Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ya Know...

I've thought about it for a while, and all I'll say is, If you've ever wondered what the last 30 years of Yankee games have been like, it's pretty much crap like that.

Now that I've completely covered tonight's game, I'd like to organize my list of complaints with the new Fenway centerfield camera angle. (Please click handy comparison pic to enlarge.)

1. Often shaky, since it's a robot with no one to steady it--and if a gust comes up right on the pitch, there's no switching to another angle, as it's too late.

2. Too high, yet not high enough so that we can see home plate--the pitcher's head is in the way. Yeah, we have a head-on view for balls and strikes, but if you can't see the plate, inside-outside is a little difficult. (Though I don't know what tonight's ump's excuse was....)

3. Players are too small. Think about it (or just look at a shot from the "classic" angle), from down lower, the top of the pitcher's head appears not too far below the top of the batter/ump's heads (though the pitcher is off to the left, so he doesn't cover any of the plate area or batter), so they can zoom further in. From the high new angle, the pitcher's head is even with the batter's knees. So they have to pull back enough to get the height of two people stacked on top of each other (in 2-D), meaning the players appear almost twice as small. I hate feeling so far away.

4. I miss Kapstein and Drinkwater! The score bar on the new angle covers the front row, and even if it didn't, it's so zoomed out you don't get the full front-row people experience.

5. Weird visual stuff--like, the foul lines are all effed up and seizure-causing. Maybe it looks better in HD, I don't know.

6. Still have trouble figuring out where the ball's going in that split second after the ball is hit. A ball hit right at you from the old angle can be fielded by the shortstop--from the new angle it goes right up the middle. Balls down the lines require me to do new math to see if they're gonna go fair or foul. And fly balls--surely you noticed tonight on Papi and Drew's balls, they looked like homers off the bat, but the fielders had to come in for them. Look, maybe you just sit there watching, letting the play happen without a care in the world. But in that split second, I am mentally willing the ball to do what I want it to. And if I don't know where it's going, I feel totally lost. It'd be like if someone invited me over to watch the Red Sox-Yanks game in their mansion with movie screen-sized TV and all the Jax cheese doodles I want, but said the picture will be a mirror image, or that their pet gorilla "might" be in front of the screen for much of the game. Screw that! I need to root my team on, and without the perfect conditions, I might as well be watching the Food Network while the game is on. And who knows how the team will respond without me!

7. Inconsistent. All the other parks are still using the CA (classic angle). It's messing me up to have to go back and forth in my mind between home and road games. If all the other parks switched--well, we'd still have problems 1-5, but at least we'd solve 6 and 7.

People say I'll "get used to it," but even if I do, it'll take twice as long since it only happens at half the games. Wait, that's not even right, since we have to keep going back and forth... I promise you I wouldn't make such a huge deal about this if it wasn't really screwing with me. And if you like the new way, I'm happy for you. Oh, sorry, I should've had a disclaimer: Do not read if you're fine with the new angle, this will only make you notice new stuff and then you'll be messed up like me.

I'm glad I have tix to Saturday's game and not last night's. Oh, and don't be surprised if the centerfield camera suddenly goes dark tomorrow... oh wait--it's a Fox game. So you'll get the classic angle while I'm at the game! And Sunday, too, since it's on ESPN. Cherish it, people! Because Monday you'll be sunk back into the black hole.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Manny In...No, Out

Manny's out of the lineup tonight with his sore knee, but before that news was announced, a lineup was posted with him in it. Which is interesting, because it shows what Tito was going to do with Papi back. He indeed dropped Jacoby out of the leadoff spot. In fact, he did what I thought he would do--put Pedroia leadoff, then Youk, Papi & Manny, Lowell, Drew, etc., with Jacoby last. Pedroia's not a leadoff man--but he's hitting the crap out of the ball, and the 1 spot only means you leadoff one inning. As the game goes on, you've got Jacoby setting up Dustin, Youk, Papi, etc.

But that lineup will have to wait. Instead, it's Jacoby, Dustin, Papi, and then, your cleanup hitter: Kevin Youkilis. Then Lowell, Drew, Lowrie, Tek, Coco.

TJ Vs. Josh Tonight

Tonight's match-up, Chamberlain vs. Beckett, has been labeled (by someone, on ESPN I think...) as "October-worthy."

Joba has thrown 3.2 post-season innings.

Josh has appeared in six post-season series--his team winning all of them, behind his 1.73 ERA in 72.2 innings. He has two rings. Our side of the match-up is "October-worthy." But, like, that's the only side that is.

Maury Story

A bunch of my friends went to a taping of The Maury Povich Show back in high school. This was, like, '92. So I thought it would be funny to put up a clip of my friend Jim in the background, over Maury's shoulder. Which is all fine and good, especially if you know Jim. But most of you don't, so I've got something else you might enjoy. The featured guest on that day's episode was Soleil Moon Frye, aka Punky Brewster. Punky had grown up at this point, and was back to tell about her breast-reduction surgery. I noticed that while Maury was talking to her about this very serious topic, he made this crazy hand gesture (to imitate people mocking Punky's boobs), and then an incredibly weird, nervous, almost flirtatious, almost drunken face at her. So I had a little fun with it.

I'm really psyched to kick some Terrible Joba butt tonight. The media is telling me that the rivalry is back to heated levels. After telling me recently that it was "losing steam." It must be nice to live in a little bubble and tell people how they feel all the time.... If any of these people would go to the games (the stands, not the press booth), or spend some time among the rival team's fans while wearing their team's hat, they'd see that Red Sox-Yankees is always a big deal. Like I've said before, if it really was "losing steam," I'd admit it. What the hell do I care if suddenly a majority of Sox and Yanks fans stop caring about it? The point is, they never do--I think the attendance numbers will back me up on that. Each team's fans are brought up hating the other. It doesn't matter how good or bad the other one is at any given time. I don't see why the media can't grasp this. Maybe if each team finished below .500 for the next ten years, the country as a whole wouldn't care as much when the two teams played. But I know I still would. That's kinda what we do.... There's always an excitement about it--if the other team's the World Champs, how could you not get up for a game against them? And if they're in last place, how could you not want to go out and see them humiliated further, knowing what's gone on over the last century? Matty, the floor is yours...

