1. An old set of baseball cards
Whether you're a regular reader or you've landed on this page via a Google search and don't know much about baseball, you might be looking for an actual gift for your baseball-obsessed spouse/relative/friend/co-worker/staff writer at a baseball website. My suggestion: If you know the person well enough to be buying them a gift, you can probably pull this one off. Pick a year that you know was personally meaningful to that person, either in a baseball sense or on a personal level. Go on EBay and find a set of baseball cards from that year. (Protip: Actually, get the set from year + 1. If the year you're thinking of is 1994, then get the '95 set, because that shows players on the teams they were on in '94 and their stats from that year.) If you're not sure what year to pick, do a little #GoryMath and pick a year around when the person was 10 years old. Everything in baseball is perfect when you are 10 years old.
Don't worry too much about which company made the cards. Just pick one. The point is that you'll be handing someone a piece of their past and a chance to re-live a few childhood memories.There are few things in life so wonderful as that. —Russell A. Carleton
2. A shirsey or jersey (Bonus: tips on how to choose the right one)
So, you’re a well-meaning relative of a baseball fanatic, but you know little-to-nothing about the sport yourself? We’re here to help, with this useful guide to purchasing a baseball jersey or “shirsey!” (That’s a t-shirt printed to look like a jersey, folks.)
1. Do you know the recipient’s favored team? If not, just check their Facebook/Twitter/Instagram or ask their parents!
2. Now that you know their favored team, you can either find knock-off jerseys at a variety of local sporting good stores and other local retailers OR you could give a gift that might actually be worn by dropping the exorbitant cash on a real-deal jersey. Don’t have $150 or more? That’s okay, an official shirsey should only run you $40 or so! These can be found at the team’s store, whether in person or online.
3. Of course, you may at this point see the “Personalize Your Jersey” option on the side of the screen. Before you drop the cash on a “No. 1 Grandson” or “Princess” personalized jersey, consider the cringe factor: How forced will their smile be in the holiday photo?
4. Not going the personalized route? You’ll still need to figure out who to get on the back, unless you decide to go the diplomatic route of a blank jersey. (If you go that route, there’s always the cheapest contingency—a Wal-Mart team t-shirt.) You have two options here: Flat-out ask who their favorite player is, or guess and hope you don’t end up with some middle reliever who no one really cares about. Dartboards are great for the second option.
5. Have yourself a budding hipster sports fan? Be prepared to spend even more money on a throwback style jersey with someone’s name on the back who you might have actually heard of (Nolan Ryan is not a hipster jersey, sorry.) Alternately, Google “team name minor-league system” and order the best looking farm team jersey. No name on the back to mess up, hipster-status-saving, and probably cheaper!
6. Beware, jerseys on sale are likely players who were just traded, left the team via free agency, or retired. The cheaper the jersey, the less well liked the player.
Now, you should be all set to make that baseball fan in your life happy, at least until the name on the back gets traded in a mid-season deal, or mysteriously fails miserably for no particular reason.
(When in doubt, get a shirsey. They’re easier to burn if the player takes his talents to South Beach, or whatever the baseball equivalent is.) —Kate Morrison
3. ACCUSPLIT Pro Survivor – A601X Stopwatch, Clock, Extra-Large Display
There is an old saying, something along the lines of "speed kills." Baseball is beginning another shift, especially after a postseason steal from Billy Butler. Scouts know the speed of Butler, but do you? Does your friend? How about your father? The ACCUSPLIT helps to provide a greater enjoyment for the game, because it's just fun to know how fast Jose Molina is. Have you ever wondered just how speedy Matt Wieters was on that home to first time? How about that David Ortiz home-run trot? The ACCUSPLIT proves to be the perfect gift for the next couch scout. The extra large display allows for a clearer vision on extra large times, and provides the user with a heightened experience of the best game in the world. Don't let your family and friends miss out on the next market inefficiency. Speed is taking over, and we all need to be prepared. —Tucker Blair
4. Bull City Summer, by Adam Sobsey and others
I have not read Bull City Summer yet, but I have not the slightest doubt that it is a great gift for a baseball fan. There are more than five reasons for my certainty, of which five are these:
(1) All the best baseball books are about the minors. All of them. Every one. Some are about the Negro Leagues, or about off-brand baseball in the early 20th century, or about fictional leagues that share only an 85 percent resemblance to the quality of the majors, or about college ball, but they’re all about the leagues behind the league behind the league. Important thing about all baseball literature: Only the dream is important. Once the dream is fulfilled, the drama goes poof. Baseball books are romantic comedies. This book is about the minors.
