Empty stands in Baltimore

The Baltimore Orioles and the Chicago White Sox caused some echoes in Camden Yards yesterday as they played in front of a record-setting crowd of zero attendees.  Due to all the uncertainty in the wake of the Baltimore riots this past week, two games at Camden Yards had been postponed before Major League Baseball decided that yesterday’s game must go on, albeit, sans crowd.  It was an unexpected way to set the lowest-ever attendance in Major League Baseball history, but with the city in such a state of unrest, safety was the first priority.

Huffington Post

Huffington Post

Not all fans contented themselves with missing the game, however, as fans stood outside the gates in left field or on the deck of the hotel that overlooks the stadium.  These fans cheered as Baltimore put on an offensive show that led them to a 9-2 victory.

Huffington Post

Huffington Post

While this was the first time in MLB history that a crowd of zero was recorded in the book, it’s not the first time in the history of all of baseball that it has happened.  In fact, just earlier this year on March 8, 2015, Stony Brook University’s baseball team played a doubleheader against Fordham that was closed to the public due to a tremendous buildup of snow.  On March 11th, UConn and Sacred Heart had a game moved to Stony Brook, where no fans were allowed because of the ice in the bleachers.

Perhaps my favorite zero-attendance story, however, took place on July 8, 2002, when Joe Riley Stadium did a promotion called “Nobody Night.”  The idea behind the promotion was to set the record for professional baseball’s lowest attendance.  Everyone but employees, scouts and media was barred from entering the stadium until the fifth inning, when the game became official.

Amusing as it is, however, the events that led to yesterday’s crowd (or lack thereof) are nothing to joke about.  As Orioles left-hander Zach Britton commented, “It kind of makes you realize how small baseball is compared to some of the other issues in the U.S. and around the world.”

Huffington Post

Huffington Post

To see the Huffington Post‘s complete set of pictures from yesterday’s game, click here.


Harper Lee is a Mets fan

A friend of mine shared this article, from The Paris Review, about Harper Lee.  With the announcement of a sequel for To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee has made her way back to the forefront of the American conscience.  As a fan of the original novel, I, like so many others, am curious to see what the new book will bring.

This article, however, does not focus so much on Lee’s writing as it does on her baseball loyalties.  And while I can’t stand by her choice of teams, learning that Harper Lee enjoys baseball certainly brings a little more sunshine into the world.

Rejoice: Harper Lee Is (or Was) a Mets Fan

nelle_harper_lee


This day in baseball: Oldies, but goodies

On April 28, 1961, Milwaukee Braves pitcher Warren Spahn threw his second no-hitter against the Giants at County Stadium.  This feat made him the second-oldest pitcher in history to throw a no-hitter, at the age of 40 years and 5 days.  At the time, the oldest pitcher to throw a no-hitter had been Cy Young, at 41 years old.  That spot is now held by Nolan Ryan, who threw a no-hitter at the age of 44 on May 1, 1991.

Warren Spahn (Wikimedia Commons)

Warren Spahn (Wikimedia Commons)


Quote of the day

Playing baseball is not real life.  It’s a fantasy world…  It’s a dream come true.

~Dale Murphy

CBSsports.com

CBSsports.com


“Double Play,” by Eloise Klein Healy

Here’s a poem from the book Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend.  I love the description of the ball as a star or a moon, and while I don’t recall having read much Gertrude Stein, from what I understand of her work, this piece would have suited her.

*

If Gertrude Stein had played second base
she would have said “there’s only there there”
and putting thoughts in order.

The outfield is the place to dream,
where slow moons fall out of the sky
and rise clean over a green horizon.

The infield is tense as blank paper
and changeable as the cuneiform
of cleats along the path.

Stein would have loved the arc of arm
from short to second
and the spill of one white star
out of a hand.


This day in baseball: First AL game

The first ever American League game was played on April 24, 1901 at the Chicago Cricket Club in front of a crowd of 14,000.  The game, which only lasted ninety minutes, featured Roy Patterson of the White Sox, as they defeated the Cleveland Blues (now the Indians), 8-2.

