Florida Needs Help Killing Pythons aka Fun Florida Family Vacation in the Everglades

Gator_and_PythonToday (meaning some day in January–this is a repost) begins Florida’s annual Everglades Python Hunt.

How do you kill a python? Carefully.

Burmese pythons play a great game of hide n’seek, and are very difficult to find. They have been wrecking ecological havoc on the natural wonderland that are the Florida Everglades. This little exercise might be fun for the hunters, but last year, the hunt only captured 68 snakes. The exact number of pythons is not known–again, wicked hide n’seek skillz–but best estimates in 2011 were about 2,000. However, according to the state’s wildlife commission, the point is not to eradicate the snakes, but to raise awareness of the problem.

Whoever brings in the most pythons wins $1,500. Second prize is $1,000. If you’re interested in joining, here’s the info: http://pythonchallenge.org/. There’s even official gear. Get your 2016 Python Challenge Sippy Cup.

 

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Fantasy Baseball 102: Auction Drafts

POSTED ON FEBRUARY 14, 2016

If you’re like me, when you first heard as a noob that you had a $260 auction budget to stock an entire team of 25 players, you thought: “That’s impossible. These people are high.” Well, apparently some of us are high, but that’s besides the point. Yes, you can stock an entire team of major leaguers with the weekly food budget of a family of four and you will (they shop at Whole Foods). If I told you that your auction budget was $260,000,000, you’d say, “Oh sure, I can do that.” Now, you’re the LA Dodgers or the NY Yankees. Well, just eliminate the extra zeroes and there ya go. You can do it.

This is more a how-to than the strategy behind a draft, although I do give you some tips. You really need to come up with your own strategy. In the next installment, I’ll provide you with some links to help you come up with your own, but I can’t give away my own. I’ve already said too much.

What is a Snake Draft vs. Auction Draft?

If you’ve never played before, you’ll hear a couple of terms tossed about: Snake and Auction draft. Just so you know the difference, in a Snake Draft, every team drafts in order. In other words, if there are 12 teams, each team is randomly given a spot in which to draft. The team which draws the first spot logically drafts first and so on. When all 12 teams have drafted in Round 1, the order flips in a serpentine fashion. The team that drafted in the 12th spot in Round 1 will draft in the 1st spot in Round 2. In other words:

Round 1: 1-12

Round 2: 12-1

Round 3: 1-12

Round 4: 12-1

And so on…

The problem is this. Say you’re in the first round. You have your heart set on Andrew McCutchen. He is your precious. Those brown eyes, that sense of humor, that .OPS+. He is perfect. You Must Have Cutch. You are in the 11th spot. The 9th pick has gone by and no one has picked him yet! Woohoo! You got him! #10 makes his pick… and Andrew McCutchen and his beautiful brown eyes are gone. FUCKETY FUCK FUCK. Damn you Team 10! Damn you to hell for eternity and your children too! Cutch is mine!  Okay, it’s a bit harsh, but you know, it’s Cutch. (Seriously, the team who drafts lasts statistically is at a disadvantage even though they are compensated with another immediate pick.)

andrew-mccutchen

An Auction Draft stops this scenario. You can have your Cutch and no one has to go to hell as long as you’re willing to name your price. Each team is again given a random order but this time, it’s to bid on a player. When your turn is up, you pick a player and a bid. Everyone else can also bid on that player too, so… it is on.

Let’s break down the ESPN auction screen so it’s not so mysterious.

Below is ESPN’s Mock Draft screen. It looks identical to a real Auction Draft screen. The teams appear across the top of the screen. As you can see, the software has randomly selected me to bid 5th. The software will highlight your team a golden yellow color. (The little blue circles around the other teams indicates that they are bots.)

Screenshot 2016-02-13 at 9.30.55 PM

The auction has not started yet. On the upper left hand of the screen, you can see the countdown. Draft begins in 2 minutes, 13 seconds. Do NOT CLICK AUTOBID under the countdown. I did that once by mistake when I did not have any pre-set settings and it drafted someone who was really injured. I was NOT HAPPY. Stupid HAL.)

There are 10 teams in this draft. The software defaults to who it projects to be the top ranked players. Heyyyy, Mike Trout. You can do your own rankings prior to the draft. You can re-sort during the draft by clicking on any of the columns–R, HR, RBI, SB and so on. It will not change the order of the computer’s rankings, but it will change how you view the players. You can also do a Nomination Queue. Instead of automatically nominating the next player from the computer’s pre-sort if you haven’t highlighted anyone, the computer will nominate for bidding the player from your queue. Drag the player’s name to the area on the screen on the lower right hand side (it has a red box under it). If someone else nominates the player however, the player will disappear from your queue.

If you are looking for a particular position, you can filter by Position on the left hand side of the screen. If you are looking for a player on a particular team, you can filter by Team. Across from that, there is another drop down tab labeled Show. You can sort by 2016 Projected Stats, 2015 Stats, or Player News. (I strongly encourage you to do a Mock Auction Draft to play with all the settings.)

The software will alert you when the auction begins. The first team clicks on the player of his choice from the Player list. His name and face appear on the screen. In the following screen shot, the third team up (confusingly named Team #7) was making his pick. You can tell it’s the 3rd team up because there is an arrow next to the team.

Screenshot 2016-02-13 at 9.34.13 PM

(Edit: @longfootlefty brought up an excellent point. I did not explain that big red BID BUTTON accurately. I re-wrote the following paragraph since his comment.)

Team #7 picked Josh Donaldson and his initial bid was $1. To do a manual bid, you enter your bid in the text box labeled Manual Bid, then click the yellow BID button. Your other option is to click the red BID button labeled with ESPN’s suggested recommended amount. For Josh Donaldson, that means your initial bid is $37. You can do that, but it’s usually a high amount. If you don’t want to waste time, go ahead–I’m not your momma–however keep in mind that if you bid low, you might get a bargain. Bid low and let the other players bid the player up. Once that initial bid has been placed, that BIG RED BID BUTTON turns into a +$1 button. If you want to bid for anyone in an increment of $1 higher than the previous bid, you click on that big red Bid button. It becomes very useful. You want to bid quickly. You don’t have much time if you’re interested in a player. You can also enter a manual bid if you want to increase in an increment higher than +$1.

There’s a total of 25 seconds to bid on any player. It’s hard to see, but the next bid was $5, followed by a $12 bid. Another team then bid $17 on him at the 19 second mark. If someone bids on any player within the final 9 seconds, the clock resets to 10 seconds, giving someone else an opportunity to bid on the player. There is no “sniping” allowed (aka bidding at the very last second and allowing no one else an opportunity to bid).

The software will warn you when time is about to expire (Going Once, Going Twice, Sold). As a newcomer, I don’t recommend muting the software, although you will get so tired of hearing that voice. It’s a good warning, and the software alerts you when it’s your turn to bid. It’s one night. Just try to deal with it.

Beware of the yellow PASS button. If you click that, you can no longer bid on that player. There is no warning–Are you sure you want to pass on this player? If he’s a piece of shit, okay, but… just beware. I like to keep my options open. Remember all the purposes of bidding.

