Baseball

Yankee Stadium in 2014.
Ian Pickus

There's news today of labor peace in major league baseball. The owners and players have reportedly reached an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement that will keep the players on the field for another five years. The news is being hailed by baseball fans who still remember the 1994 strike that wiped out the World Series for only the second time. Joining us to discuss the deal is Rick Burton, the David B. Falk endowed professor of sport management at Syracuse University.

Former three-time major league baseball all-star Ralph Branca has died at 90. Branca had an 11-year career in the bigs including stints with the Tigers and Yankees, but he is best remembered for a landmark moment in New York baseball. Pitching for the Brooklyn Dodgers in a 1951 playoff, Branca gave up the “Shot Heard Round The World” — Bobby Thomson’s home run that sent the New York Giants to the World Series. Years later, Branca and Thomson made peace. But as Branca explained in an interview with WAMC in 2011, it eventually emerged that Thomson had received help stealing the Dodgers’ signs in an elaborate scheme. We spoke with him about his memoir A Moment in Time: An American Story of Baseball, Heartbreak, and Grace.

Ron Darling is a New York Times bestselling author and Emmy Award-winning baseball analyst for TBS, the MLB Network, SNY, and WPIX-TV, and author of The Complete Game. He was a starting pitcher for the New York Mets from 1983 to 1991 and the first Mets pitcher to be awarded a Gold Glove.

In his new book, Game 7, 1986: Failure and Triumph in the Biggest Game of My Life, he looks back at what might have been a signature moment in his career, and reflects on the ways professional athletes must sometimes shoulder a personal disappointment as their teams find a way to win.

Keith Strudler: Chicago Cubs Fans

Oct 19, 2016

Cubs fans, it is now time to get nervous. A few days ago, you were up one game to zero in the National League Championship Series. Three more wins against the Dodgers, and it was off to the World Series, where you would be the favorite to win over what now appears to be the Cleveland Indians, who are up three-nil on the Toronto Blue Jays. This would be your first trip to the Series since 1945. And if you won, the first time since 1908. As you’re well aware as a Cubs fan, this is the longest championship drought in professional baseball. Or more precisely, in all professional sports.

David Ortiz
wikipedia.org

Massachusetts officials are moving to name a bridge in honor of retiring Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz.

Jose Fernandez
Arturo Pardavila III on Flickr / Wikipedia

The Miami Marlins have canceled Sunday's home game against the Atlanta Braves following the death of pitcher Jose Fernandez.

Baseball greats Ken Griffey, Jr. and Mike Piazza will be entered into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on Sunday.

 Brian Kenny is an Emmy Award­–winning broadcaster and host for the MLB Network. The foremost proponent of analytics on sports television, he founded the first and only TV program devoted to sports analytics, Clubhouse Confidential. He currently hosts the daily panel shows MLB Now and MLB Tonight, and is a columnist for Sports on Earth.

In his new book, Ahead of the Curve: Inside the Baseball Revolution, he uses stories from baseball’s present and past to examine why we sometimes choose ignorance over information, and how tradition can trump logic, even when directly contradicted by evidence.

  Vin Scully called the tenth-inning groundball in Game Six of the 1986 World Series - Mets versus Red Sox - that sealed a comeback, fueled a curse, and turned a batting champion into a scapegoat.

But getting there was a long, hard slog with plenty of heartache. After being knocked out of contention the previous two seasons, the Mets blasted through the National League that year. They won blowouts, nailbiters, fights, and a 14-inning game that ended with one pitcher on the mound, another in right field, and an All-Star catcher playing third base.

Matthew Silverman’s new book is One-Year Dynasty: Inside the Rise and Fall of the 1986 Mets, Baseball's Impossible One-and-Done Champions. He will be at The Low Beat in Albany, NY for a Happy Hour Mets event and book signing and he joins us. 

Keith Strudler: Facing Fears

Apr 20, 2016

I have no problem admitting that I am afraid of several things. Like roller coasters, I really hate roller coasters. I’ve been on two in my life, one out of stupidity and one for a girl, and neither was a good idea. I’ve got a little fear of heights, I’m scared to death of sharks, and so on.  If you are looking for a rugged, tough, fearless man, than you need to keep looking. I wear my fears like I do everything else – with confidence.