"Shortz!"

I just got a year-long subscription to NYT puzzles as a birthday present from Chan. Even though it's not my birthday. And granted, I had to "suggest" it. But he came through, clicked a couple of buttons, and now he doesn't have to think up a gift when it is my birthday, and I get to do the Sunday puzzle every week without getting off my butt.

So I caught up with last Sunday's. It took me a while to get going. Oh, note, "spoilers" ahead. That word gets air (and in this case, tangible) quotes from me since I despise it. After a good while, I had no big answers and had no clue on the theme. On the clue about egg rolls, it finally hit me that CHINESE must be in there. So I put it in, and the circled letters spelled out CHES_. Since the puzzle is titled "Across the Board," I figured the other circled letters must spell out other board games. On one, I had a QU, and I went crazy picturing my (and various neighbors', and the one in Royal Tenenbaums) old game shelf, trying to visualize a five-letter QU- game. Once I got it to QUEE_, it hit me. QUEEN. It was all chess-related stuff. Then I got them all--it was the pieces: rook, knight, pawn, bishop, king, and queen. And the word chess. Getting those really helped me get the big clues, which allowed me to get 92% of the puzzle. (Online it shows you what percentage you've completed. It also has a running timer, but terribly it stops at 99:59. I was totally dicking around and watching a PBS show on bears with Kim for the first hour. So I hit the 100-minute mark and then worked on it for about an hour after that.) So my time--to 92 %--is approximately 2 and a half hours, minus time concentrating on the bears show. Usually I don't have that much done by the end of "day one."

The classic Shortz clue was "Manhattan part." It was three letters, middle letter Y. Eye? NYU? Then I got an R. RY_. Rye? That's upstate. What the frig, Shortz? I know my Manhattan. I even saw some of "The Out-of-Towners" on TV tonight and when they headed toward 50th and Park from Grand Central, I KNEW they were going the wrong way! Even though it was dark and rainy and all you could see were the doors. Sure enough, the joke was that they'd walked three blocks in the wrong direction. I told you, I'm good. So, I was pissed. What could it be? I kept thinking, What else could it be but RYE? And then it hit me. The freakin' drink "rye." Like in "American Pie," which, interestingly enough, I listened to not three hours earlier--and the Brady Kids' version at that! Have you ever heard that? It's high-larious! Just hearing the Bunch say "Satan" is worth it.

So, yeah, it was RYE. As in, you use rye when making a Manhattan. The drink, not the borough.

By the way, that movie is great. I had seen a little of the Steve Martin version, but that's it. This one, from 1970, stars Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis. Dennis rules. She had that "ahead of her time" thing going that Marilu Henner mastered on Taxi. I looked her up, and she was born in Nebraska (where I went to school), moved to NYC (where I used to live), and then settled in Fairfield County, CT (where I grew up) with her 30 cats (my pet of choice, besides penguins. But that's really more of a fantasy. I'd also like a seal. And a tiger cub. And snakes.). So it's a match made in heaven. Literally in this case, as Ms. Dennis is dead.


[pictured: Kim and Amazing Larry eating dinner like two weeks ago. I love when a cat sits in a chair at the dinner table. Also pictured is Danzing.]

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Yankees FUCKING Suck" (Is That Better?)

Heeeere we go again.... I was just over at Cyn's blog, and it turns out some Boston Globe writer has had the completely original thought of telling us all how "classy" Derek Jeter is and how much he "respects" him and how Sox fans shouldn't chant "Yankees Suck." Slow....sarcastic......clap.....

By 2008, I'd think an article like that would be reserved for the Onion. But apparently it's real.

You know what one of his examples of Jeter's "classiness" is? (Yes, I'm totally serious--he's still using the C word as if he were the first to notice it: I've, uh, been observing this Yankee squad and I've surmised they play with a certain level of class... Shut the fuck up.) Anyway, he points to Derek being in the on deck circle and talking to the kids in the crowd.

Let me get this straight. If Manny does anything, literally anything, that shows he's a human being or, god forbid, wants to have fun playing the game, the stiff-collared, whitebread portion of the American baseball fanbase is "up in arms." "I can't take it anymore! He should be fined, suspended, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and his hair forcibly cut, and his uniform tailored to something more like the way I wear MY clothes!"

But fucking Derek Jeter talks to the fans during the game and I'm supposed to bow down and kiss his ass for showing me how to be classy and respectable? And I have to hear this from the Boston media??

Look, if I want my kids to catch pop-ups with one hand, sell calls at second by holding his glove up really high as if the runner couldn't possibly have been safe, jack-knife his leg on every pitch to try and fool the umpire, miss every ground ball to his left, fist the ball to the opposite field like a kid who found a way to trick the pinball machine into giving him free games, and just generally be overrated both in life and on the field, I'll introduce him to Derek Jeter. But I'll KILL MYSELF before I do that.

As for "Yankees Suck," why wouldn't I chant derisive terms at the team I hate? Who the fuck are you trying to impress by not saying it? Yankee fans? You think they'd "respect" you more? Does it even matter? Do you want them to dub you a "true Yankee?" Not chanting horrible things at them is step one. Go ahead. Yell "I respect the Yanks" over and over at Fenway Park. The 12 other newspaper guys will commend you--while 35,000 real fans kick the living shit out of you.

