Saturday, October 25, 2008

Old Ballparks' Exact Positioning, Volume Whatever + 5: Baker Bowl

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Just down West Lehigh Avenue from Shibe Park was Baker Bowl, home of the Philadelphia Phillies from 1887 to 1938. It was demolished in 1950. There was a huge soap advertisement on the 60 foot sign on the right field fence that read "The Phillies use Lifebouy." Legend has it someone once broke into the park to add "and they still stink."

This was another easy one to make the footprint for, since it's right on a city block. I even included the 60 feet of foul territory all around the field. This is also another park Google Maps has given a nod to with its name on its old spot.

This current building can be seen in this artist's rendition of the park. It's the one with six windows across, out past center field across North Broad Street. You can also see the same row houses across the street from the third base side that are there today on the Google satellite view above. (Though the building on the corner--Lehigh and 15th--seems to be gone.)

Another obvious feature that's still there today are the railroad tracks. They went under center field, creating "the hump" in the outfield. As you can see, the tracks still run underneath that corner of the block.

Go to the corner of Huntingdon and Broad in Street Views to see the plaque. (Better pic at bottom of this page.)


Friday, October 24, 2008

Objects In Mirror

My parents first discovered I had poor eyesight when my dad was talking to me about the out-of-town scores on the Shea Stadium scoreboard. I couldn't read them. That behemoth gave my secret away.

Now, I finally get revenge! Watch it fall here.

(Alternate theme for post: "Big scoreboard that let my parents know I couldn't see crumbles; Jere mourns old friend who allowed his sight to be corrected with modern devices." But the "revenge" version is more fun.)

Old Ballparks' Exact Positioning, Volume Whatever +4: Shibe Park

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Shibe Park, Philadelphia, home of the A's, and later the Phillies. The planned move of home plate from here to The Vet via helicopter was canceled when fans started destroying the park during its final game in 1970.

There's now a gigantic church taking up the whole block.

Note: with these parks, there were usually dimension changes. Fences that were 500 or 600 feet away in the earlier days were moved in. I usually go with the final dimensions, or just a rough average, or something. Whatever. No biggie.


Reminder That I Have Another Blog. Again.

I have a few new posts up on the Dirty Water blog, talking about some past and future events regarding the book.

I finally received the two copies I ordered from Amazon as soon as the book went up on their site, way back in June. Shrink wrap! So that's proof--if you order now, you will get the book. Sorry about all those delays....


Check out clips from the new Bill Lee documentary, High & Outside.

And here's an interview Mighty Quinn did with Bill a few days ago.

Old Ballparks' Exact Positioning, Volume Whatever +3: Ebbets Field

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Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, NY. Never realized it was so close to Prospect Park.

Compare this photo to current satellite map. At bottom right, those buildings are still there. Roofs (rooves?) are the same. And at top right, those three trees still live! One on one side of Sullivan Place, two on the other.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Old Ballparks' Exact Positioning, Volume Whatever +2: Forbes Field

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Pittsburgh's Forbes Field was tough. The wall from left-center to right still stands, and then a brick line on the sidewalk shows where the wall was from the left field foul pole out to almost center field. I found the brick line (see Street View here), though the wall is obscured by trees. From there I measured the distances back to home plate, and added in the grandstand. Forbes Field seems like it was really cool. Here's a good shot of it (also with someone's drawing over it!). There's also a famous shot of kids watching the game from high above the park (pic #19 in this gallery).

This is a good aerial shot, to compare to the modern map. You can see all the trees that were out beyond center field, still there today. And that fountain, out beyond left-center. Home plate still exists, in a building, though its position is a little off to avoid it being in a bathroom.

(Note: On the map, where it says "Forbes Field," that's referring to the Little League field whose diamond you see. But it also says "Forbes Field" if you zoom in to where I show the old park being.)


Old Ballparks' Exact Positioning, Volume Whatever +1: Crosley Field

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Layout/location of Crosley Field, Cincinnati. Keep in mind that I'm just using the little line drawing thing on Google Maps, which is why the "drawings" are so jut-jutty. I'm just giving a sense of where these parks were compared to how the streets look today.

Crosley Field was easy, all the work was done for me by whoever made this incredible site. He even talks about how you go about finding the location and mapping out the field.


_he __ll __ass__

As you've probably figured out by now, if you're looking for World Series coverage, you've come to the wrong place. If the Sox or Yanks aren't in it, it might as well be a different sport. A Phillies-Devil Rays game in October excites me no more than it would in May.

If you're wondering who I'd be "rooting" for if I had to pick, well, you've also probably figured that out, too if you read my thoughts on a regular basis. But in case you're confused, check out some blog entries from other bloggers who share my feeling:

Cardboard Gods.

