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“Friends” — the key to English for many ballplayers

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There’s a fun article in the New York Times today. James Wagner talks to several Latino major leaguers who are obsessed with the sitcom “Friends.” And who credit it for their English language skills.

Wagner talks to Freddy Galvis, Luis Severino, David Peralta and Miguel Gonzalez, all of whom watch “Friends” all the time and all of whom, in part, learned or improved their English while watching the show. Wilmer Flores too, who says this:

“Now that it’s on Netflix, I always put it on and watch it. When I get up in the morning, I turn on the TV, and whatever episode is there I’ll watch and keep watching. I stop it when I come to the stadium. When I come home from the stadium, I pick up where I left off.”

Liking “Friends” is a matter of taste. I, like everyone else in the 90s, watched it all the time, but it’s aged poorly in my view, at least in a critical sense. But so too was the case with all of the reruns of 60s and 70s shows I watched when I was a kid in the 80s. Those shows were terrible, but sometimes a laugh is a laugh and we could all use the laughs.

As for the English: I seem to remember reading something, somewhere in the 80s about a ballplayer who credited “Brady Bunch” or “Gilligan’s Island” or one of those shows with his English language skills. It was the same general principle: the show was on all the dang time and via repeats and the cliche/obvious situations, it was a lot easier to grok the language due to the context.

UPDATE:

Which is pretty cool. At least until some ballplayer, in a postgame interview, says “Could I look more for my pitch to hit?”

The Players’ Weekend uniforms are terrible

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The Yankees and the Dodgers have a storied World Series history, having met in the Fall Classic 11 times. Part of what made those falls so classic was the livery worn by each club.

The Yankees’ uniforms have gone unchanged since 1936. The Dodgers, though changing cities in 1958, have had the same basic, classic look with only minor derivations for almost as long. You can’t even say the names of these teams without picturing pinstripes, those red Dodgers numbers, both teams’ clean road grays, the Yankees navy and the Dodgers’ Dodger blue.

They looked like a couple of expansion teams last night however, at least sartorially speaking.

As you probably know it’s Players’ Weekend this weekend, and teams all over the league wore either all black or all white with player-chosen nicknames on the back. We’ve had the nicknames for a couple of years now and that’s fine, but the black and white combo is new. It doesn’t look great, frankly. I riffed on that on Twitter yesterday a good bit. But beyond my mere distaste for the ensembles, they present a pretty problematic palette, too.

For one thing the guys in black blend in with the umpires. Quick, look at these infields and tell me who’s playing and who’s officiating:

The white batting helmets look especially bad:

But some guys — like Enrique Hernandez of the Dodgers, realized that pine tar makes the white helmets look super special:

There was also a general issue with the white-on-white uniforms in that it’s rather hard to read the names and the numbers on the backs of the jerseys. This was especially true during the Cubs-Nationals game in the afternoon sunlight. You’ll note this as a much bigger problem on Sunday. It’s all rather ironic, of course, that the players have been given the right to put fun, quirky nicknames on the backs of their jerseys but no one can really see them.

The SNY booth was reading many people’s minds last night, noting how much Mad Magazine “Spy vs. Spy” energy this is throwing off:

I’ll also note that if you’re flipping between games or looking at highlights on social media it’s super hard to even tell which team is which — and even what game’s highlights you’re seeing — just by looking which, you know, is sort of the point of having uniforms in the first place.

I’m glad the players have a weekend in which they’re allowed to wear what they want. I just wish they’d wear something better.