All posts tagged: Baseball

Where the journey begins

Everyone has an origin story. Some carry a soul-stirring strength that extends across time and space. They may be so powerful that they aid in protecting the setting, preserving the very places where the story originates. While watching a repeat of the Ken Burns film The National Parks: America’s Best Idea on my local PBS station, I am reminded of how many of our parks include mountains, lakes, and meadows that are part of the origin story for Native Americans. Places that have deep meaning for the soul. Sacred places. Other origin stories evolve, as the nation, group, or individual comes to a fuller understanding of who and what they are. As is appropriate for a nation built on the shared work of the imagination, the complex American origin story continues to unfold, especially during this era of turmoil and change. “All of us tell stories about ourselves,” write Herminia Ibarra and Kent Lineback in the Harvard Business Review. “Stories define us. To know someone well is to know her story — the experiences that …

Nine Books for a Spring Without Baseball

If you are already missing baseball, you have company. To help you through the gloom, I’ve gone back into the More to Come archives to gather my personal “Best Books about Baseball” list. Here you’ll find my top nine books — one for each inning — to help you through this spring. And there might even be some “free” extra-inning baseball at the end! (NOTE: I’ve linked to my reviews, but they may be buried in a longer post containing information on multiple books. Look carefully and you’ll find the book in question.) Okay, let’s play ball! For the 1st and 2nd innings, we’ll have the top hitters from each team coming to the plate. So I’ll begin with some of the best: two baseball books which I included in the 2014 post Twelve Influential Books (And a Few More Thrown in for Fun).  How Life Imitates the World Series by Thomas Boswell – The longtime Washington Post sportswriter’s first book of baseball essays, published in 1982, is still his best. How can you not …

No Baseball Today

Today was to be Opening Day 2020 for the World Series Champion Washington Nationals. Alas, the Covid-19 virus had other plans for the world. But I have a suggestion for you. Last week the Washington Post asked their writers to name their top sports movies to watch during the coronavirus crisis. They really only needed to have included one. Watch Bull Durham. The best baseball movie ever. Its not even close. I’ve written many times — most recently earlier this month — about my personal spring training regimen of reading a baseball book and watching Bull Durham. I watched the movie again earlier this week, and it didn’t disappoint. Regular readers know how I feel. But don’t just take my word for it. I’ve recently been reading a number of columns about culture and politics by the Post opinion writer Alyssa Rosenberg. She’s smart and a very good writer. So no surprise to learn that she thinks Bull Durham is a great movie, and well deserving of the moniker of a film classic. As her Post colleague Tom Boswell once said a long time ago, “Marianne Moore …

Babe Ruth and the Creation of the Modern Celebrity

In the coming weeks, if we are able as individuals to stay healthy, we may all be looking at books in our “to be read” pile to fill up this time of coronavirus. For very good reasons sports leagues and tournaments are shutting down. Opera houses and theatres are going dark. Schools are closing. Restaurants may be next on the list. Watching cable news is just too damn depressing (and not always very informative). As I was writing this, Major League Baseball cancelled the rest of spring training and has pushed back opening day at least two weeks. If you are looking for a good sports book to fill up your hours, I wish I could send you to Jane Leavy’s 2018 The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created with more enthusiasm. Those who know my reading habits are aware that I always read a baseball book as part of my personal spring training. (The other part of the regimen is watching Bull Durham, the best baseball movie ever.) In 2020, The Big Fella was the …

Let’s go 1-0 today

Saturday’s rally to celebrate the Washington Nationals World Series Championship was—intended or not—a masters class in leadership and team building. The lessons were outlined by speaker after speaker from the stage, and they began with a facing of reality. Before he passed away in 2017, Max DePree was the retired CEO of the furniture and design pacesetter Herman Miller. Through the years I’ve come to appreciate his definition of leadership, and especially his thoughts on the responsibilities of leaders. DePree said that the first duty of a leader is to define reality. On May 24th, with almost a third of their season over, the Nationals record stood at 19-31. Twelve games under .500. Their chance of winning the World Series on that date was a miniscule 1.5%. From the outside, it appeared that the reality wasn’t good. But there were reasons—primarily but not exclusively a rash of injuries to key players—that led to the bad start, and the reality was that those injured players were beginning to return. It was also clear that some elements …

And Now We Dance!

