Gary Carter’s Dapper Look, 1984

Congratulations, Giants.

Now that the Super Bowl is over, let’s focus on the real sports story of early February:

Pitchers and catchers report in less than two weeks.

To celebrate, I thought I’d share this great photo of the 1984 press conference welcoming catching great Gary Carter to the New York Mets.  I’m not a Mets fan, but I always liked Gary Carter.  He was a great player, and baseball fans everywhere are wishing and praying for him as he continues his fight against brain cancer.  Blessings, Gary!


(Photo via SI).


Francona a Good Fit for St. Louis

Terry Francona
Terry. For the love. They gave you a jersey for a reason.

I just read that Terry Francona interviewed for Tony La Russa’s old job.   As much as I think Ryne Sandberg deserves a shot at managing in the bigs, I sure would love it if he stayed with Phillies organization, preferably at the helm of our own IronPigs.

Francona is the smart bet here.  He’s a winner (this year’s dismal collapse notwithstanding), and he’s a recent multiple World Series winner.  His penchant for questionable on-field attire aside,  I think he’s the right fit for the Cardinals.  As a veteran manager and recent winner, he’ll bring the kind of stability and gravity the franchise needs after losing their winningest coach of all time.

Fun Fact: Did you know La Russa has a law degree and is a member of the Florida State Bar? True story.

The United Countries of Baseball (via Nike and MLB)

Alright, this was way cooler when I didn’t know Nike made it, but it’s still worth sharing, especially since a lot of you get to this little old blog of mine by searching for the “Every Baseball Hat Since 1950” infographic.  “The United Countries of Baseball” shows fan allegiance by region.  Because it uses 2007 numbers, the huge pockets of Phillies fans around the country are not accurately relfected,  There should also be a Yankee presence in New Jersey and Florida among other corrections.  What would you change? (Click to embiggen and see full map).

The Appeal To Charm: Mike Schmidt’s Case Against Interleague Play

Philadelphia: Citizens Bank Park - Mike Schmid...
Image by wallyg via Flickr

Thank you, Mike Schmidt, for taking the public stance that interleague play has run its course.  I agree. And I LOVE your appeal to charm: once upon a time, the All-Star Game and the World Series really were the only showcase for the kinds of match-ups dreams are made of.  All of the reasons you cite for ending interleague play are right on, but your public allegiance to the idea of “charming uncertainty” as one of those unique, endearing baseball intangibles is, as it were, pitch-perfect:

“Isn’t something missing from the All-Star game and World Series? Think back to when they were played in an environment of charming uncertainty because the teams and players were from different leagues. What they knew of each other came from spring training games, television and scouting.

The buzz was always which league was better, how would a particular pitcher fare against the other league. One league was known for superior speed and power, the other for pitching, finesse and defense. The World Series was like those first Super Bowls, with little firsthand information. Hitters and pitchers had to feel each other out. None of that today.”

Now, to everyone else: Michael Jack Schmidt is absolutely right about this.  While he talks mostly about the unfair, unbalanced issues that come up because of travel, scheduling, and the DH, you can tell the heart of this issue for him is precisely historic and much more about feeling.  He wants baseball’s special moments to be as special as they were to him, both as a fan and as a player.  “Charm” and “charming uncertainty” are brilliant ways to name that special something, that anticipation of the novel and the new occurring only twice a year in sport so grounded in tradition.  It’s the top-of-the-roller-coaster-for-the-first-time feeling.  It’s a first kiss kind of thing.  The All-Star Game is holding sweaty hands.  The World Series is the agonizing bliss between when you start that forever-arc between were you are at present and where you’ll be when she/he kisses back or doesn’t.

Life is a game of diminishing firsts.  The institutions we bless with our time and fandom, then, ought to be dances of renewal, full of things we haven’t seen before and may never see again.  In the best sense of the term old school, the Old School understood this.  Mike Schmidt knows what’s up.