Baseball In 2020, Akin To Reagan Calling Games in 1930s

Ronald_Reagan_as_Radio_Announcer_1934-37

Now that baseball season has returned in some form due to COVID-19, I was reminded of a grand story from the pages of history when it comes to broadcasting and politicians.

When Ronald Reagan started out as a radio announcer at WHO in Des Moines, Iowa, one of his jobs was to recreate baseball games on the radio. He had a teletype machine that would feed him the action in the game, such as, batter grounded out to first, and he would have to describe the action as though he were there, complete with recorded crowd noise. Once, the teletype went dead, so he had the batter hitting a series of foul balls until the teletype went back on. That is being a true broadcaster under the stress of keeping something coming over the airwaves.

What reminded me of this was hearing a news report about the Minnesota Twins playing the White Sox in Chicago this week.  The broadcast had recorded crowd noise as the stands were empty. The Twins announcers were in Minneapolis, watching the action on a big-screen TV, and calling the action from that stream. In a real sense that is the 21st-century version of what Reagan did.

When working at WDOR radio in Sturgeon Bay I wrote a letter to the White House press office asking for a chance at interviewing President Reagan solely on the topic of his days as a broadcaster.  While that interview never materialized it would have been a grand conversation.  The following is akin to what I am most certain our conversation would have been felt like.  

If Needed Gun Laws Had Same Urgency As Foul Balls At Major League Games

Early this year, following the number of news stories about injuries resulting from foul balls at the major league baseball games my husband James predicted that the issue would be resolved shortly.

Tonight comes news that every Major League Baseball team will extend protective netting “substantially beyond the end of the dugout” for the 2020 season.  Earlier this year Caffeinated Politics noted that an NBC News investigation found at least 808 reports of injuries to fans from baseballs from 2012 to 2019.  Making such changes at ballparks is prudent and the responsible course of action.

But let it be stated that in 2017, 39,773 people died from gun-related injuries in the U.S., according to the CDC. This figure includes gun murders and gun suicides, along with three other, less common types of gun-related deaths tracked by the CDC: those that were unintentional, involved law enforcement or whose circumstances could not be determined. It excludes deaths in which gunshot injuries played a contributing, but not principal, role.

What I desire is that the same fans who sit in the ballparks with protection from danger also demand sanity with the nation’s gun laws once they leave the confines of the stadium.

Clearly, this nation can act when it wants to address issues of health and safety.

Foul Balls Get Action, Gun Deaths Get Yawns

foul-ball-ouch

At the start of the baseball season this spring my husband, James, following a series of news reports about foul balls striking youngsters at games, said there would be fast action in search of a remedy.  In the next breath, he added, but we can not find any policy to stop gun violence in the nation.

And he was right.

This season, the Chicago White Sox were the first major league team to extend protective netting to the foul poles.  The Atlanta Braves announced they would follow suit. The Philadelphia Phillies are going to extend their netting to the foul poles by the 2020 season.  So far, a total of 13 teams have announced a further extension of netting.

It seems that it is possible to construct reasonable solutions to a very real problem.  If only the national leaders could apply that can-do spirit to the national epidemic of gun violence.

Just to place the issue of gun deaths in context with foul balls injuries lets us turn to the facts.

In 2017, the most recent year for which complete data is available, 39,773 people died from gun-related injuries in the U.S., according to the CDC. This figure includes gun murders and gun suicides, along with three other, less common types of gun-related deaths tracked by the CDC: those that were unintentional, involved law enforcement or whose circumstances could not be determined. It excludes deaths in which gunshot injuries played a contributing, but not principal, role.

Compare that to the foul ball issue which has generated headlines.

An NBC News investigation found at least 808 reports of injuries to fans from baseballs from 2012 to 2019. 

In no way am I wishing to lower the temperature on MLB to lift up their safety standards for the fans who pay the ticket prices to watch our national pastime.  All I desire is that the same fans who sit in the ballparks with protection from danger also demand sanity with the nation’s gun laws once they leave the confines of the stadium.

Clearly, this nation can act when it wants to address issues of health and safety.

Climate Change And Baseball

Our changing climate appears to be impacting major league baseball.

This season 53 major league baseball games have been cancelled.  That makes it the 2nd most since Major League Baseball began tracking such things in 1986.

And since I have a soft spot for the Cubbies ( I am not in any shape, manner, or form a Brewers fan) it needs to be stated they and the Yankees are tied with nine games “scratched for bad weather–the most in more than a decade.”

Trump Undermines Tradition–Again. This Time With Baseball

Each president knows the passion that Americans have with baseball.    Hot dogs, apple pie, spring breezes, and baseball are held dear to millions of fans.

So the news that Donald Trump is oddly not going to follow a tradition other presidents have loved to engage in on the opening day of baseball is just added proof to his bizarre personality.  Just another way for Trump to spit on the nation.

