Early last year I decided to add an additional team to my stable of baseball teams that I follow.
The addition of a new team into the stable is not something that is taken lightly and a variety of factors are involved in the process in order for a team to be determined worthy.
At the time of the decision to expand, my stable included the Baltimore Orioles (added in 1980), the Tampa Bay Rays (added in 1998), the Houston Astros (added in 2000), and the Washington Nationals (added in 2005). Each of the teams represented areas where I had either previously lived or had a history with following.
I still follow the Atlanta Braves and Florida (Miami) Marlins for sentimental reasons but they were considered on the outside of the core four teams.
Despite their two World Series titles, and the history of me following them since their first year in 1993, the Marlins fell from prime stable positioning a few years ago after years of inept decisions by ownership that led to repeatedly fielding a non-competitive team.
That is not to say that winning is everything, I just want to know that ownership is making an effort to field a competitive ball club year after year. Astros you have been put on notice as well.
As I mentioned, one of the criteria for selecting a team to admit into the stable is historical attachment to the team through living or traveling frequently to their home base.
Over the past few years I have traveled extensively in and around the Dallas area; including Arlington and Frisco. For those who may not be familiar with those areas they are home to the Texas Rangers and the Frisco Rough Riders, the Rangers
As the 30 Major League Baseball teams make their final cuts this week to get down to their 25-man active roster there will likely be tears of joy as well as sadness depending on which side of the cut a player is on.
For every player who is told that they made it, there are many more who will start the season in the minor leagues. For others, the dream will end altogether as they realize that their professional baseball careers are over altogether.
Of course getting cut by a MLB team does not have to be the end.
In this age of instant messaging, e-mail, twitter and other ways to communicate at the speed of light it may come as a shock to some of the younger Triple B readers that there was once a time when correspondence was not handled as quickly.
Before the days of Facebook, it was not possible to post a status while on vacation to all of your friends to let them know that you were “Having a great time exploring the world’s largest ball of twine.”
Instead, when you were at that ball of twine, and you wanted to let your friends know how much fun it was, you had to buy a postcard and actually place it in something called a mailbox.
In a little under two weeks the 2013 Major League Baseball season will officially begin with the prime-time Easter Sunday showdown between the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.
Ever since I bought my ticket to that game I have found myself with a little spring in my step knowing that soon the games will count for real.
I guess it is not to say that Spring Training does not count but there is certainly a difference between the validity of a Spring Training record versus a regular season record.
Another factor that has me ready for the start of the season is the historic aspect of being present for not only the first game of the season but also the first game for the Astros in the American League.
So with all of the excitement one might even say I have a fever for baseball.
The fever got me thinking about a classic Saturday Night Live skit involving Christopher Walken. In the skit Walken plays a music producer who has a fever and the only cure is more cowbell.
Throughout the skit Will Ferrell runs around like a man possessed banging his cowbell all over the sound stage to the dismay of his band mates.
If you have never watched the skit I highly recommended you do so if for no other reason than to watch one of Jimmy Fallon’s many times that he broke character and laughed during a skit.
Inspired by the skit, teams soon made sure that cowbells were available in the various gift shops for fans to make sure they get into the spirit.
Of the ballparks that I have visited I have to say that Tropicana Filed, the home of the Tampa Bay Rays, is the most cowbell frenzied one.
While the Rays often rank near the bottom each year in terms of attendance one cannot deny that the fans who are there definitely make some noise and that noise is often fueled from cowbells.
What can I say there is just something fun about thousands of one’s closet friends clanging on the cowbell in unison.
But like everything in life there is a time and a place for the cowbell.
The most appropriate times to ring the cowbell are when a pitcher has two strikes on an opposing batter, the home team player reaches base or scores a run, and of course whenever one is prompted to do so by the stadium announcer or visual cues.
Of course another time for cowbell in the ballpark is when the B-52s are in concert there. That was the case during my first visit to Tropicana Field.
For those of you living under a rock, or perhaps more appropriately under a blarney stone, yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day.
St. Patrick’s Day is named after Saint Patrick, one of the patron saints of Ireland. The actual origin story and legends surrounding St. Patrick are varied and tend to depend greatly on the source material one looks at.
There is of course the legend about St. Patrick driving all of the snakes out of Ireland.
Not too long ago, I decided I needed a quest to mark my place in history. A lofty goal I know but I have always been one that dreams big.
So with my goal of finding a quest in mind, I sat down in a thinking position with pen and paper in hand, along with a cup of hot Earl Grey tea close by to try to come up with what my mark on society could be.
