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Random baseball knowledge

Fernando Tatis as a Cardinal

On Apr. 23, 1999, Cardinals third baseman Fernando Tatis hit two grand slams against the Dodgers… in the same inning! Tatis is the only baseball player in major league history to ever do that. Every time my dad and I went to a game, Tatis somehow always came through with an incredible performance.

And this from Twitter for all you Albert Pujols fans: the Angels have paid Pujols $1,377,049 for no homers & 4 RBIs. Although he’s no longer a Cardinal, he is still the best player in the game and a great guy. Glad he’s getting a new start with the Angels. I just hope he goes into the Hall of Fame as a Cardinal.

Posted on April 24, 2012 at 18:22 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Baseball

West Side Park, the Cubs’ old stadium

The Cubs haven’t won a title since moving to their “new” stadium 99 years ago. In fact, the last time they won the World Series was in 1908 – they also won in 1907. In fact, from 1906-1910 the Cubs went to the series four out of five years, winning twice. But that was a long time ago. A very long time ago.

But enough Cub-bashing – I came across an old panoramic photo of the Cubs’ last stadium, West Side Park, a wooden ballpark which stood just west of Little Italy. The photo’s caption reads “City Championship Series” – Oct. 10, 1909. Cap Anson was long gone and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson wasn’t playing yet, but it would have been something to watch Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Frank Chance (of the famous Tinkers – to Evers – to Chance double play combination) in action.

Panoramic photo of Chicago's West Side Park in 1909. Click on the photo to see the high-resolution version. (Source: Library of Congress)

Posted on April 20, 2012 at 12:00 by Chris Carter · Permalink · 2 Comments
In: Baseball

Wrigley Field marks anniversaries

Weeghman Park in 1914 (source: Library of Congress)

The “friendly confines” of Wrigley Field marks two noteworthy anniversaries this season: the ballpark turns 99 this season, while the bleachers, manually operated scoreboard, and ivy are turning 75.

Wrigley – originally Weeghman Park – hosted its first baseball game on Apr. 23, 1914, the Chicago Federals beating the Kansas City Packers 9-1. The teams were part of the Federal League, a third major league that lasted only two seasons.

When the Federal League folded, owner Charles Weeghman bought up the Chicago Cubs and moved them from the aging, wooden West Side Park to the recently vacated Federals’ field. The Cubs played their first game in the stadium on Apr. 20, 1916.

The ballpark went by the name “Cubs Park” from 1920 – 1926, when it was renamed to Wrigley Field after William Wrigley Jr. gained the controlling interest.

In 1937, the park was renovated to add the bleachers and scoreboard. The original scoreboard is still operating today – a staff of four climbs up and down ladders behind the board throughout the game, changing numbers for the 318 openings. That September, ivy was planted at the base of the outfield wall.

Wrigley Field is the only Federal League stadium still in use, the oldest National League stadium, and the second-oldest Major League stadium behind Fenway Park, which opened its doors in 1912.

It is the last Major League stadium to install lights – the Cubs played all their home games during the day until 1988.

The Cubs haven’t managed to win the World Series in their “new” stadium in 98 seasons, although they did go five times – most recently in 1945. The longest championship drought in professional sports dates all the way back to 1908 – an incredible 104 years!

In case you can’t tell, I am a Cardinals fan. Maybe next year, Cubbies. But happy anniversary to the other half of one of sports’ best rivalries.

More on the history of Wrigley Field here.

Posted on April 19, 2012 at 21:46 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Baseball

Rick Ankiel: Best arm in baseball?

Rick Ankiel is one of my favorite athletes. I remember watching the playoff game in 2000 against the Atlanta Braves where he had one of – if not the most – epic collapses in baseball. After having a spectacular rookie season as a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, finishing second in rookie of the year voting, Ankiel walked more batters and threw more wild pitches during three disastrous playoff appearances than perhaps anyone in the history of baseball. After a lengthy stay in the minor leagues, Ankiel did come back to the majors – as an outfielder.

An outfielder with an incredible arm. No one should ever run on Rick Ankiel, but every now and then someone does.