So can I bid $260 on one player because I’m a smart-ass?

The software will not allow you to run out of money if you bid like a moron, as I did in this mock auction:

Screenshot 2016-02-13 at 9.49.15 PM

I paid $100 for Cutch. Oh yeah. I got him. I told you, he’s mine. Remember, the budget is $260. I have now spent $100 on Cutch and $40 on Bryce Harper. To summarize, I have spent $140 on 2 positions. That leaves me $120 to fill the rest of my roster spots. I’m in a little bit of trouble. It’s tough to see, but at the very top of the screen shot, there’s a tab that says “Maximum Bid.” When I click on that, the very helpful people at ESPN tell me that I can do one crazy bid of $98 and then the rest of my bids must be $1 each to fill out the rest of my roster spots. I just gave you a great example of how not to bid on auction night.

Again, the software will not let you go broke. You cannot bid $260 on one player. Do not try. It will say “Maximum bid $236.” I tested it to be sure. So, if the maximum bid you can make on any one player before you have spent any of your money is $236, that would leave you with $24 for the rest of your auction. One dollar for each of the rest of your roster spots. If you do this, I will drive cross-country to wherever you live and smack you, you eediot. 🙂

On the far right hand of the screen, you can select other teams and see how they’ve drafted from a drop down list. I wouldn’t worry too much about that during the draft. Focus on your own team.

Should I save money from my auction and use it for my budget during the season?

@happytwinsfan asked a great question. Does it roll it over into the season for his free agency budget? Will chaco send us a refund check? Sadly no. You will lose your money. Spend every dollar of that $260 during your auction or as close as you can come. You do not want to have a dollar left.

Should I do a mock auction?

Have you been listening? Yes, I strongly encourage you to do a couple of mock auctions beforehand to get comfortable with the software and to make sure the software is compatible with your computer. Find a 10 or 12 team mock auction draft, preferably roto, but for the purpose of getting comfortable with it, it doesn’t really matter. Just get the feel. Here’s the link. Play with all the features.

We can also schedule a couple of mock drafts too. Remember to draft a little silly during your mock draft. This is not the time to show off. Do not give away your strategy. The purpose is to get comfortable. (Although, as you get close to show time, you might want to do a dry run with strangers to see if your strategy is functional.)

Also, you may have noticed there is a space on the bottom on the screen for chatting, so if you want to talk during the draft, you can. I have found there is very little chatting during the real draft. Mock drafts with friends, sure. But during a real draft, focus. Ignore anyone who tries to distract you or tries to rush you into making a decision.

A few things:

  • Try to stick to your budget. Don’t get into a pissing match or let ego get the best of you. Remember your tier rankings. There is almost always someone comparable to your must have player.
  • Know how to nominate. Nominating doesn’t mean you’re going to continue to bid on the player. Remember that every dollar spent by your opponent is one less dollar in their budget. This is a game within the game. This is a very important thing for a newcomer to realize about auction drafts. The experienced players know this well.
  • Know how to allocate your resources. Have a skeleton budget at least. How much do you plan to spend on offense? Pitching? Your best laid plans may go askew, but at least have an idea of where you want to spend. Remember, while any player can get injured, pitchers are especially prone to getting hurt. We all know this as fans, but when we’re drafting our teams, we tend to develop amnesia. Kershaw or GTFO, right?

You might read that newbies shouldn’t do auctions drafts and get intimidated. Nonsense, I say. I did it my first year playing and it was sooooo much fun. I have tried snake drafts, and it’s like being asked to crawl when I have flown. If I could do it, you can too.

Fantasy Baseball 101: Roto

POSTED ON FEBRUARY 13, 2016

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I’m a relatively newbie myself compared to some of the old-timers, but in the past few years, I’ve learned a few things. I’m no expert by any means and I don’t claim to be. Whether you play in our league or somewhere else, hopefully this information will come in handy. I would not have survived my first year playing without others sharing their knowledge.

Where did the name rotisserie even come from? It makes me hungry.

Back in 1980, a group of guys and a gal met at a New York City restaurant named La Rotisserie Française, where its founders played the game for the first time over lunch. Yes, there was a woman owner in the first fantasy league. Apparently, they interviewed her like she was applying for a job. It reminds me of my first invite into a baseball fantasy league. Although fantasy baseball was played in other forms prior to that, the granddaddy of fantasy sports as we know them today was born there. There’s a great article over at ESPN Insider about this. Yes, you need to pay for the full version but even half of it is excellent.

Why those categories?

Dan Okrent, one of the founding members, decided on the basic categories: average, home runs, RBIs, steals, wins, saves, ERA and WHIP. It was an NL-only League (booo). He prototyped the 6 previous seasons, and realized that using those stats, it seemed to track close to the actual standings. They also used an auction to divvy up the players. It was arbitrarily decided that pitching and offense would be 50-50.

According to Wikipedia, “Ironically, despite having been credited with inventing fantasy baseball he has never been able to win a Rotisserie League he has ever entered.” I’m guessing his competition is pretty good. He seems pretty smart.

(Did you know Dan Okrent also created WHIP? I did not know this.)

Ok, enough with the history lesson. I’ve only played Head to Head because it’s awesome. Now I gotta play my grandpa’s game. How do I score?

It’s not hard. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll keep the categories old school and the team numbers small. I’m going to back up a little. When we say 5×5, that means we have 5 hitting categories and 5 pitching categories. 6×6, 6 hitting categories, 6 pitching categories. (I’m not trying to be condescending–I don’t know your level, so I’m starting at the beginning. It’s a very good place to start.) The original roto people did 4×4.

So, let’s say we have 12 teams and we’re playing 5×5 with the following simple basic categories: R/HR/RBI/SB/AVG/W/SV/K/ERA/WHIP. Since we have 12 teams, the maximum available points per category is 12 points–12 teams, 12 points.

This is a scoring sample. This first table are the actual statistics, pretty straight forward.

BA R RBI HR SB W SV K ERA WHIP
Team 1 .283 825 884 241 99 85 146 1226 3.70 1.26
Team 2 .276 835 798 201 120 81 143 1285 3.58 1.26
Team 3 .277 816 850 225 60 101 116 1119 3.64 1.24
Team 4 .266 817 669 163 160 103 6 1285 3.46 1.22
Team 5 .277 764 628 117 212 90 71 1195 3.42 1.19
Team 6 .275 856 869 231 119 71 75 1204 3.75 1.31
Team 7 .255 792 769 167 109 81 46 1184 3.38 1.21
Team 8 .274 825 664 150 109 99 54 1141 3.61 1.26
Team 9 .280 787 757 205 121 81 1 879 4.01 1.27
Team 10 .264 701 788 175 63 87 53 922 3.48 1.26
Team 11 .276 761 764 191 68 81 99 1122 3.71 1.32
Team 12 .270 774 704 193 155 62 157 852 3.93 1.35

