Thursday Open Thread 02-19-2015

Good morning 99percenters!

Today is the day we hear one of the most beautiful phrases in the English language: Pitchers and Catchers Report! It’s the official start to baseball spring training and the surest sign that spring is around the corner.

Without further ado let’s queue up “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” led by legendary Chicago announcer Harry Caray on the final day of the 1997 season. He passed away the following February so this was the final time he led the Wrigley crowd singing “America’s Song.”


MrLear and I grew up in the New York City area (if we looked out his bedroom window while in high school we saw the Twin Towers going up) so it was common to have friends and neighbors rooting for a variety of teams. Who you rooted for could be either very simple, or very complex.

The Yankees had been a fixture in the Bronx for generations as were the Giants at the Upper Manhattan Polo Grounds and the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field. After the 1957 season the Giants and Dodgers abandoned New York for the West Coast. In 1962 the National League added an expansion franchise, the Mets, who made Queens their home.

Some folks kept their previous loyalties even though their team was now across the country. I have an uncle who to this day has never blinked about being a Dodger fan. Not so for my dad. He cheered for the Mets. When the Dodgers made the play-offs and World Series in the early ’60s he couldn’t have been less interested, or at least that’s the facade he put up. I asked him why he wasn’t rooting for the Dodgers like Uncle Stan. His reply: “They moved. The hell with them. I root for the Mets now.”

And so it was being a baseball fan in New York during the '60s.

I still keep my eye on the Mets and hate the Yankees but my heart has warmed to the Detroit Tigers since this is where I’ve lived most of my life. It was tough at first, partly because of that damn designated hitter rule. Even worse now, Tigers’ Team President Dave Dombrowski traded away pitchers Doug Fister last year and Max Scherzer this year to the Nationals for the equivalent of a bag of smelly socks.

But come on, help me bring spring to life. Tell us a baseball memory so we can smile for a few minutes. Did you ever catch a ball at the park? Get an autograph as a kid? Or maybe you’ve seen a great player make the winning catch or a game winning home run?

This is an open thread so anything else is fair game too.

The diamond is officially uncovered.

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it was a magic season, they hadn't won a World Series since 1908 and hadn't played in one since 1945. 1984 seemed like the year they were finally going to break the "Billygoat" curse. There was a huge rivalry that year between the Cubs and Mets as they battled for the Division title down to the wire, that included a few bench clearing brawls.

Me and a buddy of mine always bought our Cubs tickets before the season started so we could get the best prices and a good choice of seats. We got tickets for three games that year and two of those games were with the Mets and the last one was in August. Little did we know at that time what was about to happen that season. I watched almost every game that year on WGN and the whole city and most of the state, well the northern half anyway, were caught up in Cub's fever. The first Cubs/Mets game we went to was middle season, the Cubs were playing well but few yet had much hope for a winning season, being let down by the Cubs was something Cubs fans just learned to live with, thus the famous saying "Just wait 'till next year" became popular amongst the masochistic enthusiasts. The Cubs won that game and the rivalry was just starting to heat up.

The last game we went to in August was hugely important and the Cubs won that one too, but not without a bench clearing brawl, the fans went nuts and Wrigley was packed with Mets fans who were just as excited about their team's prospects and the whole place erupted, it was a sight to behold. The Cubs went on to win the division that year and was cruising through the playoffs against the San Diego Padres when the "curse" raised it's ugly head and Leon Durham let a easy trickler go through his legs and the rest lives in Cub's infamy to this day. The Cubs had blown a 2 games to nothing lead in the division playoffs and their first chance to play in a World Series since 1945 went up in smoke.

Harry Caray was a national treasure and a toast of Chicago back then, more times than not he could be found in a local Wrigleville pub after the game sucking up some brew. A friend from Chicago told me of a great story about Harry, it was at a packed tavern, can't remember which one, Harry had just gotten himself a brew and was headed down the line of seats at the packed bar when someone bumped into him and sent his drink flying in the air. The room quieted in anticipation of Harry's response, being the revered Chicago celebrity that he was, and suddenly someone yelled "Popped it up", the place erupted in laughter. For those unaware that was one of Harry's favorite game expression with a heavy emphasis on "Popped".

