The Ups And Downs Of A Basebal Season

In the half century I’ve been following baseball, I’ve never ceased to be amazed by the ups and downs of a l-o-n- g baseball season. Through 81 games in the NBA, 16 in the NFL, nothing compares to the stretch of 162 games played over six months.

Some would say that’s exactly why I don’t follow baseball – the season is too long and the games are even longer. Well to each his own I guess, but let the naysayers be reminded that when you sit down for a 1:00 game in the NFL – that game takes longer to play than the average (under 3 hours now) ballgame.

And don’t even talk to me about about the last two minutes of a NBA game!

But we’re not talking about that. imageWe’re talking about the ups and downs of a baseball season and how that lends itself to continued fan interest over a season. Open a NFL season at 0-5 and you’re done – prepare for the draft and for ESPN solemnly admitting that it made a mistake in scheduling you for the 12th game of the season on Sunday night.

So what are these ups and downs we’ve witnessed so far at the halfway point in the 2016 season and what might be coming in the second half as baseball accelerates to the playoffs and an eventual World Series title……

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THE FORCE OF “WHO’S ON FIRST?” (ABBOTT AND COSTELLO)

REFLECTIONS ON BASEBALL

Jerry Seinfeld says the rhythm of “Who’s On First?” is like “musical math”. Larry King says it’s  “the funniest imagesketch in the history of comedy teams in show business. I laugh every time I hear it. Abbott and Costello were comedic geniuses.”

Seinfeld elaborates talking about how the routine influenced him as a comedian, writer and baseball fan. Speaking about why baseball lends itself to comedy, Seinfeld says, “Baseball has a heart of gold. It has a humanity that other sports, they just don’t have, for whatever reason, and humanity is funnier.”

The list imageof tributes goes on………In 2012, Jimmy Fallon recreated the entire skit bringing in personalities like Billy Crystal, Seinfeld and other fans of baseball participating as well. You could tell it was a labor of love and that a lot of hard work went into their recreation of the routine.

Such is the force that nearly eight decades…

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REFLECTIONS ON BASEBALL – A YEAR’S RECAP

Over the last year or so, I’ve managed to write nearly 250 pieces – some good, some not so good. Some widely read, some not read at all.

I’ve noticed that the blog continues to draw interest from countries like Brazil, South Korea, Japan, Spain, and Italy

I’ve noticed too that there is a relationship between what I think is a good column and the higher number of hits it gets from the major search engines.

Instead of reblogging those more popular columns, I thought I’d list them here in case you missed them.

******   Mental Illness And Major League Baseball  11/15/2015

******  Bryce Harper – Another Baseball Brat  9/28/2015

******  Ron Luciano – Baseball’s Most Flamboyant Umpire  2/10/2016

****** It’s All About Location Location …..  7/15/2015

Thanks for your continued readership.shutterstock_71439202

Steve         scontursi@yahoo.com

 

BASEBALL AND THE 4th OF JULY

REFLECTIONS ON BASEBALL

More than any other professional sport in the United States, shutterstock_71439202baseball is entwined with the culture and history of this wonderful country. Nowhere is this more evident than in the celebrations occuring at ballparks across America today and tomorrow. 

Fans of all ages – together with families and friends – will gather togetherimage to see a ballgame played on a diamond and green grass. Minor League Ballparks imagewill offer discounted ticket prices and 25 cent hot dogs. Cotton candy will be sold out by the fifth inning. Young fans of tomorrow will hear that unmistakable crack of the bat for the first time as the ball meets solid wood. 

Dad will tell stories (his wife has heard countless times imagebefore) to his children about when he could play the game too. He’ll point out some of the intricacies of the game to his family too….hoping that they might come to…

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BITS AND PIECES AT THE HALFWAY MARK………

If the 2016 season is proving anything, it’s that the already risen cream is staying at the top. The Orioles, Cubs, Rangers  and Nationals have led their divisions virtually wire to wire and show no signs of letting up. image
At the same time, both the Indians, who haven’t lost since the Cavs and LeBraun won their championship, and the Giants put together a strong run over the last month to solidify their hold at the top. 
 

Clayton Kershaw imageis even better than ever and is making it look way too easy, even though we know it’s not. Jake Arietta is proving that last year was not a fluke and leads the Cub’s staff along with Jon Lester who is (now) really liking the National League which aligns itself nicely with his pitching repertoire. 

 Jose Altuve is assembling a MVP season and imageMiguel Cabrera continues to be a hitting machine. Daniel Murphy has taken his playoff run last year for the Mets and played it forward for the Nationals. David Ortiz has to be pleasantly surprising even himself and wondering if he should make an announcement similar to Mark Twain’s “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”…………while Xander Bogaerts and Manny Machado have moved into an elite spot among players today.

