Baseball and I: The First Few Weeks


Dedicated baseball fans throughout America realize there’s an intangible contract one signs at the beginning of April. In following one’s favorite team, the signee accepts the prospect of having 162 good days, 162 bad days, or any number in between. The season is long: a half-year jaunt whose push and pull seamlessly seeps into every corner of the fan’s life. For fantasy owners, this effect is even more intense. I’m finding that out now for the first time in my life, as a group of my buddies finally convinced me to sign up for their league. I’ve heard it described that every episode of “Seinfeld” and the “The Sopranos” can serve as a near-factual model for the way American life works, whether they exemplify the battle of the sexes, the tensions and joys of friendships, the need and dismay of romance, the absurdity of life, the power of death, or the pleasure of solitude. For myself, it’s always been baseball, as its mixture of celebration, defeat, and the bizarre seem to perfectly mirror life as a whole. As a write this, Tim Lincecum is off to a rocky start for the year while Tim Wakefield is pitching a no-hitter into the eight inning. Who would’ve thought?

Here are five random observations about the first few weeks of the season…

1. Fantasy Baseball

How anyone could sign up for more than one of these leagues is beyond me. I was under the impression that I would simply have to monitor my team once a week, only having the urge to check the scoreboard every now and then. Turns out, you need to treat your team with the same love and attention you would a girlfriend or a dying pet. Throughout my day I’m checking Yahoo’s GameChannel and Stattracker, yelling at numbers and diagrams on my screen as they are updated in real time. I’m reading the columns by fantasy “pundits;” I’m about to buy the MLB Extra Innings package; I’m contemplating trades, drops, and pickups; friendships hang in the balance each week in our head to head league. And all the while I’m realizing that this at times very complicated critical thinking could be put to better use for something like, I don’t know, NASA. But then who would give J.D. Drew another chance to prove himself as a fantasy stud?

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All-Star pitcher Mark Fidrych dies

Former Tigers All-Star starting pitcher Mark Fidrych died on Monday in apparent accident on his farm.

Mark FidrychMark “the Bird” Fidrych, the fun-loving pitcher who baffled hitters for one All-Star season and entertained fans with his antics, was found dead Monday in an apparent accident at his farm. He was 54.

Worcester County district attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. said a family friend found Fidrych about 2:30 p.m. Monday beneath a dump truck in Northborough, Mass., about 35 miles west of Boston. He appeared to have been working on the truck, Early said.

Joseph Amorello said he had stopped by the farm to chat with Fidrych when he found the body underneath the 10-wheel truck. Amorello owns A.F. Amorello & Sons, a company that does road construction, and said he sometimes hired Fidrych to haul asphalt or gravel in the truck.

The curly haired right-hander was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1976, when he went 19-9 with a 2.34 ERA and 24 complete games. But injuries cut short his career, and he ended up spending only five seasons in the major leagues, all with the Detroit Tigers. He was 29-19 with a 3.10 ERA.

Unfortunately, I was still a twinkle in my father’s eye when Fidrych was pitching, but everything you read and hear was that he was a fun-loving, popular player and just a joy to watch.

Coupled with the death of Angels’ starter Nick Adenhart and long-time Phillies’ broadcast announcer Harry Kalas, baseball has suffered some blows this month.

Columnist thinks the Angels should have banned beer for one game


Jeff Miller over at the OC Register feels that, in addition to the touching ceremony conducted by the Angels, the organization should have also banned alcohol during the game following Nick Adenhart’s death.

They have his image on their outfield wall, his number on a patch over their hearts and his memory inscribed in a place even deeper.

But if the Angels really want to honor the life of Nick Adenhart, really want to attempt to make an impact, really want to emphasis the lesson from his loss, their next tribute is obvious:

Ban beer.

For one game, don’t promote alcohol, celebrate drinking or, most importantly, sell a single bottle of Lite, glass of red or Jack and Coke.

Just one game, only one day. Nine innings of nothing but beautiful, simple, sober baseball.

This is about preaching the evils of drinking and driving, reminding everyone that this is a crime that can not be tolerated, that it was a drunk driver who killed Adenhart, Courtney Stewart and Henry Pearson and left Jon Wilhite in critical condition.

This is about repeating to everyone in a shouted voice what’s right. It is a lesson that can’t be learned enough.

Listen, of the 40,000 or so who attended the game Saturday, nearly all had to be fit to drive home afterward. But, we all know, there were some who weren’t. Happens every game, in every major league park.

