…And in Chicago, they make swell ivy holders

On Tuesday, our dear leader delivered his second State of the Union Address. Or, in blockbuster movie parlance, SotU2: No Time for Fact Checking. Naturally, all the liberals out there are taking exception to his remarks, mostly deetee’s push for a magnificent wall on the Southern border. They’re even arguing against the idea that “walls work,” as the prez so eloquently put it.

That’s just ridiculous. Walls absolutely work.

I’m a homeowner. In fact, I’ve owned several of them. And I’ve got to tell you, if you’re thinking of building a home, I absolutely implore you to consider walls. Sturdy, well-designed walls have significant load-bearing capabilities. They repel unwanted animal incursions, insect infestations and the prying eyes of your neighbor’s creepy son. They provide strength against the elements. Do you doubt that, Demonrats? Allow me to introduce you to Little Piggy No. 3.

And that’s not all. They’re good at keeping both the hot and the cold in, and the hot and the cold out. They’re like giant, paneled thermoses that way.

And they’re not just useful on the outside. Unless you’re a devotee of the Nouveau Warehouse School of Architecture, you probably want to divvy up your big house into smaller compartments. Who wants prison-style privacy when you need to powder your nose? Walls work for that too.

Think I’m done? Guess again. Say you live next to the highway, and you’d rather engine-breaking semis, bleating car horns and squealing tires not provide the soundtrack to your dinner. What are you going to do? Put up a wall.

Or you’d prefer that sloped part of your yard doesn’t fall off into an abyss, or the adjacent river doesn’t splash into your rumpus room? You betcha, walls are the answer.

And don’t ever forget how many Banksy works, classic 1979 albums and tales of doomed, anthropomorphic eggs would be lost to the world forever without walls.

Granted, they’re not terribly effective at keeping determined people from going where they want to go, on account of that whole free will and capacity to reason thing that some individuals have over dirt, water and noise. But other than that, walls do work. And I’ll be damned if any Godless, America-hating liberal punk tries to use logic and history and the government’s own numbers to tell me differently.

Frank Robinson: A True Great

In the Summer of 1981, the strike season, my family took an impromptu late summer trip to Cooperstown, which wasn’t all that far from our Westchester home. We didn’t plan it well, and arrived just after the Hall of Fame ceremonies had ended (but in time to catch the Hall of Fame game, played between the Elmira-Pioneer Red Sox and Oneonta Yankees). Cursing our misfortune, my father and I vowed to make a return trip the next year, to take in the entire Hall of Fame experience.

We kept our promise. And by doing so, we got to witness the Hall of Fame inductions of two legendary outfielders, Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson. It’s not an exaggeration to say these two gentleman were two of the towering figures of the last half of the 20th century in baseball.

After the ceremony, we headed over to the Otesaga Resort Hotel, where all of the players stay. I snuck into the lobby while dad stayed outside (and got an absolutely amazing photo of Joe Dimaggio, standing with no one near him while the other Hall of Famers enjoyed each other’s company).

Inside, I managed to meet Negro League great Cool Papa Bell, perhaps my all-time favorite celebrity meeting. I was also the first to spot Hank when he walked through the door, but the other autograph hounds beat me too him. I saw Frank from a distance, but otherwise missed him.

Hank was obviously the biggest name in that induction ceremony, but as the years have gone on, my admiration for Frank has grown exponentially. He was obviously a great, great ballplayer, an inner circle Hall type. He was also a groundbreaker, doing for the management ranks what Jackie did for ballplayers. And though he was generally stuck piloting crappy lineups for virtually his entire career, he was actually a damn fine skipper. When he wasn’t in the dugout, he was serving in various capacities in the sport, a reflection of the stature he was held in by the entire baseballing community.

In some ways, Frank Robinson is baseball’s all-time best second banana, whether that was an NL outfielder in the shadow of Willie, a Hall of Fame inductee going in with the Home Run King, or the guy who broke baseball’s other color barrier. But when it comes to an entire baseball life, there aren’t many who top him.

He also was a part of my all-time favorite baseball highlight, both for the brilliance of the oft-maligned Neifi Perez and for the utter disdain Frank demonstrated for his boneheaded players. Enjoy it here.

TBtB: The Final Results

Here’s the complete list of names. I’m not going to link every name up to the discussion, but if you click here, you can find all of the nominating and voting threads.