Using the batting average column, Team 1 has the best BA total, .283, and receives 12 points.  Team 2 has the second best BA total and receives 11 points. Team 3 and Team 5 are tied at .277. They receive 9.5 points each. Team 2 is tied with Team 6 and they receive 7.5 points each, and so on. Team 7, as the worst scoring in the BA category at .255, receives a single point. This is what it looks like (please correct me if I made a typo with the numbers, as that will be confusing):

BA R RBI HR SB W SV K ERA WHIP
Team 1 12 9.5 12 12 4 7 11 10 5 6.5
Team 2 7.5 11 9 8 8 4.5 10 11.5 8 6.5
Team 3 9.5 7 10 10 1 11 9 4 6 9
Team 4 3 8 3 3 11 12 2 11.5 10 10
Team 5 9.5 3 1 1 12 9 6 8 11 12
Team 6 6 12 11 11 7 2 7 9 3 3
Team 7 1 6 7 4 5.5 4.5 3 7 12 11
Team 8 5 9.5 2 2 5.5 10 5 6 7 6.5
Team 9 11 5 5 9 9 4.5 1 2 1 4
Team 10 2 1 8 5 2 8 4 3 9 6.5
Team 11 7.5 2 6 6 3 4.5 8 5 4 2
Team 12 4 4 4 7 10 1 12 1 2 1

Finally, these are the standings. Team 1 = 12 + 9.5 + 12 + 12 + 4 + 7 + 11 + 10 + 5 + 6.5 = 89 points! Team 1 kicks ass.

Points Points Behind
Team 1 89
Team 2 84 5
Team 3 76.5 12.5
Team 4 73.5 15.5
Team 5 72.5 16.5
Team 6 71 18
Team 7 61 28
Team 8 58.5 30.5
Team 9 51.5 37.5
Team 10 48.5 40.5
Team 11 48 41
Team 12 46 43
SOURCE: FANTASY BASEBALL FOR BEGINNERS: THE ULTIMATE “HOW-TO” GUIDE. HENDRICKS, SAM.

Hopefully, this helps to explain the scoring basics. You can also see why roto can be bit discouraging at first. When you’re one of the teams at the bottom, it can be a bit daunting. There is also another way to score roto, but this is the most popular way.

Here are some tips I got when I was brand new at this, and I hope they help you:

  1. Know our rules through and through. Read them. I’m serious. I know it’s boring. Did I say read all of them? All. If there is something you don’t understand, ask. It will bite you in the butt if you don’t.
  2. Do NOT drink or get high and draft. I had a friend who did this. His team was shit. It took him weeks to semi-fix it and it was really never right.
  3. Have a plan and strategy for the draft. Tiers are great (ranking players by talent groups).
  4. Know who is hurt/suspended/retired. Study. The software keeps track of who has already been drafted, but pay attention.
  5. Set a legal line-up. If someone is hurt or not playing, replace them. It’s fair to everyone else playing. Remember to restart them after a day off. I forget to do this ALL THE TIME.
  6. Try to improve your team through free agency or trades. No one wins on draft day.
  7. Get help. Again, study. Use web sites. Rotoworld, CBS, ESPN, Yahoo etc. I like magazines too, but they are quickly out-of-date.
  8. Trust no one in your league ever for advice on who to add/drop/trade. No one. Especially @longfootlefty. Seriously, they might think they have your best interest at heart, but c’mon, man. C’mon. No.
  9. Trust yourself. Believe in the numbers, but trust your gut.
  10. Don’t get impatient with good players who have a cold start. Yes, excellent players have off years (thank you, 2014 Bryce), but beware of small sample sizes. Patience. Patience. Patience. Ride it out.

This is a lot for our first lesson, and I’m sure our old-timers have lots to add. It seems like a lot of work, but once your team is set, it’s really not that bad, and it is a truly rewarding and addicting hobby that makes you a better student of the game. I know it’s helped me better analyze talent and appreciate the game even more than I did before I played, which I didn’t think was even possible.

The Business of Professional Sports

POSTED ON MARCH 1, 2016

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Last night, I attended a symposium titled “The Business of Professional Sports” at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg. The event was attended by Stuart Sternberg, Principal Owner of the Tampa Bay Rays, Jeff Vinik, Owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Bryan Glazer, Co-Chairman of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was moderated by Mary Byrne, senior deputy editor for the NFL, NHL, and NASCAR at ESPN and president of the Associated Press Sports Editors, and Ernest Hooper, columnist for the Tampa Bay Times. The event was sold out, packed with media and fans, including national media like the NYT and the Daily News. I wasn’t expecting that.

The event was entertaining and very informative. As a baseball fan, and super Rays fan, I was mostly interested in the Sternberg questions, but as the night went on, I became interested in everything.

The first question was the biggest challenge facing each of the individual franchises. Predictably, Sternberg said the biggest challenge facing the Rays is their stadium issue. “Our facility and its placement”, he stated.

He also added that another challenge was, “Making sure we are doing our best to keep sports relevant…. many of us in this room, I would think, we sort of read the paper like Jewish people do, from right to left, we start at the sports section…it was always natural for me.”

You youngsters have no idea what that means, but for those of who grew up reading the spawts section, that made me chuckle. Fond memories of reading the New York Daily News as a kid, and yes. I started at the back, with the sports section, working my way left to the comics.

He added that it was a challenge keeping fans interested when there is so much competing for our entertainment dollar and our attention. He said most of us were probably itching to check our phones (wrong). I was engrossed in what they were saying.

Sternberg was asked about the situation with the New York Yankees and Stubhub. Sternberg phrased it as a security issue. He said he wanted to know who was entering his stadium. I call utter bullshit. When I purchase my ticket on Stubhub, they know who is purchasing the ticket by my credit card information and that information could easily be relayed to the Rays. If I were to purchase my ticket off a scalper outside of the stadium, which is legal in Florida, the Rays would have no way of knowing who purchased the ticket. In addition, I am thoroughly searched before I enter the stadium so the security risk is pretty minimal. I wish I could have questioned him further on that question.

He was also asked where the Rays are on the stadium search. He didn’t really answer the question. He answered like a politician. We need a new stadium, we’ve been searching since 2008, and we appreciate this new mayor who has given us this opportunity. You will be shocked to find out that all three owners are VERY PRO PUBLIC FINANCING of stadiums. I know! We could not possibly afford a new stadium all on our own. All three touted the benefits of a stadium. People will travel to see our stadium. Who wouldn’t want to be here? We have great weather! They go to the beach, they spend money, they go to restaurants.

According to Jeff Vinik: “The fact of the matter is if you look just at the financial model for stadiums, for facilities, if the objective is to 100% privately finance a new ballpark or a new arena, the economics are not going to work. So, uh you cannot finance the whole thing privately and then run the business. You’ll be so underwater. It’s just not financially feasible. I think sports teams are critically important to an area. I’ll give a personal example of the $2 billion real estate development we’re doing downtown. We are including a lot of companies right? And I got asked the question once, is it important that major league baseball stay in the Tampa Bay region? And my answer very simply when I’m talking to these companies is, if we lose major league baseball here, I’m not going to be able to recruit a company because the first thing they are going to say to me is ‘you couldn’t even keep baseball in your region. That’s not a place we want our employees to come.’” Sounds logical.

