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Ken Burns Baseball

I’ve been greatly enjoying Ken Burns’s documentary Baseball.  This documentary has been extremely entertaining.  Here are some things I have learned through watching this film.

Buck O’Neil is One of the Classiest People to Ever Play the Game

I’ve greatly enjoyed every single minute of interviews with Buck O’Neil.  He is the most interviewed person in regards to the Negro Baseball League.  He was an extremely charitable and winsome person.  It is worth watching the documentary just to hear this man’s stories.  It is a real shame that men like him, Paige Satchel, and Josh Gibson were not allowed to post their career numbers in the MLB. Baseball would have been much richer if it were integrated from the beginning.

Shelby Foote is a Great Storyteller

Shelby Foote was an extremely well-known (and well-respected) Civil War scholar.  He was also a huge baseball fan.  He has an old Southern gentleman’s way of speaking.  He told a great story about meeting Babe Ruth as a child, and he told it in such a way that I felt like I was sitting in a rocking chair on a front porch instead of a loveseat in a two-bedroom apartment at midnight holding a baby.

Field of Dreams was Too Kind to Shoeless Joe Jackson

Shoeless Joe Jackson was Guilty

Shoeless Joe Jackson wasn’t the sharpest tool in the box.  He also had a very productive series batting-wise in the 1919 World Series.  But he did accept money to throw the series, and it affected his fielding.  He confessed to his crime, and his own wife turned him in.  Sure he was underpaid and well-loved, but there was no excuse for throwing the World Series.

Christy Mathewson was a casualty of WWI

Christy Mathewson

He wasn’t killed during the war, but exposure to poisonous gas during the war ended his career, and eventually led to his death.

Babe Ruth was a Terrible Person

Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth may have been the most dominant player to ever play the game, but he was so lecherously unfaithful that his wife had a nervous breakdown.  The media ignored his debauchery, because he was such a beloved player.  Granted, he did a lot of great things for kids, but overall, I was surprised by the level of his immorality.

Louis Armstrong Owned a Baseball Team

Louis Armstrong owned a negro league team

Louis Armstrong owned a negro league team called the Secret 9.

Carl Hubbell Developed an Arm Deformity by Throwing a Screwball

Carl Hubbell had a Deformed Arm from throwing a screwball

Carl Hubbell was a two-time MVP screwball pitcher.

A Japanese Pitcher Struck Out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Jimmie Foxx in an Exhibition Game in Japan

Eiji Sawamura Struck Out Ruth Gehrig Foxx

Eiji Sawamura gave up a lone home run against a collection of MLB All-Stars.  He struck out Ruth, Gehrig, Foxx, and others.  He was killed in WWII.

I heartily recommend this documentary.  It is incredibly informative and entertaining.  Ken Burns masterfully combines great storytelling/storytellers with photos, videos, and music from each era.  If you like baseball and you like history, you have to watch this.

Until later friends…

Ron is in the Hall.  About stinkin’ time! Ron Santo was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown.

Ron Santo Hall of Fame Third Baseman for the Chicago Cubs

I blogged about Ron Santo after his passing last year (Ron Santo 1940-2010).  He has long been passed by in voting even though his numbers are very similar to Brooks Robinson.  Carrie Muskat reported:

“Hall of Famer Billy Williams, Santo’s former teammate, was on the 16-member Golden Era Committee, and campaigned for the third baseman. Williams was joined on the committee by Hank Aaron, Al Kaline, Ralph Kiner, Tommy Lasorda, Juan Marichal, Brooks Robinson, Don Sutton. Major League executives Paul Beeston, Bill DeWitt, Roland Hemond, Gene Michael and Al Rosen, and veteran media members Dick Kaegel, Jack O’Connell and Dave Van Dyck also were on the committee. A 75 percent vote was needed, which, in this instance, would be 12 votes.”

Ron Santo joins his teammates Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, and Billy Williams in the Hall of Fame.  I am thrilled for him.

1969 Cubs Banks Jenkins Santo WilliamsI’m pretty sure this would have been Santo’s reaction were he alive to hear the news.

