Blogging and Baseball
A couple of notes from a sultry midsummer night:
I'm watching the Yankees game tonight--the Mets don't start till ten p.m., since they're on the west coast--and I'm hoping the White Sox can make their 1-0 eighth inning lead stand up. (I'm one of the many fans who proudly root for two teams, my own team and whoever is playing the Yankees.) I notice that, in the top of the eighth, the electronically-generated billboard on the blue-screen background behind Yankee Stadium's home plate displays an ad for Johnnie Walker Black whiskey. As everyone knows, you can't advertise hard liquor on TV (not due to any law or FCC regulation but because of self-imposed restrictions by the networks and local stations), so this is a clever bit of loophole-sniffing by some ad agency. Wonder how long it'll take for the standards and practices people to shut it down?
Son Matt sent me a couple of kewl Mets links. [See linguistic note below.] The first connects to a website that traces the history of every Mets uniform number--the perfect site for the person who needs to know, for example, who wore number 41 before Tom Seaver. (The answer: four pitchers--Clem Labine, Grover Powell, Jim Bethke, and Gordon Richardson--who had a combined lifetime record of 5-5 for the Amazins.) And who wore 41 after Tom Seaver? Three guesses . . .
The second offers the Mets' won-loss record (and complete National League standings) for every date in their history. An easy way to take a fun tour through many years of futility brightened by occasional glimmers of glory.
The team's history explains the tenacious optimism characteristic of many long-time Mets fans. If you remember the early 60s, you really know how to appreciate, even savor, every little sign of competence, let alone excellence. I'm talking about Met teams that would go months at a stretch without winning a series (not sweeping a series, mind you, just winning one). On this date in 1965, for example, the Mets were 34-78 (a winning percentage of .305) and were not only 30 1/2 games out of first place but also 13 1/2 games behind the ninth-place team (the Astros). The Mets were off on August 9th, having dropped a double-header the day before to the Cubs by scores of 7-6 and 14-10 (notice the characteristic touch of Met genius, scoring 16 runs yet managing to lose both games). That extended their latest losing streak to eight straight games.
Now that's a crummy team. And yet I loved them with all of my 12-year-old heart. Someone had to.
By the way (to wander from the topic of baseball for a moment), when I used the spelling "kewl" in my thank-you note to Matt, he responded this way:
I believe "kewl" is an example of the online form of English spelling called leet (or, technically, 1337). Leet is believed to have been created by hackers, but is commonly used by kids on the internet while instant messenging each other, posting on online discussion groups, etc. The idea is that this form of spelling is more difficult for people who aren't familiar with leet to understand--so hackers created it b/c they may have believed they were under surveillance, and kids use it so that their parents can't understand what they are writing. In leet, numbers are substituted for letters that they bear a resemblance to (so l=1, E=3, T=7, S=5, A=4, O=0, etc.), letters that are phonetically similar may be substituted for each other, random letters may be capitalized, etc. In leet, there are also some entirely made-up words. I find the whole thing very confusing. Kids today . . .
Wikipedia has a pretty comprehensive leet entry.
If you're at all interested in language (and not already totally versed in this leet phenomenon), check out the Wikipedia article--it's pretty fascinating.
So I've been sitting here writing for a while . . . the White Sox added a run in the top of the ninth on a Paul Konerko home run, and now the Yankees are threatening in their half: one run in (home run by A-Rod), runners on first and third with two out. The White Sox are bringing in closer Dustin Hermanson to face Bernie Williams.
Meanwhile, Mets starter Pedro Martinez gave up a leadoff triple to the first batter for the Padres in the bottom of the first (a questionable call since the ball bounced off Mike Cameron's glove as he went for the running catch in right field), but somehow escaped without giving up a run. What a guy.
. . . And now Bernie Williams has lined out to first to end the game. Yankees lose! The-e-e-e-e Yankees lose!
I won't stay up to watch the whole Mets game (it won't end till around one a.m.), but at least I have a Yankee loss to smile about in my sleep. (That's the picture found next to the word schadenfreude in the dictionary.)
Blogging and baseball--pretty good combination.