May 2009

Rain Delays

Rain delays. No other sport has delays like baseball. It’s just another aspect of baseball that makes the game the national pastime.

As a fan, before Jumbo Trons and Video Boards, rain delays were spent reading and re-reading the program. Or wandering around the distant reaches of Candlestick Park. Sometimes it meant eating a lot. Oh wait a minute, I always ate a lot at the ballpark.

In my book, a true baseball fan has to do three things and only three things.

1. Root for a losing team.

2. Sit through a rain delay.

3. Listen to more games on the radio than you watch on TV

That’s it. Pretty simple, eh?

Rain delays somehow cause fans to come together. It’s hard to explain, but when I was going to games there was always something different about being at a game that was being delayed. It was almost as if we were all in it together, sitting there, braving the rain waiting patiently for the game to start. Sometimes hoping it would start. Those crowds would always seem to have more energy, more life. Maybe that’s because in a way it was a rebirth once the game started and the rain stopped.

Matt Williams, when he was with the Giants, used to do a great Babe Ruth impersonation during rain delays.

About now you’re probably just how many I sat through in San Francisco. Well, I don’t know. I’m guessing more than ten and less than 20. The truth is that it just doesn’t rain all that much out there during the baseball season.

Shawon Dunston of the Cubs used to put on a good show during rain delays. He’d have fun slipping and sliding, entertaining the fans.

Occasionally you’ll see a player in the big leagues messing around during a delay, but not very often. The game has changed. The business of the game has changed.

As the saying goes, it is what it is.

So the next time you are at Metro Bank Park, or any park for that matter, and the game is being delayed, take the opportunity to say hello to someone near you. Make a new friend. Remember you’re in it together, those of you hanging out waiting for the rain to stop.

So as the rain continues to fall at Prince Georges Stadium tonight in Bowie, I think I’ll get up and go make a new friend.

Until next time, go Sens.

 

 

 

 

Coming and Going…

The Sens have had a pretty good week winning a couple of road series and splitting the first two games at home. The exciting thing about being home in the opening of the new Capital BlueCross Boardwalk.  Watching the reactions of fans the past two nights has been a lot of fun. And seeing people surround the playing field makes it seem we are in a big league ballpark.

One of the wonderful things about working in AA, or at any level of the minor leagues, is getting an opportunity to watch future major leaguers while still in an intimate atmosphere. Off the top of my head, I’d have no idea how many players I’ve watched the first four plus seasons in the Eastern League that have made the big leagues. But it’s a bunch, that’s for sure.

As much as Metro Bank Park feels more big league it is definitely not the big leagues. For the players, the pay is obviously much better in the big leagues but so is everything else. No more late night delivery from Gino’s Pizzeria or the long bus rides. Being in the big leagues means chartered air travel… not handling your own bags… and being in lush surroundings in the clubhouse.

The players aren’t the only people trying to reach the big leagues though, all of us aspire to reach a higher level, maybe a better job within baseball. For me, it is a big league radio job. For others here, it’s getting to a place that maybe they’ve always dreampt about like running the New York Yankees. For one person with the Sens front office, she is moving onward and upward trying to reach more goals. 

Today is the final day Director of Picnic Operations and unofficial social director Melissa Altemose is working for the team. She’ll be back for a couple of games between now and early June, but today is her last full-time day. Though we are separated by a whole lot of years in age, Melissa and I both started with the Senators in 2005.  She is leaving to take a job with the Washington Wizards of the NBA, joining former front office staff member Tony Duffy who is also with the Wizards.

I have no doubt that Melissa will someday be running a minor league team if she so desires. Or working the front office on the sports side of a professional organization.  Here’s to wishing Melissa good luck in all of her future endeavors! 

Time

Last night in Erie the Senators and SeaWolves played 10 innings and the game took three hours and forty-eight minutes. You read that right… Three. Forty. Eight. If you don’t know the outcome you’re probably thinking that it was a 15-14 type of game with a lot of action.

Nope. 4-3. There were however 20 strikeouts and fifteen walks. Strikeouts and walks take a lot of pitches and a lot of pitches mean games move slowly.

Don’t get me wrong, there was some outstanding pitching in the game as both teams left numerous runners in scoring position because of great pitching. And there was some great defense too. Edgardo Baez threw a runner out at third, and Luke Montz was thrown out at home by Brennan Boesch of the SeaWolves.

But this blog isn’t really about last night’s game, it’s about time.