It would be a magnificent gesture, Arte, and a beautiful tribute, one all of baseball and beyond would notice. And that’s the most important thing, re-spreading the message that we can not tolerate drunk driving.

Those could be the final words of Nick Adenhart, and what a fantastic way to remember him.

For one home game, let’s allow the bases to be loaded … the bases and nothing else. Here’s to none for the road.

Get real. I might get some flack for saying this, but I think this idea is incredibly sophomoric. Miller can’t decide if this gesture would pay tribute to Nick Adenhart or serve as a punishment to baseball fans who may or may not have been drinking and driving in the past.

Banning beer at a stadium because of fans’ decisions to fight, throw alcoholic beverages on the field, or vandalize property are grounds to monitor consumption. But banning beer at a stadium because an athlete was a victim of drunk driving bears no connection. That Miller thinks this act could represent the “final words of Nick Adenhart” screams of disgusting platitudes.

Jeff Miller, get over yourself. The Angels had a beautiful ceremony in memory of this young and talented man. They’ve handled it with both poise and the urgency you are stressing. We as fans do not need to be “punished” because of something that happened off the field.

Look, the facts and feelings associated with the misdeed of drunk driving are as plain as day. California has responded to these horrendous numbers by making the penalties for drunk driving harsher and harsher each year. The glaring reality that Nick Adenhart is dead because of this law-breaking is the strict reminder of why these penalties are in place. Removing alcohol sales for a game to “commemorate” this individual would be the equivalent of giving everyone 21 years of age or older at Angels stadium a spanking.

MLB Daily Six Pack: R.I.P. Nick Adenhart

1. Nick Adenhart will be missed.
What’s most tragic about Nick Adenhart’s death early Thursday morning is that because of the stupidity of another driver, the Adenhart family, the Angels and the baseball world all lost someone very important. This wasn’t a case of another athlete staying out all night and making a bad decision. Nick was a passenger in a friend’s vehicle that was struck by a minivan of a driver that was under the influence of alcohol and driving on a suspended license. It was senseless and my thoughts and prayers go out to Nick’s family. At 22 years old, Nick should have been enjoying the bright lights of the big leagues and getting ready for his next start. Instead, his family is left to grieve for a young man’s life that was cut incredibly too short.

2. Here’s hoping Joe Martinez is okay.
Giants’ reliever Joe Martinez needed just one more out in the ninth inning to wrap up San Francisco’s (eventual) 7-1 victory over the Brewers Thursday night, but Mike Cameron laced a line drive back up the middle and struck Martinez right in the side of the head. Martinez stood up after the ball hit him, but then sat down immediately as trainers rushed to his aid. He eventually left the field under his own power (holding a towel to his bloody face and nose), but he was rushed to the hospital for a CAT scan and so far there is no update. I watched the game live and it was as scary of a moment as I’ve ever witnessed. Players on both sides were visibly shaken, including Cameron, who showed incredible sensitivity to the situation and looked deeply saddened by what had just happened. Hopefully Martinez didn’t suffer any permanent damage and he can return to the field in due time.

3. Joey Votto is a beast.
In the Reds’ 8-6 victory over the Mets on Thursday night, Joey Votto hit his second home run of the season and drove in four runs on three hits. Votto is hitting .538 to start the season and it already looks like he’s ready to carry a young Cincinnati team (which also features young, emerging stars in Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce) at the age of 25. Young players like Votto are great for the game and it looks like baseball is quickly breeding another star.

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Angels’ starter Nick Adenhart killed in car crash

In saddening news, Los Angeles Angels’ young starting pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed in a car crash last night according to

Cops say someone driving a minivan blew through a red light, causing the Mitsubishi that Adenhart and three others were riding in to hit a light pole. Three of the four people in the Mitsubishi were killed in the crash — Nick, another man and a woman — while the fourth person remains in the hospital.

Cops say the person driving the van fled the scene — but was later caught and charged with felony hit-and-run. The suspect is also being treated for injuries in a local hospital.

We’re told one of the other men killed in the crash was also affiliated with the Angels organization.

Nick was 22 years old.

FYI — Nick pitched his ass off last night, striking out 5 guys in 6 scoreless innings. His performance was hailed by sportswriters as a “brilliant effort by a 22-year-old right-hander making his fourth Major League start.”

This is such a tragedy. Adenhart was one of the better young arms in baseball and he had a bright career ahead of him. I feel for his family, as well as the families of all the victims involved in the crash.

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