I love that this article came out now--in my book, I talk about it in the first chapter. It's almost exact--the blogger character says how he's not there to talk about how much he "respects" Derek Jeter because he's not "auditioning for the Boston Globe." Who would've thought Globe reporters are still bending over for ol' classy Derek?

Okay, at this point in my post, I held my breath and read the article. Wow, this Kevin Cullen dude has a serious inferiority complex. He doesn't want to say "Yankees Suck" because he doesn't want to sound like a "local yokel." (He also accuses me of being drunk and stupid--I've never had a drink in my life and I'm smart enough to know that it's okay to hate your rival.) I think he really is feeling the pressure from Yankee fans. That's how they trick you, Kevin. They're looking for an edge in this rivalry, and they'll bring "class" into it in a heartbeat. I grew up around these people--they don't want to hear that their team "sucks," so they'll make YOU out to be the asshole if you say they do. It's like Sox fans are women and Yankee fans are men: They'll say, Hey, take off your top and I'll "respect" you. What are you gonna do, Kevin? You gonna take off your top? You want them to love YOU the most? You want them to go back to New York City and say, Hey, that Boston ain't so bad--let's all start saying that the two cities are totally equal in every way? It's not gonna happen, Kevin. They're all gonna laugh at you. When Yankee fans start pressuring you, you tell them to shove it up their choking asses, remind them who the World Champions are, and say, loud and clear, "Yankees suck."

Baseball Bunch Video Clips

If you missed my interview with three members of The Baseball Bunch, click here. Okay, now that we're all on the same page, I want to show you a couple of clips from the show. The first is the closing theme:


That one really gives me goosebumps. It's a combination of that theme song and the players goofing around with the kids. This closing is from a video I have which shows highlights from various shows. (This was the "Pitching" video, featuring Dan Quisenberry, Tom Seaver, and Tug McGraw.) The only negatives with these tapes are that you don't get the opening theme (which had words --"we got a hunch you'll love the Baseball Bunch") and that you get Kool-Aid product placement. But if you're gonna get that, it might as well be Kool-Aid Man. Notice how Linda is credited not only as "Kate" but as part of the crew, just as she described in the interview. Also, this is a bit of an extended theme, so you get to hear the guitar player do some extra wankin' at the end.

Below is a clip of Tug McGraw with the Bunch:


This is from season one, so all our friends are there. Linda ("Kate") gets to ask Tug (her all-time fave) a question, and gets to stand up there with him--though "Michelle" ends up stealing the show, unfortunately. At the end, Ed ("Freddie") grabs a bat and Johnny shows the difference between his strike zone and the Chicken's. And Erik ("Rick") gets to ask a question in that segment.

I'd forgotten about the whole Dennis the Menace/Mr. Wilson dynamic between Johnny and the Chicken. I really wish they would put all the old episodes on DVD. Here's one more quick clip of Tom Seaver with Ed ("Freddie"):


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sox At M's (It's Over) (The Good Way)

8:38: Hansen finally manages to get out of it, leaving the bases loaded. 6-3 us final, and it's a sweep. We go into the Yankee series 3 games ahead of those pieces o' crap.

8:33: Pap gets key double play to end inning with winning run on third. Then we score three in top 12, thanks to a dropped ball in center field and a great baserunning play by Drew. Now Hansen in, has given up two hits and gotten two outs...

7:33: We go to extras.

7:16: Still tied at 3, going bottom 9. Masterson came in and did a great job....

6:37: Two-run dong given up by Clay. 3-3, and he's leaving the game with 2 on, one out in the 6th. Crap.

5:55: Ibanez dong, and it's 2-1 us after 4.

5:40: Weirdness in the third. High one-hopper behind mound. HH backpedals, and falls on his back. Still watching the ball, he catches it, throws to first from his butt, and appears to get the guy barely. Ump calls him safe. Two batters later, Lowell throws Ichiro out on a very close play that looked like a tie. Anyway, we get out of it with no runs scored as Lowrie makes an easy version of his new trademark catch, the "running away from the infield" catch. 2-0 Sox after 3.

5:22: Drew robbed of a three-run dong by Ichiro. Next play, with two outs, Youk singles to right down the line, and Ichiro lets it roll under his glove and two runs score anyway. 2-0 us, top 3rd. (Ichiro was also picked off first in the first on a great timing play by HH.)

5:11 PM: We left two on in the first, and Tek lined out into a DP in the second. BucHHolz doing fine through 2. 0-0 after 2.

My playoff softball game has been rained out. So I'm here, and I'll give you updates on the game in this post.

Aft. Bas.

3:41: Twins finally do something good. They go into the ninth down 5-0, but do enough to make Mo come in. But that's it. 5-1 Yanks, final. This is the last update of this post. I've got a softball game--unless it's rained out, I won't be around for the Sox game.

3:17: D-Rays win 4-3, Yanks still up 5-0 in the eighth.

2:53: Manny will be out of the lineup today with a sore knee. We're facing the Monarch, but we've done well against him at Safeco.

2:49: Rays up 4-2 after 7. Yanks up 5-0, so I hope the Devils stay up to keep the Yanks from getting closer to first. Unless the Twins make a great comeback. But I think half the team is already on the bus looking at their watches.

2:19: Twins thinking "getaway day" means make outs as quick as you can and get out of Stadium you're deathly afraid of because you're Pull-Up-wearin' toddlers who can't wait to get back home and beat up on the Royals. 2-0 Yanks after 5. TB up 3-2, top 7th.

2:00 PM: TB up 3-2, top 6th. Yanks still 0-0, top 5th.

Update, 1:37 PM: These games moving right along. Twins-Yanks scoreless after 2. Devs down 2-0, top 5.