 

The final names as chosen by BTF. You’re welcome to use these at any time, particularly in lieu of any of the corporate monikers that replace the previous corporate monikers (as transpired in San Francisco, Seattle and Milwaukee since our endeavor began).

 

We’ll order these by division

NL East

Atlanta Braves – Cobb Stadium

Miami Marlins – Fish Tank

New York Mets – Willets Point

Philadelphia Phillies – Citizens Park

Washington Nationals – Nationals Park

 

NL Central

Chicago Cubs – Wrigley Field

Cincinnati Reds – Riverfront Park

Milwaukee Brewers – Miller Park

Pittsburgh Pirates – Allegheny Park

St. Louis Cardinals – Busch Stadium

 

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks – Sonoran Grounds

Colorado Rockies – Coors Field

Los Angeles Dodgers – Chavez Ravine

San Diego Padres – Mission Field

San Francisco Giants – China Basin

 

AL East

Baltimore Orioles – Camden Yards

Boston Red Sox – Fenway Park

New York Yankees – Yankee Stadium

Tampa Bay Rays – Suncoast Dome

Toronto Blue Jays – SkyDome

 

AL Central

Chicago White Sox – Sox Park

Cleveland Indians – Jacobs Field

Detroit Tigers – Tiger Field

Kansas City Royals – Kauffman Stadium

Minnesota Twins – Great Northern Park

 

AL West

Anaheim Angels – Autry Field

Houston Astros – Astrodome 2000

Oakland A’s – Oakland Coliseum

Seattle Mariners – Cascadia Field

Texas Rangers – The Ballpark in Arlington

75 Percent Less Fat: Skipping Ahead

OK, so I’m never going to finish this list before the site goes dark (I’m not re-upping after this year. I’ve kind of shifted focus to my other blogging effort, over here. Yes, it’s a little different).

Given that, I’m just going to list entries 11-35, making a comment if I’ve got something to say.

35. Depeche Mode – Violator

34. Dramarama – Cinema Verite – I understand the limited appeal of many of the bands I like. This is not one of them. The inability of classic rock radio of the 1980-90s to find a place for songs like Anything, Anything or Last Cigarette is both mystifying and a thorough indictment of radio programming for as long as I’ve been listening to music.

33. Sunny Day Real Estate – Diary

32. Crooked Fingers – Dignity and Shame – Eric Bachmann will make another appearance later.

31. The Smithereens – Especially For You – I saw them at Jones Beach, opening up for No. 22. Then it rained, canceling the headlining act.

30. Palomar – All Things Forest

29. Rival Schools – United by Fate

28. Bad Religion – The Gray Race – My favorite punk band, fronted by one of the smartest dudes in popular music history.

27. Meat Puppets – Too High to Die – Kurt Cobain was onto something.

26. The Replacements – Tim – I’ve said it before. If I could pick one time and place to have grown up other than where I did, I’d choose the Twin Cities in the early 1980s. The Mats, Husker Du, Prince, Soul Asylum, etc.

25. Bound Stems – The Family Afloat

24. Fischerspooner – Odyssey – As with country, dancy kind of stuff isn’t usually my bag. There’s always one exception.

23. Violent Femmes – s/t

22. Voxtrot – Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives – the first EP on the list. A second cracks the Top 10.

21. Rainer Maria – Catastrophe Keeps Us Together – Now that the band is a going concern again, I’m hopeful I can catch a show with my oldest son Ian, who accompanied me to see them when he was just 10.

20. And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead – Source Tags and Codes

19. The Waterboys – This is the Sea

18. Squeeze – Argybargy – Like many folks my age, I discovered them through the Singles album. As good as that is, I still think this collection of songs is better, highlighted by should-have-been the band’s song in my Top 100, Vicky Verky.

17. Titus Andronicus – The Monitor

16. XTC – Skylarking – The re-released version, of course. Hard to believe they didn’t think Dear God worked upon its initial recording.

15. INXS – Shabooh Shoobah – If my wife was ever inclined to do a Top 50 (she most definitely isn’t), this might be the only disc on both of ours (on retrospect, Catastrophe would have an outside chance of making hers).

14. Expoxies – Stop the Future – The very best 1980s new wave album was released in 2005.

13. Silversun Pickups – Carnavas

12. Sinead O’Connor – The Lion & The Cobra – About four years ago, my daughter was interviewed by the local paper for one of their meet an athlete type things. They asked her what music of her parents did she truly hate. She chose Sinead.

