Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sun Settin' On 'Eleven

Pic I took of sun setting into Long Island Sound during X-mas in X-nnecticut this year.

Have a fun, safe NYE. Due to a family sickness, Kim and I will be staying in. But if you think I'm gonna complain about getting to watch 48 hours of Twilight Zone episodes, you don't know me at all (or never read this blog around New Year's or July 4th).

20 effin' 12. All our lives we've looked at that Fenway Park 1912 sign, and now that's actually gonna be 100 years old. I also remember saying in 1985 how the impossibly futuristic year of 2000 was actually only 15 years away. But at age 10 I knew that was an eternity. A life-and-a-half. Now we've gone way past that even. AND STILL NO SILVER SUITS.

Inspectah On-Deck: Back In America

European Vacation (1985) has a great credit-roll, featuring the song "Back in America." To me, it's not about patriotism, it's about '80s Americana. And I love it. I've seen this thing so many times, and finally I thought to figure out the date of the baseball game shown. Not the bird's-eye shot of Yankee Stadium, but the shot of Dave Winfield arguing with the ump right after it. Here's the frame:

The movie came out in July '85. Winfield's first season with the Yanks was 1981. So this picture has to be from between '81 and mid-'85 (more likely '84 would be the latest, and you can eliminate '81, as they wore an armband on the left sleeve that whole season). It's Yankee Stadium, and it's a night game against the Orioles.

The umpire is #24. Al Clark. Later he got a mustache and got fatter, but in the early 80s you can see he had no 'stache and even had sideburns sometimes. (1980) (1984) (says 1990 but is really '81-'82) So that's him.

Clark is the home plate umpire (ball bag on hip, mask in left hand). Obviously the Yanks were batting, and Winfield is pissed at a call. He's got dirt all over him, so he was most likely called out sliding into home, probably to end the inning. He could be arguing a called third strike and has already thrown the helmet away, but it seems like there hasn't even been an attempt to brush the dirt off yet, so I think he was on the bases. (If that's his hand and not a batting glove below that wristband, he definitely was on the bases, but it's hard to tell.)

But let's get to the point. We need an O's-at-Yanks game from '82 to '84 in which Al Clark was the home plate umpire. There were none. But wait! I still checked all the games he umpired at any base for these games. Those would be the June '82 and June '84 series. There's only one game where Winfield is thrown out at home. June 19th, 1982. Twice! One's in the first inning, and the game started at 8:30, so there would still be daylight. This picture is clearly full-on nighttime. So that leaves the 7th inning, when he was thrown out at home, center to third to first to catcher, to end the inning. So this has to be the play. None of his called strikeouts in the Clark-umped games would have been in darkness.

Now about that thing where I said Clark never umped home plate in any of these games. Yes, the June 19th, 1982 game--which I believe is the correct one--shows him at first, with Jim Evans at the plate, Ted Hendry at second, and Jim McKean at third. But look at the next day's game. Same crew, of course, except for Evans; the second base umpire is listed as "none." Now I don't know what happened to Jim Evans. But I do know that it's possible that the reason he wasn't able to ump on June 20th came about during the June 19th game. Took a foul ball off the skull or something, left the game, and also sat out the next day. So Clark moved behind the plate in the 19th game, and they finished that one with three umps. That would explain why Clark didn't get the message that Mr. Steinbrenner would like all Yankees called safe at the plate.

I can't think of any other way to explain this, since Al Clark is never shown as having umped behind the plate in any Yanks-O's Bronx games between '82 and '84. Or '85 anytime before the movie's release date. The only other team with a white-paneled hat was the Jays, but that uni would be baby blue and, come on, it's pretty clearly the O's, right? Benny Ayala back there I think. I'm still trying to figure out if that's a Yankee coach running out or what. Seems too fat to be a player, but it could be one of them already taking the field for the next inning, unless the coach is going out to argue with a different ump--"you only got three umps out here, I want a second opinion!" The manager was Stick Michael and he doesn't look very stickish.

As for using newspaper reports to confirm, I got nothin'. The game went 16 innings so it was hardly reported at all. Even the papers that had the brief story didn't even have a box score. I read nothing about Evans missing games, or getting injured and leaving a game, or about Winfield arguing with any umpire. So we're stuck with this for now. Nettles singles to center, Winfield tries to go first to third, throw is late, but they throw over to first behind Nettles, who gets back, and Winfield bolts for home, with umpires scurrying everywhere. Ayala guns down Winfield, who slides head-first into home and is tagged by Dempsey, at which point Dave gets up in Clark's face, as Ayala starts heading in, and a fat Yankee coach goes for a mid-inning jog, as blonde Ted Hendry looks on. Seventh inning, June 19th, 1982.