Rays on at 12-something, Yanks at 1, and Sox at 4:40. That's chronological order--for order of importance, read backwards.

Announced

It was fun announcing tonight. Thanks to all who listened in. Sox won 4-2. Happy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tonight

I'll be announcing tonight's game on YouCastr. But only the second half-ish. Tune in around 11:30 or so, maybe 11:45, and I'll be on.... Here's the link. If it doesn't work, go to youcastr.com, find tonight's game, and click on my name (GedMan).

And if you wanna talk to me live on the air during or after the game, you know the drill: Skype me at Gedman10, or AIM audio me at Two2067.

Yanks up 6 late, Rays down 6 late.

Update: Rays lost, Yanks won. And I'm on the air.

Switch

L-Girl did a post on being nice and the way people interact in different parts of the continent. I figured I'd just do my own post about it since I have so much to say.

I moved to NYC after living in the woods for 30 years. Granted, it was woods an hour away from NYC, but it was still classic sub-suburbia. I add the extra "sub" because I've since realized that what most people think of as "suburbia" is strip malls and sidewalks--neither of which existed anywhere near the house I grew up in.

I'd been going to the city for years just for fun, but living there, I got to experience new things. Working in New York. Going to the doctor in New York. Grocery shopping in New York.

I'll never forget my first grocery run there, at the neighborhood C-Town. Or was it Key Food? I guess I've forgotten some of it already. I was totally shocked as the cashier fired my crap across the scanner, threw it in a bag like a bank teller being stuck up, and gave me my change without looking at me, speaking, or acknowledging my presence in any way, even after I thanked her.

In high school, I worked at Stop & Shop. A major part of the training was treating the customer with respect. You always called them "m'am" or "sir." You had to look at them and say please and thank you and never let them leave without telling them to have everybody's favorite kind of day, "nice." There was also a video about how to bag the groceries: build up an outer wall with boxes, then put the odd-shaped stuff in the middle, and the bread and eggs on top.

Did I need this training? No. I was brought up well and I have common sense. As did most of my co-workers. But it was that important to the company that we did this stuff, they spent, who knows, probably thousands of dollars and hours just to be sure. It was the same deal everywhere else I worked in Connecticut. But, again, I'd be doing this stuff even if my employer specifically told me not to. I'm not some suck-up, and I'm really not the best at being a social-type, but if someone says "hi," I say "hi." A "thank you" will get a "you're welcome," a "no problem," a "sure," or at the very least, the nonsensical-but-effective-and-accepted "yup."

I don't ask for more, and I don't even really want more. But it's just common courtesy.

Now what was the deal with this and all the other supermarkets in New York City? I remember the manager being right there near the register many times. And thinking, Wow, this dude is watching this happen. I wonder if they really do have some kind of ant-training: "Okay, forget everything you know about common courtesy." Maybe they're just so concerned with getting people in and out that they don't even care what the cashiers do. I don't even care, as long as I get the correct change--but I do care on a human level. Regardless of whether you're at work or not, and I thank you, how hard is it say "you're welcome?" Or to nod?! Gimme a nod...a grunt...an upward glance!

Laura also brought up how co-workers in Canada will ask you if you want something if they're going out. But that if you say yes, they'll resent it. I think this just depends on your workplace and how well you know people. My co-workers in New York regularly asked me if I wanted anything from the store, and didn't seem to mind on the rare day I took them up on their offer. But I feel like when they asked, it was done in a whisper--like, "I know you're not originally from the city--don't let anyone else hear this, but I know you're used to politeness, so do you want a Coke from the overpriced corner-market?" Then again, maybe they didn't want to talk so loud that others would hear and ask if THEY could have something, too...

Okay, that's all I've got for now. I'll leave you with this picture of our light switches at sunset.

More Ads

There's a new ad on the mlb.com schedules. Check August of any team. At least this time it's a baseball movie, but still, terrible job.

Just So "Yous" Know

In the word "chipotle," the T comes before the L.

Red Sox Anti-Lose

It's 1:11 AM. We had a nice win, with Wicked Sid pitching a killer game and Pap getting the save. Tek hit a two-run dong, and Lowrie added a huge two-run single late. 4-0 final.

The Rays and Yanks won earlier. The Yanks are repeatedly being described as "red hot"--which is true if "red hot" means hit by pitches, infield singles, fielder's choices, errors and wild pitches by the other team, bloop doubles....I always feel like the crazy police are gonna get me when I claim "cheap" on an 12-4 win, but, take a look, see for yourself. It wasn't your classic blowout. They've been giving up a lot of hits, too. They'll start falling soon. I always say that with the assumption that all these other teams won't shit the bed, which they always seem to. As long as they do the same when they play us, we'll have no problem winning the division.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Jere Interviews The Baseball Bunch

One of my favorite shows as a kid was The Baseball Bunch. Back in the eighties, baseball on a national level consisted of the Game of the Week on Saturday afternoons on NBC and This Week in Baseball. But then the Bunch came along. Imagine a fantasy land where it was always summer and your youth baseball team was coached by a major leaguer, and every week another player would stop by and give you playing tips. And that a magical wizard and a wacky chicken were there to provide insights and antics. That was The Baseball Bunch.

Hosted by Johnny Bench, and featuring other baseball stars of the day ("my" day--woohoo!), plus the San Diego Chicken and the Dugout Wizard played by Tommy Lasorda, the Bunch was conceived in the late '70s, and aired for several years in the early '80s. I can smell the Big League Chew just thinking about it.

As I grew older, I realized that my dream hadn't been to play for the Red Sox as much as it was to have been a part of the red, white, and baby-blue clad TV team called The Baseball Bunch. I also learned that these kids were actors. Some could play ball, mind you, but Sam wasn't really Sam, Michelle wasn't really Michelle, and Andy, well, you get the picture--he was no more real than the Chicken was. Finding this out traumatized me almost as much as when I learned Sesame Street's adults didn't use their real names, either.