Sternberg was asked about diversity and openly gay players in baseball. He believes that the atmosphere in baseball has changed enough that it would be very accepting of an openly gay player. “I think, quite frankly, it will be very accepting — a dramatic difference even from five years ago.” He noted that the Rays as an organization are supportive of gay rights.

The owners were asked about women executives in their sport. Sternberg noted that as he looked around the room, “while it is male dominated, there’s a reasonable percentage of females in the room tonight.” (I was very happy to see another woman of color in attendance.) He said 10, 20 years ago, there would have been no women in attendance. He pointed out Melanie Lenz, the Senior Vice President of Strategy and Development of the Rays, who was in attendance. He said baseball needed to do a better job of hiring more women and improving diversity. He said, “There’s a leg up for people who have played the sport always, however, fortunately we have gotten to a point now where the general managers and the people in charge… it doesn’t matter whether you have been a big baseball fan or not, (we want) people who can code. We want people with interesting ideas. It’s a question of time, but it’s no doubt about it that we’ve moved too slow (hiring women).”

He also spoke about how when he purchased the team, “We had nowhere to go but up. We could do some crazy stuff. We could innovate and incubate.” He noted that now, the problem is they are being penalized for winning.

When the event was over, I walked over the Melanie who was talking to Rays President Brian Auld. I waited patiently until she was done and introduced myself. I told her I write for a baseball blog she’s never heard of. She was very nice. She laughed and said, “Why haven’t I heard of it?!” Why not indeed?

I asked her, “I know you’re very busy. I won’t take much of your time. What advice do you have for a woman who wants to get into this field?”

She seemed excited to be asked a question. I don’t think she expected to be interviewed and seemed flattered. She said, “Work on every project you can find. Don’t pass up any opportunity. Learn everything you can. Just total immersion. Lots and lots of hard work. And you need good luck. Work on interpersonal relationships.”

“Did you know from the start this is what you wanted to do?”

She said smiling, “Since I was a a little girl.”

She then told me she needed to go, but she reached into her purse, gave me her business card, and said, “Email me.”

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Had I realized Sternberg was that close, I might have been tempted to ask him a question. (And wow, I really need to iron my shirt.)

Examining Baseball Fandom and Stereotypes: Why Your Fanbase Sucks

all-30-team-logosA recent lively discussion in which a particular fanbase was disparaged, at first I thought in a joking manner–which many of us, myself included are guilty of–made me want to examine fan stereotypes a little deeper. Why do we hold them? What are they? While I do joke about stereotypes–fan stereotypes, male-female stereotypes, my own Latin culture (what I call the right of inclusion)–they are jokes. In all seriousness, I know these beliefs cannot be applied to a group as a whole. We do it in jest, but intelligent people with critical thinking skills know that you cannot seriously judge people in this manner, whether its based on gender, race, sexual orientation, or something as seemingly trivial as team affiliation.

If, for example, I ascribed negative characteristics to a group of people based on a small sample size, people whom I may or may not have even encountered myself, you would not think very highly of me (or maybe you don’t think highly of me already but for other reasons.) Yet many of us seem to do this exact thing to opposing fan bases, especially rival fan bases. It is an interesting phenomena to me as someone who enjoys studying and analyzing human behavior both professionally and for fun.

Part of it is that we do witness opposing fan bases–people–behaving badly and we have selective memory banks. I mentioned something called groupthink in my comment. In simple terms, when a bunch of people get together, such as fans with one shared goal of their team winning, it’s as if one mind takes hold and thinks for the entire group. There is very little conscience because guilt is shared among all. “But ma, everybody’s doing it.” No one is guilty. One of the characteristics of a groupthink is stereotyping another group with opposing goals i.e. an opposing fan base. That’s why I kept repeating that in totality, all fan bases are insufferable, and a fan base overdosing on winning and its resulting europhic hormones like testosterone, adrenaline, cortisol, and oxytocin is probably the most intolerable fan base of all. For that peroid of time, that collective “groupthink” mind is pretty high and out of its mind. Baseball fans without allegiance to any team must look at us with a cool detachment and shake their heads in disbelief. What the heck is wrong with us, they must wonder.

With our selective memory banks and biases, we also tend to disregard and diminish when our own fan bases have behaved badly, in the same way we are quick to criticize others when they have failed, but are a bit more forgiving of ourselves. “You forgot the milk, oh great!”…”Oh, I forgot the milk. Oh, well. I will get it tomorrow.” “Those idiots never clean up after themselves”, coveniently forgetting that one time we were late and didn’t clean up after ourselves as well as we should have because we were rushed. Most people do it. It’s okay. Humans.

At tbe same time, stereotypes exist for a reason, right? There’s the 1% outlier that make it so. The extreme. So I thought I should analyze all 30 baseball stereotypes for their accuracy. This is (I am) a highly (pulling) scientific (this) study (out) that (of) should (my) be taken (ass) very seriously. I wanted to have some fun and make everybody angry at me.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Uh, they were gritty. Now, I don’t know. Their owners are dicks who won’t allow fans to wear opposing team jerseys behind home plate. I’ll just extend that to the fan base. Seems fair. Dicks.

Atlanta Braves: They are bandwagoners and possibly racist: Native American iconography, tomahawk chop, building white flight stadium. I mean duh, Georgia.

Baltimore Orioles: Don’t mention the Colts. Unnatural love for crabs. They carry Old Bay seasoning everywhere because you just never know. Every single one of them carries Old Bay and drinks Natty Boh. I personally checked.

Boston Red Sox: Formerly semi-tolerable albeit whiny fan base made insufferable by winning 3 World Series in the past 12 years, now they think they’re the fahkin’ Yankees. Cubs fans, if you win, don’t become the Red Sox. City itself has rep for being racist, which extends to fans.

Chicago Cubs: Lovable loser fans who are there just to party and get their drank on. Even though they have an amazing team this year, I think they’re so resigned by decades of losing that the 1998 Yankees could take the field for them this year, and their fans will still think they’ll lose somehow in the end. Actually, they’d be totally right, because those guys are older than dirt now, but you know what I mean. UPDATE: In case you live on Mars or have been in a coma, the Cubs won the World Series in 2016 and cannot be called “Lovable Losers.” A moment of silence please for this fun nickname that fanbase hated. Their fanbase has shockingly not yet become a bag of dicks like the Boston Red Sox fanbase. Give them time. They are new to winning. The Cubs are doing their best to price their real fans out of Wrigley Field. We shall await future developments. 

Chicago White Sox: This is the south side. These are not the friendly confines. They will fuck you up. Just sit down and shut up and eat your hot dog.

Cincinnati Reds: Very, very passionate fans. No one gets offended or mad if you ask for a three way. These people are alright with me.

Cleveland Indians: Racist fans who won’t let go of Chief Wahoo, that awful Native American iconography. You see my cousin’s wife’s brother’s best friend is 1/4 Navajo, and he’s fine with Chief Wahoo, so it’s cool.