So, is there any reason why we should watch and pay attention to the Leader Boards?

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TERRY COLLINS: “I’M TIRED OF TALKING ABOUT IT”

 These were the words spoken by the beleaguered manager of the Mets at the press conference held prior to the start of the series against the Nationals. imageAt best, you could say he was just a little cranky that morning. At worse, he’s reached the point where he’s fed up with the entire season his team is having.

He was talking about injuries and spinning his frustration that he “can’t get to even enjoy a victory anymore” without having to give daily reports on who’s hurt and who’s not and who’s playing and who’s not – and why……why, why, why.

Needless to say, his frustration/anger has been punctuated by the fact that his team is reeling. Following two straight losses to the Nats in which his team’s two best (Syndergaard and Harvey) took a thumping, the Mets now rest a mere four games over .500 in third place behind the surprising Marlins.image

Having said that, Terry Collins has spent his entire life in baseball and he knows that what goes down usually comes up and that there are twists and turns over the long haul of a season that no one can predict, or in some cases even manage. He knows too that this is especially true with injuries.

All of which makes his emotional outburst even more telling. Because more and more it’s becoming clear that the Mets as an organization are dysfunctional, indecisive, and one that often acts in ways that cause confusion among the players who must produce wins on the field………………..

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REYES AND THE METS CHEAPENED BRAND

The other 29 teams weren’t exactly knocking down the door of Jose Reyes’s Long Island home, even though he could have been had for theimage major league minimum while Colorado picks up the rest of the $40 million owed to him. No, it was Sandy Alderson and the Mets who came calling and sat down with him (according to legend by now) for a serious one hour “talk” in which they (according to the Mets) laid down the law as to what their expectations of him are off the field.

Really? They have to tell a 34 year old man how to behave…….or else…..what? This is the state of the Mets cheapened brand as we sit here today.

And it gets darker and uglier even than that………

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BRONX CLOSEOUT SALE – EVERYTHING MUST GO

For nearly all teams, but especially the team that George Steinbrenner built, any season that does not result in (at least) a playoff imageberth is a losing season – and there’s no two ways about it.

For the Yankees, assuming 90 wins as a minimum wild card qualifier, this means they would need to finish the season 21 games over .500 (55-36, .655winning percentage). Considering that they haven’t been able to stay even one game over .500 for the past two months, this imageis about as likely to happen as Mexico chipping in to help build the border fence.

Simply put, the Yankees are not a very good team this year. They are not even a good team. They are what they are – a pedestrian .500 team that’s destined to play out the season with little or no fanfare.

To find a parallel Yankees team, you have to go all the way back to the late 1960’s and early 70’s. Put in perspective then, giving up the season with an eye to the future is something that is bound to be met with resistance by Hal Steinbrenner who remains the standard bearer for his father, whether he likes it or not.

Nevertheless, a For Sale sign needs to be placed in full view of everyone and the Yankees must (reluctantly but wisely) begin to dismantle the current team as best they can…….now…..not later….

The problem is this though……..

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EXCUSE ME – JOSE REYES?????

What are the Mets thinking? Lightning in a bottle like last year with Cespedes?image Don’t think so……how about getting a bit more creative than that, Sandy. Oh, I know you can get him cheap on the dime paying him only the minimum while Toronto picks up the tab for the rest. Consider the mug shot above….a face of your team?

How about spending (I know I said a swear word in Metland) some of the millions you are saving on David Wright’s salary ($25 million) being paid by insurance this year?

The Met fan base deserves more……

IT’S OFFICIAL: TIME TO PUSH THE PANIC BUTTON IN METLAND

Dear Mr. Alderson,

I’m sure you’ve noticed that your team dropped three straight to the lowly and rebuilding Braves at home over the weekend. After yesterday’s one hit attack, you now sit in third place six full games behind the Nationals and if the season ended today your guys would be packing their bags…….butimage not for a playoff game. They would be heading home.

Oh, and did I mention that the red hot Royals will be in town tonight for two games. Then you hit the road to Atlanta where you have a underwhelming record of 158-234. Following that you cruise into the All Star Game facing (in order) the Nationals, Cubs, Nationals, Cubs, Marlins, and then the Nationals again.

Now, you’ll probably throw those well worn cliches at me like “Our schedule is not a challenge, it’s an opportunity” and “This is a chance to turn things around” and “Sooner or later our bats will get going”….

Well let me tell you something………there may not be any “later”…..

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