When Can We Yell: “Play Ball”?!?!

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There was one particular thought that surfaced when almost 3 feet of snow was accumulating outside my window a couple of weeks ago: How many days until pitchers and catchers have to report? I found out the answer earlier today…

The Yanks’ Opening Day can’t be far behind! If you want to know exactly — and I mean exactly — click the image below. You can see how much time is left until the first pitch against the Tigers.

You can make a nifty Countdown Calendar for your own teams’ Opening Day at the wonderful Time & Date.

It’s almost Spring!

Baseball Analysis

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Via Shots, NPR’s Health Blog:

You haven’t really seen baseball analysts until you’ve sat in on a panel of shrinks dissecting America’s pastime.

Trust us. We saw it happen at a meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association just a few blocks from NPR HQ on Thursday. Washington Nationals President Stan Kasten even joined the keepers of Freud’s flame to discuss the mental challenges posed by the game and why it has such a strong grip on so many minds.

First, we can now report that our favorite spectator sport’s unique national status is official. “Baseball is part of the American psyche,” declared Dr. Bruce Levin, a psychoanalyst from outside Philadelphia who organized the panel. Baseball, he said, isn’t just a game. Watching and playing are also about connecting with our “inner baseball heroes” and also help “children practice growing up.”

There’s more…

Reading My Work: A Gift for a Friend

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For my good friend Andy Marino’s 60th birthday, his wife Dianne asked that his friends bring artistic presents to the celebration. There were gifts of songs, heart-felt testimonials, music, love and friendship. I read from a work in progress, FROM MOUNTAIN ROAD TO EASY STREET, a fictionalized memoir I hope to complete this year.

Part 2 of Reading My Work: A Gift for a Friend is HERE.

Thanks for watching!

—A h/t to Deb Brozina for the great camera work on a non-existing budget : )

A Poem (and a Photograph)

Old Baseball Team

Line-up for Yesterday

A is for Alex
The great Alexander;
More Goose eggs he pitched
Than a popular gander.

B is for Bresnahan
Back of the plate;
The Cubs were his love,
and McGraw his hate.

C is for Cobb,
Who grew spikes and not corn,
And made all the basemen
Wish they weren’t born.

D is for Dean,
The grammatical Diz,
When they asked, Who’s the tops?
Said correctly, I is.

E is for Evers,
His jaw in advance;
Never afraid
To Tinker with Chance.

F is for Fordham
And Frankie and Frisch;
I wish he were back
With the Giants, I wish.

G is for Gehrig,
The Pride of the Stadium;
His record pure gold,
His courage, pure radium.

H is for Hornsby;
When pitching to Rog,
The pitcher would pitch,
Then the pitcher would dodge.

I is for Me,
Not a hard-hitting man,
But an outstanding all-time
Incurable fan.

J is for Johnson
The Big Train in his prime
Was so fast he could throw
Three strikes at a time.

K is for Keeler,
As fresh as green paint,
The fastest and mostest
To hit where they ain’t.

L is for Lajoie
Whom Clevelanders love,
Napolean himself,
With glue in his glove.

M is for Matty,
Who carried a charm
In the form of an extra
brain in his arm.

N is for Newsom,
Bobo’s favorite kin.
You ask how he’s here,
He talked himself in.

O is for Ott
Of the restless right foot.
When he leaned on the pellet,
The pellet stayed put.

P is for Plank,
The arm of the A’s;
When he tangled with Matty
Games lasted for days.

Q is for Don Quixote
Cornelius Mack;
Neither Yankees nor years
Can halt his attack.

R is for Ruth.
To tell you the truth,
There’s just no more to be said,
Just R is for Ruth.

S is for Speaker,
Swift center-field tender,
When the ball saw him coming,
It yelled, “I surrender.”

T is for Terry
The Giant from Memphis
Whose .400 average
You can’t overemphis.

U would be ‘Ubell
if Carl were a cockney;
We say Hubbell and Baseball
Like Football and Rockne.

V is for Vance
The Dodger’s very own Dazzy;
None of his rivals
Could throw as fast as he.

W is for Wagner,
The bowlegged beauty;
Short was closed to all traffic
With Honus on duty.

X is the first
of two x’s in Foxx
Who was right behind Ruth
with his powerful soxx.

Y is for Young
The magnificent Cy;
People battled against him,
But I never knew why.

Z is for Zenith
The summit of fame.
These men are up there.
These men are the game.

—Ogden Nash

The Greatest Baseball Game In 37 Years, (Part 1)

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was first published this past July. I am republishing in celebration (and hopeful anticipation) of tonight’s Game 6 of the ALCS in the Bronx. I’ll repost Part 2 tomorrow.

Baseball is back after the All-Star break. Is mid-season in the baseball universe.

I have never been to an All-Star Baseball Game. Even though I watched a few on television, lately I’ve noticed that my interest in them has waned. For me it’s just not a real baseball game. I suspect that players don’t play really that hard. They seem afraid of an injury that could jeopardize their team’s chances of winning a pennant, or worse, an individual player’s own future.

So, I didn’t tune into the game. But I was glad to learn that the American League had won again. I also watched the replays of President Obama throwing the ceremonial first pitch. He seemed relieved that it didn’t go the way of the bowling ball in Pennsylvania. I think presidents should be allowed to throw a few warm-up pitches in the bullpen before their first — and only — pitch in front of a larger audience.

I’ve been thinking a lot about baseball this past week. More than usual. Let me tell you why.

My team, the Yankees were swept in Anaheim prior to the All-Star Game. (Now,  just hold it, all you Yankee haters! Before you start sending me hate-mail, I became a fan when the Yankees sucked so bad that even the Mets were drawing bigger crowds). The games against the Angels reminded me — as they always do — of the day in 1970 when I met Minnesota’s Tony Oliva in Anaheim. That’s the kind of thing that really makes an impression on a fourteen year-old. My father, just arrived from Cuba, had a message for Mr. Oliva from his first manager back in Cuba. Dad had met the man working in the Castro forced-labor camps for those seeking to emigrate to the U. S.  Mr. Oliva’s manager asked Dad to seek out the famous right fielder, the first chance he got, and deliver a personal message. I thought it was a crazy idea. And I didn’t believe for one minute that we would actually be taken seriously when my cousin called the stadium to arrange a meeting. Hours later, when I was standing in front of the visiting team’s locker room at Anaheim Stadium, I still didn’t believe it.

When the six foot-something, gently-walking, softly-speaking hero to most baseball-loving Cubans that I knew — and most Cubans that I know love baseball — appeared in front of me, I lost the ability to speak. A rare thing indeed for a teenager. It took me a few years to understand that what most impressed me about the man was his humble, decent demeanor and what I would now call a certain grace. My Dad spoke about Mr. Oliva’s manager and Mr. Oliva listened and nodded and if he smiled, I don’t remember. He seemed saddened by the remembrance of the coach he had left behind.

I don’t know how many of those memories are accurate. It’s been a long time since that game. The joy and excitement I felt that evening, not only survived all of these years, but grew deeper and richer. The further certain memories recede, the more we value them. And father-son visits to a ballpark can be one of the most treasured.

That Anaheim game, where my Dad introduced me to a legend, was the greatest baseball game that I had ever been to. That’s what I said, to anyone who asked, for the next 37 years.

Next time I’ll tell you about the one that replaced it.

–JM