Happy Anniversary, MLBlogs!
Since I live on the Left Coast of North America, it made sense to me to come into this celebration at the end. This is a more fun way to remember April 18th than the San Francisco Earthquake of ’06. I had to board op the KPFA Evening News today, and it was earthquake this and earthquake that. They keep talking about all the preparations we should make, but with all the oil, chemical and radiation places we have in the area, if we have the BIG ONE along the Hayward Fault, our collective goose will be cooked in a most unsavory broth.
I’m not going to be able to name everyone I have read in the MLBlogosphere, but I will point out a few, and I wish Happy Anniversary to all, and a big welcome to the newcomers!
I’m a journalist and in early summer of last year, I blogged at another site for a short while about the subjects I generally cover: Peak Oil, Nuclear Proliferation, E-vote Fraud, Global Warming, you know, the stuff that generally puts a smile on your face and a spring in your step.
Then the A’s exiled Eric Byrnes to the cellar of the NL Worst…and while it was no surprise they sent him out–they had obviously been shopping him for a while and making A’s fans endure some "not ready for prime time players" as possible replacements–the way they did the P.R. around it was insulting. The A’s F.O. knew it would be an unpopular move, so they enlisted the help of third baseman Eric Chavez and a couple of local sportswriters to knock both Byrnesie and his fans. I was extremely ticked off and wrote two essays on the transaction and the way it was handled for the other blog. At that point I realized that I would rather write about baseball than Armageddon, even when the baseball news was bad, so I folded up the tent at the other place and joined MLBlogs in early August with Down the Left Field Line: Life, Baseball & Eric Byrnes.
The biggest thrill I’ve had here has been the opportunity to exchange some comments with Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson. (I also enjoyed the fact that the one of the KPFA News Co-directors who is a baseball fan looked stunned when he saw that Brooks Robinson was answering my queries). Not only has he answered the questions I have left on his site, he once visited mine. I had reviewed the Cooperstown exhibit BASEBALL AS AMERICA. It includes the glove Brooks used in the 1970 World Series, when I and others just watched in awe at his demonstration of third base as played by a Human Vacuum Cleaner. I let Brooks know I had posted the review and he actually left a comment on my blog. I’m honored that he took the time to visit and comment.
Soon after I started the blog, I enrolled in a video editing class. I had looked around MLB.com and realized that it would just be so much fun, not to mention more remunerative, to drop public affairs journalism for life as a video editor for MLB. Unfortunately, I lasted only about a month in the class, not because I couldn’t handle the work, but because I knew I couldn’t afford the equipment I would need to develop professional level skills. It was a class in Final Cut Pro, a piece of software that at half-price would have cost me a month’s rent. And it was just for MAC computers; I work on a hand-me-down Pentium II. Heck, I don’t even have a DVD player yet.
But before that reality hit me, I had formulated my idea for the final project we were supposed to do: a short film on the evolution of the catcher’s mask. And I contacted Dan Holmes, of the blog "From Cooperstown," who gave me the name and number of the person at the Hall of Fame who could help me get pictures for it. It’s been great to know that if I have a baseball question, there are some very good resources here in the form of my fellow bloggers.
Another great thing has been the opportunity to encounter a number of baseball-savvy women, especially Cyn, author of Red Sox Chick, Diane of Diamonds Are For Humor, whose picture captions are just hysterical, and three big-time Cardinals fans: Tiffany, of Party Like It’s 1982, Mollie, author of Daddy Raised a Cardinals Fan, and Rachel of Rachel’s Redbird Ramblings. I miss Rorie the White Sox fan; I am reading a bit more of Arielle’s Dispatches from Red Sox Teen Nation.
It’s great to be in the company of women who know their baseball. Women long been marginalized both in terms of participation in the baseball industry and just for knowing the game, even though they help fill the stadiums. It’s about time a woman, Effa Manley, will be inducted into Cooperstown–I’ll write more about that when the induction is near–and I hope to see more. How about Joan Payson, founder of the Mets? (The team I rooted for as a kid).
As more women are drawn to this blogosphere, I hope there will be more frequent discussions of an expanded role for women in baseball. I really don’t like seeing all-male scouting sections in stadiums. Women have been scouting their male friends and relatives probably since the game’s earliest days. When I was a child, I remember reading a story in a set of books called "Childcraft" about the young Connie Mack wanting his mother, a proper Victorian lady, to see him play baseball, then considered a lower-class sport. The title of the story was "Slide, Connie, Slide" and I remember that it ended with Mack’s mother telling him that his friends were to call him "Cornelius, not Slats." If women have been watching the game since at least the 19th Century, it’s time we got paid to watch it.
