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A new season of baseball has finally arrived and with it magic, anticipation and hope. October seems like a lifetime away. Anything can happen. Once again I failed as a blogger last year, but with each new season I feel compelled to give it another shot. I thought I’d share a few thoughts about the most wonderful time of the year (if you’re a baseball fan of course).

I met a man at a popular home improvement store earlier this week. I was having keys made and he noticed my incredible awesome SF Giants key lanyard (a great $5 investment on the streets of San Francisco last year). He asked me if I was a fan, and being that I am, we shared a few memories from 2010. He told me he was at the last game of the regular season when we beat San Diego. We remembered all of the extreme highs and lows and nail biting. As we began to part ways he said, “you know that World Series win will carry me for a long time.” I completely agree, because in all honesty, even if we won again in the next few years, there wouldn’t be the same magic. Though, in keeping with the theme of honesty, we’d love a shot at that experience again in 2012.

My husband Ryan and I decided to end our (well my) addiction to television last year. It was a good choice for our pocketbook (oh my gosh, who says that?) and our mental stimulation. I really haven’t missed it much. I’m afraid it is going to be a lot harder now that the baseball season has begun. I have been so used to watching games on television whenever possible. I learned to keep score last season and enjoyed lazy weekend afternoons with a beer in one hand and a scorecard in the other. Keeping score really taught me a lot about the game. This season, I’ll learn how to catch all the intricate plays and actions by the descriptions I hear through the radio waves.

We’ll be listening to most games on this beauty.

We recently learned that it was produced in 1949, and I think consuming games this way will feel like going back in time. When you first turn it on you hear nothing. As the tubes warm up a wonderful rich almost crackling tone comes forth. Side note: ours is missing the record player; we’d love to find a replacement.

I’ll be at AT&T Park for the SF Giants Home Opener next week with some very special baseball fans. I can’t wait to enjoy a hot dog, write in the starting line-up and kick back for an afternoon of America’s past-time.

Welcome to a new season baseball fans, here’s to enjoying the magic.

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Ok baseball fans, take a moment and think about this, how do you consume baseball? I was listening to an ESPN baseball podcast recently, and one of the hosts mentioned that he consumed baseball differently than the average fan. He watches specific players, not any particular team.

If you think about it, there are a lot of ways to consume baseball. I remember going to Giants games at Candlestick Park when I was a child, and my father would wear a radio to listen to the KNBR broadcast. At any stadium across the country, you will see baseball enthusiasts with headphones on, listening to the play-by-play.

I’ve heard some people say they can’t stand listening to games on the radio, or that they really do not prefer to watch games on T.V. Some individuals like to watch the games with the T.V. muted while listening to the radio. This is my preferred method when the Giants games are broadcast on FOX or ESPN. I’m a fan of Kruik, Kuip, Miller, and Fleming, what can I say?

I think there are also varying levels of how involved you get in the game. I’ve been watching baseball for many years, but I’ve recently taken up scorekeeping. Keeping score has helped me increase my knowledge of the game and some of the tactics involved. It also makes you pay attention and helps you get to know the opposing teams’ players as well as your own.

There are also huge differences in the perceptions you might have about a particular game depending on where or how you consume it. I was at Opening Day in San Francisco this year. The game went into extra innings, and I recall that everyone in my section (on the first baseline), including me, did not agree with most of the umpire’s calls. I had also DVRd the game, so I re-watched it when I got home. I had a different perception of those pitches I thought were strikes when I could see them from the umpire’s perspective on camera. I think it’s something to keep in mind when you are yelling “get a some glasses blue!!”

I’ve become very curious about the different ways people consume baseball. What is your preferred way to consume a piece of our national pastime, and why?

This week, the San Francisco Giants made history, something more important than winning a World Series. The Giants are the first professional sports team to make an It Gets Better video, taking a stand against anti-gay bullying and homophobia. Released on June 1, the video came from an online Change.org petition created by lifelong Giants fan Sean Chapin. According to the website 6,500 fans and 4 candidates for San Francisco Mayor signed the petition.

The video features Giants pitchers Matt Cain, Barry Zito, Sergio Romo, outfielder Andres Torres, and hitting coach Hensley Muelens. Watch the video below.

Change.org notes that over 10,000 It Gets Better videos have been produced, which I think is really inspiring. Of those 10,000, the Giants video is the first to be produced by a professional sports team. I congratulate the team for their efforts and willingness to take a stand against bullying and homophobia.

The New York Times recently published an article about two straight athletes taking a stand for gay rights. Former Rugby star Ben Cohen has dedicated his philanthropic work to support LGBT youth, while wrestler Hudson Taylor launched the Athlete Ally, which encourages athletes to pledge to respect all athletes regardless of sexual orientation. The Times article mentions that “Gay slurs have emerged into the public consciousness recently. The Los Angeles Lakers’ star Kobe Bryant used one against an N.B.A. referee and was fined $100,000. The Atlanta Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell was said to have made homophobic gestures and remarks to fans in San Francisco, and was suspended by Major League Baseball for two weeks.” 

