Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Let's Play One: The Oakland A's, The Los Angeles Angels, and the Marathon While You Slept

I was asleep. Most of America was asleep. As Oakland and Los Angeles crept into the sixth hour of their slobberknocker, a majority of baseball fans had no idea what has happening. In a game without a clock, time stood still. In the wee hours of the Oakland midnight, it seemed as if the Athletics and Angels might play forever. The likely most maddening part of it all, is that going into the bottom of the eighth inning, Los Angeles was up by five runs. Apparently the Halos failed to remember that the A's hate to lose.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Tightening of the Laces: Donald Lutz and the Emerging European Game

Baseball is America's pastime. While that implies a sense of ownership of the game, recent memory will prove quite the contrary. We have the World Baseball Classic as an example. Detractors will spout cliches of how the United States players do not want to participate, but in the end the world still makes a case. Japan, with an organized and respected baseball league of nearly a century, won the first to Classic titles. This year, it was the Dominican Republic atop the baseball world. Both countries are established goldmines of talent. But what about the 'lesser' countries? Those nations just planting their respective flag in the baseball landscape; Spain, Brazil, and Germany. Traditional soccer powerhouses are growing into baseball upstarts.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Ides of April: Philip Humber and the Unsinkable Truth

December 21, 2012. I was at a bar in Chicago, aptly named The Elbo Room. I had been asked by a friend to play a couple songs to open his set. My girlfriend came up from Indiana to see me play. Some people thought the world would end that night. I felt like I was on top of it, even if I only played to a handful of friends and a half-dozen barflies. It was nearly the end of a year that had brought a lot of change into my life. I had moved to Chicago with some friends that summer. That night, somewhere across the vast expanse between our borders, Philip Humber turned thirty. It was a big year for the Texas native as well. He was, and still is, a rather mediocre pitcher. But from time to time, we are reminded that with a little luck, average can become legendary.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Anger in the Hearts of Men: The Penance of Carlos Quentin

The heart of a man is like a minefield. There may be a thousand steps taken, but the one that is remembered most is that which triggered the mine. Sometimes our emotions are an easy stroll. In some instances, we may force all of our weight down upon that detonator. Off it goes, casting a lawless mob of shrapnel into the peaceful sky. One week ago, Carlos Quentin completed a swan dive from the top plank onto an explosive, set and armed by Zack Greinke.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Nothing Quite Like It: A Day in the Baseball Life

On a hot summer day at the ballpark, it’s the bottom of the ninth. The home team is down by a run. They have a runner on third with two outs. The next batter steps in to the box; takes first pitch strike and the entire park lets out a collective sound of distress. The next two pitches are called balls, sparking hope once again into the hearts of the spectators. The batter gets set, staring down the opposing pitcher, silently challenging him. As the next pitch comes in, the batter goes back and forth in his mind; swing or take? He decides to swing, and with the crack of the bat, there’s a brief moment of silence as all eyes are on the ball heading toward center field. That moment of silence is followed quickly by an uproar of cheers as the crowd watches the ball sail out of the park and into the hands of a lucky fan; the game-winning home run ball.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

21st Century Man: Torii Hunter and the Full Circle

Can you remember where you were thirteen years ago? For some it may be a brief fraction of their existence to this point. For others, its half a life ago. Pencil me in on the list of the latter. In the summer of the year 2000, I was thirteen years of age, addicted to Mountain Dew and Playstation. I had a bleach blonde buzzcut, as was sadly kind of popular back then. Or at least that is what I tell myself. I had never been to Wrigley Field, and had never done so much as kiss a girl. The hair probably helped perpetuate the latter. But while I was looking forward to the twilight of my middle school years, Torii Hunter was coming back from a short stint in Minnesota's minor league system. I remember those awkward early teen years vividly. In equal right, I remember Torii climbing the center field wall of the Metrodome like it was yesterday.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Going Once, Gone Twice: The Brothers Upton and the Odium of Carlos Marmol

It was like they were back home. Back in Norfolk, Virginia. Back before the million dollar deals, the magazine covers, and the glamour of the Major Leagues. Melvin "Bossman Junior" Upton and his younger brother Justin were children again, knocking baseballs around the backyard. It was a simple game then, and last night proved that not much has changed.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Voices in the Cathedral: Clear Skies, Growing Shadows, and the Efficacy of Wit

If you can't explain something in a few words, try fewer.

Brevity is mankind's purest and most underused art. Sometimes we can be so engrossed in conversation that it circles until, like a dog chasing his tail, it collapses from redundancy. In contrast, perhaps more than ever before, personal disconnect in society has limited acquaintanceship to a simple "Hi, how are you?" "Good thanks, yourself?" "I'm good," followed by a suited hollow sendoff. Seldom is either ever considered healthy conversation. The former is often heard on talk radio and over a fourth, fifth, or seventh beer.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Last Temptation of Sefat Farid Yu Darvish (or) Why Perfection Isn't Always Perfect

The most perfect thing about humans are their imperfections.

Throughout our lives we often strive for things we will ultimately fail to reach. Perhaps as simple as learning to speak a foreign language or as complex as climbing Mount Everest. Yet for some reason we set strange, lofty goals on ourselves for some inexplicable reason. Is it that we desire to "live life to the fullest?" Or maybe it's a sense of timelessness that comes with achieving something worth more than a short anecdote shared over a few beers on a Tuesday night after work. Whatever the reason, and regardless of goal achievement, we will hopefully all find the pursuit of perfection is in fact a red herring. When the greatness in effort is realized, that is when we achieve perfection.

Carpe Noctem: The Geoff Blum Story

A baseball season can seem so long that a single plate appearance can seem largely insignificant. As summer's long days turn cold and th...