Korean Baseball Organization First Pitches

Rhythmic gymnast Shin Soo-ji throwing out the first pitch in July 2013 started a fad.
Rhythmic gymnast Shin Soo-ji throwing out the first pitch in July 2013 started a fad.

This is not an event in Korea put together by BaseballHQ. It seems that in Korea throwing out the first pitch to a ballgame has become an entertainment and marketing opportunity.

Over at Slate, they asked a connoisseur of Korean baseball to provide some video of the most entertaining first pitches. You’ll have to click through the links to watch most of them at YouTube, but it’s worth it.

Read the story, find the links here.

Rotisserie Culture 101

Bruce Buschel usually precedes each American Dream League auction with a benediction, but this year, in honor of our Easter Sunday kickoff, he and Larry Fine sang lyrics they wrote to the melody (sort of) of Irving Berlin’s Easter Parade. I missed the very beginning, alas, but you’ll get the idea.

Map of US Baseball Players’ Birthplaces

Screenshot 2014-10-08 09.01.24What if you took the birthplaces of all the US born major league baseball players since 1900 and mapped them into 50 states of equal size?

And what if you gave them cute names based on a famous ballplayer who was born in that imaginary state?

You would have this map. If you did it for current ML players, you would have this map. I was born on either Long Yastzremski or Markakis York.

And you would have this story that maps the birthplaces of NLF, NBA and NHL players, too.

The Poetry of Football.

FG-FOOTBALL-2013-COVERThe Fantasy Football Guide 2013 is out now. I’ve seen it in many stores and you can buy the online or pdf versions at thefantasysportsguide.com.

This year’s Guide is full of sharp opinions, considered analysis and clear charts and stats all designed to help you prepare for your fantasy drafts this year. We even resisted the temptation to put Aaron Hernandez on the cover, so rest assured we did a lot of things right. Every year, please believe me, we put additional resources into getting things right, and we’re getting better each year I think, though there can still be the occasional headscratcher.

One big thing I screwed up this year has nothing to do with football, but is so elementally wrong I feel compelled to cop to the error here and I hope clear the air.

Each year my old buddy Jon Glascoe writes a piece for the back page of the Guide. His tone is usually comic, his subjects usually bit dark (but funny), and his writing glib and conversational and a bit philosophical. I’m always pleased to have his voice in the Guide, as I was this year.

Dylan_ThomasBut alas, in editing his piece called The New Male Manifesto Edition I judged that his last line paraphrase of Dylan Thomas’s hugely famous poem Do not go gentle into that good night would be improved by direct quotation.

So I changed Jon’s “Rage against the dying of the light,” to “Do not go gentle into that dark night/Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” Good idea, but the actual quote is:

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

What has been done cannot be undone, but I just want to be clear that this was my error, introduced into Jon’s copy. And I’m all apologies.

Rotoman

Ps. If you would like to read the whole poem you can do so at Poets.org. Thomas is great to read out loud, but there is also a recording of the poet reading the poem, which isn’t in keeping with current styles but is powerful nonetheless.

Pps. I didn’t think this particular poem had much to say about football, but then there is this stanza:

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Perhaps Aaron Rodgers should be worried.

Fantasyland, the Documentary: a short review

The movie of Fantasyland, Sam Walker’s book about his season as a fantasy rookie taking on the Tout Wars experts league, is coming out on Friday at www.snagfilms.com. I got an early chance to see it and here are some thoughts.

I wasn’t a part of the Tout LLC when the movie was made, so I don’t have any behind the scenes info. Jed Latkin, a trader in New York, was chosen as the regular guy to join Tout AL (which included Sam Walker) for the 2008 season. The movie takes a general approach to setting up the fantasy game, including graphics with statistics indicating the bigness of the fantasy sports world, and interviews with Jed and others who applied for the regular guy role, in which they brag about their charmless obsessiveness. Some of this can be ascribed to their competing for the job, but it isn’t pretty.

Jed, somehow, is the most charmless of all (he has a line where he says, with his child scheduled to be born on draft day, that being an involved parent doesn’t necessarily mean being there for the birth), but his alpha trading personna is actually winning as a character. Perhaps that’s why the filmmakers focus almost exclusively on his exploits, and ignore most of the expert players in the league. Jed also has the perfect sidekick, his patient and generous wife, who softens his rough edges. If she can put up with him, well, maybe we can, too.

Of the other 11 members of Tout AL, the film makes Ron Shandler the big dog, the guy Jed wants to beat. Ron plays the part to perfection, adopting a “what’s that, a fly?” attitude toward Jed, disdainfully criticizing him for trying to make a trade in April, and for driving down to Roanoke. Virginia, to Ron’s house, without calling, to try to seal a deal. These scenes are funny, and made me wish there was more interaction between Jed and the other combatants. The film feels, in terms of storytelling, a little thin, but the set pieces (Jed goes to Spring Training to introduce himself to his guys: “Hey, Justin Verlander, welcome to the Jedi Knights”) are funny, and as we go along the movie’s focus on Jed’s voice pays off.

It turns out that this is a story of one man’s attempt to live his dream, and really all we need to see of it is his point of view. His reactions and attitude are strong enough to open the window into all fantasy players’ psyches, at least partway. Fantasyland, the Documentary, is competently made with unflagging energy and should be of interest to everyone who has played this game that obsesses me. That it is a bit of pathology as well as entertainment might be uncomfortable, but it isn’t a bad thing.

There are many clips and outtakes at YouTube, which will give you an idea of the film’s flavor.

The Sandinista Project, free!

from Jimmy Guterman

The Sandanista Project coverThe Clash album Sandinista! is a big sprawling three-record set that sounds like it could have been made by six or ten bands, which it was in some way. What happened was that the band wanted out of their contract with Columbia records. They saw that they were obligated to deliver three more records before they would be free, and someone had the smart idea to deliver all three at the same time. The sessions include all sorts of guest artists and performances by people in the Clash circle, with songs in a great many styles (some of which don’t really qualify at songs at all) and genres. The record never fails to charm, I don’t think, but some of it sounds like attention was flagging. That may be the dub influence. In the end, the only problem was that the record company counted the three-record set as one release, and so the band moved on to Combat Rock and Cut the Crap in pursuit of freedom, records that have their moments but which lack the epic generous delight of Sandinista!

Jimmy Guterman had the idea of remaking Sandinista! with different bands and artists each tackling a song, something of a tribute album, but to a record rather (despite the line on the cover) to the band. He called it the Sandinista! Project, and somehow managed to record covers of all of the umpteen songs by artists you might have heard of and other you have not. The result is delightful. I had been playing Sandinista! on my iPod last summer when I learned of TSP. Guterman released the mp3s of the tunes for free on Joe Strummer’s birthday. Soon I had both sets of songs intermingling amiably in the mix. The newer recordings often have strikingly different but completely agreeable arrangements, sometimes shifting genres or emphasis, nearly always hitting the mark the Clash set in the first place.

I bring this up now because Guterman is offering the Sandinista! Project for free download for the next few days at the link above. Highly recommended.

You can read more about the project at its blog.

Dock Ellis’s No Hitter on Acid Cartoon

Ellis tells the story, James Blagden and Chris Isenberg animate it. There is fun, and there are drugs.