(2) I don’t want to play favorites, but Adam Sobsey is as good at writing about baseball as anybody. Wait’ll you read his essay in the BP Annual this spring. Speaking of which, a pre-ordered BP Annual makes for a great Christmas present. Sobsey wrote some of the Rays comments in last year’s annual, and among them was my favorite player comment in the entire book. It went like this (and it was about the minors):
"Guys like Albernaz hold baseball together. Bald and compact as a human cannonball, he'll catch in Triple-A, Double-A; he'll wait on the temporary inactive or disabled list during roster musical chairs; and he's the guy in spring training behind the dish for countless prospects, suspects and even All-Stars—Albernaz went to big-league camp for the first time in 2013. Well-meaning comparisons to sports movie icon Rudy effectively belittle him and his value: Albernaz knows how to call a game and has a good arm. His lack of size and bat will keep him out of the bigs, but last year he hit his first Triple-A homer (in his fifth season there), a grand slam that hit the Bull and won him a goddamn steak."
Jason Wojciechowski and I marvelled at the comment. This was our chat after we each read it:
I'd have put the goddamned in front of bull, and putting it in front of steak is soooo much better
would never ever have occurred to me to put it on steak
it has a voice. It has a SPEAKER.
the speaker isn't even Sobsey. He invented a character for one sentence!
That last thing Jason says is exactly it. It’s Hemingway’s six-word short story. It creates an entire human out of nothing in just one paragraph. Anyway, Sobsey is the lead writer for this Durham book.
(4) I want it so bad. So assuming that this baseball Christmas list *might* inspire you to buy something for me, here it is. Thanks in advance!
(5) This beautiful trailer for it, which will give you some sense of how seductive Durham baseball can be:
So buy it. —Sam Miller
5. Encyclopedia Brown: The Case of Burgled Baseball Cards
The opening two minutes of “The Case of the Burgled Baseball” from Muze set the tone for the rest of the episode as the soft, comforting background music guides through the show's first act and introduces us to the major players. We have the overprotective baseball card collector who is concerned over the police presence at his baseball card booth. We have the bumbling cop whose good intentions cannot mask his incompetence. Encyclopedia Brown navigates through the crowd and figures out what baseball card his friend got for Brown’s birthday, foreshadowing Brown as the bright boy detective who is adept at solving repetitive and logically lazy crimes and puzzles. And we also have the rich card enthusiast who manages to lay questionable innuendo for a children’s movie. Yes, the opening sequence to this timeless classic lays all the important groundwork for what is to come in this thrilling 30-minute live-action crime procedural. I cannot think of a better gift for any baseball enthusiast other than this classic and what better way to enjoy the grandeur that was early 90’s children’s TV than a VHS that is described as “VERY GOOD COVER HAS WEAR AS PICTURED."
6. Glove Lacelets
Few things are held in as high regard by the young baseball enthusiast as their glove. Sure, they're just a few pieces of leather tied together with thin leather laces. To a baseball player though, it's the epitome of everything that is right with the world. Few things are as important to baseball players as their glove.
This is all why I think that the lacelets from BaseballLacelet.com are the perfect gift for the baseball fan in your life. They've taken something simple, the modest leather strips that hold gloves together, and turned them into a wearable accessory that can serve as a constant reminder of the passion we all have for the game.
