Ten Things I Didn’t Know Last Weekby Dave Studeman
March 11, 2005
Seems like everyone is learning ten things these days. There are the Ten Things We Learned This Week in the NBA, the Ten Things I Learned during the Daytona 500, Ten Things We Learned About Blogs, Ten Things We've Learned from Watching the X-Files, and even the Top Ten Things Learned from Watching MacGyver. Check that last site, by the way, for ten year's worth of Top Ten Lists.
The BBC Magazine News Monitor publishes something it calls Ten Things We Didn't Know This Time Last Week. They even topped it off at the end of last year with 100 Things We Didn't Know This Time Last Year. It's great stuff.
Never ones to jump off a bandwagon, we've decided to create our own Ten Things I Didn't Know Last Week column. Or just Ten Things, for short. Every week, we'll let you know what came of our compulsive wanderings around the baseball virtual world, and hopefully you'll learn something too. Here's our first ten:
Jose Canseco likes steroids.
Travis Nelson, the Boy of Summer, has written a nice review of Jose Canseco's book. I don't understand why the Madonna relationship doesn't get more play from the press, but Travis says the Madonna chapter is boring. Oh well.
Most baseball observers have focused on Canseco's finger-pointing, using it as further testimony that steroids are terrible and something should be done about them. Well, these observers don't seem to have noticed that Canseco advocates for more steroid use in his book -- not less. A point that John Perricone might find to his liking.
Long book titles have a long history.
Travis calls the title of Canseco's book, Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits and How Baseball Got Big the longest title since The Bingo Long Travelling All-Stars & Motor Kings, but I would nominate The Bad Guys Won! A Season of Brawling, Boozing, Bimbo Chasing, and Championship Baseball With Straw, Doc, Mookie, Nails, the Kid, and the Rest of the 1986 Mets, the Rowdiest Team Ever to Put On a New York Uniform, and Maybe the Best.
That's not so bad, really. The full title of Robinson Crusoe was Life and Most Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the Coast of AMERICA, near the Mouth of the Great River of OROONOQUE; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. WITH an Account how he was at last as strangely deliver'd by PYRATES. The history of the subtitle was covered in a recent New York Times column.
Tigers' games won't be broadcast on local non-cable television.
Detroit's negotiation with the Detroit UPN affiliate has died, and Tiger fans will have to have cable to see the Tigers play on TV. I have no idea where the future of televised baseball is going, but it does appear to be moving away from good old regular television, and toward cable, premium cable and the Internet. Judging from the comments, Tiger fans are pretty unhappy with this development. But I must say that Veronica Mars is a great show.
Even Joe Posnanski doesn't know what to write about the Royals.
Joe Posnanski, the excellent baseball writer who covers the hapless Royals for the Kansas City Star, doesn't know what to write about in his preseason review. So he asked the folks at Baseball Think Factory for their ideas. There are some great suggestions in the accompanying thread, though my favorite is one of Joe's original ideas: Andy Sisco is Very Tall.
Sitting in a Dominican baseball game press box is like sitting in the Fenway bleachers.
I love this quote from Susan Slusser's interview with Athletic Nation:
My favorite part was the press box -- reporters pounding beer, rum, you name it, and cheering and taunting. It was like sitting in the bleachers at Fenway Park for a Yankees series. Now that's a fun way to cover a game. They all kept trying to get me to cheer and high five, and I was having trouble explaining the concept of no cheering in the press box when the Dominican writers were in each other's faces and shouting on every play.I once took a date to a Red Sox/Yankee game. We sat in the bleachers. It was our last date.
Nelson Briles was hurt by the lower mound in 1969.
There's been an interesting discussion in the SABR-L mailing list (which all SABR members should subscribe to) about how much the height of the mound matters. Nelson Briles, who passed away last month, spoke of the effect the lower mound had on him in this interview with Bruce Markusen, and how he adjusted by using the slider more often. I attended the World Series game that Bruce describes in this article, and it was one of the highlights of my life as a baseball fan. Rest in Peace, Nelson Briles.
There is no more artificial turf in the National League.
With the close of Olympic Stadium in Montreal, there is no more artificial turf in the National League, and there are only three such stadiums (stadia?) left in the AL. As the New York Times notes, this makes Cliff Floyd a happy camper. And it should make baseball fans everywhere happy. Remember when Pete Rose used to dribble the ball on the turf after fielding the final out of an inning?
A few years ago, the Mets' owners proposed a new stadium with a retractable roof to replace Shea, and one of its features was a natural grass playing field on rollers. The plan was that when the roof was closed, the playing field would be rolled out onto the parking lot to catch enough natural sun and rain to grow. I don't know what happened to the plan, but I really wanted to see the rolling field.
David Eckstein doesn't handle flies down the third base line well, but Cristian Guzman snares line drives.
This has already been pointed out, but kudos to David Pinto for developing his graphical fielding charts. Most baseball sites and books are a bunch of numbers and words. Not that there's anything wrong with numbers and words.
But a picture is worth a thousand words. And baseball bloggers and commentators sometimes forget that, or don't have the skill to show it. If you haven't seen them, check out these line graphs of baseball stats, this timeline of baseball history from Parthenon Graphics, what I call the graphical baseball encyclopedia, or even my historical baseball graphs. And remember -- just because you can't quote it doesn't mean you haven't learned it.
There are changes afoot in the baseball blogosphere.
Baseballing on the Internet gets more intense each year. This year, we've already seen some excellent writers moving to new sites, we have well-known writers setting up their own blogs, bloggers getting their own newspaper gigs, and several of us attempting to make a living from our virtual baseball musings. There are probably a dozen other developments I haven't mentioned or haven't even heard.
Most intriguing of all may be Baseball Toaster, featuring many writers from all-baseball.com, and brand new software from Ken Arneson (Score Bard). The neat thing about Baseball Toaster is that they've rolled their site out while it's effectively still in development, so we'll be able to watch things develop. I'm sure it will be great.
This is going to be harder than I thought.
That's only nine things and I've hit my deadline. Next week, I'll start earlier.
Dave was called a "national treasure" by Rob Neyer. Seriously. Comments about this article can be sent to him through the miracle of e-mail.