All posts tagged: Bull Durham

Change is the Only Constant

March is one of my favorite times of the year.  The longest month—February—is past. Winter is nearing an end here in DC. Baseball players have reported to spring training camps. Hope springs eternal. Speaking of baseball, I have my own spring training ritual every year. Up first is a viewing of Bull Durham—the best baseball movie ever—followed by reading a new baseball book.  Together the two get me in the mood for the season.  I can report checking off both of those training regimens this year well before Opening Day. I actually read two baseball books recently, although one may not count because it is entitled The Is Not Baseball Book.  You have to love a book which begins with a first chapter of “Sports Is Not a Metaphor.  It’s a Symbol.”  Afterwards it jumps into all matter of things, including pataphysical management systems leading to “self-learning” teams.  That’s for another time. It is the second book, Smart Baseball:  The Story Behind the Old Stats that are Ruining the Game, The New Ones that are …

Observations from the Road (Or the “While I Was Out of the Country” Edition)

It turns out that the world continued while I was on sabbatical for six weeks.  We returned on Monday afternoon and caught up with chores on Tuesday, while simultaneously trying to keep our Italian buzz alive.  Pacci’s Pizzeria here in Silver Spring and Takoma Park’s Dolci Gelati Cafe certainly helped in that regard! In checking the news here in the states, I also discovered a few things that caught my eye. Baseball season has begun – When I left the country, spring training was underway.  As we returned, our Washington Nationals were jumping off to a 12-4 start and are currently in first place in the National League East.  I know, I know:  it is early.  I also know they have feasted on the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies.  But a win in April is as good as a win in September, and if they expect to do anything this year, the Nats will need to feast on the teams in their division who aren’t very good.  I have tickets for Sunday afternoon’s game, and …

My Own Personal Spring Training

As I post this, the clock on Spring Training Countdown (motto:  Winter Bad. Baseball Good.) reads:  4 days, 7 hours, 37 minutes, 7 seconds.  It is clear I don’t have much time to get in shape for the season! My own personal spring training generally consists of reading a new baseball book and re-watching Bull Durham (best baseball movie ever).  However, our tape/CD player is broken (I know, we’re old school), and so I had to improvise and instead read two baseball books.  It is tough duty, but sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to get into shape. I began with 2015’s Big Data Baseball: Math, Miracles, and the End of a 20-year Losing Streak by Pittsburgh writer Travis Sawchik. This is a terrific book about how the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates, stumbling along in a 20-year losing streak (remember Sid Bream and Barry Bonds and Skip Carey’s classic 1992 “They may have to hospitalize Sid Bream” call) turned around their fortune as a baseball club.  The Pirates did it using big-data …

Nats Forget Basics and Lose a Season

Crash Davis said it best. Baseball is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball… Last evening and early this morning as they faced an elimination game, the Nats forgot how to throw the ball, catch the ball, and hit the ball. And so – no surprise – their season ended. Throw the ball.  A simple task.  Unless you are Gio Gonzalez and can’t throw a strike with the bases loaded. Unless you are Aaron Barrett, and can’t find your catcher on two consecutive tosses (including an intentional Ball 4). Unless you are Adam LaRoche and you throw home when no one is actually coming home. Catch the ball.  Another simple task.  Unless you are Gio (there he is again), and you do your best Billy Buckner impersonation and can’t pick up a gift of a double play ball that dribbles through your legs.  Unless you are Gio, Anthony Rendon, and Wilson Ramos who converge on a sacrifice bunt – a gift of an out – and …

Opening Day Finally Arrives!

A quick lunch break shout-out for the arrival of opening day!  Let’s go Nats!! I’m part of a season ticket group, so the “coordinator” of the group gets – as it should be – the opening and closing games of the season.  Tom’s photo from 20 minutes ago is at the top of the post.  But come Wednesday night, for game #2 of 162 (and more!) this year, Candice and I will be in these same seats ready to cheer on Gio and the rest of the boys of summer. I know that the first day of the season was actually yesterday when the Astros played the Rangers, but it was just weird to see the Astros as an American League team. I was glad to see former Nat Rick Ankiel get the key home run.  Maybe when a recent N.L. doormat roughs up a recent perennial A.L. playoff contender, it just shows that the N.L. has passed the A.L. in playing quality baseball.  But I digress. It has been a long winter since our …

My Personal Preseason

This is my second installment of the things I do to get ready for the baseball season…which is necessary because pitchers and catchers report tomorrow. Why’s he calling me meat?  I’m the one driving a Porsche. Relax, all right? Don’t try to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they’re fascist. Throw some ground balls – it’s more democratic. The world is made for people who aren’t cursed with self awareness. You just got lesson number one: don’t think; it can only hurt the ball club. You’re gonna have to learn your clichés. You’re gonna have to study them, you’re gonna have to know them. They’re your friends. Write this down: “We gotta play it one day at a time.” Man that ball got outta here in a hurry. I mean anything travels that far oughta have a damn stewardess on it, don’t you think? (Nuke) I ain’t pissing nothing away. I got a Porsche already; a 911 with a quadrophonic Blaupunkt. (Crash) Christ, you don’t need a quadrophonic Blaupunkt! What you need is …

The Church of Baseball

“I believe in the Church of Baseball.” So begins Annie Savoy’s opening monologue in the movie Bull Durham.  And after going through all the religions she has tried, comparing baseball to sex, and talking about bad trades (“Who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas for God’s sake”) she ends up with: It’s a long season and you gotta trust. I’ve tried ’em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball. Today I needed the Church of Baseball, and it didn’t fail me.  Oh, I did get up and go to the 8 a.m. service at my other church…especially since we were meeting our new rector after an interminable period of transition.  But I’ll freely admit that I went to the cathedral at Nationals Park today to feed the soul. The Nationals have been on a tear.  Heading in to the home finale, they had won 11 of 14, including sweeps on the road of the Mets and the Phillies.  Tom …