Cohen has been contacted by many sports fans and athletes who have felt ostracized because of their sexual orientation, which shows how important he and Hudson’s work, as well as the It Gets Better videos are. Because the issues are being discussed by straight athletes, it’s possible the message will resonate with more people. I hope it does.

There are petitions at Change.org to get the NY Yankees and Boston Red Sox to produce videos. I will sign these petitions, and I encourage these teams to take a cue from the Giants and get involved.

I encourage you all (whoever is reading) to think about how much you enjoy the sports and teams you follow. What if there was something about you that made you feel disconnected, unwelcome or even fearful of participating, how would you feel? Really consider that notion. If it bothers you, or even if it doesn’t, I hope you’ll consider getting involved in the movement to support every person no matter their color, creed, sex, or sexual orientation.

More information about this issue is available at the websites below.

It Gets Better
Ben Cohen Foundation
Athlete Ally
NY Times Article

If you are tired of hearing about, reading about, or thinking about Buster Posey’s injury stop reading now. Check back in later for a different topic, I promise I’ll try not to write about the incident too many more times. It’s difficult though, because I expect this crash at the plate will be on our minds for many months to come.

The reason I feel compelled to write about it again today, is that I heard Marlins Outfielder Scott Cousins was so emotional over the event, that he cried during an on camera interview. It got me thinking about how the game affects the players, umpires, announcers and fans on and off the field.

Example number one, the Bryan Stowe attack in LA on Opening Day. Stowe was brutally attacked on March 31, 2011 after a Giants/Dodgers game and remains in critical condition to date. The Giants and Dodgers both rallied around the incident, and made it clear that the rivalry ends on the field in a speech given by SF pitcher Jeremy Affeldt and LA infielder Jamey Carroll in April. It was also just announced that former Giant Barry Bonds has offered to pay for Stowe’s children to go to college. Love him or hate him, it’s a classy move.


Example number two, Jim Joyce makes a bad call and ruins Armando Galarraga’s bid for a perfect game. In June 2010, Galarraga was pitching in the ninth inning with two outs. Detriot’s dugout was ready to pour onto the field to congratulate their pitcher on his perfect game. The 27th hitter, Indians shortstop Jason Donald smacked a ground ball to first base and was called safe, a call that would change history, at least for Galarraga. After viewing the play on video, Joyce admitted that he’d made a mistake.

“It was the biggest call of my career,” an emotional Joyce told reporters, “and I kicked it. I just cost that kid a perfect game.”

I wonder if over a career, this is the call that will stick with Joyce for a lifetime. There was talk afterward as to whether or not instant replay should be used by umpires on the field. As much as I feel for Galarraga, I don’t think it should. Instant replay would change the feel of the game, making it less organic. Each of the men on the field is human, and humans make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are for the better and sometimes they are for the worse as in this case.

Example number three, Giants catcher Buster Posey is out for the season after a collision at homeplate with Marlins outfielder Scott Cousins. I’m not going to post the video of the collision here, we’ve all seen it enough. Having been forced to watch it over and over this weekend during the Giants series with the Brewers, a few things stuck out to me. Almost immediately after it became clear Posey was seriously injured, the game became unimportant. Cousins went right in to check on Posey, and Cohglan stood by looking marginally concerned. I’m unsure of why the umpire didn’t drop immediately to check on Posey, are they not allowed to interfere? Several seconds later Giants trainers and players circled Posey, and Cohglan pushed Cousins off the field. I can’t even imagine what was going through Cousins mind at that moment. I think there have been players in baseball history who would be thrilled to injure someone, but I don’t think Cousins is one of them.

I also find it disappointing that had it been a different catcher from any other team in the MLB, the story wouldn’t be getting so much play. My feeling is an injury is an injury and yes it affects the Giants deeply, but these are people with lives outside of baseball. An injury like this has a major effect on their day-to-day life, and when we think it could have been avoided, it’s all that more difficult to swallow.

Isn’t it interesting that a game can have such an impact on our lives? In Stowe’s case, simply wearing black and orange became dangerous. For Galarraga something that may only happen once in a lifetime was clutched from him at the last moment. For San Francisco, we’ll probably be in mourning for a while and then we will overcome. We create deep connections (even if they don’t really exist) to the players we watch in 162 games during the year and I guess, along with the mistakes, that is what makes baseball humane.

It’s Female Friday on KNBR this afternoon. Bob Fitzgerald is discussing women and sports on the Fitz and Brooks show; where do the girls fit in? Why do some women enjoy baseball or golf and others hate all aspects of the sporting world? How do the ladies who love sports come to find the teams they stand by? One theory thrown out today, is that a gal will fancy a player on a given team and will perhaps go to a game or two. Through the initial attraction they may come to appreciate the game and become a “true” fan. Other callers have shared that they are raised with their team and sport, going to many games throughout their childhoods with their fathers and brothers.