As I thought about quests, two people naturally came to mind; Bono and Oprah.
While Bono’s quests are genuinely aimed at helping all mankind they really seem to be time-consuming and tend to happen in far away lands so I figured I would aim a little more domestically at seeking my first quest and try to look at what Oprah would do.
Sadly, the more I thought about quests, the more I realized that Oprah seems to have a monopoly on look at me type endeavors.
From giving people cars, to building schools in South Africa and hosting Legend’s Balls on her front lawn the woman really likes her quests. If one ever doubts her commitment to being known as a giver, one need only travel to the local newsstand where the media queen gives her readers a glimpse into her wonderful life each month on the cover of her magazine.
Realizing my meditation on finding the perfect quest was going to require more than sipping tea in the thinking position, I ventured forth to the local Taco Bell to get the kind of nourishment only really cheap faux Mexican food can provide.
Now, I have been known to eat my fair share of Taco Bell however I really don’t like their namesake food item. My dislike of the Taco Bell taco most likely stems from binge eating boxes of tacos back in college.
Another factor in losing my love of the taco centers around the day I learned just what exactly they put in the tacos. But that is another story for another day. While I dislike the tacos, I absolutely love the bean burritos. So I normally get a bean burrito with whatever else I order.
So while I was waiting to order, I realized that the bean burrito and the soft taco were the same price on the menu. With this realization in mind, I told the order taker that I would like to substitute a burrito for my soft taco in the combo meal.
From the look I received you would have thought I had uttered the most absurd statement she had ever heard. After gathering her thoughts for a moment she told me, “Sir, you cannot substitute a burrito for a taco.”
Not willing to give up so easily on my perfectly thought out reasoning I retorted, “but they are both the same price on the menu, it should be very easy to make the switch.”
At this point, the manager came up to see what the fuss was about and I offered her my very carefully reasoned out logical thesis on burrito versus taco combo economics.
I could see that my reasoning was not getting through so I thought about what Oprah would do and raised my voice while repeating the same reasoning I had just stated using my indoor voice.
My use of the “Oprah voice” did not seem to sway the manager any more than my indoor voice did. While this was going on I could hear people talking in line behind me and along with the “hurry up you’re holding up the line” were a mixed in a few, “wow, that kind of makes sense I had never thought of that before.”
So I left the line having planted the seed of civil burrito disobedience in a few brave souls behind me.
So while I went in looking for lunch I left armed with a quest. I vowed that day to do all that I could to ensure the freedom of choice between soft taco and bean burrito.
I know the burrito movement will be slow and there will be some casualties along the way but I am committed to seeing it through to the end, or at least to the point where I get tired of eating bean burritos.
So, let Bono have his quest to end hunger and global poverty and Oprah have her quest to basically brand everything with her likeness and show the world how important we all should think she is.
At long last I have a quest. Granted it is not as far reaching as giving away cars, building schools, or hosting balls but everyone has to start somewhere. Who knows, maybe one of Oprah’s first quests was food related.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I am off to do some more field research on my quest, I just hope Oprah doesn’t beat me to it and start her own chain of Oprah Bell.
The other day I decided to watch the World Baseball Classic game between Mexico and Canada.
Part of the motivation for watching the game was to try to figure out how it was that Team USA lost to the Mexican team the day before. The other motivation was the fact that I had watched Team Canada play in a tournament in St. Petersburg, FL last year.
So as I settled in to watch the game I knew that while there are Major League Players on each of the rosters, the World Baseball Classic plays by international rules which differ from the MLB rules in some areas.
One of those rules involves running up the score when possible to help the run differential numbers.
In most cases running up the score is frowned upon in sports when the lead is well in hand.
In fact, high school and college games include an 11-run mercy rule to help prevent really lopsided scores.
Back when I covered high school baseball I actually found myself rooting for the mercy rule to come into play many a night.
It wasn’t that I wanted a team to lose by that much, but a shortened game meant that I could get back to the office sooner and in theory get the pages on the press earlier. It did not always work out that way but when it did it was uber nice.
So during the Canada versus Mexico game, and with Canada having a very safe lead late in the game, the lead off batter in the eighth inning for Canada dropped down a bunt and reached safely when the third baseman was late to react.
There was nothing inherently dirty about the bunt. As mentioned earlier, the tournament was set up to encourage teams to score as many runs as possible.
Apparently the third baseman for Team Mexico missed that memo and directed the pitcher to deliver a message to the next better.