But it also led me to wonder about the kids on the show, and what became of them. Last year I found the contact info of Linda Coslett, who played Kate, and it led me to interview her, along with two other original Bunchers who she put me in touch with: Erik Lee, who played Rick, and Ed Tonai, aka Freddie. After going through a move, and after finding out I'd been beaten to the punch, as someone has since interviewed the same three people plus the guy who played the Chicken for a podcast, my project kind of got lost. But now here it is, my Baseball Bunch interview. Before we get to the questions, here's Linda's quick summary of her experience:

"I have not been asked for a formal interview since I was actually on the show - 25 years ago. ... When I was 11, I had longer hair, I was tanner, and MUCH thinner. I still have every bit of memorabilia, including fan mail, letters and Christmas cards Johnny Bench sent, and stuff the players gave me after filming. ... The show began filming in February, 1981. I was 11 going on 12. It was filmed at Palo Verde Park in Tucson, Arizona. I was the only girl that was playing baseball in the Little League at the time and I was asked to come and audition for the part of one of the girls. At first I didn't want to because I had no interest in acting. But when they said they wanted a girl who could play, I decided to try out. I went through 10 or 11 auditions and interviews and ended up receiving one of the parts. ..."

I'll interject here to say she pointed out that one of the other kids came from a talent agency and couldn't act a lick, or play for that matter. I won't name names. Now on to the questions for all three cast-members:

******************

Do you still have your uniform and jacket?

Erik Lee ("Rick"): I do still have the jersey and jacket and other memorabilia, including one of Johnny Bench's autographed spikes.

Ed Tonai ("Freddie"): I still have my jerseys (2), jacket, and cap from the show.

Linda Coslett ("Kate"): Yes, I still have my uniform tops, my jacket, and even my red undershirt we wore under our blue Baseball Bunch shirts. I framed one of my shirts and gave it to my mom a few years back, but the others I still have stored away in my closet.

How did you get the role on the show? How old were you when you started, and how many seasons did you appear on? Talk about the general process of taping and what it was like to do a TV show and meet major leaguers. Had you "acted" before? or since? Linda says some kids were selected because they were good actors, others because they could actually play ball. Did you find that to be true?

Erik: I got the role on the show through an open audition at Palo Verde Park in Tucson, where Linda and I played our Little League games. I was called back to a second reading by director Michael Tollin, and I think that might have been it. I was 12 years old. I appeared for four seasons. It would take an entire day to tape one .5 hour episode. I had never acted before (aside from a few roles in school plays over the years.). So Linda and I must have been in the "ballplayers" category. Hahaha! You should check out a Sports Illustrated review of the show from, I think, April 1982, in which the writer makes some comment to the fact that the kids on the show were all picked from talent agencies. Not the case at all!

Ed: I was living in Las Vegas at the time. I think I was the only kid from outside of Arizona. My father was notified through the Japanese American Citizens League that a baseball themed show was looking for Japanese American kids. I auditioned. I think I was the youngest. I was 8. I got the role. It was probably because I was cute. I think they were looking for Japanese kids to help sell the show in Japan. I don't know if they succeeded in that. I'm guessing no, because I wasn't asked back for the second season. I had never acted before. I've acted since, in a few plays and such. I did a couple of commercials after The Baseball Bunch. I'm the head writer and junior producer for a Seattle area sketch comedy troupe, The Pork Filled Players. As a local occasional fringe actor, I know people who've been on TV, but I don't know anyone else who has been on a Cheerios box. I have a framed Cheerios box in my living room, next to my framed Baseball Bunch poster.

Why were you given fake names? Why couldn't you just use your own name?

Erik: None of my friends ever called me "Erik" again after I became a member of the Bunch. I was "Rick" to them from that point on. ... I never understood people's confusion about our names on the show, I really didn't. Funny you should mention Sesame Street [see intro above]; one of the creative folks behind the show had worked on Sesame Street, which makes sense in terms of the show's wonderful innocence.

Ed: I don't remember why we were given fake names. I recall hearing Pam (I don't know her position, but she was on the crew) saying they tried using the kids' real names in the test pilot, but for some reason it didn't work.

Linda (left, with Tug McGraw and Johnny Bench): It was an instructional show, but at the same time it was 'Television' and acting and all of that. I was one of the oldest on the show at 11/12 years of age, so even with the younger kids, it was no problem having different names.

Was there resentment amongst the kids when one would get a starring role in a skit? Or were you all just happy to be hanging out with major leaguers and just too young to worry about stuff like that? What kind of memorabilia from the players did you end up with? Do you have one most-cherished item?

Erik: I don't remember any resentment at all between the kids. I, for one, was just really, really excited to be hanging out with these major leaguers. One of the coolest parts of the whole experience was playing catch with Johnny Bench and with guys like Tom Seaver, Ted Simmons, et al. While the crew was setting up for the next scene, we would beg them to hit us shots to the fence, where we would make some pretty sweet, over the fence catches. During hitting montages, us Bunchers would head out into the trees behind the outfield fences and catch these 400-plus foot blasts from Jim Rice, Ted Williams, Gary Carter, and all the others with the great free Rawlings gloves that we were provided. It was AWESOME, let me tell you.

Ed: I don't remember any competition for who would get a better role in a scene, but I was only 8 at the time. I was the second youngest on the first season. Jared Holland was a few months younger. I ended up with a baseball signed by a few big leaguers (Tom Seaver, Jim Rice, Johnny Bench, the Chicken). I also got a long-sleeved t-shirt from Johnny, autographed by him. I still have them.