11. The Sundays – Reading, Writing and Arithmetic – I could listen to Harriet Wheeler sing the tax code.

The Top 10 will follow in the original format.

I think.

 

 

TBtB: Oakland A’s

We started this exercise in the Bay Area, and we’re going to come full circle and end here with the American League’s franchise in Northern California.

If Billy Beane and co. have their way, we’ll be coming up with a name for a new park instead of the coliseum, perhaps the daytime-baseball-only park the club introduced a few weeks back. The A’s have been engaged in this dance for a long time, though this one seems like it might have a bit more chance of becoming reality than previous schemes.

Getting back to the park at hand, the coliseum is the last of the dual-occupancy stadia in the big leagues, earning that non-distinction when the Argonauts fled Rogers Centre for actual greener pastures. But their A’s won’t have to share for much longer. Their perpetually ungrateful co-tenants will soon pack up their stinky things and hightail it to Vegas, though their presence will remain with the hideous Mount Davis beyond the outfield fences.

The coliseum is now the fifth-oldest park in the country, directly trailing fellow California entries Chavez Ravine and Autry Field. That’s not an accident. For all of its reputation for profligate government spending, the Golden State and its municipalities have been better at holding the line on corporate giveaways for sports owners than most other places in these here United States.

As with many of these places, I have no idea what a good selection for a new name would be, though you couldn’t go wrong if it served as an ode to near-native son Rickey*, who flew round the paths as the greatest of A’s.

But as this is our last shot, let’s get a good one for the boys in green.

*In an announcement that previously evaded my notice, the club has already named the playing surface Rickey Henderson Field. I presume that covers all but the mound, which surely is named for the Prince of the 209.

Ballpark History

Built:  1966

Capacity:  47,170

Name:  Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum 1968-1998, 2016-present. Also known as Network Associates Coliseum (1998-2004); McAfee Coliseum (2004-2008); Overstock Coliseum (2011), and the dreadful O.co Coliseum (2011-2016).

Other ballparks used by club in its current city: None, though the club previously spent time in Philadelphia and K.C.

Distinctive Features:  From a pitcher’s point of view, all that beautiful foul territory; the aforementioned Mount Davis, the view-destroying seats added to lure the Raiders back from Los Angeles; the tarps; any presence of the elephant balancing on a baseball, the sport’s best logo.

Ballpark Highlights:

In 1968, Catfish Hunter, a first-ballot choice in the Nickname Hall of Fame but a questionable selection in the Cooperstown version, threw the American League’s first perfect game in 46 years in a 4-0 win over the Twins. He also went 3-4 with 3 ribbies, including the game-winner, for the recently relocated Athletics.

In 1973, Darold Knowles closed out a 5-2 win over the New York Mets in Game 7 of the World Series, the second of three straight titles for the Charley O A’s. Knowles pitched in all seven games of the Fall Classic, the first step in the slog toward full bullpenathon playoff contests.

In Game 1 of the 1989 World Series, the A’s scored three times in the bottom of the second inning, ending all the on-field drama for the remainder of the thoroughly one-sided Bay Series (the series-halting earthquake provided more than enough intrigue, however).

In 1991, Rickey Henderson stole his 939th career base, officially sanctioning his status as the Greatest of All-Time.

After taking the first two games in New York, the A’s dropped the final three contests of the ALDS, a feat they’d repeat two years later in the damn crapshoot. The 2001 loss was punctuated by the Game 3 setback in the first potential closeout contest when a strangely positioned Derek Jeter managed a backhand flip to nab the non-sliding Jeremy Giambi at the plate in a 1-0 defeat here.

In 2002, pinch-hitter (and newly first-base fluent) Scott Hatteberg hit a pinch-homer in the bottom of the ninth to give the home team an AL-record 20th-straight victory.

TBtB: Atlanta Braves

We’re down to just two parks remaining. We’re tucking this one at the very back because I don’t have a lot to say about it. I was going to invite Primate Sam into provide some insight, but I don’t know how long the banhammer fell on him.

SunTrust (I think that’s right) is the youngest ballpark in the game, and a park that I hope doesn’t begin an exodus from the central city to the suburbs. Of all the trends that accompanied the ballpark boom of the last 20 years, the movement back to highly dense areas in the city from paved nowheres in the suburbs, exurbs or beyurbs* is one of the best. And yes, tailgate-loving Wisconsinites, your objections are noted for the record.