[Update, 11/26/2013: Also note armband on left arm of umpire. Their colleague Lou DiMuro died in early June of 1982 and I have found photographic evidence of umps wearing armbands that year, so this further confirms my 1982 hypothesis. (Though umps wore armbands in other seasons, such as 1985.)]

Friday, December 30, 2011

"It's Beautiful"

I think it's a great thing Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey is doing. He'll be updating his progress climbing Kilimanjaro on the New York Times Bats blog. His post from Thursday is here. (And here's his introductory entry from early this month.) He's doing it to raise awareness about human trafficking. The goal is to open a health center for girls in Mumbai who have been forced into brothels.

Meanwhile, the Mets have continued their unfortunate recent tradition of consistently making the wrong decision, saying they're pissed about this because he might get injured. Of course you're concerned when your players do potentially dangerous things. But when the press asks you about it, you just say "We did inform him about the possible ramifications as advised by our legal team, but we support the cause and wish R.A. the best with this endeavor that clearly means a lot to him. We look forward to seeing him climbing the mound again come spring." See what I did with the mound thing there?

I have to point this out: In his recent blog entry linked above, look how they've captioned the accompanying picture:

Come on! Did the captioner skim or what? Thinking the impressive part about climbing a mountain is the plane ride to get there reminds me of the mermaid in Splash thinking her gift was the box it came in.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Lastish At Bat

Just to prove I'm an equal-opportunity out-caller: I was watching the Ken Burns' Baseball marathon the other day, and Bill Lee was talking wistfully about his final at bat in a Red Sox uniform, before the designated hitter rule took the lumber pitchers' hands after the '72 season. He described a triple to right field. Al Kaline (who he said had bird crap on his shoulders, as he was already a statue by then) couldn't catch the deep liner and Lee would have had an inside-the-park home run, had he been able to pick up the short third base coach in time. By the time he picked him out of the crowd, he had put up the stop sign. Bill ended up with that triple as his final performance as an American League hitter, September 23, 1972.

Great story. One problem: He had three more at bats after that.

He pitched in relief four days later, getting the win and going one for three at the plate with a single. He scored on Aparicio's triple, so his last run scored for Boston came on a three-bagger. But his last A.L. at bat was a groundout to the pitcher (on which the second baseman covered first, so at least he can say something odd happened) on September 27, 1972.

He appeared on the mound two more times that season, including October 3, when the Tigers clinched the division with a 3-1 win over the Red Sox in Detroit. Lee was due up third in the ninth, but was pinch-hit for. Ben Oglivie made the last out in Lee's place. That put Boston 1.5 games behind with one game left. (1972, as some younger people might not know, is an underrated heartbreak season for the Red Sox, as a strike allowed them to actually finish the season a half-game out of first place.)

Epilogue: Look, people, I'm impressed that these guys remember so much stuff, and I understand they're going to get some things slightly wrong. It's just funny that they always tell it like fact, seemingly without realizing that the details of their particular occupation are all documented. You could tell me that the last cracker you tested at the cracker-testing facility job you had in 1984 was octagonal, and I'd pretty much have to settle for that. But if you played MLB, just know your story can be checked out.

[Photo by me, Cooperstown, NY, June 2011]

Packin' And Unpackin'

The Red Sox recently gave a contract to Jesse Carlson--and now we've continued the WKRP theme by trading Josh Reddick for A's pitcher Andrew Bailey. (Both these guys have Connecticut ties--does anybody know what town Bailey lives in? I can't find anything other than "Connecticut" anywhere.)

So I guess we've got our closer. I hope it works out. I still say the loss of Papelbon is gonna really make people realize they took him for granted. The perfect guy for a critical role--exactly the thing you should be spending money on, regardless of the price, especially when you're a team who actually has money. All the risks we've spent big money on, and we don't spend it on a sure thing in a key position. Makes no sense. The loss of Tito will have a similar effect--we'll be calling him Grancona upon realizing we took him for granted--but at least that should mainly be off-field stuff, which you can ignore by simply not reading/watching the news.

Funny how Bard fans won't be complaining about him becoming a starter and a different closer coming in. They all (except for my buddy Tom) only know what they've seen in the past 2 weeks of baseball, and they are proving that by the fact that they haven't said word one since September about how he should be the closer as they'd been planning all along. They should have been fighting for the guy! Instead he has a bad month and it's "hmmm, I wonder who are closer's gonna be...." Anyway it would be pretty effing sweet if Bard can become a solid starter.

I liked that Reddick, too bad he had to go. (You know, since we have so many right fielders.) (And don't take that as me thinking the Red Sox aren't doing anything this off-season--I was just going to say, every single year people say in December what an oddly quiet off-season it's been, and they've done it again this year. Do they know the off-season is nowhere near over??)

