Baseball really is a glorified game of throw and catch. And if you don’t have guys who throw it really well, you can’t compete for long.
~Tucker Elliot, Tampa Bay Rays IQ: The Ultimate Test of True Fandom
Though it took me until late-August to finally make it to a game, I suddenly seem to have made quite a shift in my luck, as the other night I made it to my second game in two weeks. This past Wednesday night was Bark at the Park night at Kauffman Stadium, and the ballpark was full of our furry friends.
We arrived early enough to take a detour through the Royals Hall of Fame. We’ve seen much of it all before, so we didn’t linger too much, though I had yet to see the short film the Royals had created chronicling their journey to the 2015 World Series championship. Watching it turned out to be a moving experience, almost like reliving the whole trip in a Reader’s Digest format. It was enough to make me wish the Royals would hurry up and have a repeat season.
The gal who invited me to come along to the game with her had some impressive seats, so I was able to enjoy being in closer proximity to the field than I was last week.
Unfortunately, the Royals were unable to pull off another win with my presence. I suppose I can’t be lucky all the time, eh? Jason Vargas gave up three home runs, and even Whit Merrifield’s 3-run homer in the bottom of the third wasn’t enough of a spark to keep the Royals in it. The Royals are now 11 games out of first in the AL Central, and our chances at a Wild Card slot are starting to look a bit slim. Then again, these are the Kansas City Royals, and as we all know, you can’t count them out even in the bleakest of circumstances.
I stumbled across this graphic in my random internet wanderings depicting a history of the logos and uniforms for the teams in the American League East. I love how this graphic also gives an idea of just how long these teams have been around, relative to one another.
It looks tiny here, but click on the image to get to a larger version.
This story came out a couple days ago, describing the use of virtual reality for batting practice by the Tampa Bay Rays. The team is using a simulator called the iCube through which players can take swings against a virtual pitcher that mimics a variety of human MLB pitchers.
I would love to see the perspective that the batter himself has in using the system. Without a doubt, the experience would be far more realistic than the one I have taking batting practice against my Wii (and certainly much more difficult). It’ll be fascinating to see how technology like this will ultimately impact training and the game itself.
You can read the story here.
It’s not every day that we see an inside-the-park home run, but Jarrod Dyson managed to pull one off a couple nights ago against the Tampa Bay Rays. In some ways, it was kind of a bittersweet moment, because the reason Dyson entered the game in the first place was due to an injury to Alex Gordon that will keep Gordon out of the Royals lineup for the next two months.
You get kind of a funny pit in your stomach when you see such a great player go down like that. It was one of those moments that had me feeling like this:
Of course, if you’re Dyson, this is an excellent time to do things to help solidify your position in the lineup, and an inside-the-park home run is a good way to make a statement. It takes him all of fourteen seconds to round the bases in this awesome display of speed.
So congratulations to Dyson and the Royals as they continue to expand their lead in the AL Central! Fingers crossed that it continues even after the All-Star break.
Don Zimmer passed away last night.
It’s difficult to be a baseball fan and never have heard of the man, even if I never did pay very close attention to him. He’s like the foul pole on the baseball diamond: most of the time, nobody pays attention to it, but everyone knows it’s there, and it stands out and makes its presence known in its own way. I will forever remember him as the man who sat next to Joe Torre in the Yankees dugout.
Reading the stories about Zimmer this morning, however, has my interest particularly piqued. He married his wife on a baseball diamond in between the two games of a double header. He played for the Brooklyn Dodgers World Series championship team and accumulated twelve years in the Majors, primarily as an infielder. He spent thirteen years as a manager and was named the NL’s manager of the year in 1989, when he led the Chicago Cubs to a division championship.
Zimmer lived and breathed baseball. Every year, he wore a new jersey number, changing it to reflect the number of years he spent in baseball. This year, he wore number 66.
As a player, Don Zimmer hit .235 with 91 home runs and 352 RBIs in 1,095 games. Not stellar numbers, perhaps, but his biggest impact on the game came as a coach and an advisor. Zimmer’s passion for the game knew no boundaries, and even at the age of 83, he still served as a senior advisor for the Tampa Bay Rays.
It feels strange, now, to be writing this, as if I had always followed the man, because I didn’t. I guess for me, and for a lot of people, Zimmer was a given when it came to baseball. For as long as I’ve known about baseball, I’ve heard the name Don Zimmer, and I now find myself struck with the realization that he, too, was merely mortal.
Farewell and rest in peace.