Ron Santo Clicking His Heels

Congrats Ron Santo.

Until later friends…

I am very glad that the Texas Rangers pulled out the victory last night over the Cardinals.  As a result, I have had this stuck in my head most of the day.

Texas Rangers are manly.  Whether they be Chuck Norris kicking people in the face or Nolan Ryan hitting people in the head, you don’t want to mess with a Texas Ranger.

The video above is when Nolan Ryan hit Robin Ventura with a pitch.  The 26-year-old Robin Ventura charged the mound against the 46-year-old Nolan Ryan.  Nolan Ryan promptly put him in a headlock and beat the snot out of him.  This same Nolan Ryan is now the president of the Texas Rangers.  Here is a picture of Nolan Ryan with president George W. Bush.

George W Bush and Nolan RyanI’m fairly certain that Nolan Ryan could still hold his own in a bench-clearing brawl.  I loved watching Nolan Ryan pitch as a kid.  He had the best fastball ever, and he was as tough as nails.

Top Three Reasons Why I’m Cheering for the Texas Rangers

1.  St. Louis Cardinals

The Cubs/Cardinals rivalry is the most significant rivalry in my sports allegiances.

Mr T Cubs Fan - Cubs Cardinals Rivalry

There is no situation in which I would cheer for the Cardinals.  It is a friendly rivalry though.  Unlike Yankees/Red Sox fans, I can have friendships with many Cardinals fans.  There are many Cardinals fans I like, especially my in-laws.  But I don’t want them to have the satisfaction of another World Series win before the Cubs get one.

2.  Josh Hamilton

Classy guy. Classy player.

Josh Hamilton at bat

3.  Nolan Ryan

Tough-as-nails. Knows the baseball code.  Made the Texas Rangers a perennial contender.

Nolan Ryan Robin Ventura Fight

Until later friends…

It is time for the World Series.  The Cards trashed my bracket, but I’m excited to see this matchup.

2011 World Series Rangers vs CardinalsThe best part about this series is that it will exhibit two of the classiest guys in Major League Baseball: Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols.

Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton is ClassyI’ve written a lot about how much I respect Josh Hamilton.  Here is a great story about him catching the first pitch from the son of the man that fell to his death at the Rangers’ stadium this year.

Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols Charity

As much as I hate the St. Louis Cardinals, I love Albert Pujols.  He too is a classy guy, and I love all the charitable work he does.

Prediction

I predict the Rangers win the series in 6 games.

Texas Rangers Logo

Until later friends…

Marlon Byrd's New Batting Helmet - (July 8, 2011 - Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images North America) Today is Marlon Byrd‘s birthday.  Happy Birthday Marlon.  I’ll admit it, I was unfamiliar with Marlon Byrd when the Cubs acquired him, but I am so glad they did.  Marlon Byrd is legit.  He has an excellent work-ethic.  I love that I can always count on him to do everything he can to make a play.  He hustles when he makes contact, and he sacrifices his body to make plays in center field.  He is a true veteran that has played on several teams, and has earned respect from everyone along the way.

Marlon Byrd Has ClassHe was great in the All-Star last game (even if Joey Votto was a royal jerk towards him).  He made a spectacular put-out on David Ortiz, and he scored the winning run.  That couldn’t have happened to a classier guy, and I was thrilled for him.

I was at the game where Marlon Byrd got hit in the face by a fastball.  It hurt from where I was in the outfield seats.  I was scared that it could be the end of his career.  Seriously, people have died that way.  Remember the Kirby Puckett beanball?

Marlon Byrd BeanedI am so glad to see Marlon Byrd playing again.  Especially with the sweet custom-helmet he is wearing (see picture at the top).  Marlon Byrd exudes manliness and class. I hope he has a great birthday today by beating the San Francisco Giants.

Happy Birthday Marlon

Until later friends…

Marlon’s BlogThe Byrd’s Nest

The NFL lockout is over.  The NFL season is coming.  That means, Fantasy football is back! Hooray! Are you ready for some football?

