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Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Just days after confirming that he and his rotation mates drank “rally beers” in the clubhouse during games, Red Sox ace Jon Lester has denied rumors that their alcoholic consumption extended to the dugout. The allegations, which were the latest bombshell to rock Red Sox Nation, also prompted an investigation and reply by team CEO Larry Lucchino.

Tonight our organization has heard directly from Jon, Josh, John, and former manager Terry Francona. Each has assured us that the allegation that surfaced today about drinking in the dugout during games in 2011 is false, and we accept their statements as honest and factual.” – Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino, quoted by ESPNBoston.com

Despite the denials by Lester and Lucchino, the Captain’s Blog has uncovered evidence suggesting the Red Sox may have not only imbibed on the bench, but even taken a sip or two on the field. In the photo presented below, Red Sox third base coach Tim Bogar is clearly seen retrieving several beers from a Fenway Park vendor. After that incident, now former Red Sox manager Terry Francona tried to deflect attention from the incident, half-heartedly joking, “I was just glad Bogie didn’t grab one and start drinking it,” but in light of the recent allegations,  that comment no longer seems amusing. Although there is no record of what Bogar actually did with the beers, unnamed sources have revealed that at least a few were eventually used to wash down an “in-game” spread of Popeye’s chicken and biscuits.

Red Sox 3B Coach Tim Bogar retrieves beer on the field at Fenway Park (Photo: Getty Images).

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During the second inning of Friday night’s game versus the Indians, five teenage boys filed into a row of empty seats high atop the Yankee Stadium grandstand. An inning later, the beer man came walking through the section. One of the teens casually raised his hand, and the eager vendor quickly approached. Upon seeing the youthful appearance of his potential customers, the beer man stopped dead in his tracks. “I need to see some ID,” he suspiciously asked.

A Yankee Stadium beer man pictured in 2009 (Photo: NY Times).

One of the five teens was wearing black dress pants and a green collared shirt. He must have been the one with a job. Because of his professional appearance, which contrasted against the t-shirts and shorts worn by his friends, perhaps one could be convinced he was of drinking age. So, when the vendor made his request, he was the first to step forward.

After being handed a driver’s license, the beer man looked it over carefully. The date of birth checked out, but the suspicion was not abated. He peered at the card again, looked up at the boy, and then back down at his hand. After a momentary pause and a shrug of the shoulder, the beer was finally handed over.

“I need two,” the emboldened teen stated, while offering up a $20 bill. “Who’s it for,” the vendor replied, “I need his ID too”.

Without missing a beat, another of the teens opened his wallet and shuffled the cards within. Prominently displayed in the clear plastic compartment was a New York State driver’s license, but the boy wasn’t looking for that one. Instead, he gingerly reached behind the card and pulled out another license, this one issued by the state of Michigan.

Once again, the vendor’s eyes darted back and forth between the card and its holder. Although common sense demanded otherwise, the picture matched and the date of birth checked out. The second beer was handed over. “Keep the change,” the teen told the vendor, a brimming sense of adult pride clearly evident in his voice.

It’s easier to get a beer at Yankee Stadium than a Jorge Posada figurine.

Friday was Jorge Posada Figurine Night. Just behind the turnstiles, a stack of boxes was piled high, and as each adult passed, a stadium employee handed one over. Lured by this scene of Christmas in June, two young boys around the age of 10 hurriedly approached the stack and eagerly held out their hands.

“You’re too young,” the employee told the boys as he extended his arm over their heads to hand a box to the father. As a look of disappointment came over their faces, the father laughed, thinking the man was having some fun at his children’s expense.

“No, seriously,” the employee said, “they’re only for adults 21 and over”.

“Really,” the father asked? “I am sorry,” the employee replied. “Oh well,” the dad said, turning back to his sons, “I guess you can share mine”.

If only the boys had remembered to bring their driver’s license.

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The Captain’s Blog has once again received a leaked video tape, this time of a secret meeting between an undisclosed baseball team and an unidentified former star player. According to the video, the player was summoned to address several higher-ups in the organization, at which point he was informed of his future role with the team. Below is the leaked portion of that meeting, although all involved parties have since declared they are on the same page.

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Fear the Beard?

Forget “Fear the Beard”. Brian Wilson’s now infamous black mane has gained so much notoriety that his new slogan should be “Hear the Beard” because it has become nearly impossible to avoid. From print to television to video games, Wilson’s famous, and infamous, facial hair has gained so much exposure that it might soon require an agent of its own (click here for a youtube page dedicated to the Beard). Perhaps that’s why it seems as if many others in the game have decided to eschew the razor.

In the very early days of baseball, beards, mustaches, and sideburns were actually quite popular. Before the turn of the 20th century, facial hair was as common as spit balls, but sometime in the early 1910s, the clean shaven look became the norm. For most of the next 60-plus years, the beard was all but banned from the game. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to find a photo from this era showing a player with any kind of facial hair.