How do the guys out there feel about women and sports? During the recent Sharks playoffs, I had the opportunity to watch several games in a coed setting. A variety of interest levels were represented in both the boys and girls. I am lucky to be part of a group of young people, where any fan  or newbie is welcomed to watch the game. I also like to think my husband appreciates my love of baseball. We spend a lot of time watching and talking about the game. I love that we spend that time together. Do some guys find sports loving women difficult, or do you all wish you could be with a girl who can talk about sports?

I really enjoy the Baseball Beauties blog. These ladies love baseball and know what they are talking about. The baseball beauties are a group of women (beautiful and smart) who blog about all aspects of baseball. Ladies (and gents) if you are looking for inspiration from women who love sports, visit their blog.

I have no idea what the best classification is for me other than I love watching baseball. I enjoyed providing emotional support for my Sharks fan gals, but I tend to only watch baseball. I’ve been going to Giants games since I was a kid with many different family members. If I had to choose the person who made the biggest impact on my love of baseball, it would be my Mom. If she had to choose someone I think it would be a toss up between her Father and her Grandma Della, whose rocking chair would get a workout during a particularly interesting Giants game. We grew up in Giants households and that has stuck with me.

My baseball gurus, mom and bro!

With all of the options for watching and following sports, I think women have more opportunities for getting involved. I’m thrilled that the ladies are sharing their love of sports and I hope the trend continues.

I went to a Giants game in a group of 5 women last weekend, and we had a blast. The men who sat near us engaged us in sports talk and I think we held our own.

I commend KNBR and Bob Fitzgerald for their inaugural Female Friday, and I hope they continue the program in the future.

Last night Giants catcher Buster Posey was crashed into by Marlins outfielder Scott Cousins. I missed it of course, games that begin later in the evening often end after I go to bed. Apparently, the Giants scored four runs in the 9th to send the game into extra innings. As reported in the SFGate:

“The Marlins won 7-6 in the 12th inning when Emilio Bonifacio’s one-out sacrifice fly against Guillermo Mota scored Scott Cousins, who crashed violently – but cleanly – into Posey as Nate Schierholtz’s one-hop throw arrived at the plate.” Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/05/25/SPIB1JL4F0.DTL#ixzz1NV37nQbv.

I watched the video footage today and I’m not sure the crash was clean. Posey was not completely blocking the plate. Several reporters and Giants announcers have said they believe Cousins, 25th on the Marlins roster, was trying to prove himself. Cousins immediately realized that Posey was injured and tried to console him. There is buzz on TV, radio and the internet as to whether or not the “play at the plate” rule should be looked at more closely.

I could not find the official rule in the rule book, but from what I’ve read, I’ve gathered that runners are allowed to crash into a catcher blocking home plate in order to dislodge the ball. Even if the rule was changed, could we really expect these collisions to never happen again. I don’t think so, what about the unwritten code? I’ve read that in the NFL if you lead with your helmet on a defenseless player it is a six figure fine. Maybe that is the answer in the MLB.

Something needs to happen. Injuries are part of the game, but couldn’t this have been avoided?

With the Giants currently on the DL, several minor league players were called up. Those players include Brandon Belt, who I am looking forward to watching, Chris Stewart, and Brandon Crawford.

It’s going to take us some time to recover from the loss of Posey. But if any team can do it we can. The game is just going to look a little different for awhile.

Best wishes go out to Buster Posey as he deals with this terrible injury.

What’s your take on the “play at the plate”?

Hello everyone. I’ve been absent from the blogosphere for many months now. Shall I recap what I missed writing about since the last time I posted? Nothing too exciting to cover really, well, except that the SF Giants won the World Series. Of all the baseball seasons to give up blogging about, I chose the one we won. Let me quickly offer my take on the end of last season. It was amazing!!! I still get teary when I see video or images from those clinching games. When you really consider that notion, it seems kind of silly. But I think the reason our World Series win meant so much to me was the fact that I got to share the experience with the following people:

  • My Mom – truest and purest baseball fan I know. She will be a fan of this team through thick and thin. Our 2010 World Series win meant more to her than anyone else I know.
  • My Brother – number two on the true and pure baseball fan list. Andy teaches me something new about the game every time we have the opportunity to talk about baseball.
  • My Husband – During the fall, Ryan watched every game with me, made up silly sayings (anyone else remember chanting Pocket Full of Poseys), and jumped up and down, sometimes in public, when we won.
  • My Uncles and Aunts – The Wright family sure raised their baseball fans right.
  • My Girls – Many a text message was shared over the course of the end of last season. While these girls may not have considered themselves baseball fans at opening day last year, they are true fans now. I love sharing the game and experiences with them.
Thank you SF Giants for giving us something to celebrate. Will we do it again? I say why not?
The girls and I at the Giants/A’s game May 21, 2o11
Thanks for welcoming me back blogging world, let’s see what this season holds!