Hank Williams, Jr. singing "Are you ready for some football?"

Last Thursday my league had our Fantasy Football Draft Night.  My friend @leesill and I set up shop for the draft in a vacant classroom at SBTS, and a night of trash-talking, nervous clock-watching, and hilarity ensued.  I am happy with the team I was able to put together.  The Volunteer State Fighting Scots are going to be a force to be reckoned with.  Here is the team photo:

My Fantasy Football Team Photo: The Fighting Scots

In case you don’t recognize everyone, here is my roster:
Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator/Offensive Coordiantor/Punter/Long Snapper: For Aslan…and the Volunteer State

QBs: Peyton Manning (Colts) and Colt McCoy (Browns)

RBs: Adrian Peterson (Vikings), James Starks (Packers), Tim Hightower (Redskins), and LaDainian Tomlinson (Jets)

WRs: Calvin Johnson (Lions), Percy Harvin (Vikings), Brandon Marshall (Dolphins), Sidney Rice (Seahawks), Danny Amendola (Rams), and Jacoby Jones (Texans)

TEs: Vernon Davis (49ers) and Kellen Winslow (Bucs)

Defense/ST: Steelers and Lions

K: Billy Cundiff (Ravens)

I think I have a good mix of players from different teams.  Peyton Manning will be great once he gets back from neck surgery, and Colt McCoy will do just fine until Peyton’s ready.  I am excited about another season of cheering for individual players on completely random teams that I would have no other reason to care about.

Until later friends…

Irascible

1.  easily provoked to anger; very irritable

2. characterized or produced by anger

Example: Although Carlos Zambrano has earned a reputation of being an  irascible hothead, I think his outbursts point to his love of the game, and I appreciate that.

PS – Go Cubbies! I hope Big Z no-hits the Sox today.

Until later friends…

Today, I will continue on with my Fields of Dreams blog series.  In my last post in this series I talked about the first Cubs vs. Red Sox game we went to, and what a shellacking it was. Friday night after game 1, we didn’t get back to the hotel till around 1:00am.  On Saturday, we got up and went on a Duck Tour of Boston, which was a lot of fun.


After we finished riding a duck around, we met up with my friend Matt.  He gave us a walking tour and took us to a cool coffee shop called Thinking Cup (where I had a nice cup of Kenya from a Bee House).  After that, we went to Fenway for a tour.  The tour was fun, and we got to watch some of the Red Sox batting practice.  After the tour, I looked for a t-shirt for Jen.  While walking down Yawkey Way, I ran into Bill “Spaceman” Lee.  He was very friendly – even though I was wearing all Cubs gear.

Bill "Spaceman" Lee

Once again, I waded my way through the crowd to get close to batting practice.  This time I changed my strategy and went to left field.  I was really hoping to get Kerry Wood to sign a ball, but he never came close.  I did, however, get to meet 1984 Gold-Glove winning Bob Dernier.  He was super friendly, and he signed stuff for a lot of people (would you really expect any less of a teammate of Ryne Sandberg?).

Now onto the game.  The game was great.  They decided to celebrate that this was the first series these two teams played at Fenway since 1918 by wearing throwback jerseys.

Carlos Zambrano started for the Cubs and Alfredo Aceves started for the Red Sox.  We were seated in center field for this game, and it was great.  Whereas Boston had jumped out to an early lead the night before, this game started off pretty even.  The first play worth noting was an awful HBP.  In the second inning, a fastball got away from Aceves and hit Marlon Byrd right below the eye.  It hurt from where I was sitting.  It was a really scary moment, and Byrd got taken to the hospital immediately (he is ok now, and hopes to return to play in a couple of weeks).

The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the third, but then the Sox went up 2-1 in the fourth and 3-1 in the sixth.  I thought for sure the Cubs were going to hand this one in too, but then the 8th inning came.  The Cubs scored 8 runs in the eighth inning to make it a 9-3 game.  It was beautiful.  The Cubs held on to win, and I was very pleased.

