Iron Eagle

HBT Weekend Wrapup


Doug Masters: What’s the hold-up?

Tower: We are having trouble finding a jeep suitable for your, um, purposes.

Doug Masters: Bullsh**, you’ve got a whole country full of them!  You just lost a refinery!  Looks like they’ll be importing oil this year, Chappy!

At least that’s what I made of the news from Libya this weekend.  I had the sound down, though. Really, though, would that have made any less sense than what’s really happening?

  • Grady Sizemore has been ruled out for Opening Day. Really, though, the day after the trade deadline is his Opening Day this year, ain’t it?
  • Quote of the weekend from D.J. Short: “I, for one, look forward to reading Jon Heyman’s reaction when Castillo signs a contract before David Eckstein.”  Well, Castillo signed before Eckstein. And Heyman hates it. Seems that Castillo “exudes mopey-ness.” That kind of trenchant analysis is why SI pays him the big bucks.
  • I was 14 years-old the last time a baseball season began without Tim Wakefield on someone’s roster, be it in the minors or the majors. I presume that the streak will continue, but not for too much longer.
  • I like slam dunks that take me to the hoop, my favorite play is the alley oop. I like the pick-and-roll, I like the give-and-go, but when they said “ball Zack?” he should have just said no!
  • Mookie Wilson reclaims the number 1 jersey for the Mets. Mookie Calcaterra did not appreciate me pointing out that her nicknamesake was in the news again.
  • Brian Wilson strained his oblique. Brian Wilson is oblique. I sense irony.
  • Curt Schilling referred to his 2004 Red Sox teammate Manny Ramirez as a “cheater.” Which, while not particularly polite, is true.  There are a lot of things that one could call Schilling that aren’t polite but which are true too.
  • Am I the only one who wasn’t aware that the White Sox’ closer’s job was actually up for grabs? I assumed it was Matt Thornton’s job the day Bobby Jenks split. The things you learn reading HardballTalk!
  • With the release of Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez all but gone, that leaves Carlos Beltran as the last guy for Mets fans to kick around. Except the kicking of Beltran never made any kind of sense whatsoever. Anyway, he’s playing again.
  • Pat Neshek was waived by the Twins and picked up by the Padres. Hard to think of a better place for a pitcher to have a fresh start than in Petco Park.
  • Ryan Zimmerman resumes baseball activities.  I too resumed baseball activities yesterday, having bought my son and daughter their first baseball gloves, a ball, bat and tee. We left the tee and bat aside for the time being and just focused on trying to play catch. The first 15 minutes were spent with both of them trying to explain to me how silly it was for right-handed people to wear the glove on their left hand. The next ten minutes were spent with the ball bouncing off the heels of their gloves and into their chins, faces and shoulders.  Then it was decided that it was great fun for daddy to simply throw the ball up in the air as high as he could and catch it, which was met with a round of applause each time.  Then they walked over near the bushes and started digging up worms, holding them on the ends of sticks and chasing the other one with them. Baseball activities may have been resumed a bit too early.

And on we go into the last full week with no baseball that counts until November.

Billy Williams, Bill Murray and . . . Fall Out Boy!

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 08:  Former players Ferguson Jenkins (L) and Billy Williams of the Chicago Cubs throw out ceremonial first pitches before the Opening Day game against the Milwaukee Brewers during the Opening Day game at Wrigley Field on April 8, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Major League Baseball has announced the on-field ceremonial stuff for tonight’s Game 3 of the World Series. There are a couple of good things here! And one bit of evidence that, at some point when he was still commissioner, Bud Selig sold his mortal soul to a pop punk band and now the league can’t do a thing about it.

The ceremonial first pitch choice is fantastic: it’s Billy Williams, the Hall of Famer and six-time All-Star who starred for the Cubs from 1959 through 1974. Glad to see Williams here. I know he’s beloved in Chicago, but he has always seemed to be one of the more overlooked Hall of Famers of the 1960s-70s. I’m guessing not being in the World Series all that time has a lot to do with that, so it’s all the more appropriate that he’s getting the spotlight tonight. Here’s hoping Fox makes a big deal out of it and replays it after the game starts.