Empyreal Environs

Rational Sox Fan.

Toeing the Rubber. [side note: Vote for her (Cyn Donnelly) at WEEI's "Next Great, whoops, we've been referring to bloggers as 'fanboys in mom's basement' constantly for years but now we have to 'blog' to compensate for the fact that we're irrelevant, Blogger Contest." The way I see it is, if she wins, she can take down that place from the inside. If she loses, she'll get to make fun of that sexist, racist radio station like never before!]

And Joy of Sox, after starting in one direction, has seen the light, too. (See last paragraph.)

I watched a total of ten minutes of the game last night, and the main thing I noticed (besides the fact that Buck and McCarver have picked up right where Caray and Martinez left off in the "let's talk about this game strictly from the point of view of a Devil Rays fan" department) was that the centerfield camera was positioned so that the action was WAY to the right of my screen, so a big ad behind home plate could be seen right in the middle at all times. I'm wondering if widescreen TV people had the pitcher and batter in the middle. Anyone? Man, MLB is the worst....

Old Ballparks' Exact Positioning, Volume Whatever

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I've started finding locations of bygone fields and drawing them on the map. Above are the sites of Huntington Avenue Grounds (home of the Red Sox before Fenway), and below it and to the right, South End Grounds (home of the Braves before Braves Field).

You'll notice on the HAG, the very deep center field. 635 feet. There's also a Cy Young statue and and a home plate roughly where the mound and plate were, which I terribly have never been to. I guess I should explain the "drawings"--you should be able to make out the grandstand, and then the playing field for each.

I told you I saw "Braves Field" notated on Google Maps. Well, they've got Ebbets Field and Crosley Field on there, and those parks don't exist either. So I assume they have a lot more. As I draw more on the map I'm sure I'll find them.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rooster Unsnuffed

The winner of the ALCS run contest was Rooster (who writes the Rational Sox Fan blog), whose 8th inning finished with 7 runs, one better than the second-place 7th inning. He gets a signed copy of Dirty Water.

While the tie-breaker turned out to be unnecessary, I'd like to point out that Nick nailed the last batter of the series, Jed Lowrie.

Thanks for playing, everybody. Kwiz season starts sooooon.

I added Manny's 500th HR game to the previous Best-of-'08 post.

I was doing some research into old Braves Field, and found that its home plate sat in the corner of what's now Nickerson Field. (You've seen my pics of this area here before, but I never knew exactly where home plate was.) So then I was looking at Google Maps, because I also just found out the old ticket office/entry house to to Braves Field still stands, not just the right field grandstand, and I saw something interesting. Instead of them calling it "Nickerson Field," they call it "Braves Field"! Which it hasn't been called in decades. And where do they put this label? Right in the corner of the field...where home plate was. Even at different zoom levels, the words stay right on that spot. I think we have a baseball historian embedded over at G-Maps.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Best Of My Photos/Videos Of 2008

In January, I got to meet three of my Red Sox heroes, Rich Gedman, Oil Can Boyd, and Bill Lee.

In April, I got to see another (!) world championship flag hoisted at Fenway Park.

Also in April, I got to see Justin Masterson's debut.

In May, I went to Baltimore and got to witness Manny's 500th HR.

In June, I had a bird's eye view on a bench-clearing brawl, with Coco Crisp making one of the greatest boxing moves on a baseball field ever.

In July, I was sad to see one of my all-time favorite Red Sox, Manny Ramirez, get traded away.

In August, I watched Charlie Zink's debut, a game in which the Red Sox scored 10 runs in the first inning, blew the lead, and came back to win 19-17. And a special guest came and sat next to me in the Monster Seats.

On my birthday in September, Red Sox players greeted me at the door before the game in which Red Sox fans broke the all-time consecutive sellout streak.

In October, I went to three playoff games: One stinker in the ALDS. One stinker in the ALCS...

...and the greatest comeback in an elimination game in baseball history.

No World Series this year. But as we know, that's not what it's all about. (But I still wish we were there.)

[Edited to add: While posting this, I put up the four-part gallery from the day Johnny Pesky's number was retired on the final weekend of the regular season, but forgot to post it here. Start with part one and follow the links to the next three.

Also, to address the comment from Rob who said the World Series is what it's all about: I just meant that to Sox fans, if it were all about winning, by the time '04 rolled around, there wouldn't have been any of us left to witness the parade, as we all would've become Yankee fans or something. I root for my team to win every single game, but it doesn't mean I'll stop loving them if they lose every game. Sure, it's about trying to win every year, but if winning was the most important thing, I'd just put on the hat of the team that wins at the end of each season. Maybe now that we've won, there actually are people who got into the Red Sox specifically because they won. But for me and I assume Rob and 99.9 % of Sox fans reading this, winning had nothing to do with why we root for the Red Sox. That's all I meant. (I'd also like point out that what really makes me the happiest is having a better year than the Yanks, which we have succeeded in yet again.)]

