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July 18, 2012 5:00 am

Punk Hits: Baseball in the Old Country


Ian Miller

Ian goes to Italy and finds a baseball game.

On Aug. 4, 1962, the New York Yankees already had a 5 ½ game lead over the Minnesota Twins, and the Bronx Bombers would go on to win the AL pennant handily. In the National League, meanwhile, the Los Angeles Dodgers were enjoying a five-game lead over the rival San Francisco Giants, and no one could have imagined how the rest of the season would play out. We know now, of course, that the Giants and Dodgers would finish the season with identical 101-61 records, and San Francisco would defeat Los Angeles in a three-game playoff and go on to lose to the Yankees in a long and hard-fought championship series.

On Aug. 4, 1962, in Fairfield, Connecticut, about 45 miles northeast of the Bronx, my parents were married. In a couple of weeks they will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. To mark the occasion, they rented a house in Tuscany and invited their family and friends to join them. As I type this, I’m looking over an olive grove, surrounded by the people I love most in the world. The only thing that could possibly make this better would be some baseball.

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A look around Wikipedia's various foreign language entries on "baseball".

One of the more underrated aspects of Wikipedia - once described by someone smarter than me as a "quantum encyclopedia, where genuine data both exists and doesn’t exist depending on the precise moment" it's checked - is it's utility as a translation service, for both standard words and cultural terms.

For example, if I want to know what the Spanish word for "brown" is (I never believed my high school Spanish teachers when they told us it was color café), I can just go to the English page for "brown" and then click Español on the left to find out that the word is marrón. And where else could I learn that the German name for "Where's Waldo?" is "Wo ist Walter?" and that the Danish "Find Holger"? It's a simple idea and it tends to work quite well.

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Is the quality of play in baseball better than it's ever been?

While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.

Baseball may seem best when you're 10 years old, but before you start building a time machine, take another look at Dan Fox's investigation of baseball's changing talent level over time, which originally ran as a "Schrodinger's Bat" column on January 18, 2007.

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New general manager Sandy Alderson is the right person to fix the dysfunctional Mets.

Last week, the Mets took a bold step away from four years of ever-increasing disappointment and organizational chaos by hiring Sandy Alderson to succeed Omar Minaya as their general manager. The soon-to-be-63-year-old Alderson, who spent 15 years as the GM of the Oakland Athletics, was by far the most experienced candidate in a field which also included former Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes, former Royals GM Allard Baird, White Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn, Dodgers assistant GM Logan White, and Blue Jays special assistant Dana Brown. Perhaps just as importantly, Alderson is the first Mets GM to ascend to the post from outside the organization since Frank Cashen in 1980. He is a fresh start for an organization in desperate need of one.

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A comprehensive recap of a big day for FIELDf/x.

I have seen the future, and its name is FIELDf/x. OK, so we kind of knew that. But today, FIELDf/x started to seem a lot more real, and even more exciting than I’d imagined. You may have noticed that BP had a man on the scene at Sportvision’s PITCHf/x summit whose liveblog was actually live. So why am I doing this, when Colin already did? Well, for one thing, Colin arrived fashionably late, and I was all over those first 14 minutes that he missed. For another, his computer died before a lot of the fun started. And for still another (this is a third reason, now), I thought it might be fun to do a Simmons-style quasi-liveblog (written live, published later) that would free me from worries about frequent updates, and allow me to write at length. Most likely that length turned out to be a good deal longer than anyone has any interest in reading, but if you’re determined to catch up on the day’s intriguing events without sitting through eight hours of archived video, you’re welcome to peruse what lies below. If you’d like to follow along, here’s an agenda, and here’s where you should be able to find downloadable presentations in the near future.

Here we are in sunny California, home of the cutest girls in the world, if the Beach Boys are to be believed (I gather there’s also a more recent chart-topper that expresses a similar view). Okay, so by “we,” I mean the attendees at the 3rd (annual?) Sportvision PITCHf/x summit, held at the Westin San Francisco in—you guessed it—San Francisco. I, on the other hand, am watching from the other end of the continent, via a webcast that dubiously claims to be “hi-res,” despite being blurry enough to make deciphering text an adventure (I guess “hi-res” is relative, in the sense that there are even lower resolutions at which it could’ve been streamed). And sure, maybe the Beach Boys weren’t thinking of this particular gathering when they extolled the virtues of California’s beach bunnies. But never mind that—it’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon here in New York, and how better to spend it than to watch a video of some fellow nerds talk about baseball in a dark room some 3,000 miles away? Well, to describe the experience at the same time, of course. Let’s get this quasi-liveblog started.