Scenes from today’s Washington Nationals World Series Championship Parade through downtown DC. N-A-T-S Nats! Nats! Nats! Woo! We ended up watching the parade from some steps along 6th Street, N.W., where it intersects Constitution Avenue at the National Gallery of Art. The souvenir vendors were out in force, including with the Baby Shark pin. After every Nationals home run from about June 1st on, the team would gather around the batter who hit the dinger and they would have a dugout dance party. Invariably, announcer F.P. Santangelo would say, “And now we dance!” Today was a home run to beat all home runs…and we all danced! A great way to end the most exciting year, and the most amazing month, of baseball in Washington, D.C. Congratulations to the World Series Champion Washington Nationals! More to come… DJB

They Finished the Fight!

  World Series Champions!! Unbelievable!!! What an incredible run through the entire playoffs, ending with four road wins in Houston against the mighty Astros. I’m so happy for the only original National, Ryan Zimmerman. Stephen Strasburg as the World Series MVP is so deserving. Love all the “Los Viejos” (the Old Men)! And love all the kids as well! What a season. If you had asked me on Memorial Day… I could not have imagined that the Washington Nationals would make the playoffs, much less the World Series. I could not have imagined a kids song, some goofy sunglasses, and a home-run dance party serving as tools to loosen up a perpetually high-strung, under-achieving team and its Type-A personality fan base. I could not have imagined that the Washington Nationals would be described by one columnist as the only “likeable” team of the four left in the hunt during the League Championship Series. Does he know he’s talking about Washington, D.C., the city the country loves to hate? I could not have imagined manager Dave …

Should I Wash My Socks Now?

This morning, an interesting question popped up on my wife’s Facebook feed. “Now that the Nationals 8-game winning streak has ended, should I wash my Curly W socks that I’ve worn throughout the streak?” Baseball fever has swept Washington, even if the Nationals will not sweep the Astros in the World Series after last night’s 4-1 loss in Game 3. Superstition is a big part of the game, so the question was a serious one. My answer? Yes! Once a streak is ended, you need to shift to new gear so that the momentum can swing back your way. Luckily, I have enough Nats caps, t-shirts, hoodies, and jackets (at least two of each and more in some instances) to make the change easily. For all things streak related, I first turn to the best baseball movie ever, Bull Durham. There’s a famous scene about “respecting the streak” where Kevin Costner’s Crash Davis makes the point to Susan Sarandon’s Annie Savoy that players have to respect a streak…and should not change whatever they think is causing their …

Bumpy roads often lead to beautiful places

When much-maligned Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez was asked how he felt after his ballclub just completed an improbable four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series (NLCS), he went back to something his mother told him: “Often bumpy roads lead to beautiful places.” Then, in light of earning the franchise’s first trip to the World Series, he added, “And this is a beautiful place.” Oh, is it ever! NLCS Most Valuable Player Howie Kendrick—one of 18 resident “Los Viejos” (the Old Men) on the Nats playoff roster over the age of 30—said, “I can truly say this is the best time of my career, the best moment of my career this year.” I can add that in my 55 years of being enthralled by baseball—beginning as a nine-year-old with a 1964 trip to Wrigley Field on a family vacation to see the Cubs play Bob Gibson and the St. Louis Cardinals; to following Willie Mays and the San Francisco Giants from afar, as a kid growing up in Middle …

Now That Was Exciting!

I was there for Game 5 of the 2012 National League Division Series, camera up and ready to capture Drew Storen throwing the division-winning strike that never came. Two years later I was in the stands when rookie manager Matt Williams walked to the mound in the top of the 9th. There stood Jordan Zimmermann, just one out away from completing two of the most amazing back-to-back games with a potential win in Game 2 of the 2014 National League Division Series following his no-hitter to end the season. Only Williams never gives him the chance. Williams pulls Zimm from the game and puts in . . . yes . . . Drew Storen. Who in this instance quickly gave up two hits and one run and the Nats went on to lose the game in an excruciating 18 innings. And there was more in 2014, 2016, and 2017. Yes, there’s a pattern here. So the bottom of the 8th and the top of the 9th in last night’s National League Wild Card game was …