Linda: I have Bench's Cincinnati team jacket from the Reds. I got a little cold in the mornings during filming, and he always put his jacket around me during breaks to keep me warm. At the end of the month of filming, he signed the back of it and gave it to me. I also have Chet Lemon's batting glove, a catcher's glove signed by Johnny and Pete Rose's stirrups from when he played with the Phillies. Some of the players would freely give us stuff, but some would not. I know some of the other cast members got shoes, and gloves and things like that. We didn't pick favorites or anything. It was just up to the player and what he wanted to part with. The castmates never fought over anything.

Linda, talk about your time on the crew after season one.

Linda: I was part of the cast only the first year because between the summer of 1981 and when the crew returned to film in February 1982, I no longer looked like a little girl. Human maturation took care of that...if you know what I mean. However, I was asked to come back and be part of the crew. So every February I got of school for a month and worked on the show behind the scenes. I was lucky to meet every single player that was ever on the show. I still have all their signatures on baseballs and in an autograph book. ... I helped with lighting and the cameramen. I'd help move or adjust big reflectors to get the angle of the sun just right on the actors. Back then there weren't any big lights like they use now. I'd also make sure the cameraman would have enough cord extension if it was a moving shot and also that the cameras were taken care of during breaks and after the day wrapped. I'd also help the other girls (my replacement and Michelle) with their baseball skills.

Did you feel it was unfair that they took you out of the cast due to "maturing"?

Linda: I felt no animosity whatsoever. I was ok with it. They were honest with me and my mom, and I understood. There was absolutely no hard feelings. And when they asked me to still come back and help, I was thrilled.

Everyone, how much time did you spend with each show's star outside of filming? Was each show filmed within a day? How often was filming? Did you realize at first it would be a national show?

Erik: We hung out with the stars at breakfast, between scenes, and at lunch. Each show was filmed within a day; filming was during February. I was told at the outset that the show would be syndicated nationally, and I knew exactly what that meant, which means that I was a pretty serious TV watcher. This is just as cable TV was coming online. My understanding is that ESPN picked up the show for a while and that several of the stadiums would show the program during rain delays, etc.

Ed: As I recall, most of the filming for each episode was done within a single day. I think we took three weeks to do that first season. I think it was shot in January or February, but it was warm enough to swim in the pool. I stayed at the Roadway Inn.

Linda: Occasionally if the star was in town for more than three days to film, we would go out to dinner with him. But usually it was just from 7 am until 6 pm or whenever it got dark. Most episodes were filmed within 2 to 3 days. So we would have one star for Monday/Tuesday. Another one would come in for Wednesday/Thursday and so on. (Filming was) every week day - no weekends. On Saturdays, the crew and castmates would often get together for a fun game of softball. If a star was still in town, they would usually come play too. ... Yes, we were told it was going to be (a national show), but I didn't know it was going to be shown internationally. I have fan mail from Korea and Japan. [Addressed to you or "Kate"?] Both.

Were shows airing while you were filming?

Linda: No. We filmed in February. The crew would then go back to New York, edit the show and do Tommy Lasorda's wizards pieces. The episodes filmed in February were not shown until the middle of summer. We were actually out of school for the summer when the show first debuted.

So Lasorda taped the Dugout Wizard segments separately? Did you ever meet him--did he ever come to one of your tapings?

Erik: We never met Lasorda. What a Wizard he was, though!

Ed: I do not think Tommy Lasorda ever came to Tucson during the filming of the
first season of the baseball bunch.

Did you all hang out with Johnny Bench after the show ever? Were your parents around the set? Were any of them just as excited as you to meet current baseball stars (if they got to meet them as well)? How long did you keep in touch with Johnny, or any of the other kids? Did you ever reunite with him or the Chicken or a major leaguer in any way later in life?

Erik (left): I remember some tremendous nights at Chuck-e-Cheese with Johnny. My father would occasionally hang out on the set. He was most excited about meeting Ted Williams, whom I had the honor of introducing him to, something I will never forget. Williams was in a great mood that day, and had some very complimentary things to say about my swing, which had me really pumped up. I kept in touch with Johnny for a year or two afterward. I went to elementary, junior high, high school, and college with Linda. I would see John Fordney (Sherman), Tom McCabe (Andy), Danny Santa Cruz (Louie) around Tucson at ball games.

Ed: I only remember hanging out with Johnny once outside of the set. I think it was close to the end of the shooting, and we went to some pizza/games place (I thought it was similar to a Chuck E Cheese). Johnny was only recognized by a few. I never saw him again, though he did send me a Christmas card. My dad actually met him again in the 90s, but it was uneventful. ... My dad was from LA, so he was a Dodger fan. Since I was 8, I was a Dodger fan, too. Davy Lopes was one of the guests. I thought Steve Garvey had been scheduled, but couldn't for some reason so Pete Rose did a second episode on playing first base. His first was on baserunning or stealing I think. I don't follow baseball. I was not a particularly good player, and didn't last past tee-ball.

Linda: I kept in touch with Johnny Bench for the longest time. He sent me birthday cards and Christmas cards all through the years. The last time I saw him in person and spent time with him was in 1995. He was calling the World Series on radio and had come to Atlanta. I got tickets to one of the games and drove down from Knoxville, TN (which is where I still live). When I was in the stadium, I tracked him down in the booth. I got a message to him that I was outside and just wanted to say a quick Hello. He came out and met me, hugged me, brought me back into the booth for a while and it was just like we'd seen each other yesterday. He was, and still is, I believe, one of the kindest and genuine human beings I've ever met. We definitely bonded those years in Tucson. I still think of him quite often. ... It's hard to appreciate something as it's happening to you and I remember being 11, 12 years old and thinking "OK, so that guy is named Cal Ripken, Jr, and he's a rookie" and "oh yeah, his name is Willie Stargell...ok I can remember that." It wasn't until I was out of high school before I began to really appreciate who I met and spent time with. Even now I'll catch some special on ESPN or something about Ted Williams or Jim Rice or Steve Garvey and I'll think "hey, I met those guys...how lucky am I." When Tug McGraw passed away a couple of years ago, I was really really sad. The three days we spent together when I was 11 years old is something I will never forget.

