Saturday

6-30-12: Let's Play Two!


[Ed.'s Note: Also available at the WCCO.com Twins Blog here.]


“It's a beautiful day for baseball... let's play two!”

Legendary Cubs third baseman Ernie Banks once uttered those famous words, and they became his trademark.

Sadly, his love of that unique institution: the baseball double-header, hasn't been embraced by the folks who run the game these days.

Owners aren't big fans of the natural double-header. Why would they give up an extra set of gate receipts if they don't have to? So if you do see a double-header, you can bet it was forced upon them by inclement weather. And you can also count on it being a “day-night” or “split” double-header, with just enough time in between games for the ballpark staff to clear out the fans from Game 1 and get things set for a completely new set of fans for Game 2.

Players don't care for them much either. Considering how early they generally arrive for a standard game, playing two makes for quite a long day. (I know, your heart breaks for them, doesn't it?)

But ask any fan, and they'll tell you that they love double-headers. For baseball purists, there isn't much they'd rather do than spend a few hours out at the ballpark. So if they can double that pleasure, and spend all day at “the yard”, why not, right?

Tuesday

6-20-12: 2012 All Star Ballot

Hello again everybody...

The All Star Game is quickly approaching, so I wanted to make sure to publish my ballot while there's still time to vote!

I decided to simplify my approach this year by strictly ranking players based on their WAR (Wins Above Replacement).  It's a convenient, holistic statistic that - while not perfect - is as good a single-stat number as is currently available.

As it turned out, it did a fair job of assembling my ballot.  What does that look like, you ask?

Let me show you...

American League:

First Base:  Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox

As much as I hate voting for a player from the South side, this one's a complete no-brainer.  The guy's leading the league in batting average and on-base percentage on a team that's contending for their division title.

I believe Prince Fielder is currently leading the voting, Adrian Gonzalez will get some votes by virtue of having a pulse and playing in Boston, and Albert Pujols will garner some attention by virtue of being Albert Pujols.

I'll put Konerko's track record up against any of them and feel quite confident with that pick.

Sunday

6-10-12: Interleague Play


On June 12, 1997, the Texas Rangers hosted the San Francisco Giants in the first of what's become a series of nearly 4000 non-World Series games played between American League and National League teams - or as we know it: Interleague Play.

The purists hate it. The casual fans love it. Bottom line, the turnstiles spin and cash registers ring in record numbers when teams from the opposing leagues come to town. In 2011 teams saw an average increase of 3,300 fans per game when they were playing a club from the opposite league.

The Subway Series was renewed again this past weekend as the Yankees hosted the Mets. Fenway Park was jam-packed to see Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals visit the Red Sox. Even here at Target Field, in a season where good seats have often been available, numbers ticked up as the Cubs visited Minnesota.

Sure, some of the match-ups stink - I doubt they were threatening attendance records in Pittsburgh when Kansas City comes to town. Then again, is that all that dissimilar to when Kansas City visits Oakland, or when Pittsburgh hosts Houston? I doubt it.