One interesting feature of the night was all the references to the 1918 World Series.  In honor of that series, Fenway Park regressed to 1918 technology for two innings.  That meant: no broadcaster announcing names of batters, no digital pitch count or mph for all to see, and the only ball/strike counter was on the Green Monster.  I was keeping score throughout the game, and I became really popular at this point in the game.   It was amazing how quiet the whole park got.  Everyone was intent on watching the game, because they had to in order to know what was going on.  I really liked it.

Overall, it was a great experience.  I loved Boston.  The Boston fans were still friendly, even after the Cubs laid it on the Red Sox that night.  I like Boston as a city, and I recommend that you visit if you haven’t already.  Stay tuned for a post on my first trip to the Bronx.

Until later friends…

In honor of the Stanley Cup, today’s GRE Word of the Day is a Daily Double.

Aberrant

1. abnormal

2. deviant

Example:  Vancouver‘s fans exhibited aberrant behavior yesterday by burning police cars in response to their team’s inability to finish out a series.

Vancouver Riots Photo - AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hawyard

Ebullience

1. lively or enthusiastic expression of thoughts or feelings

2. high spirits; exuberance

Example:  Contrary to the rioters of Vancouver, Boston and its fans greeted the championship with ebullience.

Boston Bruins Stanley Cup (Barry Chin/Globe Staff)

Congratulations to Boston.  As for you Vancouver, let’s try to keep it classy from now on.

Until later friends…

Pronunciations

Congratulations to the Dallas Mavericks.  I am so stinkin’ excited that they beat the Miami Heat.  Lebron James is still without a title, and that makes me happy.  I’m pumped that the Mavericks won for five reasons:

1.  Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki is a class-act player.  He can play post, and he can bury you from three-point land.  Plus, you can’t hack-a-Shaq him, because he’s about the best free-throw-shooting post man of all time.  I love Germany, and I love to see German players succeed in the NBA.  Dirk Nowitzki is the best German player ever, even though I have already let it be known that I still have mad respect for Detlef Schrempf.  Now that Dirk has a championship, his resume is complete, and he can be remembered as one of the best NBA players ever.

2.  Jason Kidd

I’ve loved watching Jason Kidd play since he was a rookie.  Yeah, he got into some legal trouble every now and then, but I still love watching him play.  Jason Kidd is an incredible passer – very John Stockton-esque.  He also is a great shooter.  He has been in the league a long time, and I’m glad he finally got a championship.

3.  Lebron James Lost

Ever since “The Decision,” I have been cheering against Lebron James every chance I get.  I like Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, but this whole deal about the “Big Three” has been awfully irksome.  I’m glad to see them fail.  Lebron James is a great player, but much of his persona is pure hype.  Go win a championship, and then we can compare you to MJ or Kobe or Wilt.  Until then you can be compared to Karl Malone and Patrick Ewing – and I like Karl Malone a lot better than you Lebron.

4.  Mark Cuban‘s team finally won one

Most people either love or hate Mark Cuban.  I love him.  He is a hoot.  I really enjoy watching his antics.  He might be a hot head, but he supports his team all the way.  I love that he sticks up for his players, and I love that although he is filthy rich, he lets himself be emotionally involved in every game.  Congrats Mark.  Would have been interesting to have you as the Cubs owner too, sorry that didn’t work out.

5. Bubba Wells and Trenton Hassell

Why would I put these guys on here? Neither one of them is on the Dallas Mavericks now, but both of these guys used to play for the Mavericks.  They also used to play for Austin Peay State University.  I was a ballboy when Bubba played at Austin Peay, and I followed both of these guys’ careers.  For this reason, I have had a soft spot in my heart for the Dallas Mavericks for many years. I can’t call myself a fan of the Mavericks, because I don’t own any Mavericks’ gear, and I really don’t care about the NBA 85% of the time.  If I were a fan of any team though, it would be the Mavericks – largely because of these two.

That’s my list for today.  Once again, congrats to the Mavs and booyah to Lebron James.

Until later friends…

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