Play ball! The season's officially underway. Here's what you may have missed so far:
One of baseball's grandest traditions may be dying out. President Bush has declined to throw out an opening day pitch for the second straight year. While he's not the first President to decline the invite, Washington Post writer Paul Duggan suggests that the ritual is not as important as it was in times past. Last year, Vice President Cheney took his place on the mound and was greeted by a chorus of boos. This year, both are too busy to take part in this once great tradition. Even Dennis Martinez was too busy dealing with Nicaragua's trade deficit to attend any festivities this year.
Did you know that Frank Thomas is fluent in Esperanto?
Jim's rant of the week: Over the next two months, the San Francisco Giants will be installing 590 solar panels around AT&T Park. The energy produced by the panels won't power anything in the park. Rather, the energy will be returned to the Pacific Gas & Electric power grid and will only be enough to power a few homes. What it really amounts to is a bid for positive publicity for the Giants and PG&E. Who will pay the $1.5 million tab? Not the Giants. They'll benefit from the good PR while PG&E customers pay for the panels via higher monthly bills.
The Cleveland Indians could have gotten Jose Reyes in the Roberto Alomar trade.
The Tribune Co. announced on opening day that they'll be selling the Cubs at the end of this season. Mark Cuban has been mentioned as one of the few potential buyers able to afford the estimated $660 million price tag. Cuban promises to immediately recall Mark Prior from the minors and showcase him for a potential trade for Steve Nash.
Hollywood has made many biopics of baseball players. Forget about the character studies and reenactments of historical events. It's time for an action thriller biopic about the life of Ugueth Urbina. Instead of ending with a World Series victory, UUU (as my producers have dubbed it), would open with Urbina getting a World Series ring with the Marlins. Act 2 would focus on the kidnapping of his mother in 2004. Act 3 would delve into the reliever's arrest and recent conviction on attempted murder charges. He'll spend 14 years in a Venezuelan jail. If he can make a comeback in his late 40's, we'll have our Hollywood ending.
Jim's link of the week: Lastings Milledge Facts. #311 is my favorite, what's yours?
Tony Mullane did it in 1893. Greg Harris did it in 1995. Pat Venditte of Creighton University may someday join the club. Venditte is an ambidextrous pitcher who switches from lefty to righty depending on the batter he's facing. He's a hard throwing right-hander with an over the top motion and he's also a left-hander with a sidearm delivery and a biting slider. Check out his special glove with two thumb holes, one on each side of the fingers.
"It is well to remember that a Martian observing his first baseball game would be quite correct in concluding that the last two words of the National Anthem are: PLAY BALL!"
--Herbert H. Paper (Cincinnati Enquirer, 04/02/89)
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This weekly collection of news, facts & absurdities will keep you up to date with aspects of the game that you never knew existed.
March 31, 2011
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June 16, 2008
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April 8, 2008
Gene Stephens holds the major league record for most hits in an inning, with three.