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August 20, 2010 8:00 am

Prospectus Q&A: Gift Ngoepe


David Laurila

The first black South African to play professional baseball talks about his move to the United States, among other subjects.

There are few better stories in baseball than Mpho Gift Ngoepe‘s. A 19-year-old infield prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, Ngoepe is one year removed from a Sports Illustrated profile that chronicled his remarkable journey from a mud hut in Limpopo to literally living in a clubhouse in a Johannesburg suburb, to becoming the first black South African ever to sign a professional baseball contract. Currently with the short-season State College Spikes, the athletic—and no less charismatic—Ngoepe is hitting .227/.339/.345.

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June 22, 2010 12:54 pm

Fantasy Beat: Scoresheet: Draft Prep 2


Rob McQuown

Rob McQuown covers more potential draftees for the Scoresheet supplemental draft, which begins in a few hours for most leagues.

One of the best aspects of playing Scoresheet baseball is the accessibility of the people who run the game. Jeff Barton, whose comment to Part 1 helped level-set expectations for what the best teams might have, is an active participant on the game forums and blog, where veteran owners also weigh in with their hard-earned experience. Since this is the time of the year when Scoresheet has a few “abandoned” teams looking for friendly homes, it is good to keep in mind that while good teams are indeed quite good, the bar isn't usually set unbelievably high, and while there's a pride of accomplishment in turning a franchise around in Scoresheet baseball, the task isn't nearly as daunting as that faced by real-life GM's who take over for predecessors who may have set the team back for many years.

For example, as noted yesterday, the team in the “300” league is charmed, and was fortunate enough to receive a trade offer of Jason Heyward for Javier Vazquez last year, which helped another team win a championship but became an even better deal for Team McQuown with Vazquez becoming a “crossover” in the offseason and Heyward being, well, Heyward. Long story short, without any other trades which could be called “great”, the team was in such a bad situation that one expert forum respondee noted, “I see only three definite keepers, trade all the slots you can. Definites: Votto, CarGo, Ethier.” [keeper slots can be traded for players or picks]. The team has had 2 straight awful weeks, and still remains in first place this year, however. “Results may vary”, as they say, and even yours truly and the team's co-manager didn't see the turnaround happening so quickly. (kudos need to go to co-manager Brian Joseph - Baseball Daily Digest Editor and he who was smart enough to see a great year coming from Barry Zito, not to mention Mike Leake's immediate impact).

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March 10, 2009 3:08 pm

Prospectus Today: Logistics


Joe Sheehan

A new fan to the WBC has a few points about perfecting its scheduling and structuring.

While watching Panama get shut out on 11 hits over the weekend-that's in two games, folks-I started thinking about the WBC in a different way. The solutions I've proffered have been primarily about timing in an effort to garner greater participation among players, but I'm wondering if maybe I've been running at the problem from the wrong direction.

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February 25, 2009 1:25 pm

Prospectus Today: The World Baseball Classic


Joe Sheehan

A quick review of the pools and the likely outcomes, as well as the outstanding issues that attend the international event.

The first pitch of the World Baseball Classic is a week away. Rosters were announced Tuesday afternoon, making the whole thing a bit more real. We can now take a look at the players who will be on the field playing for their countries in March and get a sense of which teams are emerging as the favorites.

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December 11, 2008 10:22 am

On the Beat: Mega-Dealing


John Perrotto

A three-way trade nets the Mets a closer to set up their closer and plenty more for all involved, plus other Winter Meeting wheelings and dealings.

LAS VEGAS-The hoopla of a massive three-way trade that had enlivened the winter meetings just hours before their conclusion was just dying down when the Mariners new general manager Jack Zduriencik looked at an old acquaintance and grinned. "How about that for a first trade?" he said. "This one might be hard to top."

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December 4, 2008 12:47 pm

The Ledger Domain: MLB Meets the Recession


Maury Brown

Adrift in an ocean of money, how will MLB navigate the current financial maelstrom?

Bud Selig and the executives at MLB headquarters must have breathed a sigh of relief. At the end of the 2008 season, baseball could boast that it had reached the second highest paid attendance in its history, that on top of another record year for revenues, all while just missing what would be the onset of one of the largest economic declines in US history.

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Olympic despair, Ozzie clears the air, and never saying die down in Houston.


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