What on earth was it like doing bits with the Chicken, and, did he ever come out of character? Did he take off the head and just act normal as soon as they said "cut"? Did you hang out with him off set, and if so, in or out of costume? Did you ever wear the chicken costume?

Linda: Ted Giannoulas did come out of character often. I remember him being very very cute and very very funny. Ted wasn't normal...whether in or out of costume (lol). No one wore the costume...he was very protective of it...as he should be. He was not one to hang out with anybody. I remember him traveling a lot during the filming doing charity work and stuff. I still have a lot of stuff signed by Ted and by The Chicken. He came to Knoxville back in the early 1990s to do a AAA game. I did go to the game and caught his attention. He did remember me and gave me big hug, but obviously couldn't say anything while in costume. I never found him after the game.

Ed: I don't remember the chicken much. I don't remember him AT ALL being out of character or out of the costume. But I was 8. I remember he "swallowed" my little sister's head when she visited the set.

Erik: The Chicken was just awesome. He was a real pro, but he was always cutting up with us. Outside of his trailer, I remember that the Chicken always being in his costume. I for one would never have dared ask to wear the Chicken's costume.

Some of my memories: Ted Simmons saying, "You all wanna be switch hitters, right?" And everyone said yes! Rollie Fingers dressed as an actual fireman. Reggie Jackson teaching about the importance of your "center line." (The buttons on your jersey matching up with your pants zipper. Come on, Reggie.) And of course, Jim Rice hitting the ball really far and the Chicken running all the way to the ocean, finally catching up with it at the end of the show. Were any of these during the time when you were on the show? What were some of your favorite memories with major leaguers?

Erik: 1. Talking with Tom Seaver about ways to improve my throwing motion (he was trying to get me to raise my elbow to increase my accuracy). 2. Standing behind Johnny as he caught for Seaver, who seemed to really throw a "heavy" ball. The force with which his pitches hit Bench's glove was just so impressive. 3. Chatting with Ted Williams and Johnny Bench about my swing. 4. Introducing my father to Ted Williams. 5. Striking out Jim Rice during a hitting scene. He pulled two 600-foot foul balls and then swung and missed at one of my pitches. I didn't even realize it until one of the producers mentioned it to me afterward. 6. Chatting with Cal Ripken. A true gentleman who is rightly revered by fans today for his accomplishments and great personality. So many others.

Ed (left, just to the left of Johnny Bench in his catcher's gear): Of your memories, only the Jim Rice one took place during my season (season 1). Again, I have to apologize, I don't have lots of memories of the show since I was only 8. These major leaguers only hung around to film for one day, except for Pete Rose (2 episodes), and of course Johnny. So I remember Johnny. I seem to recall that Tug McGraw was especially nice for a one-day guy. I barely remember the guests, even... Tom Seaver, Tug McGraw, Pete Rose, Davey Lopes, Bucky Dent, Chet Lemon, Jim Rice, Sparky Anderson... Were there any more that first season? I don't remember a 3rd baseman. We did 13 episodes. Pete did two, Johnny was alone in one. I think we did an episode on Sadaharu Oh without a guest maybe? I don't remember.

Linda: There were 13 shows that first year. My favorites were Tug McGraw and Bucky Dent. Pete Rose was the worst...he was a complete a**hole to everybody on the set, including the kids. The (other) players that really made an impression on me (besides Tug) were: Bucky Dent - I thought he was GOD he was so good looking. Remember I was 11 years old and oh man was he cute. I remember having a scene in a dugout with him about rubbing shaving cream in a glove to help break it in. I was so taken with looking at him, I messed up my lines a few times before I got it right. Mike Schmidt was really nice. He was somewhat shy and wouldn't really talk to us unless we talked to him first. Graig Nettles was really nice too...so was Chet Lemon. Chet gave me his batting glove (that I still have today) from when he was with the White Sox. I remember when Ted Williams came on the show and how everybody was so nervous. He didn't really talk to anyone and no one really talked to him. It wasn't until years later before I understood why that exchange took place the way it did. He was the KING of hitting. Cal Ripken, Jr. was great. He was a kid himself back then and would play around with us during breaks. Dusty Baker was funny. Steve Garvey had hairy Popeye arms.

What was your favorite MLB team and/or players growing up before you were on the show, and after, and now? Were any of the kids real die-hard fans of a team, and extra excited about his/her team's star being on the show, or mad to see a rival team's player? How far did your baseball career go?

Erik: I grew up in Tucson, hundreds of miles from an MLB team and did not really identify with the Southern California teams, for whatever reason. The Big Red Machine was the gold standard, but I lost interest in the Reds after Bench's retirement. However, I was a huge fan of college baseball, as the University of Arizona won three national championships during my childhood (1976, 1980, and 1986). I would follow former Wildcats' pro careers (Francona, Joe Magraine, Kenny Lofton, Chip Hale, Craig Lefferts), but I never really developed a favorite team, which sounds almost un-American, I know. ... I can't claim to have the privilege of being a Red Sox fan, but I really, really respect the club's great tradition. Terry Francona played college ball at the University of Arizona, and he knew my father, Warren Lee, who was head athletic trainer at the U of A from 1968 until he passed away in December 1982. Francona visited me at my house a few weeks after my dad died, something I will never forget.