Each lace has a saying or quote stamped onto the leather. You can choose from the many options they have in stock or even write your own personal message on each lace. They come with a simple metal clasp that feels as if it's been modeled after components of the dugouts from your youth in the best possible way.
If you really want to blow your friend/family member/etc. away, you can opt to have them create a lacelet out of a lace you send them from your own glove. Obviously you'll want to avoid plundering their gamer for this, but an older glove that is no longer fit for field duty could live on forever as something the owner could wear on a daily basis.
If you like to give unique gifts, the baseball lacelet are the perfect gift for the baseball lover in your life. Granted, they're not for everyone–some may scoff at the idea of wearing a lacelet in general. For those that would be open to wearing such an accessory though, these lacelets are a unique and wonderfully nostalgic gift. —Jeff Long
7. Out Of The Park (OOTP) Baseball
This is a perfect gift for baseball fans for two reasons: (1) it's a rad game and fun as heck, and (2) if your typical baseball fan friend thinks Just Sign Everybody And Trade For Everybody Else is the key to winning a World Series, then this game will furiously put the fan in his or her place and never stop cackling.
As the purchaser of three versions of this game, I can attest that it is actually impossible to win a World Series when you try, and success only occurs when half-assing a rebuilding job. Nothing replicates reality but this simulates seasonal progressions quite well, and simply trying to manage transactions by WAR and 20-80 scouting reports isn't foolproof.
If realism isn't their thing, then they can try to simulate a historical season, or a completely fictional world and they'll still realize that you can't predict baseball, even fake baseball, or "fakesball," as nobody calls it.
There is also online play where you can compete against friends and strangers but as a person terrified of human contact, I have never chosen to do this. Do tell us how it goes, though. —Matt Sussman
8. MLB Authentic Tattoo Sleeves with Full Color Team Logo
Have you ever thought, "man, I really wish I could get a tribal tattoo in my favorite baseball team's colors on my forearm, but I also wish I could take it off?"
If so, it's a great time to be alive.
These MLB Authentic Tattoo Sleeves with Full Color Team Logo scream "I care about my team and it's Full Color Logo wayyyy more than you, pal." You won't be envious of your friend's team-oriented Twitter account or sweet alternate custom shirsey when you rock one of these forearm-flaunting bad boys.
Trust me; I bout myself a pair, and they're total game-changers. They’re uber realistic. They're very useful. They go with everything. And, just like a real sleeve but unlike a real tattoo, you can wear or not wear them at your discretion. It's science.
These new generation models are also made with "durable" nylon/spandex material, which, as you all know, is a meaningful upgrade from the flimsy stuff they used in the shoddy Authentic Tattoo Sleeves of the late 90s. —Ben Carsley
9. New York Yankees Urinal Cake Screen
There is no better Christmas present for the baseball fan in your life than this… actually, wait. Let me start over. There are many, many better Christmas presents for the baseball fan in your life than this. So in that sense, this is probably a terrible choice for this article. But once you start something, you can’t stop that’s the rules and everyone knows the rules even if they pretend they don’t they really do and I really hope there’s a period around this corner phew. The baseball fan in your life needs… well, again, not so much needs as “wants”… er, “could use”… Okay: “might not hate you forever if you give them” the New York Yankees Urinal Cake Screen from peepeeface.com!
Many of the other gifts on this list might be actual gifts. But even if they aren’t, they probably have an enticing description, for comedic purposes if nothing else. I refuse to offer anything remotely like that in this case. This is a urinal screen. It’s made of plastic. It is not official and as such says, and I quote, “NY YankMees.” This is, therefore, dumb. It is also useless. Nobody has a urinal in their house or apartment. Also, what the heck is wrong with peeing on a urinal cake? Please relay any and all explanations in the comments.
So, in conclusion, the New York YankMees Urinal Cake Screen: for no reason or purpose whatsoever. Merry Christmas!
Thank you for reading
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