Friday, May 27, 2022

The Summum Pyramid

In 1979, or maybe it was 1980, I spent a few weeks with some friends in Salt Lake City. What drew us to this city was first and foremost, free lodging. A wonderful family, whose names I cannot remember, invited us to stay with them while we explored the city and they would often accompany us on local adventures. 

Looking back I was blissfully unaware of the propaganda that I was exposed to on a daily basis, mostly I was enamored by their very pretty daughter who enjoyed hanging out with us for some crazy reason. (I think it was a light attraction to our Southern accents and a stronger desire to share her Mormon beliefs) We would usually end the day around their piano in the living room, where I would play some of the more popular songs that I could remember and they would sing along. We would end up with twenty plus people gathered in their living room and afterward we would just talk, play games and hang out. On most days we would take trips to local attractions like the Mormon Temple, several museums, a local amusement park, Donut Falls, the Capital building, Salt Lake, the Bonneville drag races, explored a couple of the ski resorts that surround the city, played hide-n-seek in a ghost town, and visited a huge copper mine (?). But the attraction that stood out the most during my time in Salt Lake City was the Summum Pyramid. 

Friday, May 20, 2022

What Makes Baseball Different?

One of my favorite writers is Joe Posnanski, who I discovered after a friend recommended his book, "The Big Red Machine." After I finished the book, which I found to be even better than my friend's recommendation, I started searching for more of his books and in the process discovered his blog. Some of his best posts, in my opinion, are about baseball and this article is from a recent post on his website. Enjoy!

"I would describe what I’m doing now as shaping the book — that is to say I’m turning baseball inside out, immersing myself in it, trying to look at the game in what I hope are novel ways. And for that, I’m putting together countless lists. I have lists everywhere, in about a dozen different notes apps, on a bunch of different pieces of scrap paper, on voice memos.

One of the lists I’ve been updating is called “What makes baseball different?” The inspiration was George Carlin’s brilliant and essential “Baseball and Football” routine, (posted below) which I memorized years ago and can still do, in its entirety, on command. There are so many insights in that routine that still boggle the mind, but the one that I think of most is this one:

“In football, basketball, soccer, volleyball and all sports played with a ball, you score with the ball. In baseball the ball prevents you from scoring.”

What a mind he had. This is, of course, exactly right. No end zones, no goals, no baskets, no holes, no nets or lines. In baseball, you have to beat the ball home.

Anyway, I started this “What makes baseball different?” list … I have absolutely no idea what role, if any, it will play in the book (which is, after all, built around a countdown of the greatest moments in baseball history). But I was looking at it the other day and thought: Hey, people might like to see this. In fact, they might even like to contribute to it.

So here’s the list as it currently stands — what makes baseball different.*

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Tennessee Baseball - SEC Champions!

Coming into the weekend, With Tennessee's 9-2 win over Georgia and Arkansas loss to Vanderbilt on Friday, the Vols have won the conference for the first time since 1995 and for the fourth time in program history. 

Coming into the weekend, Tennessee needed a combination of three involving wins of their own or Arkansas losses. With the Vols’ back-to-back wins to achieve the series win over Georgia and Arkansas’ day one loss, Tennessee has the conference wrapped up heading into Saturday.

Tennessee's series win comes at the hands of an Arkansas loss, who were the regular-season SEC champions a year ago. 

Tony Vitello is the third Tennessee baseball head coach to win the regular season SEC title, joining Rod Delmonico, who coached the 1994 and 1995 Tennessee Baseball SEC champions, and S.W. Anderson, who coached the SEC champs in the 1951 Tennessee Vols.

Tennessee’s 2022 SEC title is just another accolade for the Vols who continue to dominate this season, making history at every turn. 

Vitello touched on what it meant for the program to win the SEC, and Tennessee's skipper described as simply checking another box this season. 

"I think at the end of the 30 games, you want to have checked five or six things," Vitello said following the Vols' game two win over Georgia. "So, if you can get to co or outright SEC champions, you've checked almost all of them, and the outright thing is a little bit of a separating factor. With everything our teams are trying to do in our league, [winning the SEC] means we've checked a lot of boxes." 

Friday, May 13, 2022

"Hammerin' Hank"

One of my childhood heros, Hank Aaron, collected 6,856 total bases, which is the all-time MLB record. (I always think about Aaron's record when I watch the film "Moneyball" because of its emphasis on the metrics of players just getting on base.) But then I got to wondering how many other MLB records does Hank Aaron still hold?

It turns out that Hank Aaron still holds the record for the most All-Star selections (25), while sharing the record for most All-Star Games played (24) with Willie Mays and Stan Musial. He also holds the MLB records for the most career runs batted in (RBIs) (2,297), extra base hits (1,477), and total bases (6,856). Aaron is also in the top five for career hits (3,771) and runs (2,174). He is one of only four players to have at least 17 seasons with 150 or more hits. Aaron is also in second place in home runs (755), though some, myself included, still cling to the belief that Barry Bonds record should not count. He also holds the record for most at-bats (12,364), and in third place in games played (3,298). 

Friday, May 06, 2022

Hitters Are Having A Rough Time

It's still early in the 2022 season but one thing is certain, baseballs are not traveling as far as they used to and home runs are down significantly.

Don't believe me? Here's some facts / stats: Major League Baseball teams, thus far this season, are averaging just 0.9 home runs per game and just 4.02 runs per game overall. Those numbers, should they continue, would be the second lowest home run average and the lowest runs per game average over the last 30 seasons. Throw in the fact that the league is batting a miserable .231, which is the lowest average of all-time, and that raises a plethora of questions. 

It appears that hitters in 2022 have it even harder than hitters in 1968, who batted just .237 in baseball's final season with a 15-inch mound. They're likewise worse than they were at the outset of the '21 campaign, when hitters were batting just .236 through the season's first two months.

The obvious boogeyman this time last year was the sticky stuff that pitchers were using to get unnatural spin on their pitches. The league acted accordingly when it stepped up enforcement on banned substances in June, and it worked as hitters jacked up their average to .248 in the season's final four months.

As spin rates remain depressed in 2022, the sticky stuff ban still seems to be working. This naturally got me to poking around for other explanations for this season's early offensive outage, as well as for potential ways that the problem might be solved.