Okay so here are a few shots of Reddick I never put on the blog:

From a game against the Padres.

From Wake's 200th win game.

From May against the White Sox, his first game of 2011.

My video of his hit that beat the Yanks last year here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Another One

See what you can do with this one:

Merry F'n Xmas

Did you know Hideki Okajima was born on Christmas Day?

Did you know he's a New York Yankee?

I believe their organization has now had three Hidekis.

Midnight On December 28th

San Diego: 54 degrees

Corpus Christi, TX: 53 degrees

Durango, Mexico: 51 degrees

Atlanta: 42 degrees

Tallahassee, FL: 42 degrees

Temp in Providence right now: 57 degrees


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

1990s Film Alphabet

Made this thing in response to an 80s one I saw on another site. Figured I'd post it here too. See if you can figure these out.
I hate how sometimes I intend to do funny drawings but then I end up trying to hard, so instead of "funny" it ends up looking "bad." But, whatever. Hopefully it's...bad enough to be funny?

I'll Just Leave This Here

You know what I do sometimes? I start researching some old thing and five hours later I find I have gathered way too much info and need a whole new chunk of time to actually compress it all into a post. So until I get to that, here's a picture of Bud Selig from 1973 I found along the way:

Monday, December 26, 2011


Update to previous post: I sent an e-mail to the ticket office, and within twenty minutes they sent me the list of my games. So great job by them there--though as far as I can tell, as of now, anyone who doesn't contact them won't know what their games are.

So if you are a 10-game plan holder, write them at

As for the games, it worked out pretty good. Thanks to this year's slightly weird schedule, I end up with 2 April, 2 May, 2 June, 1 July, 1 August, and 2 September, instead of 3 April and 3 September and 1 of each of the others. Also, since my plan is one weekend day and two weekdays, you always hope for it to be 4-3-3 in favor of the weekend day, and it is. The usual 2 Yanks games and 1 Interleague game are there, so except for the gaffe of leaving us to gather this info on our own, everything's the same or better than usual.

[Insert some cheesy line about being excited for baseball, e.g. "see you at the ballpark!"]

The Forgotten Man Plan

Finally got my snail mail 10th Man Plan renewal form on Saturday. It came with a letter from Ben saying a bunch of stuff about how we season ticket holders are so important and how they're all ready for a new start over there at Fenway and all that stuff. The importance of the contents of this envelope is that it's where we can see the details of our plan, most importantly, the ten games they're giving us according to our version of this plan (each one has games on specific days of the week). Neither the games nor any mention of this severely wait-listed plan appear anywhere on It does have an area where we can renew our plan online, but this area has yet to list the actual games for 2012.

So I was happy to get my official envelope....

Until I discovered that it didn't contain the list of games, either!

What's going on here? I feel like we, the supposed 10th man, have been forgotten. As I write this, there's a stocking hanging 15 feet to my right. It's a Red Sox 2004 World Champions one. 10th Man Plan holders got this as a gift seven years ago. It was actually given to us because the DVD they had planned on sending us was delayed (probably due to us winning it all, causing the season's highlight reel to be altered dramatically). So back then we'd get a gift, and if the gift was late, we'd get another gift to tide us over! We also paid the season ticket (discounted) price for our seats. And the plans were listed right there on the web site. These traditions quickly stopped.

And now, they give us two options for paying for our plans, yet there's this major oversight of not telling us which games we're buying! My girlfriend joked that once I renew, they'll send me my tickets with the seat location and price on them, but with no date or opponent listed. I guess we'll just have to show up every day and hope for the best....

I'm not one of these people who constantly criticizes the ownership and claims they only care about money. I stand behind those guys because they've done everything I could have asked for and more. And I am grateful for the perks I do get as season ticket holder. But when crappy stuff happens, I have to mention it. I would rather know the dates and opponents than get a form letter thanking me. If this is an issue of "they just haven't finalized the plans yet," well, they should have let us know that, and definitely shouldn't have sent out the renewal forms yet. I think it's just a (terrible) mistake, which hopefully gets fixed on Monday once they get flooded with phone calls. (They should also extend the deadline so people have more time to decide before they have to pay.) And I hope you don't think I'm nitpicking--it's kind of an important detail they're leaving out here. Would you drop hundreds of dollars on a box you didn't know the contents of?

For those who don't care about season ticket stuff--dick jokes are on the way!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

My Gift To You

Three words: Domingo Beisbol Academy. Search it. Watch the videos.

Edited to add--also, this guy:

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Location: Rhode Island, United States