of my granddaughters and myself by the statue.  You will also note part of the bridge entrance in the background.

The tour of the stadium took about an hour and we visited The Redbird Club, the Champions Club, the broadcast booth and the Cardinal dugout.  Here are some photographs from each of those areas.


 In this photo my granddaughters are sitting in the Cardinal dugout.  It was fun to sit where the Cardinals sit during the games.  It was also fun next time we watched a game on TV to say we had sat there too!









The Redbird Club is an area where fans can buy tickets and enjoy food in an indoor glassed area.  Their tickets also include seats in front of the area to view the game from outside.  It is a nice way to enjoy the game, but also be able to get in from the heat.  One of the walls in the club was very interesting.  It was covered with replicas of oldtime Cardinal baseball cards.
View from the Broadcast Booth

The girls enjoyed seeing the broadcast booth and they were able to sit in the same seats the announcers sit in when they announce the games.



The Champions club is another indoor seating area.  In this club are several of the world series trophies that the Cardinals have won over the years. 














Ballpark Village

Across from Busch Stadium is the newest dining and entertainment district in St. Louis.  This area houses several restaurants along with the Cardinal Hall of Fame and Museum.  The area is being built in stages and in the future there will be more retail along with a hotel and residential opportunities.  There will also be more parking.  Ballpark Village is a "happening" place to be, both during home and away games.  Many fans gather to watch the games on the big screen TV's and enjoy food and drinks in the area restaurants.  We stopped at Cardinal Nation and had lunch before we went to the museum.  We found the food excellent and very reasonably priced.  The photo below shows the girls in Ballpark Village.

Cardinal Hall of Fame and Museum

The Hall of Fame and Museum has something for everyone.  This 8000 square foot museum is packed with over 16000 items of baseball memorabilia and thousands of archived photographs.  My husband really enjoyed looking over all of the memorabilia and the girls enjoyed some of the interactive displays.
Display from Museum

Two of the displays that the girls really enjoyed were the mock broadcasting booth and the display where they could hold actual bats from former and present Cardinal players.

In this photo the girls are trying enjoying trying out their broadcasting skills. They would first watch and listen to a broadcast of an exciting play at a past game, then they would be able to see the play and they would record themselves giving the play by play. When they were finished it would be replayed for them to see how they did. Both girls enjoyed this display.

In this photo, Ella is trying her hand at batting. The display held several bats from Cardinal greats both past and present and a docent was there to hand you one bat out of the case that you chose. You first had to put on plastic gloves before handling the bat. Ella decided to try out a bat from Ozzie Smith.

Postcard from my Photograph

This postcard shows the St. Louis skyline from inside Busch Stadium.
St. Louis Skyline
St. Louis Skyline by mbgphoto
Look at St louis arch Postcards online at Zazzle.com



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Saturday, April 2, 2016

Opening Day of the 2019 Baseball Season

A Quick Review of the 2019 Major League Baseball Season Openers




The Opening Day of baseball for the 2019 MLB season is Thursday, March 28, the earliest beginning date ever at any traditional Major League ballpark.  This season, all 30 clubs will open on the same day

It's time for the 2019 baseball season!


World Series Champion 2018

 
Available on Amazon


The Boston Red Sox defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games. 



Available on Amazon


Highlights of 2019 in the World of Baseball 



Some of the highlights of the 2019 Major League Baseball season will include:

  • March 28, 2019 – Official Opening Day
  • April 15, 2019 – Jackie Robinson Day
  • July 9, 2019 - 90th All-Star Game, Cleveland Indians Progressive Field
  • October 22, 2019 – Scheduled first game of the World Series. 


Baseball is Back!



Bill James Handbook for 2019
This avid 'baseball fan' will be glued to the TV for each moment of these Opening Day games! (I LIVE for this!). 

If you are as 'Crazy about Baseball' as I am, the 2019 baseball season from Opening Day to the last game of the World Series will occupy your time and thoughts for the next 26 weeks.  The joy of baseball has returned!





*Quick Link:
https://baseballmomentsmemories.blogspot.com/

(c) Wednesday Elf




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Saturday, October 31, 2015

For Love of the Game – a Movie Review

As the baseball season winds down once again, I begin to make plans for my wintertime baseball replacements.  I am a died-in-the-wool, I LIVE for This baseball fan who is not happy without a daily dose of baseball in some form or other.  This means that during that WINTER season (as per my favorite Bill Veeck quote “There are only two seasons – winter and baseball”) I find books and movies about BASEBALL to fill the time until Spring Training returns once again!


For Love of the Game



For Love of the Game Movie

I have many favorite (baseball) movies I love to re-watch each winter.  One of the top ten on my list is For Love of the Game which stars the actor I consider the best and most believable at playing the part of a baseball player ~ Kevin Costner.

