Monthly Archives: April 2012

A Plague of Biblical Proportions

PASSOVER being over and all and being as it was a beautiful Sunday at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton (“On the banks of the Deep Water Channel”), I found myself sitting in the press box watching the Stockton Ports and the Modesto Nuts, two teams that have a natural rivalry overshadowed for both by the hated San Jose Giants who always seem to get the better of whichever of these two survives the season long battle. The game moved along at a nice clip until there were two outs in the top of the 4th inning of a 1-1 game.

That’s when the Biblical plague struck.

Dallas Tarleton, Catcher for the Nuts, had just struck out swinging. Before the next batter (Scott Robinson) could walk up to the plate, every player on the field – I SAID THAT EVERY PLAYER ON THE FIELD – suddenly and simultaneously dropped face down on the field, almost all facing the first base line.

It being Stockton, we just assumed it was because of gunfire, although neither of us had ever expected to have such of play stoppage happen here in the US even though it happens in other places (most recently Mexico). But on the other hand, it is Stockton…

There was a great deal of confusion, with fans headed for the concourse and people pointing wildly in all directions. Even a few screams. On the edge of panic the whole place teetered for nearly three full minutes. Then, slowly came the realization that cause of the disruption, the reason twelve people were lying flat on the ground of Banner Island Ballpark was… a swarm of bees.

Frankly bees don’t really bother me*. But for Ports play-by-play man Zack Bayrouty they are a bit more of a vexation. Apparently he is sore afraid of bees, as evidenced by the one of the swarm which made its way into the booth a few innings later.

Since nobody likes to have their fears pointed out, I will simply say that Zack manned up, kept right on calling the game as the Ports stormed back from six runs down to cut the Nuts lead to just two at the 7th Inning stretch. The bee didn’t harm anyone, and neither was the bee harmed. Reasonable people came to a reasonable solution and nobody had to put blood on the radio booth window or sacrifice a first born to rid the booth of the single bee.

I am personally in favor of keeping the bees. They brought some pretty good luck, as the Ports came from behind – down six runs twice – to win on a three run homer in the bottom of the 9th. Clearly the Baseball Deity sent the plague on the Nuts and then parted the sea of scoring to let the Ports go onto the win!

*It’s a long story, but I once had a wonderful and life altering experience with a group of bees that had occupied my trash can. 

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Baseball v Football

Back in the golden era of 1970’s “cutting edge” comedy, George Carlin first did his famous bit about baseball and football (1990 update), in which he proclaimed football superior to baseball based upon its manly qualities. It is interesting to note that Carlin, so well regarded for his understanding and use of language, should so clearly demonstrate a misunderstanding of why baseball is what it is.

Look, I certainly love football. It is the game I was raised on and the game that I played. I was a Junior in High school before I became enthralled with baseball. But when I finally did catch baseball fever, it engulfed me for life. I watch football today with a professional interest, but I enjoy baseball.

So why is it that Baseball instinctively draws us in?

Both Football and Baseball have their roots in other games, but the truth is that both are uniquely American. Both football and modern baseball really came into being around the turn of the 20th Century. Yes, both had been played for decades prior, but it is then, with the coming of the new Century,  that both games begin to take on the forms that would be recognizable to us today – dated and old fashioned to be sure – but recognizable as the games we know. Still, in the first decade of the 20th Century, there was a clear difference between football and baseball as far as perception in the national conscience went. Read the rest of this entry

On the Radio

The first week of Baseball draws to a close. Seems like most of my “favorite” teams are off to good starts, with the Dodgers, Mariners, Ports and Rainiers all .500 or better. That makes for an optimistic week.

So far my favorite game of the year is the Friday night come-from-behind win by Tacoma. With the A’s and Mariners on the TV, the Dodgers already done, I brought up the (free) radio audio for the Rainiers from Cheney Stadium and listened as the R’s scored 5 runs in the 8th after starting the inning down 7-3 against the only 7’ tall pitcher in the game today, Loek Van Mil.

There really is something special about a game on the radio. Yes, Baseball on TV is quite nice, but the special cadence and flow of a game on radio is mesmerizing to me. The pauses when the crowd comes softly through the microphone, the sound of the pitch hitting the catcher’s mitt, the crack of a bat and the “Ahhh” from the crowd until they are certain that the ball will either be caught or the cheers when it lands for a hit.

Because of my job, I know that most minor league broadcasters will add an extra microphone that is aimed at the crowd, usually just hung out the window of the press box, or occasionally taped to the top of the window. But it’s that extra touch that adds so much. In an era of life that finds us bombarded by constant talk and chatter (and yeah, I get the irony of that*), I find myself drawn into the game when the play-by-play announcer takes that pause.

I play along with him, knowing that he is looking up a fact or stat, taking a swig of Coke or coffee, sharing a quick joke with his counterpart from the other team, or even cursing softly over a balky piece of equipment. But the game goes on, even in the silence that lasts just a few seconds. Players are walking to and from dugouts, the sound of fans, like bee’s droning away on a lazy summer afternoon. It is one of the most relaxing experiences in my life.

And then the Rainiers get a hit. Then another. And another. The excitement builds and the crowd gets louder. Each pause by the announcer now seems unbearable with the building anticipation. It is as if we all know what will happen and we are just waiting to hear it.

Satisfied by ten batters and five runs, our play-by-play man takes us to the commercial break, now with an 8-7 lead.

Sure, you could watch that on TV, but trust me, it’s better on the Radio.**

*My job – Talk Show host

** Or the internet equivalent

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