What’s it like to live through the longest season in sports, the 162-game Major League Baseball schedule? Washington Post staff writer Barry Svrluga’s The Grind, now out in paperback, captures the frustration, impermanence, and glory felt by the players, the staff, and their families from the start of spring training to the final game of the year – and into the offseason, when the preparations start again.

So much about baseball is known: the distance between the bases (90 feet), the batting average of a good hitter (.300), the velocity of a hard fastball (95 mph). The Grind shows us what we don’t know. No sport is as unrelenting as Major League Baseball; enduring the 162 games squeezed into 185 days (plus spring training and postseason) is shared, in different ways, by every facet of a franchise.

Rob Edelman: Balls, Bats, And Popular Culture

Apr 11, 2016

Last month, as the 2016 baseball preseason was kicking off, I attended the 23rd annual NINE Spring Training Conference in Phoenix. Those who ran the event did a first-rate job; the presentations were generally illuminating; plus, I got to (finally) meet and get to know so many interesting people as well as see three ballgames in three days in three different ball yards! You can’t beat that!

  In 1965 George Gmelch signed a contract to play professional baseball with the Detroit Tigers organization. Growing up sheltered in an all-white, affluent San Francisco suburb, he knew little of the world outside. Over the next four seasons, he came of age in baseball’s Minor Leagues through experiences ranging from learning the craft of the professional game to becoming conscious of race and class for the first time.

Playing with Tigers is not a typical baseball memoir. Now a well-known anthropologist at Union College, Gmelch recounts a baseball education unlike any other as he got to know small-town life across the United States against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, civil rights protests, and the emergence of the counterculture. The social and political turmoil of the times spilled into baseball, and Gmelch experienced the consequences firsthand as he played out his career in the Jim Crow South.

Drawing from journals he kept as a player, letters, and recent interviews with thirty former teammates, coaches, club officials, and even former girlfriends, Gmelch immerses the reader in the life of the Minor Leagues, capturing—in a manner his unique position makes possible—the universal struggle of young athletes trying to make their way.

"Baseball in the Berkshires: A County's Common Bond" is on display at the Berkshire Historical Society through May 2.
Jim Levulis / WAMC

An exhibit detailing the Berkshires’ connections to America’s pastime is on display at the Berkshire Historical Society. And it’s a history home run.

Jim Levulis / WAMC

An exhibit detailing the Berkshires’ connections to America’s pastime is on display at the Berkshire Historical Society. It features more than 280 items from 90 private collections.

This is a picture of Andrew Leonard in 1874 when he played left field for the Boston Red Stockings
wikipedia.org

Several contracts for one of baseball's first professional players have been sold at auction for more than $76,000 combined.

This is a picture of Andrew Leonard in 1874 when he played left field for the Boston Red Stockings
wikipedia commons

One of the nation's first professional baseball players lies largely forgotten by history in an unmarked grave in Boston.

wikipedia.org

New Britain has replaced its former Double-A baseball team with an independent minor league club.

Keith Strudler: Loving And Losing

Oct 28, 2015

It is never smart to use metaphor to predict the outcome of any sporting event. So the fact that the television feed for the World Series went down for what seemed like an hour – but apparently was only four minutes – has absolutely no bearing on what may or may not happen to the NY Mets, who dropped the first game of the World Series last night to the Kansas City Royals in 14 innings – which is about 5 more than I can watch on a weeknight.

Cheating in baseball nowadays usually means performance enhancing drugs or even front office hacking. Back in 1983, however, the sport had one of its strangest and most memorable days when encroaching pine tar nullified a game-winning home run — at least temporarily.