Colorado Rockies: Rocky Mountain High. Mellowest fans in baseball, I reckon. I would be too. I’ve been to Colorado. These people are all fit, and have excellent lung capacity thanks to exercising at such elevated altitudes. Hence, they probably don’t share their pot well. Selfish.

Detroit Tigers: Piss them off in 2 seconds flat by telling them Trout was robbed of the MVP the year Miggy won the Triple Crown (he was). Just a strange hate of Trout. They write everything in “D” Olde English font, grocery lists etc. We get it, it’s a cool font.

Houston Astros: Hey guys, you have a baseball team! No, no, it’s not football. It’s a different shaped, round ball and there’s a bat and bases… oh, just forget it.

Kansas City Royals: Paul Rudd is a huge fan. I love Paul Rudd. He is the perfect man. I am giving all their fans Paul Rudd’s characteristics, lucky sons of bitches. Remember, baby, this is all actual and factual. You guys are fine, except for that kcrobert or whatever on HBT, but even he made laugh. Bad boys of baseball. That was gold. We should invite him over.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: That’s the name, right? The team that non-Jews and non-Mexicans root for in LA. Oddly obsessed with worshipping a rally monkey, won’t do anything without his permission.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Eclectic mix of Jewish and Mexican fans. Will arrive in 3rd inning and leave during the 7th inning to avoid traffic. Also hire a bodyguard for the parking lot, just sayin’.

Miami Marlins: Loria es un come merdia, asi mismo como Fidel y por eso yo no voy a los juegos. Dame un cafecito Cubano, por favor, bellisima. Nosotros tenemos un equipo?

Milwaukee Brewers: I don’t know much about Brewers fans. Long suffering, I guess. My knowledge of Milwaukee is limited to the documentary Laverne & Shirley in syndication. When I looked Brewers fans up, I got “fat and overweight” as a stereotype. That’s mean, and really, that’s most Americans based on average BMI. I prefer to call them zaftig and “more to love.”

Minnesota Twins: Obsessed with lutefisk. Transluscent white. I was really worried about them in the Trop; they were so pale that I thought the indoor lighting might cause a sunburn. Very polite.

New York Mets: Blue collar types, underdog complex from living in the shadow of the Yankees despite having an ownership that has the means to provide competitive teams consistently. Remember 1986 better than the birth of their first child. (They gave me some good drugs, to be fair–for the birth of my child that is. Not 1986. My parents did not give me drugs for the 1986 Mets season although it would have been apropos considering the team.)

New York Yankees: They will respond to every debate with: 27 rings, baby!!! “Your starting pitching is questionable in 2016.” “27 rings, baby!!!”  That’s three rings for every orifice in the human body. Tell them that’s where they can keep them. Team has priced real fans out of the stadium. They sleep outside in tents. It’s sad.

Oakland A’s: Nerds! Sabermetric stat geeks. I am so sorry. You don’t even have meth to console you like Rays fans about your literally shitty baseball stadium situation, and we actually have some hope on that front. You guys deserve better. At least Brad Pitt is your GM.

Philadelphia Phillies: Huge bandwagoners and don’t let them tell you any different. CBP is empty now that the team sucks. We’ve all heard the horror stories. “Aggressive, demanding fans who boo Santa” and vomit on a kid. Great dancers though. I’ve been there.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Everybody roots for the Pirates but what y’all forget is that this is Pittsburgh. Have you ever met a Steelers fan? These are the same people! You don’t want this team to win, trust me. Steelers fans are fucking insane. I’ve met them.

San Diego Padres: Super laid back. I heard they do yoga during games or something.

San Francisco Giants: Hate the Dodgers, feeling is mutual, otherwise pretty apathetic. Another fanbase tagged with the bandwagon label. (Seems to be a common theme. Some of us don’t mind paying to watch a bad team, but maybe those with less expendable income have to be choosier about when and where we spend our entertainment dollars? I play sports, and losing isn’t as much fun as winning, duh. I still have fun, but that’s me. I budget because I heart baseball, but not everyone loves it that same way, and that’s okay.)

Seattle Mariners: They eat sushi and talk about who the Seahawks are going to draft. Oh, and King Felix.

St. Louis Cardinals: The Best Fans in Baseball root for their team the Right Way, which is also the way their team does things, and no one better do anything different than the way they do things or Stan Musial will roll over in his grave. You don’t want to make Musial cry tears in heaven, do you? No, Yadi Molina is not a Hall of Famer.

Tampa Bay Rays: Who? We have fans? You can’t even call us bandwagoners because we can’t be bothered to show up to that shithole stadium even when the team is winning. We’re too busy smoking meth at the beach. The cowbells are annoying, and the hard metal makes a great weapon for Florida Man. You’ve been warned.

Texas Rangers: See Houston.

Toronto Blue Jays: All 30 million Canadians possess the same characteristics. Unfailingly sweet and polite until they become drunk and dump beer cans on babies when a call on the field doesn’t go their way, but who am I to judge? Nobody is perfect, to quote the greatest ending line of any movie, Some Like It Hot.

Washington Nationals: Bandwagoners, again. Bryce Harper sucks! Oh wait, he’s awesome!

What did I miss, guys?

Spring Training Tour 2016: My Day at Mini-Fenway

POSTED ON MARCH 5, 2016

Fort Myers, Fl — Yesterday, nbjays wrote that his bucket list is a Spring Training Tour of either Florida or Arizona. Apparently, I am touching upon the zeitgeist.

As a child, Spring Training was my dream vacation. Not Disney World, not Hawaii, not Paris. Spring Training. I was an odd little girl. Going to see my New York Mets in spring training was it. It seemed liked this magical Shangri-la, where fans could interact with their favorite baseball players against a palm tree backdrop. I could meet Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, and Darryl Strawberry! I subscribed to the Daily News for the sports section with my allowance, and in the Sunday paper, I would check for the coupons in the winter. You see, I forget the company, but one would always run a promotion: “Win a Trip to See Your Favorite Team in Spring Training.” I would zealously fill out 3×5 cards to enter more submissions every year like their rules said. I never won, of course, and I never got to go.

Now, I get to live that dream every single spring. My team allegiances may have changed from the Mets to the Tampa Bay Rays, but my passion for the game has not.

Every year, I cross a new facility off my list. Yesterday was Jet Blue Park’s turn, also known as Mini-Fenway, the spring home of the Boston Red Sox. The facility is located in Fort Myers, Florida, about a two hour drive south of my home in Clearwater, Florida. The weather was absolutely perfect, if 70 degrees, low humidity, and sunny is your sort of thing.

The park is very new, built in 2011. The roof is white, slanted, and canopy style, giving it a distinct Florida feel. It is a very useful feature, I realized later, for keeping the sun and foul balls from our heads. Right outside of the park, they have a monument park with retired numbers, including Jackie Robinson’s. I loved that. I had never seen that at a spring training facility before.

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They also had a statue of Ted Williams playfully touching a young boy’s baseball cap. I liked that too.