Two phenomenal throws during the same game from Ankiel in 2008:

And another in 2011:

Monday, Ankiel made the highlight reel and earned a standing ovation – on a play where he didn’t even throw anyone out. Bases loaded with no outs, the Astros batter pops up to Ankiel, who throws a perfect strike from 300 feet away from home plate in center field – holding the Astros’ fastest runner at third base. The catcher didn’t even have to move his glove.

Posted on April 18, 2012 at 22:29 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Baseball

Spring Training for Leap Frogs

Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 1st Class Victor Maldonado, left, Chief Special Warfare Operator Justin Gauny (SEAL), right, and Aviation Survival Equipmentman 1st Class Thomas Kinn, all assigned to the U.S. Navy parachute demonstration team, the Leap Frogs, jump from the ramp of a C-130 aircraft during the opening ceremony of a Chicago White Sox spring-training baseball game at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., during Phoenix Navy Week. Navy Weeks are designed to show Americans the investment they have made in their Navy and increase awareness in cities that do not have a significant Navy presence. (U.S. Navy photo by James Woods/Released)

Posted on April 2, 2010 at 12:07 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Baseball, Images, Military · Tagged with: ,

AP: Obama’s a Jock

In case you didn’t know, this is what passes as journalism at the AP (emphasis mine):

[Obama has] spent his adult life in big cities — New York, Chicago and, now, Washington. Basketball, golf, and bodysurfing are how this jock rolls. Indoor daily gym workouts are the norm.

How this “jock” rolls? I don’t know how he rolls, but I remember how he bowls: a very non-jock-worthy 37. And afterwards he had the audacity to make fun of special olympians.

Isn’t this the same jock that threw out the first pitch to the All-Star Game? The Fox Network cameras were positioned so that they would not show the actual pitch. MLB cameras however did show the entire pitch. Albert Pujols was positioned on top of the plate, rather than behind it, and the ball still hit the ground.

Not quite what I would call a jock, but I am not an active duty member of the White House Press Corps, either.

From my AP Style Manual (the only thing written by the AP worth the ink):

mn_obama_bowlsjock Used when describing athleticism of Democratic presidents.
See Barack Obama.

Posted on August 16, 2009 at 21:42 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Baseball, Media · Tagged with: , ,

Obama crowd: 1.8 million*

Obama wasn’t even sworn in yet, and we already had inflation.

While I could really care less how many people attended Barack Obama’s inauguration, there is an interesting story behind the head count, or rather, the lack thereof.

The National Park Service (NPS) conducted an estimate of Louis Farrakhan’s Million Man March in 1995 and found that the march actually came well under one million people. Naturally, organizers cried racism to Congress — who promptly banned the NPS from conducting further estimates.

So back to Obama’s inauguration: the NPS went ahead and did another estimate. After all, this is historic. But this time, it was a bit less scientific — they just went with the Washington Post’s figure of 1.8 million. Presto! The biggest event in Washington, D.C.’s history.

But satellite imagery may deflate Obama’s head count. Experts at Jane’s Information Group figure between 1.3 and 1.7 million, and George Mason University professor of tourism puts the figure at much closer to 1 million.

(more…)

Posted on January 25, 2009 at 00:05 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Baseball, Politics · Tagged with: ,

Duane Kuiper and the 110th Congress

Out of 3,379 at bats in his career, second baseman Duane Kuiper managed to hit only one homerun. Not exactly Hall of Fame numbers, but when compared to Congress, Kuiper looks more like Mickey Mantle.

When Kuiper got his shot in the majors, manager Frank Robinson told him, “I’ll give you ten at-bats. If you hit more than two balls in the air, I’ll send you back to triple-A.” For twelve seasons, he kept the ball on the ground. When American voters gave the majority to the Democrats after twelve years in the minority, we were promised many wonderful things (See the House Democrats’ Top 100 Broken Promises). Besides raising the minimum wage, what exactly have they accomplished?

Congress has not got around to passing any of the twelve annual spending bills for the last fiscal year, which ended on October 1st. They weren’t even able to vote on the defense authorization bill before they went home for their summer recess. Of the forty pieces of legislation intended to withdraw the troops from Iraq voted on by the 110th Congress, only one has made it to the President’s desk, and President Bush vetoed it. For all their grandstanding anti-war drama, the only thing they have accomplished is to give the President what he wanted in the first place. What a waste of time.