Mustaches were common place during the 19th century, as evidenced by the team photo of the 1885 National League champion Chicago White Stockings, who were led by Hall of Famer Cap Anson (top row, three from the left).

One of the main reasons that baseball decided to adapt a de facto clean cut mandate was so it could portray itself as a wholesome, family-oriented game. Over time, however, the growing influence of razor and shaving cream ad dollars may have also contributed to the cause. Whatever the motivation, beards and mustaches were relegated to the bush leagues. Barnstorming teams like the House of David and various copy cats*, including a Negro League counterpart, toured the country playing high quality opponents, but the main attraction was always the players’ flowing beards. Whenever these whiskered teams rolled into town, the local newspapers were sure to play up their prominent facial adornments.

*There were so many imitators of the House of David that the outfit sought to copyright the fashion statement. However, in a decision rendered on May 24, 1934, Judge John M. Woolsey ruled that “from time immemorial beards have been in the public domain”.

The House of David baseball team, depicted here in 1916, was composed of members of a Michigan-based religious colony.

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When Randy Johnson was a mean, scowling left handed monster on a big league mound, I never imagined him becoming a Madison Avenue darling after his retirement. However, that’s exactly what seems to have occurred.

Since calling it quits, Randy Johnson has figured prominently in two national ad campaigns. His appearance in a commercial for GEICO plays on his surly reputation, but his role in the Just For Men campaign is much more ironic. After all, one doesn’t think of the Big Unit as an advocate for a vanity product, but sure enough, there he is, pitching hair dye alongside fellow legends Emmitt Smith and Walt Frazier. Who says “there’s no play for Mr. Gray”?

I probably shouldn’t be surprised by Johnson’s popularity as a pitch man. A search of youtube reveals several amusing commercials that were run during the Big Unit’s storied career, including hysterical ads for Nike and Right Guard (embedded after the jump). However, the fact that he has maintained his visibility into retirement is still a little bit surprising. Once best know for shoving cameras to the floor, I guess Johnson has finally found a comfort level in front of them. One can only image what product the 6’10” left hander will wind up pitching next? (more…)

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The Captain’s Blog has uncovered secret video of an ESPN staff meeting that helps shed some light on the curious unanimity of the network’s baseball predictions.

When ESPN’s 2011 season forecasts were first revealed on its website, many in the industry were surprised to see that all 45 “experts” picked the Red Sox to win the American League East. Since that time, several allegations of wrong doing have emerged. According to one unidentified source, although ESPN employees were permitted to pick against the Red Sox in the World Series, choosing another AL East leader was strictly prohibited. Despite the New England-based network’s widely perceived Boston bias, most media watchdogs dismissed these early claims of coercion. However, the following video, which was given to The Captain’s Blog by a confidential informant, tells a different story.

As evident in the video, at least two ESPN employees wanted to select the Yankees as AL East champion, but their refusal to toe the company line resulted in severe repercussions. The Captain’s Blog has not received confirmation about other similar methods of coercion, but at least one unidentified source confirmed that the hard line stance taken by higher ups had a chilling effect on the predictions of others.

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Where was Ralph Kramden really going on October 3, 1954?

In the Honeymooners sketch, “Game Called on Account of Marriage”, which debuted on the October 2, 1954 installment of the Jackie Gleason Show, Ralph tries to beg out of Alice’s sister’s wedding because he has tickets to the “Wooorld Series!” that was being played between the Cleveland Indians and New York Giants. Needless to say, this revelation leads to yet another classic battle between Ralph and Alice as each one tries to get in the last word. As usual, Alice has the upperhand.

Most diehard baseball fans can easily sympathize with Ralph’s plight. It is, after all, the “Wooorld Series!” However, before feeling too badly for Ralph, we first need to investigate the legitimacy of his claim. For starters, where did Ralph get the tickets? Are we to believe someone just gave them to him? Because we know that Ralph is going with Ed Norton, and Norton didn’t provide the ducats, we then must assume that Ralph was the beneficiary of a very generous gift. The alternative would be to assume that Ralph bought the tickets, but considering his salary, that doesn’t seem likely at all.

Let’s put that issue aside for a moment and get right to the point. Ralph couldn’t have had tickets to the World Series because only game 5 was scheduled to be played on Sunday, and that contest would have been in Cleveland. Considering that Ralph was spending Saturday night helping Alice’s sister elope, there is no way he would have had enough time to hop on a train and make it to Cleveland in time for the following afternoon’s game. In other words, Ralph wasn’t planning on seeing the game, so he must have had other plans.