Roy Patterson (Wikipedia)

Roy Patterson (Wikipedia)


Quote of the day

If you know how to cheat, start now.

~Baltimore manager Earl Weaver, to pitcher Ross Grimsley

Earl Weaver (ESPN.com)

Earl Weaver (ESPN.com)


“31 Seasons In The Minor Leagues,” by Magnolia Electric Co.

When I first saw the title to this song, I immediately thought of Crash Davis in Bull Durham.  The melody and the lyrics are all pretty depressing, but I suppose Crash’s situation as a whole is pretty depressing too.  Had this song existed twenty years earlier, I have no doubt it would have been included in the Bull Durham soundtrack.


This day in baseball: Grand slam debut

In his first Major League at-bat on April 21, 1898, Bill Duggleby of the Philadelphia Nationals hit a grand slam against the Giants.  Nicknamed “Frosty Bill,” Duggleby was the first of only four players in Major League history to accomplish this astonishing feat.  The second occurrence would not take place until August 31, 2005, when Jeremy Hermida of the Florida Marlins hit a grand slam in his first Major League plate appearance.  The other two players to perform the deed are Kevin Kouzmanoff and Daniel Nava.

Wikipedia

Jeremy Hermida (Wikipedia)


Lawrie versus the Royals

In case you missed it, things certainly got interesting between the Royals and the Athletics over the weekend.  It all started with a high slide into second base by A’s third baseman Brett Lawrie, which sprained the knee of Alcides Escobar.  There has been much speculation as to whether or not Lawrie was deliberately trying to take out Escobar.  Watching Sunday afternoon’s game on television, the consensus by Royals broadcasters seems to be that a slide like that can only be intentional.  Lawrie, of course, insists that he was just playing the game:

Lawrie tweet

We may never know the true story behind the incident, but whatever his intentions were, Lawrie’s slide sparked a firestorm of animosity between the two teams.  I had the pleasure of attending Saturday night’s game and experiencing first-hand the overwhelming disdain of the crowd for Lawrie.  Any time his name was mentioned, every trip to the plate, every defensive play that he made received a booing that makes Kim Jong Un look popular.  Then, in the midst of a disastrous top of the fourth, Yordano Ventura beaned Lawrie, and the benches cleared as the crowd roared its approval:

Royals-As-Lawrie-2015

No punches were thrown, but being in the crowd as this all transpired proved to be an eye-opening experience.  I’ve experienced the vindictiveness of Kansas City fans at Chiefs games, but when it comes to Royals games, I had never seen the crowd act so maliciously.  Then again, up until last year, every Royals game I had ever attended featured a sparse crowd, and certainly not this level of drama.  Even after he was plunked once, the folks around me were screaming for another beaning in Lawrie’s next plate appearance.  As harsh as it seems, it’s not hard to understand the feelings of the fans or the Royals.  Escobar is a fan favorite in Kansas City, and nobody wants to see a beloved player removed from the lineup under such suspicious circumstances.

Unfortunately, the Royals never recovered from that disastrous inning and lost Saturday’s game in an embarrassingly uninteresting fashion.  It was the drama and receipt of the replica AL Champions trophy that kept the trip from being a bust:

IMG_0311

Sunday afternoon’s game proved no less interesting where the drama was concerned.  Lorenzo Cain was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the first, and Kelvin Herrera threw a pitch behind Lawrie in retaliation during the eighth inning.  By the time the game was through, Royals manager Ned Yost, pitching coach Dave Eiland, bench coach Don Wakamatsu, Alcides Escobar, and Kelvin Herrera had all been ejected from the game.  On the plus side, the Royals rallied in the bottom of the eighth inning to break a 2-2 tie and win the game and, thus, the series.

The Royals and the A’s next play each other on June 26th in Oakland.  It will be interesting to see whether this all carries over.