Linda: I grew up a San Diego Padre fan. Dave Dravecky was it for me. Of course, after the first year, I followed Bench's Reds for a few years. I became a Braves fan in the 1990s when I moved out to Tennessee. Nowadays, I probably root more for the Diamondbacks more than anything. They are located in my home state and my mom, who still lives in Tucson, keeps me up to date on everything. ... I played all the way through the senior leagues and actually one year of "A" ball. I stopped playing when I was 19 and in college. The team was the "A" farm club of the Houston Astros. I played back-up second base and actually got a few hits. After that, I just wanted to concentrate on college academics. I only played softball in high school, not recreationally like I did baseball. Softball wasn't nearly as exciting to me, but it filled my competitive needs.

Wikipedia says, "According to the Jump The Shark website, Jared Holland ('Sam,' season one) attended Kansas State and was a good debater. The same article claims Holland later committed suicide." Is this true? That's really sad if it's true...

Linda: I don't know. I hope it isn't, but I have not heard anything nor have I verified this information. He was a really funny boy. He was a lot like the character "Sam" that he played. Easy going, loved to eat, always was smiling.

Ed: I remember reading that note in Jump the Shark that Jared had committed suicide. I don't know anything about it.

Erik: I really hope that this is not true. I can't quite wrap my brain around that one. Jared was just great to be around on the show.

[Note: I tried contacting K-State about this, with no luck. The mystery remains unsolved. Jared, if you're out there, please let us know. --Jere]

Two final stories from Ed:

"In 2001 the Pork Filled Players went to Oregon State University for a performance. During the Q&A, we were asked if we wanted to go into TV or the movies. My answer to that was basically 'Been there, done that.' And then I proceeded to talk about how I'd been on the internationally syndicated, Emmy-award winning television series 'The Baseball Bunch.' One audience member raised his hand and said 'That was my favorite tv show growing up as a kid,' to which my castmate Aileen said, 'I don't know how we're going to be able to all fit into the car for the drive home now that Ed's head is so big!'

I don't know about the other kids, but The Baseball Bunch got me tickets to the World Series in 1981. I don't know if it was because the Dodgers were my favorite team, or if everyone got to go. I barely remember it, but the Dodgers won and it was cool and watching Dave Winfield take batting practice was also cool."


Linda Coslett teaches social studies and coaches softball at a high school in Tennessee.

Erik Lee is the associate director of the North American Center for Transborder Studies at Arizona State University.

Ed Tonai is a writer/performer in Seattle's "Pork Filled Players" comedy troupe. (scroll down that page for a pic and further down for a bio)


*************************

Okay, so there you have it. A million thanks to those three. A season of a "new" Baseball Bunch has been shot, it seems, and according to imdb.com it will debut in 2008. There also had been talk of getting the old episodes on DVD. Apparently MLB was in the process of digitizing, but I don't know if it's gonna happen. I think we should all call them and demand The Baseball Bunch! Here's the phone number for MLB Productions: (212) 931-7777.

Another rumor is that the show came about as a reason to get kids involved in baseball as a goodwill gesture after the '81 players' strike. Since the pilot episode (with different kids) aired before the strike (the show was hyped in both the '80 World Series program and the '81 All-Star Game program, both of which I won on ebay), and filming of season one started before the '81 season, the rumor can't be entirely true. I asked all three "kids" if they remembered any talk of this, and none said they did. But Wikipedia mentions it, and a recent New York Times blog entry printed it. Don't believe the hype.
Upper left: Linda. Upper right: Erik. South Central: Ed. (All pics here are screenshots, uploaded by me. In a separate post soon, I'll post some video clips from the show.) (Update: Here they are!)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

No Fun

Another great game by Wake. Another game we anti-win. It's crappy, but the O will have Papi back soon. Late games in Seattle tomorrow and three-morrow (my new word for the descriptive-but-wordy "day after tomorrow"). I think I'll announce one of those two on YouCastr--probably thrmorrow (my new nickname for "three-morrow").

I was glad that Gammons came out during this game and called bullshit on the "Manny striking out on purpose" theory that was thrown out there by the old drunk guy.

This losing streak is a perfect time for the interview I said I'd be posting. It'll go up tomorrow morning. This is a text interview, note. I think you can handle it.

Whole Lotta BS

There should be a book about all the cheap ways the Yanks have found to win games over the years. (Or a pamphlet on the games they've legitimately won in the last 30 years.) They've outdone themselves yet again today, winning on a weird play where Abreu loses a ball in the sun, drops it, but still tries to force the runner out at second. He overthrows the bag, but A-Rod gets ball and throws to second, and somehow they still get the guy out. Before the next batter has a chance to hit, the guy on first gets caught stealing. To end the game. Yanks win by 1. I can't wait till they tear that stadium down so none of these visiting teams will shit their pants at the site of it anymore. (Hey, isn't it cool to say that knowing that, finally, they actually are gonna tear it down?)

Of course, the good news is that their blind-ass luck only carries them TO October these days, not THROUGH it.

This morning on Outside the Lines, there was a piece about little kids learning "mixed martial arts," and then a discussion. Featured in the discussion is Dan Doyle, who runs the Institute for International Sport--their publishing arm is Hall of Fame Press, who are putting out Dirty Water. Unlike the guy he's debating, he doesn't use the "laugh at everything the other person says" method. I think teaching kids to beat the crap out of each other is ridiculous. The parents of these kids must be the people who swing their door open without looking when they park their car, assuming they're the only person in the world, and talk on a cell phone while driving/walking, slowing them (and everyone behind them) down to a crawl because they're wrapped up in their own shitty, shitty world and for some reason can't wait like ten minutes to call someone to talk about bullshit.

Sox at Angels, 6:05.

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