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As soon as you walk inside, surrounding the stadium, there were tents full of food, craft beers, and even a live band playing. The smell of food was intoxicating. This is not the normal spring training experience. It felt like a carnival. They were playing The Outfield’s “Your Love” as I explored the tents. I sang along–I love that song. I complimented the beer lady on the park. “This place is absolutely gorgeous.”

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A few Red Sox fans razzed my Rays gear. One of them was wearing a pink Boston hat. I smiled at her and bit my tongue before I said, “Whatever, Pink Hat.” It’s Spring Training. Be nice. I complimented her on her lovely Rays blue colored shirt. She looked confused.

We arrived early to see batting practice, but apparently, since the Rays won 10-3 the day before, Kevin Cash didn’t think the Rays needed batting practice, I suppose. Still we got there early enough to see Chris Archer warm up. Besides at Tropicana Field, this is the closest I have ever been to a pitcher warming up. IT WAS AWESOME!!! Enjoy.

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Standing next to me is another uber-fan I’ve never met before. She apparently sells “Got Stripes” t-shirts to benefit Chris Archer’s Archway Foundation. He does a lot for youth organizations, not only in the Tampa Bay area, but pretty much every major league city he visits. One day, she saw his friend and mentor Ron Walker wearing one of his shirts. She had no idea how he got one. She and I start talking baseball. Baseball–bringing people together. I gave her Twitter account (@Archer22FanClub) a follow and told her I would buy her tank top, and I will. We’ve been messaging each other this morning. Very cool baseball chick.

I bought tickets 12 rows behind the Rays dugout off of Stubhub for $35. Not too bad. I don’t do this every day. JetBlue Park has some very cool features, one of which is an exact replica of Fenway’s Green Monster. The dimensions of the park are identical. No Pesky Pole though. I looked. The scoreboard is also manual, just like Fenway’s.  Someone comes out with a ladder and updates everything manually. You can see in the ENEOS Motor Oil advertising where the door is. My seats afforded me a perfect look:

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That was pretty freaking cool. Here is a close-up of the scoreboard:

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As for the game itself, Archer looked sharp against the Red Sox’s “A line-up”, with the change-up already looking like it is in season form. He didn’t pitch long, of course. The Rays had a slim lead most of the game but lost eventually, 7-2; it was basically Pawtucket beating Durham. It was the later innings when the regulars were out when they faltered. This is the point in Spring Training when you can’t put too much stake in the results. It’s basically a lot of white noise. You go for the ambiance and camaraderie. For example, the older gentleman sitting next to me was a Yankees fan visiting from Connecticut. He asked me about the Rays stadium situation. He’s an expert on the situation now. He may have regretted asking the question. 🙂

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A few game notes: Pablo Sandoval looked big as a cow, but the man can move. He was agile and his reflexes were fast. He ran down that first base line with a speed that I could not believe for a man his size. He reached first on a Longoria error, and he hustled fast. He also moved laterally well. Of course, that also made me wonder, if he did lose just a bit of girth, how much faster could he be? There was another time when he needed to leap just a tiny bit in the air for a ball, and he couldn’t, presumably because of his size. It cost his team a hit.

Hanley looked like shit playing first and made a costly error at first. That’s going to be an interesting experiment. It looks to me like the Red Sox may have three DHs at the moment.

The only mildly sour spot: yes, they played Sweet Fackin’ Caroline. These people. I survived.

Right now, the song going through my head is S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M.’s Lovely Day. It was a lovely day. The beer even tasted colder and better yesterday.

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Today, I visit the Twin’s spring training facility, Century Link Sports Complex, also in Fort Myers, for the first time. Orioles v. Twins, this time, bern seating. I can’t wait.

Spring Training 2016 Day 2: Twins, Orioles, and Rays, Oh my

Originally posted on 3/16/16:

On Saturday afernoon, I visited Hammond Stadium, the Spring Training home of the Minnesota Twins, and then decided at the last minute to go to Ed Smith Stadium to see the Baltimore Orioles’ spring home, since they were playing the Rays and it was on the way home. For those keeping count, that’s three games in two days with ease. Suck it, Arizona and @longfootlefty. Road trips are fun, and they also give me lots of time to sing loudly in the car.

It’s funny, I don’t normally think of Fort Myers as the spring training home of the Twins. The Red Sox take ownership of the town. I’ll never make that mistake again. Hammond Stadium at the Century Link Sports Complex holds its own against JetBlue Park.

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The stadium was built in 1991 and was renovated recently in 2014. It had a decidedly different look than Jetblue Park. It had a plantation, almost Churchill Downs feel. There was no mistaking we were in the South. I also felt like I was walking into a cathedral of baseball. You can even see what looks like a cross as you entered. It is an eminently photogenic stadium–that’s a waterfall fountain in the front–and I am starting to get a little jealous. Even spring training homes are prettier than my team’s real stadium. Okay, a baboon’s taint is prettier than my team’s stadium, but I have digressed.

The parking lot has rows named after past and present notable Twins.

Another key significance between Jetblue Park and Hammond is that Hammond had bern seating. My seats today were economy bern seating as the Twins were playing the split squad Orioles, and I had no vested interest in either team. For those unfamiliar with bern seating, those are grassy areas in the park where you can pop a squat and watch the game. Hammond also encourages the fans to walk around the stadium itself. The park is set up such that you can walk the entire perimeter, which is different than JetBlue. I did not mention that JetBlue did not want fans without tickets atop the “Green Monster.”

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20160305_133118The only place to get the line-up was on this whiteboard in the walkway:

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The Orioles did not have a good afternoon.

While there, I enjoyed what I was told is a rare delicacy, only available in a few rare corners of the world:

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Game notes: The Orioles made count ’em, five errors in this game in a 13-2 laugher. I expected the mercy rule to take effect as their B-squad made their best Bad News Bears impersonation. Quite honestly, it was six errors but the official scorer took mercy on them. Third basemen Steve Tolleson was responsible for three of them. It was ugly. The Twins collected 16 hits, but it’s difficult to gauge how well they did since the Orioles only brought their AAA squad with them. Their pitching was as bad as their defense, allowing three home runs. OF Hyun soon Kim, signed out of Korea, is 0 for the spring, but it is still early. On the Twins side, Ervin Santana pitched well, and Buxton is very, very, very fast.

Berm seating was relaxing. With the score ridiculous, I laid down the last couple of innings and caught some sun.

I then pointed my compass north and headed towards Sarasota, the last leg of my tour, Ed Smith Stadium. These are some beautiful quaint stadiums. None of these stadiums are behemoths. They are intimate showcases. I like this stadium because it is ensconced in a neighborhood. It is not gated and separated from the environment like the others. You walk, and all of a sudden, look at what we have here. It also gives good face.

20160305_181258.jpgThis one has a Spanish tile roof and stucco walls. The rotunda:

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Game time is 7pm, but I arrived in plenty of time to do my favorite thing, watch my starting pitcher warm up for the night. The weather again could not be more perfect. Drew Smyly is our man tonight.

