It’s entirely possible that someone else thought of pitting four giant plush mascots against one another in between-inning footraces before the Brewers did it with their sausage guys, but Milwaukee has always done it the best. And, inevitably, it has led to copycats. Giant president heads race in Washington. Hot dogs race in Cleveland. Tools race in Atlanta (really, Home Depot sponsors it and everything; one of the guys who dresses up even reads this blog!). I’m sure there are others.
The latest is in Arizona, where they unleashed a Legends Race over the weekend. The gimmick: the race takes place between giant caricatures of Randy Johnson, Mark Grace, Luis Gonzalez and Matt Williams. The fact that all four of those dudes were as slow as molasses makes it all the more delicious. What, no Tony Womack?
Anyway, Randy Johnson won the first one. I’m assuming the egos of the players involved will not allow the Dbacks to do with these races what other teams do with theirs in constantly gaming it so that one of the mascots never wins (e.g. Teddy Roosevelt for the Nats). If they do it with anyone it should be Mark Grace, though, considering he’s a smoker. Having him hack his way to fourth place every night would probably send a good message out there to the kids, ya know?
Cubs starter Jake Arrieta, the defending National League Cy Young Award winner and author of two no-hitters, considered quitting baseball a few years ago when he was bounced up and down between the major leagues and the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk, Virginia.
At the time, Arrieta was having trouble living up to his potential as one of the Orioles’ top pitching prospects. He started on Opening Day in 2012, but finished the season with a 6.20 ERA and was very quickly moved back to Norfolk after four mediocre starts to begin the 2013 season.
As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Arrieta was considering quitting baseball so that his family could have a regular life.
We were at a point where I had other things that I could segue into and establish a career elsewhere. Not that I wanted that to happen, but I didn’t want to continue to go through the things we were going through and moving from place to place in the minor leagues at 25, 26 years old.
Baseball is something that I’ve loved to do since I was a little kid, but it’s not everything. I had to reevaluate some things. I knew I could always pitch this way, but there were times where it seemed like maybe I wasn’t going to get to that point.
It’s just part of life that we had to deal with.
Mooney also points out that Arrieta had a business background having gone to Texas Christian University and would have done something in that field if he had hung up the spikes.
This has been brought up because Arrieta’s teammate Tommy La Stella considered quitting baseball as well recently, as the Cubs demoted him to Triple-A. Though La Stella received a lot of criticism, Arrieta can relate to La Stella. The right-hander said, “I know that there were things that he was going through and dealing with (that) we may not agree with and understand.”
There’s an interesting article over that the New York Times in the wake of the Colin Kaepernick stuff. This one is about the history of the National Anthem at sporting events.
The anthem is a fixture for as long as those of us reading this blog have been attending games and it’d be weird if it wasn’t there. But it hasn’t always been there, the Times notes. Indeed, it was not a regular fixture until 1942 when it was added for the obvious reason that we were at war. The other major sports leagues all adopted the anthem soon after. The NBA at the inception of the league in 1946 and the NHL in the same year. The NFL’s spokesman doesn’t mention a year, but notes that it’s a non-negotiable part of the game experience. The non-negotiability of it is underscored by the comment from the MLS spokesman who notes that they felt that they had no choice but to play the anthem when that league began play in the 1990s.
I like the anthem at ballgames. It just seems like part of the experience. I like it for its own sake, at least if the performance isn’t too over the top, and I like it because it serves as a nice demarcation between all of the pregame b.s. and the actual game starting.
But this article reminds us that there is no immutable structural reason for the anthem at games. Other countries don’t play their own anthems at their sporting events. We don’t play it before movies or plays or other non-sports performances. It’s a thing that we do which, however much of a tradition it has become, is somewhat odd when you think about it for a moment. And which has to seem pretty rote to the actual ballplayers who hear it maybe 180 times a year.