Baseball is coming back

Players, owners, teams, the league… all the moving parts of the MLB universe have finally come together, and we are, at last, going to see some baseball for the 2020 season!

Major League Baseball is having a second Spring Training (or should we call it “Summer Training” at this point?) to begin in about a week’s time, on July 1st.  Then, we will be looking at a 60-game regular season, to be played over the course of about 66 days, from about July 23rd or 24th until September 27th.  The postseason will begin on September 29th, with the World Series to begin on October 20th, and a potential Game 7 to be played on October 28th.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still in full swing, access to games is going to be limited, of course.  No fans in the stands is going to seem a bit weird, but so long as we can watch games from the comfort of our living rooms, that seems like a minor concession at this point.  There will be a regimen of temperature checks and symptom checks, as well routine tests for the virus, not just among players, but also coaches, trainers, staff, etc.  Players who are high-risk or who have family members at high risk have the option to opt out for the season and still get paid.  Media interactions with the teams, meanwhile, will all take place through Zoom, in order to adhere to social distancing recommendations.

On the field, spitting will be banned, which makes perfect sense given the nature of how the virus spreads.  Non-playing players in the dugout will be required to wear masks.  Pitchers will bring their own rosin bags and will even be permitted to carry a wet rag in their back pocket so they won’t need to lick their fingers (does anyone else sniff a potential for some doctoring on this one?).  Social distancing, in general, remains strongly encouraged.

How well will this all work?  Obviously, it’s difficult to tell until things really get underway.  The potential for a widespread outbreak remains very real — just look at what happened among the Phillies last week — and for all we know, the season might end abruptly after the first thirty days.

Information about this new development is still coming, even as I write this.  This strange, strange season just keeps getting stranger, and while I’m happy that we’re going to see some ballgames, half of me is intensely curious about how long it’s really going to last.

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This day in baseball: Herb Pennock dies

On January 30, 1948, at the age of 53, Herb Pennock collapsed in the lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was pronounced dead upon his arrival at Midtown Hospital. Pennock had played from 1912 through 1933, and was best known for his time spent with the New York Yankee teams of the mid- to late-1920s and early 1930s. After retiring as a player, Pennock served as a coach and farm system director for the Red Sox, and as general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. Later in 1948, he was posthumously inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Herb Pennock 1934

Pennock in 1934 (Wikipedia)


This day in baseball: Klein named MVP

On October 19, 1932, outfielder Chuck Klein became the first Phillie to be named National League MVP when he received all first place votes for the honor.  That season, Klein led the NL in hits (226), runs (152), home runs (38), and stolen bases (20).

Chuck_Klein_1936_Goudey

Goudey


This day in baseball: One hundred-loss matchup

For the second time in major league history, two one hundred-loss teams faced one another on October 6, 1923.  The 52-100 Beaneaters beat the 50-102 Phillies, 5-4, in the first game of a doubleheader.  Boston had also been part of the first one hundred-loss matchup when the 50-100 club played 45-103 Brooklyn in 1905.

Philadelphia Phillies 1923-1924

Philadelphia Phillies logo, 1923-1924 (Business Insider)


This day in baseball: Digging up a ploy

On September 17, 1900, Reds shortstop Tommy Corcoran left his position and began digging around the third base coaching box with his spikes at Philadelphia Park. The Reds captain ended up digging out a metal box containing an electrical device inside with attached wires. It was suspected that the device was being used by the Phillies in a sophisticated scheme to steal signs, though I’m curious as to what tipped off Corcoran to start digging.

Tommy_Corcoran

Tommy Corcoran (Wikipedia)


This day in baseball: The last doubleheader complete-gamer

The last pitcher to pitch a complete game in both games of a doubleheader was Jack Scott of the Philadelphia Phillies.  Scott accomplished this feat on June 19, 1927 against Cincinnati at Redlands Field.  Scott won the opener of the twin bill, 3-1, however, he lost the second game, 3-0.

Jack Scott 1922

Jack Scott in 1922 (Wikipedia)


This day in baseball: Philadelphia’s first win

The Philadelphia Quakers (later known as the Phillies) won their first game in franchise history on May 14, 1883 against the Chicago White Stockings (later known as the Cubs).  The Quakers had lost their first eight games of the season, but then proceeded to pound the White Stockings 12-0 at Chicago’s Lake Front Park.  The Quakers would finish the season with a depressing 17-81 (.173) record, putting them in last place in the National League.

lake front park chicago

Lake Front Park (projectballpark.org)


“Be A Believer in Giant/Dodger/Philly Fever,” The Paid Attendance

I came across these somewhat randomly this weekend: three songs by a group called The Paid Attendance.  So far as I have been able to tell, these are the only three songs by this group, and I have only been able to find audio for two of them.  That being said, I suppose it’s not really a big deal that I cannot find audio for the third, as it would likely just fall in line with the other two songs.  First off, here’s “Be A Believer in Giant Fever,” released in 1978.

The group must have had a thing for New-York-teams-gone-California, because in 1979, they put one out for the Dodgers.

The third song, for which I have not been able to find audio online, appears to be the same song with a Philly twist: “Be A Believer in Philly Fever.”

I am curious as to whether the original intention was to put out a version for each team in the majors.  If so, they didn’t get very far into the process.  Whatever the intention, I did find the Giants and Dodgers versions fun to listen to.  It’s the kind of song that makes you want to do a little jig while you brush your teeth in the morning.


Backwards bases

On June 23, 1963, Mets outfielder Jimmy Piersall faced Phillies pitcher Dallas Green to lead off the top of the fifth. Piersall swung on Green’s offering and blasted what was career homer number 100.

To celebrate the milestone, Piersall then decided to take Duke Snider up on his clubhouse bet and ran around the bases backward.  He completed his trip around the bases in the correct order: first, second, third, and home — he just faced backwards.  Piersall essentially backpedaled all the way around the infield.

Jimmy Piersall backwards

complex.com


This day in baseball: Cox buys the Phillies

After the bankrupt team had been taken over by the National League, William D. Cox purchased the Philadelphia Phillies from the NL on February 18, 1943.  At the age of 33, this made Cox the youngest owner in the league.  However, evidence surfaced later that year that Cox had placed some bets on his own team.  Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis launched an investigation, and Cox eventually admitted to making some “sentimental” bets on the Phillies.  Landis responded by banning Cox from baseball on November 23, 1943.

Connie Mack Stadium - Shibe Park

Shibe Park (Wikipedia)