Last night’s game started at 6:35pm local time, which meant it was over by 10:30pm even with the game lasting 3:48, it was still over by 10:30pm.

The World Series has started later and later over the years to the point that at 10:30, without the games being played slowly, the games are in the fifth or sixth inning. At 10:30pm EDT, they are in just the fifth or sixth inning.

Keep in mind that with those games, the typical break between each half-inning is something like 2:30, which means with 17 half inning breaks, makes for over 30 minutes of commercials during a game.

It also means that games are ending, even the “quick” games, between 11:30 and Midnight.

In case you hadn’t heard, MLB and Fox announced yesterday that all of the weekday World Series and ALCS games would start before 8:00pm. They were gleeful in this announcement. Like they had accomplished something major. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you the actual start time, 7:57pm. Yep, a whole three minutes before 8:00pm.

I’m wondering if any of you know how many major league games will start this week at 7:57pm? Anyone know the answer? Ferris?

I do.

None. Zippo. Nada. As a matter of fact, the latest local starting time for any game this week is 7:15pm with most night games starting at 7:00 or 7:05pm.

I just wonder how all of those teams manage to get fans in the stands and home watching the games since prime-time hasn’t started yet. I realize no one in America watches any TV before prime-time, but somehow for six months starting at that time makes sense for baseball teams, but not for the playoffs.

The worst part of all of this is that Fox made the announcement, as if they control what baseball does.

Oh wait, my bad. They do.

The NLCS has not announced any changes because there games are on TBS. Heaven forbid baseball actually control when the games start.

I wonder if the world would end if World Series games started at say, 7:15pm and were over by say, 11:00pm!?!?

The single biggest televised sporting event in America, the Super Bowl, starts at 6:30pm EST on a Sunday night. Supposedly the worst night of the week for Nielsen ratings, and yet it seems to do just fine.

Somehow in the “old” days the World Series was pretty popular and was actually played, gasp, in the daytime. Imagine that, day baseball!?!?

Okay… that’s it. I’ll get off the old soap box for now! By the way, downtown Erie is gorgeous today. And it looks like a great day for a run. So, I need to get moving and get outside, the streets of Erie are beckoning me.

And besides, time is starting to slip away on this fine Tuesday!

 

Streaking…

Baseball is a game of streaks and statistics. What other sport has so many numbers so closely related to it?

For example, what does 714 or 755 mean to you? Well of course you know that is the number of home runs Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron hit in their careers.

Tell me, how holds the all-time rushing record in the NFL and how many yards?

Almost all baseball fans know that 300 wins by a pitcher is an incredible accomplishment and is nearly an automatic berth in the Hall of Fame.

There isn’t a comparable number in either the NBA or NFL. Whether baseball is the most popular sport now is certainly debateable. The fact that literally MILLIONS of fans attend games says that it’s still pretty popular.

Yesterday alone over 380,000 fans attended major league games for an average of over 29,000. And remember, there are games today, and tomorrow, Monday, Tuesday… well you get the picture. The games aren’t once a week or two or three times a week, but… Every. Single. Day.

It’s easy to understand injuries in football because of the violent collisions and in hockey with banging into the boards. But in football the players have a week between games and in hockey they are only on the ice for 90 seconds to 2 minutes at a time.

The next time you see a ground ball bang off the shin of the short stop, you just think back to when you were a kid and got a bruise there and how badly it hurt. And then remember that that particular short stop is going to keep playing, every day, with that bruise among others. Baseball may not be the physical game the others are but it is an everyday grind.

As I’ve mentioned before, this year the Senators will spend about 10,000 miles on a bus, play 142 games in 151 days, and spend over 1,200 hours at ballparks this summer. Is it hard work, no, is it work, yes.  

All of this makes some streaks easier than others. For instance, the start this season by the Senators has been bad, but playing everyday makes it difficult to step back and take a deep breath, maybe after a couple of days of not playing, and regroup. Instead they come to the ballpark everyday, with no break, and try to break out of their collective slumps.

Ryan Zimmerman just had a 30 game hitting streak snapped this past week in San Francisco. 30 games. That is a month’s worth of getting a hit in every game. How many of  you out there play slow pitch softball? Do you get a hit in every game for 30 games? Now thinking about playing against pitchers throwing 90+ miles per hour and getting hit. Every. Day.

Hats off to Ryan Zimmerman and his 30-game streak. And hats off to the Sens who snapped their 15-game road losing streak last night. Here’s hoping they start a winning streak tonight.