When a police officer finally exposes Ralph’s charade by informing him that there won’t even be a game 5, Ralph takes the news in stride by acting surprised, but by this point, we know better. After all, if Ralph really was fixated on the World Series, but mistakenly thought game 5 was in New York (maybe that’s why he was able to get a hold of two tickets), are we to believe he wasn’t even following closely enough to know that the Giants had swept the Indians earlier that afternoon?

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I am sure many readers, upon seeing the headline above, expected another post about Baseball Prospectus’ mindless Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm projection system, also known as PECOTA. In particular, many Yankees’ fans have become addicted to this new fan dangled mathematical formula that seeks to predict the future performance of teams and players alike. I guess I can’t blame them. Any calculation that can get AJ Burnett back down to a 4.50 ERA can’t really be all bad.

Bill Pecota played for three organizations, but was best known as a Royal.

Still, the sabermetric geeks have spent way too much time sucking the life out of baseball…putting statistics ahead of stories in a vain attempt to gain knowledge. After all, what purpose does knowledge serve when watching baseball?

No sir. February 16 will not be sullied with talk of WARP and UZR and all the other fancy statistics that no one can pronounce. You see, today is Bill Pecota’s birthday, and even though the projection system that co-opted his name doesn’t think much of this former Royal, Met and Brave, he still has an interesting story to tell.

Most people will tell you that Bill Pecota’s only two meaningful seasons in the majors were 1990 and 1991, when he had a WAR of 2.2 and 2.8, respectively, while playing for the Kansas City Royals. That’s nonsense, however. What everyone seems to ignore is that Pecota could play everywhere, literally. Over his underappreciated nine-year career, the utility man played at least one game at all nine positions. People make such a big fuss over Babe Ruth because he could pitch and play outfield, but did you ever see the Babe play 2B or SS? Pecota did!, making him one of only 17 players to accomplish this amazing feat of versatility.

Still not impressed? Well, while most other players were padding their stats in the regular season, Pecota was preparing for the month when it really counts: October. Although Reggie Jackson is more commonly known as Mr. October, his .278 batting average and .358 on-base percentage during the postseason pale in comparison to Pecota’s rates of .333 and .500. In fact, in the entire history of the game, only Bobby Brown was able to match Pecota’s outstanding ability to reach base in the clutch. The skeptics will undoubtedly mention that our hero only came to the plate four times in October, but what difference does that make? Small sample sizes are for sissies.

Despite all of the overwhelming evidence, Pecota has still been relegated to a footnote all because he shares the name of a computer program. It’s too bad more people don’t value him like the Mets did in 1991, when they traded two former All Stars, Gregg Jefferies and Kevin McReynolds, for Pecota and a throw-in named Brett Saberhagen.

So, the next time you feel the urge to confer with a projection system, do yourself a favor and read a good story instead. Who needs PECOTA when you have Pecota? Besides, if you are really desperate for predictions, just keep reading The Captain’s Blog. It has a much better track record divining the future (a dart board beats math any day).

Super Utility Men: Players Spending at Least One Game at Every Position, Since 1901

Player From To G PA BA OBP SLG
Bert Campaneris 1964 1983 2328 9625 0.259 0.311 0.342
Cookie Rojas 1962 1977 1822 6871 0.263 0.306 0.337
Cesar Tovar 1965 1976 1488 6177 0.278 0.335 0.368
Roger Bresnahan 1901 1915 1438 5355 0.279 0.386 0.377
Bernie Friberg 1919 1933 1299 4795 0.281 0.356 0.373
Jose Oquendo 1983 1995 1190 3737 0.256 0.346 0.317
Frank Isbell 1901 1909 1074 4483 0.251 0.291 0.329
Jack Rothrock 1925 1937 1014 3719 0.276 0.336 0.370
Steve Lyons 1985 1993 853 2388 0.252 0.301 0.340
Sam Mertes 1901 1906 826 3504 0.273 0.343 0.391
Bill Pecota 1986 1994 698 1729 0.249 0.323 0.354
Shane Halter 1997 2004 690 2109 0.246 0.303 0.385
Jimmy Walsh 1910 1915 502 1736 0.285 0.332 0.404
Art Hoelskoetter 1905 1908 299 1024 0.236 0.271 0.282
Bill Friel 1901 1903 283 1088 0.245 0.292 0.331
Bobby Reis 1931 1938 175 330 0.233 0.291 0.279
Scott Sheldon 1997 2001 141 310 0.235 0.275 0.375

Source: Baseball-reference.com

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Thanks to its long history, baseball is the perfect sport to commemorate any Holliday, or even Halladay for that matter.

In February, everyone has their mind on Valentine’s Day. Just ask Bobby, Corky, Ellis, Fred, Joe, or John. After all, you don’t have to be Cupid Childs to appreciate a day dedicated to Love. Just about anyone can join in such a celebration, regardless of whether they are Chubby or Slim. You don’t even need to speak English, at least according to Vicente and Sammy, who but for one more vowel would be the epitome of the day’s affection.