This one might be a bit of a challenge. We may be limited on the geographic and historic fronts, given its home in the distinction-challenged Cobb County.

And we’d better do this quick. The Braves spent 30 years in Fulton County, then 20 seasons in Turner Field. At present rates, they ought to be angling for a new field fairly soon.

*How many of you wondered for a second if beyurbs really was another stupid new name for a city’s outer reaches that you hadn’t heard yet, and not just a name I created for this exercise?

Ballpark History

Built: 2017

Capacity:  41,084

Name:  Sun Trust, 2017-present

Other ballparks used by club in its current city:  Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, 1966-2016, Turner Field, 1997-2016.

Distinctive Features: Fast-growing evergreens in centerfield batter’s eye; Monument Garden behind home plate; presumably incriminating photos of Cobb County Commissioners stashed somewhere in the facility.

Ballpark Highlights:

On April 8, 2017, Georgia defeated Missouri 6-1 in the first game in the new park, witnessed by 33,000 fans. Almost certainly some of them were not under the impression it was a spring football game.

On April 14, the Braves beat San Diego 5-2 in the home opener. Ender Inciarte became the first player to register an out, a hit, a run and a homer in the new park. He also became the first, and possibly last, Ender.

In 2017, fans marveled at the Freeze, a crazy-fast, turquoise-suited freak who chased down competitors on the warning track in the rare between-innings entertainment that was totally worth watching.

In Game 3 of the 2018 NLCS, rookie sensation Ronald Acuna hit a grand slam to propel the hosts to a 6-5 victory over the visiting Dodgers, making the Braves the first team to win division series games in three different home ballparks (a feat we can only hope stands for a while).

 

TBtB: Chicago White Sox

The latest ballpark to undergo a name change, dumping the harmless U.S. Cellular (which did provide a pretty good nickname, the Cell) to the ridiculous Guaranteed Rate Field, complete with its downward trending arrow. G-Rate Field, as absolutely nobody calls it, is the closest thing to a home park in MLB I have now, though I’d actually tab the U.S. Steel Yard in Gary as my true local diamond.

Whatever you call this field, it’s one of the odd ducks of major league stadia. It’s of similar vintage as many of today’s ballparks, but it was constructed just before Camden Yards ushered in the retro park craze. Thus, it sits somewhat alone in the ballpark design era, not as old as the true relics Fenway/Wrigley, nor even the middle-aged holdovers such as Kauffman Stadium and Autry Field, and with a different feel than the retros. Having attended more games there than any other extant facility, I think it’s a better park than its reputation.

The Sox have long played second fiddle in Chicago, and nowhere is that more evident than in the names of the two parks. As Wrigley predictably held serve in our exercise, this is an opportunity for the Sox to close the gap on their favored brothers to the north.

Whatever name we choose, I’m absolutely certain that my White Sox-loving father-in-law will continue to call it nothing but Sox Park.

 Ballpark History

 

Built: 1991

Capacity:  40,615

Name: Comiskey Park (1991-2003), U.S. Cellular Field (2003-2017), Guaranteed Rate Field (2017-present)

Other ballparks used by club in its current city: South Side Park 1900-1910), Comiskey Park 1 (1910-1990).

Distinctive Features:  Pinwheel-topped scoreboard in center, a holdover from the previous park; chain link fences in some portions of outfield; numerous sculptures of White Sox greats near-greats and not very close to great; vertigo-inducing cant to the upper deck,  .

 

Ballpark Highlights:

In 2002, proving once again that nothing brings father and son together like baseball, William Ligue and son Bill Jr. rushed the field to attack Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa in a noble attempt to protect us from guys who collect batting gloves and warn base runners, “Hey, this guy’s got a good move.”

In Game 2 of the 2005 ALCS, A.J. Pierzynski used his black magic on inept home plate umpire Doug Eddings to steal first after striking out with two down in the bottom of the ninth. A.J.’s pinch runner would go on to score the winning run, and the Sox wouldn’t lose again that season en route to the club’s first World Series title since 1917.

On Sept. 30, 2008, Jim Thome’s massive home run to center was the only run in a 1-0 victory over the Twins. The victory in the season-ending Blackout Game earned the Sox the AL Central title.

In 2009, DeWayne Wise made one of the season’s best catches, a fence-climbing, ball juggling grab in center to rob Gabe Kapler of a home run and preserve Mark Buehrle’s perfect game against the visiting Rays.

On Sept. 24, 2018, Hawk Harrelson be gone.