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The bullpen area was cool, and they had seats, so there I decided to stay the whole game. LHP Enny Romero was milling about the bullpen. He smiled at me and asked me, “Hablas espanol?” I said, “Si, seguro. Es de Santo Domingo?” He nodded and said, “Si.” I said, “Mi mama es de alla.” He nodded and smiled and went back to work. Not long after, a deep line drive foul ball came into my area. I lost the ball in the lights and it bounced next to me. I didn’t see where it went, but it bounced into the bullpen. Romero gave it back to me. The usher came to make sure I was okay. Other than embarrassed I didn’t catch the ball, yes, I was okay. This stuff does not happen to me normally. The ball is very cool. It is stamped with the FL Spring Training insignia.

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Again, the Orioles did not look good in a 10-6 loss. They are 0 for Spring Training (0-5-1). It is very early, so there is no cause for alarm, but the fans were definitely restless. RHP Kevin Gausman looked good, so that is one bright spot, striking out 3 while pitching two scoreless frames. Most of the Rays’ damage came off of Todd Redmond and some minor leaguer. In total, they allowed the Rays 17 hits. Their spring training ERA is 8.31, solid 30 of 30. Again, early in spring training, this is a lot of white noise, but patterns will start to develop in the coming weeks that will be cause for concern if things do not start to straighten out.

Smyly was sharp also, throwing two perfect innings, and striking out Davis, Trumbo, and Wieters. The Rays’ defense again, left me less than impressed. Three errors. It is early, but one thing I was concerned about with some of their off-season moves is that they sacrificed defense for offense. Momma is not happy with that. Poor defense will ultimately hurt their pitching, their core strength, and I hate sloppy baseball. Most of the Orioles’ six runs were gifts thanks to woeful defense. They have to work on that. But back to pictures…

It was Fireworks Night, so the weekend was topped with fireworks. I don’t think I could have picked a more perfect ending.

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I took one last picture on the way out. It shone bright like a diamond.

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Can you tell I did not want this weekend to end?

This was by far the most diverse fan base of the three stadiums we visited. White, blacks, Latinos. I notice these things because a lot of times I notice I am different. I can’t help noticing. I am alone. I am conspicuous, the token. (I played a game at mini-Fenway: spot the black person. There was one darker than me.) It has been that way most of my life because I overachieved a little, so I know how to navigate, but my preference was last night. A beautiful pastiche, a swirl of color. It felt so good to see so many different beautiful faces. Very cool, Orioles.

I also really enjoy talking to my fellow fans. I meet so many great fans. I spoke to this wonderful Orioles fan from Maryland most of the game yesterday. Really nice man, knew his stuff. In Hammond Stadium, same thing. Spoke to this great woman from Minnesota, enjoying the game. This is the great part of Spring Training, shooting the breeze with people on a lazy day in a meaningless game. Baseball means so much to them that they traveled all the way here just to experience a meaningless game, and I was honored to share it with them. I wish you could all had been there with me. I had the best time.

(I went to the gift shop and I thought @scoutsayswietersisabust might want to buy this for some special lady friend… bowchickabowwow…)

Spring Training 2016 Part 3: Yankees v. Phillies, Glutton for Punishment

POSTED ON MARCH 7, 2016

I thought I was done with my little Spring Training tour for now, but I woke up Sunday feeling malaise that it would be a day without baseball in person. Kevin S. to the rescue! He helpfully reminded me that the Yankees would be playing the Phillies but a stone’s throw from me at Brighthouse Field. Bah, the Yankees. He sweetened the pot by mentioning Tanaka would be the starting pitcher. Now, my interest was piqued. Since it doesn’t take much more convincing than “Do it!” for me to do something, I was sold. This game, however, would require family involvement–the children.

We arrived at Brighthouse Field early to see Tanaka warm up. I have been to Brighthouse Field more times than I can count. I have always thought it an attractive Spring Training and minor league facility, but now that I had the memory of Ed Smith Stadium, Ed Hammond, and JetBlue Park so fresh in my mind, I found it lacking somehow. Familiarity in this case has bred contempt, although I know objectively, there is nothing wrong with it. I noticed its flaws–the power lines you can see in the distance–instead of its beauty, or maybe it was because it was jam packed with Yankees and Phillies fans. No, seriously, the moment I saw it from the distance, it was like an old annoying boyfriend. I wanted the shiny new exciting stadium I met last night that seemed flawless with its perfect sunset. I know I was being unfair.

The exterior is similar to Ed Smith’s–Spanish Mediterranean stucco with tile roofs and arched entrances. Outside the main entrance is a fountain with a statue of Steve Carlton. (Picture taking had a degree of difficult today of 10,000 because I had to play mommy–if it’s not my picture, I’ll credit the source.)

 

There is definitely a party vibe at Brighthouse Field. The thatched roofed tiki bar in left field run by Frenchy’s, a popular local bar/restaurant chain helps to nourish that feel. A lot of people get SRO tickets and just hang out there for the whole game. You can get your foofoo drinks here. It’s very crowded to navigate and the air is rich with cigarette smoke. Now, I don’t mind the smell of pot–it’s like incense–but cigarette smoke irritates the hell out of me. I avoid this area.

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There is a playground area, much to my chagrin, where you can’t even watch the game. If the kids want to go play, the parents can’t see any of the game. A nice amenity would be a television in that area. Yes, I suppose they want you to watch your kids, but I am at a baseball game. I suppose I am here because I want to watch the game. Guess where I spent a couple of innings?

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You might be aware that Hooters girls are the ball girls at Brighthouse Field. Clearwater is the home of the original Hooters, so naturally, the Phillies want to honor this historical landmark. If you are ever visiting locally and you must have boobs with your wings, I would recommend Wing House over Hooters. The wings are much, much better, and the girls are just as pretty (actually they are dressed in black shorts and tops, which is much more flattering than that ugly orange). Or, just hire a hooker and eat wings with her. Why get sexually frustrated? Have your wings and eat them too. Wow, I have really gone on a tangent here. Back to baseball.

The vibe was definitely not as laid back as it had been for the past three spring training games. I heard a Yankees fan yell, “Phillies suck!” One, yes, we know. Thanks, Captain Obvious. Two, no one yells that at a Spring Training game. No one heckles. (Unless it is Jim Norton heckling Alex Rodriguez at a Spring Training game and posting it live on Twitter. Did anyone else see that last year? It was hilarious.)

Watching Tanaka warm-up, Yankees fans were harassing him for an autograph. I have been to a lot of Spring Training games. I have been to a lot of games at Tropicana Field. I have never seen anyone harass a starting pitcher while he is warming up. I said to one fan, “He’s working; he can’t sign your autograph right now.” Don’t you want your pitcher properly warmed up and focused? Would you want him thinking about anything else? I know this is just Spring Training, but this is prep work for the season. There’s etiquette. My god, New Yorkers can be so annoying. I’m a New Yorker. Thanks for reminding me why I left. They were making Phillies fans look so good.