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tuesday In Dirty Water Land

Tuesday morning around 8:20, my mom and I will be interviewed on the Diane & Ray show on WTIC-AM 1080. If you're up early, tune in on the radio or on the internet here.

Tuesday night we will be appearing at Redbones BBQ in Davis Square in Somerville, Mass. Books will be signed ad appetizers will be free. 5:30 to 7:00.


I'd like to offer my sincerest apologies to the people of the world on behalf of my team for not beating that annoying Devil Rays squad and getting into the World Series. I know most of you love your team, hate the Yankees, and would have loved to see their rival, the fun-loving, lovable Red Sox continue to rub it in their faces with another title. Too bad it couldn't happen.

A lot of jealous media types and closet Yankee fans are trying to act like people hate the Red Sox, so for all the millions of you out there who rooted for my team in the playoffs, thanks, and again, we're sorry.

(The funniest part is when fans in other cities will try to tell you that all the Sox fans filling their parks are just front-runners, but then act like "everybody" hates the Red Sox. So...everyone loves us but everyone hates us? Makes no sense. But, again, if you're confused or fifteen years old or something, check out my post about how it takes decades for a hatred to build up toward a franchise.)

Tell Me Something I Don't Know

Yesterday we all heard about how Alex Cora would start over Jed Lowrie because he hits hard-throwing right-handers better. This was reported by the Globe. I don't know about you, but something in my head said, "why are we telling the other team this?" I mean, they do their own research, too, so they know this fact. But if they know the reason we think he should be in there, can't they just adapt to it? As I watched Cora take a breaking ball right over the middle for strike three, I thought back to my theory. Cora's up there lookin' for hard stuff, why would they give him any? This also goes along with my theory that it's stupid to start a bench player in a game against a certain pitcher he's done well against in a few at bats. Because those at bats probably came as a pinch hitter or in a vastly different situation. That was when he fared well--not as a starter specifically in there to succeed against that pitcher.

Anyway, I didn't think about the Cora thing much after that. Sure, Lowrie could've started, and maybe hit two home runs or something, but odds are he doesn't make that much of a difference.

But just now I checked out Toeing the Rubber (formerly "Red Sox Chick") and she had up a season-ending post by her buddy, Tru, who often does guest posts there. In that post, mention is made of Bill Lee's "Leephus" pitch in Game 7 of the '75 World Series that Tony Perez hit over The Wall. Tru doesn't mention it in the post, but one of my favorite Bill Lee stories revolves around that series. In Game 2, with the Sox up one game to none, Lee pitched a masterpiece. After seven innings, he'd given up just one run, which scored on a fielder's choice, and just three hits to one of the most feared lineups of all-time. While Boston batted in the seventh, the game was delayed for a half-hour, but Lee was sent out to pitch the eighth. He set the Reds down, but was once again sent out to pitch the ninth, still holding a one-run lead. During the rain delay, Reds catcher and future Baseball Bunch host Johnny Bench was interviewed by NBC. He mentioned he'd try to take Lee to the opposite field. All of America heard it. But did anyone tell Bill Lee? No. So when Bench led off the ninth, Lee throws one down and away, and Bench slaps it down the right field line. Double. Tying run on second. Lee was taken out, and the bullpen allowed Bench and one more runner to score. The Red Sox went down quietly in the bottom half, and the Reds had tied the series with a 3-2 win.

If someone had told Lee that Bench was looking for the outside pitch, maybe he never even throws the lob to Perez in Game 7, because the Fisk homer in Game 6 ends the series.

Here we are 33 years later, in an age where nothing slips by. In a similar situation now, the only worry would be that maybe telling the pitcher would screw him up, so attempts would be made NOT to tell him what the opponent said. Otherwise, he's gonna find out. These players can look at a called strike three, go into the clubhouse, watch the replay on the TV of the "pitch zone" graphic, see the pitch was a ball, and be ready to complain to the ump about it in his next at bat. The pitchers don't need to worry about scouting reports when they can instantly watch at bats of any player from any game of any season. Knowing all this, there still should be secrets. If Tito really thinks one guy should be in a lineup for a certain reason, whether it's obvious to everyone or not, shouldn't he just put the guy in and leave it at that? Or come up with some phony reason why he's in there to trick the opposing manager? Who knows, maybe this does happen more than we know--I've definitely heard Tito laugh at reporters' questions whose answers would obviously give away strategy.