Costner's character in the movie is a Detroit Tigers pitcher named Billy Chapel.  Billy has an on-again, off-again girlfriend, Jane (Kelly Preston) who tells him she's leaving him just before what is most likely Billy's last professional game.  It's the last game of the season against rival team the New York Yankees.  Vin Scully (playing himself) announces the game.


This 1999 movie was filmed in the real Yankee Stadium where a 40-year-old pitcher (Billy Chapel) is pitching the final game of his 19-year career. Battling a sore arm and coping with the news that the team has been sold and he will be traded, on top of learning that his long-time girlfriend is leaving to take a job in London, Billy enters the game fighting both physical and emotional limits.


The movie opens with Billy taking the mound to pitch.  The loud sounds of the crowd slowly diminish as Billy enters his 'zone' where he blocks out everything to concentrate on pitching, leaving a total silence as he winds up for the pitch.  We hear his thoughts as he approaches each batter and each pitch, giving us a glimpse into what a real life professional baseball pitcher goes through. 


What makes the movie most interesting is that the entire movie takes place during this one baseball game and the story of everything that led up to this day is reflected in flashbacks.  Girlfriend Jane is shown in subsequent scenes as she watches the game on TV at the airport while waiting for her overseas flight.  The suspense of the game builds as one out after another is recorded, leading toward the crowning glory moment for a baseball pitcher, a Perfect Game


Movie Trailer

 

Kevin Costner as Billy Chapel giving us 'one more day of summer' in the movie For Love of the Game





To me, For Love of the Game is the perfect title for this baseball movie, as it is exactly how I feel about the game of baseball.  My wintertime will be filled with this and my many other baseball movies and my home library of books about baseball until my favorite time of year (Baseball's Opening Day) returns. 


Enjoy the off-season and join me again when my favorite phrase resounds in baseball parks around the country ~ “Play Ball”.


For Love of the Game is available on Amazon.


*Kevin Costner has starred in several movies with a baseball-theme, such as Chasing Dreams, Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, For Love of the Game and The Upside of Anger. I own most of them!



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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Baseball's All-Star Game

Review of a Mid-Summer Classic


Welcome to July baseball from Wednesday Elf, known as the 'baseball fan contributor' here on Review This!  It's time for a mid-season story about baseball's All-Star Game.

The All-Star Game

 

Plenty of base hits in these bats


This picture titled "Plenty of base hits in these bats" was taken at the 1937 All-Star Game and includes the famous players Lou Gehrig, Joe Cronin, Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio, Charlie Gehringer, Jimmie Foxx, and Hank Greenberg.

The Mid-Summer classic known as the All-Star game has occurred (nearly) every July since 1933.  (No official MLB All-Star Game was held in 1945 due to World War II.) 



The All-Star game is held on either the second or third Tuesday in July to mark a symbolic halfway-point in the Major League Baseball season.  Known as the 'All-Star Break', no regular-season games are scheduled on the day before or for two days after the Tuesday All-Star Game.  A number of festivities are held the day before the All-Star game, including the 'Home Run Derby', a contest between MLB's top home runner hitters, which began in 1985.

2015 was the 30 Year Anniversary of the 'Home Run Derby' (1985-2015)


The participants (players) in this annual mid-summer event are chosen by the fans in both the National League and the American League.  Until 1947, the team selections were chosen only by the managers, but since then the fans get to select the starting lineup.  The pitchers are still selected by the managers.  Ballots used to be given out at ballparks throughout baseball for voting on players for the game.  This year (2015) is the first year that all voting is done entirely on the internet.

All-Star Game Venue



The ballparks chosen for each year's All-Star game alternate between the National and the American League, with venues selected for a variety of reasons by a MLB selection committee. The choices may be made to commemorate a particular historical occasion, the opening of a new ballpark, or a significant year. For instance, the game was held in Yankee Stadium (home of the New York Yankees) in 2008 as it was the final year for that stadium prior to the new Yankee Stadium opening in 2009. 


Progressive Field - Home of the Cleveland Indians


On July 9th, the 2019 All-Star game will be held at Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians baseball team.


Enjoy the 90th All-Star Game


Enjoy this great baseball tradition known as the Midsummer Classic as we celebrate the first half of the the 2019 baseball season. 


Available on Amazon


Once the game is over, while waiting for the second half of the season to begin, us baseball fans can catch up on past All-Star games with this great baseball reference book The Midsummer Classic.  It's a fun book for baseball fans who love reading and compiling statistics.  The book has facts and play-by-play game data of every All-Star game through the year 2000. (published in 2001). A comprehensive resource for fans, researchers and baseball historians.

Let's enjoy Baseball




Wednesday Elf can also be found at:

Coastal Crochet Crafts blogspot

More baseball stories by Wednesday Elf:
Why I'm a Baseball Fan
A Collection of St. Louis Cardinals Baseball Players
Quiz: Do You Know Your Baseball Jargon?

 








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