I would also like to see, or rather hear, women do play-by-play. (I’ve been wanting to try it myself since college). The Yankees have a woman color analyst and the Red Sox have recently added a woman to the Remdawg and Don broadcast team; Tina did the on-field interview of Mark Lorretta after his walk-off homer. But I want to hear a woman do play-by-play. It may sound strange at first because it would be new, but folks will get used to it, and future generations born to it will think nothing of it. (If we don’t blow ourselves up and thus prevent the existence of future generations enjoying baseball on the radio). I remember that in the late 60′s my parents and I were in our car, traveling through North Carolina near midnight, when we heard a female disk jockey on the radio for the first time. My parents thought it sounded weird. Little did they, or I, know that I would end up in radio, though mostly in news/public affairs rather than in music. Perhaps we can get some of the broadcasters at MLBlogs, such as Daron Sutton, of The Dog Ate Daron’s Homework, to talk about what someone, female or male, has to do to break into baseball broadcasting.
Of course, there are some wonderful male writers as well. Part of what is great about this blogosphere is that the community sticks together even if the teams change. So, while I was devastated that Eric Byrnes was non-tendered by the Orioles, to this day I still exchange comments and email with Oriole fan Daryl, of Daryl’s Place. In fact, Daryl was the one who broke the bad news to me, and there is no one else I would rather have heard it from first. (No one at KPFA said a word to me about it).
Daryl’s a terrific, thoughful writer and baseball fan. I only wish he had more time to write for his blog. But apparently I am part of the reason he doesn’t. I write long articles, like this one, and he actually takes the time to read them!
Daryl and Cyn have provided me with some great field shots of Eric Byrnes. I don’t display them now because he’s in the Orioles uniform and I prefer more up-to-date D’Back shots like the ones Mark Newman added to my Spheroid. I guess that’s the newsie in me (or my desire to forget Byrnes’ abysmal, aberrant 2005). But if you didn’t see them before, take my word for it: the Byrnes-as-a-Bird pix are great shots, better than anything I could have done. Daryl and Cyn have digital cameras; I don’t.
My visitor counter was suggested to me by Bobby, of Deep Fried Fish. So I will back up a story he told recently on Mark Newman’s MLBlogosphere to Lisa, of For Love of the Astros, on one of the fun parts of the counter: It allows you to see from where the visitors came. And we get some people who arrive via Google queries that really have nothing to do with baseball. Because Bobby’s blog is called Deep Fried Fish, he gets visitors from Google who want to know "how to fry fish." (Special instructions on how to cook Marlin: Grill in open air at 90 degrees or higher for two to three hours a day for six months. Turn over frequently). In one of my essays on New Orleans as Katrina approached–the blog is called Life, Baseball & Eric Byrnes, after all–I recalled my visit to that great city and the fact that I had eaten a muffaletto sandwich there. This is a sandwich that is a pride of New Orleans. Someone in Atlanta landed at Life, Baseball & Eric Byrnes because s/he had googled for a recipe for a muffaletto sandwich. (Not here, except for my opinion that they should be made with San Francisco Sourdough).
Thanks to that counter page, I think I know when some familar folks in and out of the Blogophere visit. My one disappointment is that more people don’t leave comments. I can see people googling about Byrnesie from as far away as Taiwan. It would be great if more of Byrnes’ fans let me know they’ve stopped by. I have encountered a number of his good fans via MLBlogs. I’m not the only person who cares about the fortunes of a so-called "average" player. (Bobby, I haven’t zinged you for that one because of technical problems in commenting about anything on your blog for days now! But consider yourself zinged, both by me and another Bay Area Byrnes fan!)
I look forward to the MLBlogs becoming more technically sophisticated. I really, really want to build a directly-linked list of great Byrnes plays, especially the defensive gems. I’m a Leo; I have a taste for good drama, and to me, Byrnesie hurling himself into the gap to rob someone of an extra-base hit is drama at its best!
There are also some other things I want to write about, such as naming rights, ticket prices, being a player’s fan versus (or along with) being a team fan in the free agency era, etc. (Yes, believe it or not, I don’t always write about Eric Byrnes, even though he’s my favorite subject). If I ever hit the Lotto, I might be able to do all the baseball writing I want. If only all I had to do was to sit around watching baseball games, and writing about baseball without having to concern myself about paying bills!
But I have gotten a few more tech hours at KPFA, and some other "serious" journalism projects are coming up, so I might actually have to pull back a bit here, at least for a while. Though be warned that I’m working on another big Byrnes article. I’ll try not to pull back too much, though. Baseball, and the chance to write about it here, helps keep me sane in an otherwise crazy, crazy world, where not all the signs of an impending Armageddon are as benign as the Cubs winning the 2006 World Series.
Go Byrnesie! Go MLBlogs!
Kéllia "We’ve had two straight days without rain" Ramares