But I thought it was interesting, and it didn't hit me until I read the post about Lee--back then, lack of knowledge cost us, and last night, the overload of it may have, too.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Almost. But The New, Less-Painful Almost.

The '08 team truly was a Great Space Coaster. And we really did have a Subaru Summer. Lots of great moments, lots of fun. And when my team finishes a season one game away from the World Series, I can be happy and proud. Especially of these guys who did a lot, and wouldn't die even when everyone said it was over.

We look back at the last six seasons and see two championships, and four ALCS Game Sevens. The previous eighty-something years, it was no championships, and a total of just three league crowns. Again, we as Sox fans are happy. I wish we were going to the World Series right now and there are a lot of frustrating things I can look at in this series. But I don't think any of us will ever feel like we did after any of those pre-'04 seasons.

It makes it tougher when you think about how ours is the team that all three times that we were down 3-1 in an ALCS (once 3-0), we came back and won it. And this time we came up just short. The Rays never quit, either. Always being told they'd fold, and every single time, right up until the end of the ALCS, they held on. Now they go to the World Series.

As I tell you every year, stay tuned, because I've got a lot of crap to share with you in the offseason. I've already got an idea for the first Kwiz, and Kwiz Season officially begins now.

Again I've audio-taped for you (just close your eyes--the video is pointless) the last minutes of Joe Castiglione's sign-off, concluding with a piece of the great poem by A. Bartlett Giamatti, The Green Fields of the Mind, which Ken Coleman (who I grew up listening to) always used to sign off with:

Again, it's a different feeling from the pre-'04 days. You're not thinking for months about what could've been and how you thought it was finally "the year." But you hear that poem--and it always makes you sad, no matter what happened, that baseball is gone. Closed for the winter.

2009 schedule.

Thanks, everybody, for a great season. See you tomorrow....

Oh My Lord This Is Sweet

By my logic (which is always an adventure), we've already won the game I thought should be Game 7. Now we just have to win the "Game 6"-ish game. Meaning I thought we should go with Lester in 6, get a win where we don't use much of the pen, then go Beckett in 7, and have the "all hands on deck" mentality. So I'm happier that what I thought we be the more pressurized game is over and won. Of course, Suzyn, you never know what's gonna happen in this great game of baseball.

But anyway, game 7! Holy shit! Thank you, Captain, for snapping out of it. I knew you could hit a dong off a very tired Shields. Just like Bartlett could hit one off a tiring and hurt yet somehow not hurt Beckett. Nice how Bartlett then gave it back with an E. I used to live on Bartlett Street. When he was traded, I rooted for him to take the number of our street address. He was off by like 90. Terrible job, Bartlett.

I love how Pap hasn't given up a run at all in his post-season career. I wonder how many scoreless innings he'll have to go before Yankee fans actually can put him in the "same breath" with Mo. Because all I've heard is how you can't do better than Mo. Can't. The truth is, you can, but Pap could throw 200 more scoreless playoff innings, and they still wouldn't admit that anyone ever did it better than Mo. Pap's only pitched a fifth of Mo's playoff innings at this point, but there's a long way to go in that career. Will they at least admit Pap has done about as well as he could do up to now? I'd say they won't. They can't get real rings anymore, so winning arguments is all they've got. I'll take the wins on the field anyway.

TBS: Seriously, come on. A power out, right at the start of a big playoff game? I've never seen a technical difficulty in 25 years of their Brady Bunch reruns, and all of a sudden, the whole thing goes dead, and no one in the world can watch the game. Do they realize how much I need to see the game, and if I'm not able to will the team to victory, I feel like they can't win? If we had lost this game, I think I would've tracked down Ted Turner and sentenced him to be my butler. In his house. For them to have a problem and not even tell the audience what's going on--instead switching to, of all things, a re-run of the old Dick Clark "TV's Bloopers" show, followed by Steve Harvey--is inexcusable. I can't even believe they started the game! Knowing that nobody could see it! Reminiscent of CBS' "Reno 911" airing during a rain delay at the All-Star Game a few decades back. This is great, though, watching the NESN postgame, and hearing TC and Remy rip TBS to shreds--they've got a radio on their desk, and keep referencing Steve Harvey. (This article notes how much it stank if you were in a bar without radio.)

8:07, Sunday night. Game 7.

Gotta get up early to do a breast cancer fund-raising walk here in Providence. My parents came up tonight and got to watch the game with us, and we'll all be walking in the AM. If you're around here seven hours from now, come by and walk....details here. It's much more productive than sitting in a jail cell. Like Joba.

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