It has been quite a summer in sports. New York Jets QB Geno Smith had his jaw broken this week by a teammate....in the locker room.  As the NFL gets ready to start exhibition season, Tom Brady and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell met in a court room over "Deflate-Gage."   The Red Sox are enduring a lousy season. The Yankees just lost first place to the Toronto Blue Jays.  And then there's the first place New York Mets. There is a great deal to talk about!  Good thing we'll be joined by Marist College's Keith Strudler and Daily Gazette Sports Editor, Mark McGuire. 

Has there ever been a more complicated person in baseball than Billy Martin? Charming and brilliant, sensitive and prone to anger, Martin rose from a rough neighborhood in the Bay Area to the top of the sports world — but spent his adult life struggling to stay there.

  So much about baseball is known: the distance between the bases (90 feet), the batting average of a good hitter (.300) and the velocity of a hard fastball (95 mph). Barry Svrluga’s new book, The Grind, shows us what we may not know. No sport is as unrelenting as Major League Baseball; enduring the 162 games squeezed into 185 days (plus spring training and postseason.)

In 2004, Svrluga was assigned to cover the return of baseball to Washington D.C. The nation’s capital had gone without a major league team since 1971. In 2014, Svrluga wrote a series for the Post about the personal toll that baseball takes, with each installment profiling a different character from the franchise.

The Grind grew directly from that series, including the original six longform pieces plus updates and additional chapters.

MLB Network

Jim Kaat is one of the rare athletes to achieve greatness on the field and in his second career in the press box.

  It’s a classic story of the American Dream. George Mitchell grew up in a working class family in Maine, experiencing firsthand the demoralizing effects of unemployment when his father was laid off from a lifelong job. But education was always a household priority, and Mitchell embraced every opportunity that came his way, eventually becoming the ranking Democrat in the Senate during the administrations of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Mitchell looks back at his adventures in law and politics in his memoir, The Negotiator.

  

  Mookie Wilson already had a successful baseball career before Game 6 of the 1986 Mets-Red Sox World Series made him one of the most iconic figures in baseball. The ball that went between Bill Buckner’s legs at first base was the play that turned the series and team morale around for the Mets.

In a team of larger than life characters like Keith Hernandez, Dwight Eugene "Doc" Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, and Lenny Dykstra, Mookie is one of the most beloved and revered Mets to this day.

He writes about his career and life in his book Mookie: Life, Baseball, and the '86 Mets. He shares stories of that triumphant year from the dugout, as well as his early life in the rural south, his time in the minor leagues, and being called up to play as a Met.

Michelle Checchi

When it comes to baseball and upstate New York, Cooperstown has long been the center of the universe. But with opening day on the horizon, The Albany Institute of History and Art is getting into the game for the first time in its history. Three baseball exhibitions are open there now through the end of July, including Baseball: America’s Game, a traveling exhibition organized by Bank of America’s Art in Our Communities program; Play Ball: Baseball in the Capital Region; and The Clubhouse: Baseball Memorabilia.

Baseball is just around the corner, but the season is starting on a down note in Pawtucket on news that a new ownership group plans to move the Triple-A Red Sox affiliate to a waterfront park in Providence in 2017.

Keith Strudler: Slow Pitch

Oct 22, 2014

I was always a huge fan of get-a-way games. Those are typically Thursday afternoon major league baseball games that stand in-between both squads getting on a plane for weekend series somewhere else. For the away squad, it’s often the only thing keeping them from a return flight home. For the home team, it’s often keeping them from a cross country flight and a reasonable dinner hour. So needless to say, the game plays at something of an up-tempo. I once saw the Mets break two hours on a hot July day. Fans barely had time to get through the Shake Shack line before the final out. Guys were swinging at pretty much anything in the atmosphere, and the pitcher looked like a tennis ball machine – just one right after the other.

Keith Allison/Flickr

Derek Jeter still has three games left in his career before retiring, but officials in Cooperstown are already thinking about his likely induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The New York Yankees shortstop will be eligible for enshrinement in 2020. For Cooperstown Mayor Jeff Katz, it's not too early to start planning for the huge crowd that will show up for Jeter's induction.

Katz told WSTM-TV in Syracuse that the attendance that July weekend could top 100,000. When Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. were inducted in 2007, about 80,000 jammed Cooperstown.

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