What have they had time to work on? Congress was able to get around to their impeachment resolution of Vice President Dick Cheney. They got rid of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (for what?). They found time to craft a dangerous resolution condemning Turkey for an alleged genocide that happened almost a century ago against Armenians. They found time to promote their alternative foreign policy by bungling Middle East diplomacy with Syria’s dictator Bashar Assad. They also found time to censure radio host Rush Limbaugh for something he didn’t even say.

While Congress’ approval ratings are currently setting new all-time lows, Kuiper was good enough to stick around for twelve seasons. What he lacked for in power he made up in other aspects. He was a solid contact hitter and a sure-handed fielder. He was one of only three players in the 20th century to hit two bases-loaded triples in one game, showing that you don’t have to swing a big bat to drive in runs. Congress has been swinging for the fences lately – trying to undermine the Bush administration at all costs. This may look good to their far-left constituents, but how does it look to the American voters?

Kuiper still has the seat that his homerun ball bounced off of, the bat, and the ball in his attic. What will the 110th Congress have to show for their time in office? We ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

©COPYRIGHT 2007 UNTO THE BREACH MEDIA

Posted on November 23, 2007 at 17:07 by Chris Carter · Permalink · One Comment
In: Baseball, Politics · Tagged with: ,

Asterisks for Baseball

Crush’s Solution to Steroids in Baseball

Baseball has a new home run king as Barry Bonds passed Hank Aaron this week, but there is a huge dark cloud of steroid allegations surrounding Bonds and his feat. I remember going to many games in old Busch Stadium to watch Mark McGwire race Sammy Sosa to the single-season homerun record in 1998. It was a wonderful time for the nation’s pastime, but now the integrity of McGwire’s and Sosa’s campaign is questionable as well.

There is no doubt that steroids make a lot of people in baseball a lot of money. Homeruns pack the stands. Everyone cashes in from the players to the owners. So why would baseball want to stop the gravy train?

Who is looking out for the fans? True baseball fans want to root for players like Hank Aaron, a guy who hit 755 clean homeruns. But why do it the right way if you can get rich the easy way? Steroids enable a mediocre player to rise to the top. Real fans want to see real, natural people, just like they are, doing extraordinary things on the field. They do not want to see genetically engineered behemoths cranking homeruns into the ocean. But if there is no significant deterrent to taking performance enhancing drugs, how do we clean up baseball?

What I suggest for an improvement to Major League Baseball’s limp-wristed steroid policy is this: the first time a player is caught with a banned substance, a red asterisk will replace the number on the back of his jersey. The asterisk will follow him for the rest of his career. If the player is caught a second time, he will be banned from the game forever. Commissioner Chris Carter just cleaned up the game without even needing a congressional committee.

Marketing strategists may disagree, but droves of disheartened fans would return to a clean sport. Which would you rather root for: a team with Jose Canseco, Rafael Palmeiro, Ken Caminiti, and Jason Giambi, or one with Cal Ripken, Ozzie Smith, Jackie Robinson, and Lou Gehrig?

What about the supposedly tainted records? Unfortunately they will stand. But remember, they are just numbers in a book. We don’t need a book to tell us who our heroes are. However many homeruns Barry Bonds hits, he will never escape the story behind the numbers. Besides, records are meant to be broken: Alex Rodriguez has just hit his 500th homerun, and at a pace faster than any one else in baseball history. A-Rod did it at age 32; Bonds did not accomplish that feat until age 36. And there are no steroid allegations surrounding Rodriguez.

Now the issue of Hall of Fame voting I would leave to the voters. Instead of a baseball writer’s association, I would open the vote to the fans. If enough Americans feel Barry Bonds should be elected to the Hall of Fame, then let him enter. I don’t think they would elect Bonds, but I could be wrong. This would give Pete Rose, who has the most hits in history, a second chance. Bonds and Rose will always have their baggage. Baseball is for the fans – let them decide who they want in the Hall.

There are more than records at stake here. If baseball does not remedy the steroid issue, we are in danger of losing an American tradition. Our children have enough negative influences in their lives. Baseball should not be one of them.

Chris Carter is the host of “Unto the Breach with Crushing Chris Carter.”
COPYRIGHT 2007 CHRIS CARTER

Posted on August 9, 2007 at 16:27 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Baseball, Society