Of course, every holiday requires a gift. Some people like to give Flowers, especially Ben, Dickie, Jake, Tyler and Wes. Still others fashion themselves as a Candy Man, particularly those with last names like Cummings, Harris, LaChance, Maldonado, Nelson and Sierra. However, the most generous give Rings. Just ask Royce and Jimmy. Just becareful though. Giving one is the fastest way to become a Groom. That’s what happened to Bob and Buddy.

Unfortunately, some people can’t find it in their Hart to embrace the holiday, but that’s not true of all three Bills, not to mention Bo, Burt, Corey, Hub, James, Jason, Jim Ray, John, Kevin, Mike and Tom. So whether you say Happy Valentine’s Day or Feliz Día del Amor y la Amistad, make sure you do it with a smile on your face, just like Pedro and Neftali.

MLB Valentine’s Day Roster

Player From To   Player From To
Vicente Amor 1955 1957   James Hart 1885 1889
Sandy Amoros 1952 1960   Jason Hart 2002 2002
Cupid Childs 1888 1901   Jim Ray Hart 1963 1974
Candy Cummings 1872 1877   John Hart 1885 1889
Candy Harris 1967 1967   Kevin Hart 2007 2009
Cand LaChance 1893 1905   Mike Hart 1980 1980
Candy Maldonado 1981 1995   Mike Hart 1984 1987
Candy Nelson 1872 1890   Tom Hart 1891 1891
Candy Sierra 1988 1988   Roy Halladay 1998 2010
Ben Flowers 1951 1956   Bug Holliday 1889 1898
Dickie Flowers 1871 1872   Matt Holliday 2004 2010
Jake Flowers 1923 1934   Slim Love 1913 1920
Tyler Flowers 2009 2010   Jimmy Ring 1917 1928
Wes Flowers 1940 1944   Royce Ring 2005 2010
Bob Groom 1909 1918   Bob Valentine 1876 1876
Buddy Groom 1992 2005   Bobby Valentine 1969 1979
Bill Hart 1886 1901   Corky Valentine 1954 1955
Bill Hart 1943 1945   Ellis Valentine 1975 1985
Billy Hart 1890 1890   Fred Valentine 1959 1968
Bo Hart 2003 2004   Joe Valentine 2003 2005
Burt Hart 1901 1901   John Valentine 1883 1883
Corey Hart 2004 2010   John “Candy Man” Candelaria 1975 1993
Hub Hart 1905 1907   Alfred Lovell “Chubby” Dean 1936 1943

Source: Baseball-reference.com

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For only the third time, Halloween will play host to the World Series. On the two previous occasions, the Yankees were victorious, but this time around the Bronx Bombers will be donning costumes instead of uniforms. At least AJ Burnett will. The team’s very own Jekyll and Hyde snatched up a few scary items before frightening Yankees’ fans in his ill-fated ALCS start. In what looking back was probably a bad omen, Burnett’s preparation for Halloween trick-or-treating didn’t exactly scream confidence in the outcome of the series.

Those players who didn’t anticipate being home on Halloween probably missed out on all of the best costumes, but I am sure they’ll make do. After all, baseball players get plenty of practice. The ritual of rookie hazing, which usually takes place on the last road trip of the season, can make even the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade seem tame. Even conservative organizations like the Yankees get in the act, and over the last several years, the team has taken the tradition to an art form. So, on a holiday dedicated to playing dress-up, we celebrate Halloween by taking a look back at the Yankees’ recent history of hazing. Just be ready to cover your eyes.

2009: Batman and Friends

A proud Joe Girardi is surrounded by Batman (Mark Melancon) and friends, including the Boy Wonder (video man Anthony Flynn), Catwoman (Ramiro Pena) Joker (radar gun operator Brett Weber), Riddler (Mike Dunn) and the Penguin (massage therapist Lou Potter).

 2008: Village People

Brett Gardner, Francisco Cervelli and Juan Miranda take a stroll through Fenway Park as the Village People.

2007: Off to See the Wizard

Who said Joba Chamberlain doesn’t have courage and Phil Hughes needs a heart? Shelley Duncan as the scarecrow and Ian Kennedy as Dorothy can testify.

2006: Who’s the Boss?

Melky Cabrera dons a turtleneck and blue blazer in honor of George Steinbrenner. 

2005: Team Spirit

Chien-Ming Wang, Robinson Cano and Mike Vento shake their pompoms.

2004: Long Live the King

Andy Phillips, Bubba Crosby, Scott Proctor, Brad Halsey and Dioner Navarro do their best Elvis impersonations, but where’s Lance Berkman when you really need him?

2003: Godzilla the Pimp

Hideki Matsui puts forth a side to Godzilla that we never knew existed.

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