Quick Thought

The Yankees were just shut out for the second game in a row. Yesterday the Pirates were also shutout for the second game in a row. The Yankees’ opening day player salaries total $206 million, the Pirates’ total $35 million.

Anything can happen over a single game, or a few games, to any team, anywhere, at any time. One of the many things that make baseball so great.

(Payroll data from CBSsports.com)

Traditions and the 7th inning stretch

As part of my high school graduation present my Dad took me to Toronto to see two games in the still-new SkyDome vs. Milwaukee (Aug 29-30, 1992). My memories of these games are forever slipping further away but I recall a few things vividly: Robin Yount was approaching 3000 hits (I saw #’s 2988 and 2989*), rookie sensation Pat Listach ran wild and the Blue Jays played an abomination of a song during the 7th inning stretch.

*thanks to retrosheet.org for letting me count backwards through the boxscores to figure that out.

OK Blue Jays” has been played at Toronto baseball games since the mid-eighties. Why they won’t play “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” is beyond me. It’s so ingrained in the gameday tradition at most ballparks that when you don’t hear it sticks out like having your #3 hitter bunt into a double play.

This spring I went to an Orioles spring training game at their new home in Sarasota.  I’ve been to several games at Ed Smith Stadium thought the years; spring games for the White Sox and Reds, minor league games for other affiliates. But for the first time they did not play “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Instead it was replaced with John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.” The crowd seemed to be fairly disgusted with this and several of us made sure to rectify the situation with our own rendition of the classic as soon as the loudspeakers were silent. Is this an Orioles tradition? I wouldn’t think so but maybe a Baltimore fan out there knows for sure.

All of this brings me to my counter-intuitive point. I’ll be attending The Georgia Tech/Miami baseball game this Saturday. The tradition at Tech game is not the beloved “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” but a horrible little ditty known as “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road.” When I was a freshman and first heard the song I was aghast that they would replace an all-time favorite with such dreck. But a funny thing happens when you hear something over and over in a certain setting.

It becomes yours.

Yes, its awful. I know it. The whole crowd knows it. But its ours. Anyone I’ve ever taken to a game there looks at me with wide, stunned eyes as I sing along to the whole thing. Its the one place where I don’t miss “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” I love the song about the stinky skunk guts splattered all over a highway.

The entire three game series is being televised this weekend. At Saturday’s game they will be honoring the 25th anniversary of Georgia Tech’s first ACC baseball title. That team was coached by current Miami head coach Jim Morris. Tune in to see a battle between two of the top ranked teams in the nation and just maybe hear part of a crappy little song when they go to break in the seventh.

Update: August 25, 2010: This article has an unrelated but interesting story and a link to the whole song.

Hinske and Postseason Appearances

A fair amount has been made of Eric Hinske being on three consecutive AL pennant winners. This seems to me more of a coincidence to me than an actual accomplishment. However, all the talk has reminded me of Candy Maldonado who – when I was young – always seemed to be playing in the postseason. It appears time is playing tricks on my memory. I thought I remembered him being on one of the A’s pennant winners from ’88-’90 but he was not. The Candyman was in the postseason 6 times for three different teams. (’83 & ’85 Dodgers, ’87 & ’89 Giants, ’91 and ’92 Blue Jays.)

Which leads me to this question:  Who has been in the postseason with the most different teams?

A quick Google search leads to no definitive answer, mainly thanks to the many Yankees that top all of the cumulative postseason lists. I did come across this tidbit: Lonnie Smith holds the record for most World Series appearances with different teams. (4, PHI, STL, KC, ATL)

My guess off the top of my head would have been Gary Sheffield, but Sheff only went to the postseason with the Marlins, Braves and Yankees. Sorry Brewers, Padres, Dodgers, Tigers and Mets fans.

Next guess is Rickey Henderson or Kenny Lofton, who both bounced around a LOT at the end of their careers. Rickey hit the postseason 8 times with 5 different franchises. Lofton 11 times with 6 different teams.

Honestly, that’s all I’ve got. I don’t know how to research this more quickly and accurately with the information I have access to. I used Baseball Reference.com to get the information you see here, and I haven’t even looked at pitchers. I’m sure there’s a LOOGY out there who went from team to team and racked up some stats. (OK, two quick pitchers: David Cone and Jack Morris both appeared in the postseason with three different franchises.)

If anyone can add any insight or tools to help me on this search I’d appreciate it.

Update: By request from Dan Rutz, 4 more pitchers:

Paul Byrd: 4 seasons, 4 teams. ATL, LAA, CLE, BOS
Al Leiter: 5 seasons, 4 teams. TOR, FLA, NYM, NYY
Mike Stanton: 11 seasons, 4 teams. ATL, BOS, TEX, NYY
Alan Embree: 7 seasons, 5 teams. CLE, ATL, SF, BOS, SD

Kenny Lofton is still the leader in the clubhouse with 6.

UPDATE #2: Thanks to Lar for the answers in the comment below. Lofton and David Wells are the leaders with 6 apiece.

Introduction

I took a cue from Twitter pal Larry Granillo (@wezen_ball) and started my own blog. I don’t really know what it will become yet but I’d been thinking about starting one for a while. I expect lots of baseball thoughts will appear here along with hockey. NFL and college basketball will appear when those seasons are relevant too.

First entry done. Take that, internet.

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