Presidents participating on opening day is a spring ritual celebrating baseball, a tradition that has been observed for more than a century.  The optics are clear for all–well, almost all–to see.  Opening Day in Washington afforded presidents an opportunity to mix with their constituents by tossing out the ceremonial first pitch, chomping on peanuts and crackerjacks and voicing an opinion about an umpire’s call.

But Trump must be pouting and constipated as he will not engage in what presidents from the divisive days of the Civil War to the distressing moments following Sept. 11, 2001 have done.  Trump will not honor a grand non-partisan tradition of throwing out the first pitch.

Others who have sat in the Oval Office have gone to the ballpark, and I post a few pics to show them in action.  Smiles and well wishes from Americans around the nation as the first pitch sails through the air.

Photos: Presidents And Baseball

Enjoy something different today on CP.  Click on images for larger image.

 

Chicago Cubs Radio Broadcasts Moving Yet Again On Dial

There are never many–in fact hardly any-posts on this blog about sports.  But since the Chicago Cubs remains America’s favorite underdogs and there is always an air of hope for the team, and I love radio broadcasting this news item needs to be mentioned.

For as long as I can remember the home for the Chicago Cubs broadcasts were always on WGN radio.   But with the 2015 season they moved their broadcasts from AM 720 to WBBM, AM 780, the all news station.

Now in yet another upheaval the Cubs decided to move their broadcasts to AM 670, WSCR the Score, starting with the 2016 season.

So why does this make a post here, exactly.

When the change was made in 2015 I heard people talk about how it had made for difficulties.  Fans realized they would have to reprogram their car radios and remember to tune into AM 780.  I had to smile about this big hardship with listening to the car radio!

But then this year I heard about the horror stories from folks arriving at Wrigley Field where many felt the all-news radio station had set the volume too loud in the ball park.  If it was not the volume others thought the content of the broadcasts prior to game time was just not in line with what should be heard before a sporting event.

I do wish I was making all this up.

And here was little ole stupid me while not an avid baseball fan thinking the biggest hurdle to jump was the fact the Cubs were no longer being broadcast from their iconic home on the radio dial.

Now there is one thing I do find of a positive note about this whole matter, and this is Pat Hughes.

When working at WDOR Radio in Sturgeon Bay Hughes was color man for the Milwaukee Brewer network and I always felt was the star of the show.  I know that meets with scorn when the fans of Bob Uecker hear my thoughts–and yes, Uecker surely has a most celebrated broadcasting career.  But Hughes had a style and tone that made him a perfect voice for radio then and even more so now.

For many years Hughes has been the front man for Cubs broadcasts and it appears that will remain even though the games will now air on AM 670.

Sure hope the folks in the cars can find time to change their pre-sets.

After all first pitch is in April.

Poor Sportsmanship Revealed With Yankee’s Pine Tar

UPDATED….The penalty for Michael Pineda’s use of pine tar last night: A 10-game suspension.  Thank you to the league for placing that penalty.

Last night at a local neighborhood meeting I talked baseball for a minute with a former state representative who lives in our neighborhood.  Peter Bock once had a home just across from Miller Park when he served in the assembly.  Knowing his love of the sport, and that the Brewers are pitching some fabulous games lately I asked him for thoughts.   He was truly pleased with the opening weeks of the season, and like so many are basking in the all-American thrill of going to the ball park.  He mentioned that his wife, Kathleen Falk, will join him for a game this weekend when the Chicago Cubs come to Milwaukee.

These are the type of sport discussions that take place all over the nation, and I am sure they make for many smiles, or with the case of Bock create a twinkle in his eye.

But this morning I find myself feeling unsettled with the news that made for some interesting front pages of New York City papers.  What I read was not the stuff I want young impressionable kids to know about, or seasoned older guys to have to see as they reflect on what the game has meant in their lives.

Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was ejected from Wednesday’s game against the Red Sox in the second inning when umpires found a swath of pine tar on his neck. 

Major League rule 8.02 (b) prohibits a pitcher from using a foreign substance on the ball. Pineda now faces a suspension. In 2012, Tampa Bay pitcher Joel Peralta was suspended eight games after being found with pine tar on his glove.

 

After television cameras showed the pine tar below Pineda’s right ear, Red Sox manager John Farrell emerged from the dugout and asked home plate umpire Gerry Davis to check Pineda.

The four umpires went the mound and after a brief examination of Pineda that included touching his neck, he was ejected.

Where did the idea of playing fair and square go?   My beef with Pineda is that many young boys looks up to baseball players and want to emulate them.

But as I ponder all this the old song recorded by Bill Anderson comes to mind.  Where Have All Our Heroes Gone has a few lines that make my point.

This country needs a lotta things today friends
But it doesn’t need any one thing anymore than it needs some real heroes

Men who know what it means to be looked up to by a griny faced kid
Men who want to sign autograph books and not deal under the table
Men who are willing to play the game with the people who made them heroes
Men who don’t mind putting on a white hat and saying thank you and please

I wish I knew more men that I’d be proud of for my son to look up to and say
Daddy when I grow up I want to be just-like-him (Where have all our heroes gone)

NY_NYP

NY_DN