Archive | March, 2012

Why Do You Like Baseball?

Not long ago someone asked me why I liked baseball. This person is not a fan. In fact, they are not even from a country that plays baseball so they don’t fully understand the game.

All I could come up with on short notice was “everything”.

I really do love everything about this game – the sounds, the smells, the feeling of a cool breeze on a hot summer’s night – the list goes on and on.

Besides the smell of hot dogs and fresh cut grass, there is so much to love about the game.

Some people say it’s too slow and it takes forever to finish. But I say to them that baseball is a talking sport. The periods between plays gives you time to talk about the game – to talk about what has happened, what might happen, what has happened in past games in similar situations, and so much more. In my opinion, you can’t have enough baseball and being at the park for “free” baseball (extra innings) is one of life’s little pleasures.

I love the game within the game. This is one thing that I have always loved and one reason I think that I have always wanted to be a coach. The chess match that managers play with match ups is exciting. I even love watching the fielders move between batters to see how they play one hitter to pull and the next straight up or as a slap hitter. Even the slightest movement of the middle infielders to get into position for a double play are things that I love watching for.

Then you add in the ballet at the bases with runners and balls arriving at the same time. Some of the greatest enjoyment of a game is before the game watching the middle infielders practice turning two during BP. Watching their footwork around the bag is amazing and they do it with such ease. Having tried to do the same thing they are doing only helps me appreciate it just a little bit more knowing how difficult it is.

It has been said many times that the hardest thing to do in sports is hit a round ball square with a round bat. When they do it and you hear the crack of a bat, it’s a great moment. Now add in that that ball is coming at you at speeds upwards of 100mph with movement and the feat of hitting a ball becomes even more impressive.

I love the non-verbal interactions that are going on at all times. It’s not just between catcher and pitcher or hitter and third base coach but its all over the field. Infielders are communicating with each other. Coaches are communicating with fielders and other coaches. It’s a whirlwind of signs going on at all times.

I think I could go on and on about the different things that I love about the game. Come to think of it, I can’t think of anything I don’t like about the game.

No matter who you root for, they don’t let you down. As Jimmy Fallon said in Fever Pitch:

They’re here. Every April, they’re here. At 1:05 or at 7:05, there is a game. And if it gets rained out, guess what? They make it up to you. Does anyone else in your life do that? The Red Sox don’t get divorced. This is a real family. This is the family that’s here for you. ”

It doesn’t matter if it’s the Red Sox, Cubs, or Rangers. No matter who your team is, they are always there.

The measurements are perfect. How they came up with 90 feet was a stroke of genius. No matter where you go the game is the same, yet different. Each field has its own unique character unlike many other sports where the fields are always the exact same size. The uniqueness of places like Fenway Park or Wrigley leads to added greatness.

Then there are the rivalries, the tradition, the drama, the legends, the stories, the comparisons of old and new players, and so much more.

So tell me, what do you like baseball?

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Posted in MLB3 Comments

Interview: Robert Breisacher from Baseball Dreamin

Today we talk to Robert J. Breisacher from Baseball Dreamin. Robert is going on a trip to all 30 MLB stadiums this summer, but before he leaves he took some time to talk to us.

How long have you had this dream to see every MLB stadium?
I’m not exactly sure when I got this idea in my head.  I think just being so far away from home during the summer made me miss watching games.  I love being able to catch a game anytime of the day, any day of the summer.

What did your friends/family think when you told them what you were doing?
My family is very proud of me for chasing a dream like this.  They do think its rather ambitious and they are concerned about the financial toll it will take on my wallet.  Other then that they are just happy to see me go after something like this.

I see you have your schedule planned out, how long did it take you to make?
The schedule was not easy to plan out.  I can’t tell you how many times I made it through and came to the conclusion that that particular schedule wasn’t going to work out.  I had schedules for different times of the season starting in different areas of the country.  Ultimelty I decided that I wanted to start the trip as soon as I could.  Patience is a virtue that I could work on and I think the excitment of the season starting and me not on the road would drive me crazy.

Will you see only 1 game at each stadium or is there time for an extra game here and there?
Right now I have only planned on one game in each park with the exception of Comerica Park which is where I will be starting and ending my trip.  Any additonal games that I see will be a decision I make on the fly.  There are a few gaps in my schedule where I will be in a paticular city for an extended period of time such as NY, LA, and Chicago.  I’m pretty sure I will end up seeing more then the scheduled games in those cities.

Where will you stay on your journey? Hotels, camp sites, couchsurfing?
I will be doing a little bit of each of the following options.  I would like to keep the costs as low as possible seeing as gas prices have the potential to get a bit out of hand this summer.  I want to find unique and interesting local places to stay whenever possible.  The ballpark chaser communtiy is a tight knit group.  Since finding websites such as ballparkchasers.com several fellow chasers have offered to let me crash at their places.  Also being a former member of the military I have friends all over the country and they have offered to let me stay with them.