I picked a great spot in the berm that was nicely positioned next to the bullpen. The field has a strange set up for the bullpen–the two teams are parallel to each other so there are no secrets here. I got great shots of Tanaka. I could practically whisper sweet nothings in his ear, but I didn’t, because I have manners. And I don’t speak Japanese.

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Tanaka looked freaking awesome. That’s my scouting report. His control is a fucking dream. Catcher said here. Here it went. There. There it went. Amazing pinpoint control. Could probably thread a needle with a baseball. All 10,000 of his pitches looked like they were working to me.

It wasn’t all bad Yankees fan though. On the berm, I was sitting next to this dad and his two young daughters, age 9 and 6, who hit it off with my kids, age 7 and 4. This dad is a Yankees fan, but somehow was still nice. His wife was at home with their two year daughter, and they were expecting their fourth daughter. “Kept trying for that boy?” I asked. “Yep.” he replied. “Gonna keep trying?” I asked. “Nope.” he laughed.

#41 started warming up in their bullpen. I asked pregnant dad if he knew he who he was. “Nope.” Since the Yankees still insist on no names on the back of their uniforms because it is 1957 and free agency doesn’t exist and players never shuffle around, I had to look him up. The reason I was curious is because a big burly Yankees fan had saddled up to the bullpen and yelled, “You know who else wore #41? Tom Seavah! (sic).” I want you to hear his accent. “You gonna be just like you him. You got great stuff! Look at you, hitting your spots! Whatta fastball! Tom Seavah! Don’t you forget!” If my eyes rolled any harder, they would have popped out of their sockets. You heard it hear first. Non-roster invitee Anthony Swarzak is the next Tom Seaver according to big burly Yankees fan. Pick him up for your dynasty leagues.

The “You suck” Phillies won 6-5 and I was happy, because seriously, Yankees fans. You made me root against your team even during a Spring Training game, and nobody cares who wins a Spring Training game.

Spring Training Tour 2016 Part IV: Toronto Blue Jays

20160313_153222.jpgToday I visited the Spring Training home of the Toronto Blue Jays.

It was a mercifully overcast windy day today at the awkwardly named Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. It is the only thing awkward about this stadium. I say it is a mercifully overcast day because these poor pasty Canadians cannot withstand sun. If you’re expecting an objective, unbiased report, move along. You have come to the wrong place. I unabashedly love Dunedin and this stadium.

Dunedin is a town of 37,000 with a Scottish heritage in the northwest section of Pinellas County known for being very artsy and gay friendly. It is littered with old bungalows, small shacks, and cool bars like the Chic-a-Boom Room. While a lot of Florida is as sterile and artificial as Edward Scissorhand’s neighborhood (filmed not too far in Lutz, FL) with its cookie cutter homes, there is an authenticity and naturalness to Dunedin with its large oaks and Spanish moss. It has laugh lines; it’s dirty and pretty. It also has the lovely Caladesi Beach, selected as one of the best beaches in the country. It is only reachable by boat, or for the more adventurous among us, kayak. This is no tourist trap. There are no shops here. There are usually few people here during the week. You are likelier to come across a rattlesnake. You own this island. The first time I saw a dolphin not in captivity was here. I could die very happily here.

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But, back to baseball. Dunedin also loves its Blue Jays.

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Sadly, Florida Auto Exchange Stadium won’t be here long. It is old, and it lacks the modern amenities and conveniences that teams have become accustomed to. The Jays’ practice facility is two miles away. Understandably, the Jays want a newer facility. Dunedin is working to get the Jays a newer facility to not lose that sweet, sweet Canadian tourism dollar.

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One of the things I like about it is that is one of those stadiums that is part of the neighborhood. People live right across the street from it. There is no berm here. There is no jumbotron. This is as low frills as it gets. If you park close to the stadium, your car is likely to get hit by a foul ball. It’s that kind of ballpark. It’s a dinosaur, a relic.

I was talking to some people sitting next to me during the game. One of them suggested knocking down the library next door to expand the Jays’ facility. “What do people need a library for anyway? Everyone reads on their Kindles now!” she said. I smiled. Poor, needy people, don’t you worry. You’ll be fine. I think that’s what Maria-Thérèse said: “Let them read Kindles!” I liked the woman anyway though. She’s a bartender at Frenchy’s at Brighthouse Field, and she told me she would hook me up next time I was there. The Rays are going to be there on St. Patty’s Day, and I fully intend to celebrate my Irish heritage. Perhaps I’ll live blog that game.

Anyhow, I arrived early, as I like to do to catch warm-ups and batting practice.

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The Rays were split squad today, and they brought with them huge stars like James Loney and Brandon Guyer. Really, that’s it. MLB should slap them on the wrist for the crap line-up they brought with them today. It didn’t bother me, but I heard some pretty disappointed Rays fans that those were the two biggest names in their line-up. The SP pitcher was Taylor Guerrieri, who is their #2 prospect, but also has not seen higher than Adv(A). Matt Andriese was the original starter, but was a late scratch due to tightness in his abs. You’ll be shocked to know the Rays lost to the Blue Jays today 6-1. Bautista tee’d off for his first homer of the spring, and I am not sure the ball landed yet. It was a 3 run bomb to left field.

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I was happy that the Rays didn’t make an error today. Remember how I said Bahstahn had wicked problahms with defense? Yeah, well, so does the Rays middle infield. The Rays don’t have the offense to make up for defense issues and their defense as it stands will hurt their pitchers. On the Jays side, 23 year old RHP Aaron Sanchez looked good, pitching four strong innings while walking one and striking out four, but he was facing a pretty substandard line-up. Split squad road team blows. He is battling though for a fifth spot in the rotation, and today’s effort certainly didn’t hurt his case.

In any event, it was fun to see the Blue Jays take batting practice. They sure can hit. Josh Donaldson is fun to watch too. My seats were four rows back from third base and the boy has some swag. He’d bounce along to the music, which was all sorts of adorable.

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Other silly notes. The Blue Jays have the most homer crowd I have seen of any Spring Training crowd I have seen so far, prone to spontaneous chanting of “Let’s Go Blue Jays” during the game. That’s a lot of cheering and energy for Spring Training. Games tend to be way more laid back than that. I mean, go ahead knock yourselves out. By all means, cheer for your boys. I’m just saying, it’s a long season and it hasn’t even started yet, and this game doesn’t count so you might want to pace yourselves. I guess they were pretty excited to see their boys. Then again, I guess if I froze my ass off in Canada all winter, I would be really, really excited to be here too.

This guy may have had something to do with it too:

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Dan Haren Remains My Hero

One, because his Twitter handle is @ithrew88. Two, because he’s smart and hilarious. Three, I suspect he’s pretty liberal in his politics based on his tweets.

Chris Sale is making me worried that I don’t love my son enough.

I tweeted him back that if he didn’t carry his son in a Baby Bjorn in the clubhouse until he was 18 years old, he didn’t love him enough. Sorry.

To you non-breeders, this is a Baby Bjorn. It is not a tennis raquet for newborns, as I initially thought before I had children.

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Twitter is fun!