Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Power and the Glory: Jose Alberto Pujols Alcantara and the Reaping of the Harvest

In 2001, Barry Bonds hit seventy three home runs. Roger Clemens won the Cy Young without completing a single game he started. The Seattle Mariners won 116 games in the regular season, on the wings of twenty-seven year old rookie Ichiro Suzuki. The Arizona Diamondbacks won the World Series in seven games, capping one of the most dramatic postseasons to date. Less than two years after being the 402nd pick in the 1999 draft, Albert Pujols made his debut for the St. Louis Cardinals. This is how it turned out:
Standard Batting
Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB Pos Awards
200121STLNL16167659011219447437130136993.329.403.6101.0131573602191765379/DAS,MVP-4,RoY-1,SS
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2017.


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Anno Catuli: Opening Day and the Rebirth of the Spirit of Summer

It is an elegant game, played by brutes and bastards. It gives space to breathe only to reciprocate with moments that stop the heart. It creates a wealth of memories, often nothing to do with any given pitch. Though the Major League season extends far beyond the warmth of July and August, we will always romanticize our game as such: Baseball has, was, and will always be the great human summer. It never requires unbroken attention. In fact, the game almost requires you to stray. It is a conversational pastime. What draws us back year after year is not just the final score and the plays that caused it. We tie our senses to the familiarity of a ballpark. The pristine-cut grass, too green to call it merely green. The gentle rumble of a few thousand separate conversations, turning to a roar at the crack of a bat striking a ball in that unmistakable way we all know. There is no requirement on our part. No reason beyond fulfilling that core desire to return to summer, where the halcyon days of youth can be recounted. Baseball has been a professional game now for nearly one hundred years. The rules have changed, players come and go, generations pass on the childlike wonder of watching adults play a game. One thing stands true and has for longer than any of us have been alive- no matter the weather, the opponent or the amount of confidence in one's team, Opening Day gives light to optimism. That everything will be alright in the end. That with the first sound of a ball whipping into a glove, winter has been defeated and all the sentimental fondness we have for summer days at the ballpark has won, yet again.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Eagle of Medford: Marcus Stroman and the United States of America

Marcus Stroman lists his height in his twitter bio. Five feet, seven inches. He declares 'breaking stereotypes' there too. He's the most likable pro athlete from Duke University since Grant Hill. Last night, he pitched for the United States in the World Baseball Classic Final. Two years removed from tearing his ACL, Marcus Stroman tossed one of the most brilliant games in recent memory. He did it on a stage that needed a virtuoso, signature performance from an American. He did it against one of the greatest lineups the world could muster.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The World Baseball Classic Comes of Age

The fourth iteration of the World Baseball Classic has been a godsend. The passion and flair usually reserved for Latin American nations has spilled over to the usually stoic Americans and Japanese. The drama of upsets and close games and close plays has brought baseball out of hibernation a month early. Emotions are high, and most importantly- people care. Players care. For all of the formality of the first two tournaments in 2006 and 2009, and even the entertaining climax of 2013, the World Baseball Classic of 2017 no longer feels like a niche interest chore. It has arrived as a true platform for the growth and progression of the game.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Chosen Ones: Scott Burcham, Team Israel, and the Opening Shot of the World Baseball Classic

In the pre-dawn of early-March, not much baseball of consequence is played. Most, if not all of Spring Training is asleep. On the other side of the planet, baseball did matter. The World Baseball Classic, the MLB-funded baseball version of soccer's World Cup, was starting in South Korea. The home team, one of the planet's great baseball powers, was matched up with tournament newcomers Israel. It was supposed to be a relatively easy game for Korea. With a roster comprised of mostly fringe Major Leaguers and Minor League hopefuls with Jewish heritage, Team Israel was meant to pick up their participation medals and go back to their Spring Training camps. All preconceived notions of how this WBC was going to go were soon tossed out of the window. The game was knotted at one, and Scott Burcham stepped into the box with runners on first and third

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Opacity of Modern Tragedy: Jose Fernandez, Yordano Ventura and the Ides of Growing Old

"Was" is the word that is used. In written articles, news broadcasts, and conversation, it signifies something that has come and gone. A simple online search of a deceased actor or other such persons of enough interest to warrant a profile will likely show "was" right after their name, even before presenting a date of death. It is an indicator. Something generally, and hopefully, reserved for those who lived long enough lives to outlast an early grave. Yet death cares not for our plans or intentions. We are the sum of our choices and the choices of the company we keep. Jose Fernandez was. Yordano Ventura was. Youth, life, broken and gone in an instant. In the moments after their deaths, there was grieving, condolence, and other warm sentiments spread to and around those directly affected by the tragedies. Then time passed, police reports became public, and public opinion shifted from heart-wrenched to casting stones and resignation of fait accompli. Why is that? Nothing can undo the choices those young men made now. In the deaths of these two young men, we have the full dichotomy of modern tragedy: support and blame.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

State of the Curve: Where It Goes From Here

Last season was a struggle. I had minimal access to watching games, I bought a house and spent the playoffs remodeling it. What I did not do, was write about baseball. So many factors came into play. Not just the aforementioned excuses, but my own lack of inspiration as well. I found it difficult to sit down and write. It had become a task more than a passion. There was also something unexpected that happened- the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. I guess I came to find out through my own circumstances that I needed this blog as a way to keep baseball in my life through the lean years.


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...