Have you contacted the teams to let them know what you are doing? If so, how receptive have they been to providing assistance?
Yes, While I was still in Afghanistan I sent emails and formal mail to every single one of the teams in Major League Baseball.  At this point I have heard back from about half of the teams and most have offered to extend complimentary tickets and or parking passes.  A few teams have gone above and beyond.  The Cleveland Indians gave me four tickets for the April 9th game and are allowing me to sit in the “Social Media Suite” while I am attending a game there.  The Indians staff has been absolutely amazing to me from the very first time I contacted them.  The New York Mets have a program where the welcome home a veteran at every home game of the season.  While I am attending the game there I will recieve four tickets in the front row right behind the Mets dugout.  They will introduce me at the end of the third inning and show pictures I provided them on their jumbo screen.  Interesting enough the only non American team in Major League Baseball, The Toronto Blue Jays, offered me four tickets and free blue jays caps when I come visit them.  I am going to try to send out one last ditch email to the teams I have not heard from.  Today I recieved a voucher for two tickets to a St. Louis Cardnials game, I had previously heard nothing from the Cardnials so I’m wondering if other teams will be doing the same.

What stadium or team are you most excited to see and why?
The stadium I am most excited to see is Fenway Park.  I will be there for opening day during their 100th season at Fenway.  I am so excited to be apart of this history and see where so many legends have thrown around a ball.  I was also excited about seeing Wrigley Field.  So much so I couldn’t contain my excitement and went out to Chicago this past weekend and got a tour of the park, It was everything I thought it would be and so much more.  I can’t wait to a game there.  I’m also excited to see Comerica Park because its my home town field and is always a pleasure to see a game there.

You plan on seeing other things along the way besides MLB stadiums. What are you most excited about seeing or doing along the way that might not have anything to do with baseball?
I’m excited about seeing the Rock and Roll Hall of fame in Cleveland, Niagra Falls on the way to Toronto, and I’m hoping to be able to fit a stop by Las Vegas into my budget.

Are you going to try and stay on or off the interstate highways for most of your journey?
I will be sticking to the highways most of my trip unless I hear about something I have to see off the beaten path.  Some of my games are kind of pushing it when it comes to time so I will be looking for my fastest way between those parks.

What is the best advice someone has given you about your trip so far?
The best advice I have recieved was from one of my best friends, Melissa Craley, gave me the idea for my blog.  I was home on leave from Afghanistan and met up with her for dinner.  I told her about my trip and she told me I should document every aspect of it.  I thought that was a wonderful idea and clearly I have ran with it.  Melissa has been an incredible supporter of me on this project and will be attending a few games with me.  I would like to thank Melissa for coming up with awesome ideas and helping me out every step of the way!  I honestly could not of done this with out her.

I’d like to thank Robert for taking the time to answer a few questions for us. I am looking forward to following along with his journey as he travels across the US. You can follow along as well on his blog Baseball Dreamin, on Face Book, or on Twitter @BaseballDreamin.

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Book Review: The American Dream by Nicholas H.W. Henning

Recently I read the story The American Dream: From Perth to Sacramento about a young ballplayer named Damian from Australia who is signed and plays ball in the minor leagues in the US. I really enjoyed the book for several reasons.

The writer, Nicholas H.W. Henning, is Australian so the language used is different than what you would hear from an American writer. I found this interesting just for the simple fact of seeing how they would describe players and their abilities using different words. It made the book just a little more interesting in that respect for me. Then again I am fascinated with the game in other countries.

Speaking of which, you get a little insight into the game in Australia. The story takes place back in the early 1990’s before there was an Australian Baseball League so the set up of the game in the country was different then. It provides a little insight into the structure of the leagues and major tournaments that laid the groundwork for the 2nd coming of the ABL.

You also get an insight on what it’s like to be a player from another country coming over to America. You are right there along side Damian as he tries new things like Creole food, driving a stick shift, and even driving on the right side of the round. All things that one might take for granted if they are from the US in the first place.

There is humor in the book as well that is written quite well. The joke that the players play on one another during their medical check up in spring training is hilarious, and it’s easy to see players actually doing something like this as well.

There are just so many sides to the story that are interesting and that’s what kept me reading. Sure some of it is devoted to Damian’s love life which is interesting from the long distance stand point. But then you add in the groupies that are around the players and more hilarity ensues.

You are also given a glimpse inside the life of a player dealing with relationships, and relationships that may not last a long time. Players get traded, released, or injured and they aren’t around for anymore for a number of reasons. You see the difficult side of dealing with these relationships and how they can affect you in the short and long term.

I really enjoyed reading the book and think you would as well. It’s an easy read that keeps you entertained. I like the view point of the foreigner coming to America to play the game and the obstacles he goes through in order to chase his dream like thousands of others.

You can find all of Nicholas R.W. Henning’s book on Amazon and you can follow his blog at http://nicholasrwhenning.blogspot.com/I would highly recommend picking up one of his books as I thoroughly enjoyed mine. In my own personal way of rating, I would have to give this book 4 out of 5 gloves.

 

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*In full disclosure, I was given this book by the author to read, but all my opinions about the book are mine and mine alone. Any items given to me for review purposes are always fully disclosed, but in no way does that mean a positive review will be given. As well, my reviews contain affiliate links. If you click and then purchase an item I will receive a small commission. Thanks for your understanding.

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