“Take me out to the ballgame” will be sung by the guy who, I assume, holds the title of Cubs First Fan, Bill Murray. It’ll be wacky, I’m sure.

The National Anthem will be sung by Chicago native Patrick Stump. Who, many of you may know, is the lead singer for Fall Out Boy. This continues Major League Baseball’s strangely strong association with Fall Out Boy over the years. They, or some subset of them, seem to perform at every MLB jewel event. They have featured in MLB’s Opening Day musical montages. They played at the All-Star Game this summer. Twice. And, of course, they are the creative minds behind “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark,” (a/k/a “light ’em MUPMUPMUPMUP“) which Major League Baseball and Fox used as incessant playoff bumper music several years ago. I don’t ask for much in life, but one thing I do want is someone to love me as much as Major League Baseball loves Fall Out Boy. We all do, really.

Wayne Messmer, the former public address announcer for the Cubs and a regular performer of the National Anthem at Wrigley Field will sing “God Bless America.”

Between that and Bill Murray, I think we’ve found out the Cubs strategy for dealing with Andrew Miller: icing him if he tries to straddle the 6th and 7th innings.

Imagining a daytime World Series game at Wrigley Field

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 27:  A overall shot of the scoreboard showing the postponement of the game in Baltimore because of riots before the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 27, 2015 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Night baseball first came to the World Series in 1971, when the Pirates played the Orioles in Game 4. The last World Series game played under natural light came in 1984, when the Tigers played the Padres in Detroit in Game 5 of that year’s Fall Classic. The last World Series game played during daytime hours was Game 6 of the 1987 World Series, but that came in Minneapolis, in the Metrodome, so it was still played under artificial light. All games since then have been played in the evening hours.

Ever since, there have been periodic calls for the World Series to include day games. These appeals are often grounded in tradition and nostalgia for bright sunshine making way for long shadows. For memories of sneaking transistor radios into classrooms. For the symbolism of the sun setting on both the day at hand and the baseball season as a whole.

It’s an appealing idea. Baseball in the daytime is a wonderful, wonderful thing. And while day baseball may be occasionally miserable for fans and players in the heat of August, October afternoons are often the loveliest weather there is. There is nothing better than fall sunshine. A baseball game in that fall sunshine seems like the closest one can get to heaven on Earth.

Unfortunately, it’s a wholly unrealistic idea in this day and age. Far fewer people would actually get to watch the World Series if it were played during the day. We complain about late games lasting into the wee hours, preventing kids from watching, but how many kids are going to be able to watch a World Series game when they’re in school? Or at after school extracurricular activities? And how many people can ditch work to watch a baseball game? Some say to put one of the day games on the weekend, but that clashes with other activities and, of course, with football, which is going to win the battle for the remote in more households than baseball would.

Yes, the networks and Major League Baseball are in it for the money and the TV ratings, but the fact is that the money and the ratings are a function of more people watching baseball games in the evening, kids and grownups alike. It’s pretty straightforward, actually. More people watching baseball is better for the people and for baseball, full stop, aesthetics and commercial motivations notwithstanding. For this reason the World Series will almost certainly be played at night for the foreseeable future. And it should be.

Still . . . it’s Wrigley Field, the last bastion of day-only baseball for decades. A place where, even if they now play most games at night, still features more day baseball than anyplace else. And it’s a sunny Friday afternoon on which the temperatures will creep into the 60s. I know it would never happen and certainly won’t happen today, but the idea of an afternoon World Series game in Wrigley Field makes even a hard-headed, bottom-line-appreciating anti-nostalgist like me sorta wish today was a day game. If I close my eyes I can imagine it. I can feel the warm breeze and smell the fall afternoon air. I’m sure many of you can too.

And even if you can’t, can we agree that maybe today should be a day game simply for public health purposes? I mean, get a load of this:

These people will have been drinking for at least 11 hours come game time. Many of them for much longer. You’re probably looking at some dead men walking, here. For the sake of their livers and personal safety, this game should start at 1pm, dang it. If even that is early enough to save them.