At that final Cubs/Mets game my friend and i and our wives went around to the back of Wrigley Field where the players come out and get on the bus. We had a long wait but got to see the players come out one by one and hop aboard, we then passed our game brochures into the players on the bus and got several autographs including Harry's, I still have it, on the back of the brochure was a full page advertisement for Budweiser beer and of course Harry signed it right on the suds area of the mug "Holy Cow Harry Caray". Harry very much was a man of the people, that's why he was so well loved.

Another Cubs icon for decades was Ronnie "Woo Woo" Wickers, who would walk around the stadium during the game and cheer the Cubs on with his famous "Cubs, woo, Cubs, woo, Cubs, woo" on and on incessantly. A homeless man that became such a fixture that the Cubs made sure Woo Woo always had a season ticket. Here's a great video about Ronnie.

Ahhh, memories, just wait until next year.

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Shahryar's picture

I remember an early time when I went to a big league ballgame at Yankee Stadium. We entered the gate, walked up the ramp, then to our seats. I'd never seen such green before. Amazing! Apparently I'd been to a game before that, at Ebbetts Field but if I remember it then I'm probably also thinking of photos I've seen and combining the two.

My Dad took me to one of those Yankee Old-Timers Games in 1958. I got to see Joe DiMaggio when he could still swing a bat. He'd retired 7 years before. I was too young to realize he wasn't on the team anymore since the fans went wild when he came up in the short game. As I recall they let him hit until he knocked a good one...which confused me since I did know that three strikes meant you were out.

That year, maybe the same day (?), the Athletics had a very old relief pitcher named Murry Dickson warming up. He was 38 or so. We were near the bullpen and I was watching him, then called out "Hey Murry!" My Dad corrected me immediately, saying "Call him Mr. Dickson". Mr. Dickson had started his career in 1939, not long after Ruth and Gehrig stopped playing.

My Dad was a Brooklyn fan, my Uncle was a Giants fan. Both teams had just moved away so I'm sure it was a sad year for my family. I never liked the Yankees but I liked DiMaggio after seeing him. And I liked Roger Maris because real Yankee fans seemed to dislike him. They loved Mickey Mantle and must have thought Maris was an interloper.

Once I started playing Little League ball I became a big Stan Musial fan. He was left-handed, like me, and played first base, like me! My Dad still liked the Dodgers but their first baseman, Gil Hodges, was a righty. So I rooted for St. Louis until Musial retired, then became a big Mets fan, loving the team when they lost lots and lots of games, loving the team when they somehow (Tom Seaver) won the World Series in 1969.

I might still be a Mets fan today but there was that trade that sent Seaver to Cincinnati. How could they do that??!? By that time shaz and I were living in Hollywood. The Mets' front office had let me down and my enthusiasm waned. I began to notice the Angels, another woeful team. I abandoned the Mets (who deserved it...what were they thinking with that Seaver trade?) and became an Angels fan, which I still am today.

I think, in retrospect, it would have been more tasteful to have rooted for only one team my entire life, instead of three. Oh well.

About New York fans and the three teams, here's a bit of dialogue from "The Bachelor Party", the 1950s movie written by Paddy Chayefsky. It's one of my favorite movies of all time!!

BARTENDER
What's Brooklyn going to do for
pitching?

EDDIE
Never heard of Newcombe? Never heard
of Erskine?

BARTENDER
What have you got to compare with
Ford, Kucks, McDermott, Turley---

EDDIE
McDermott -- McDermott hasn't
pitched a full game since last year.

BARTENDER
The best relief pitcher in both
leagues.

EDDIE
What's the matter with Eddie Roebuck?

BARTENDER
How do you compare Eddie Roebuck
with McDermott?

EDDIE
What are you, a Yankee fan?

BARTENDER
Yeah.

EDDIE
Well, drop dead.
(turns angrily
back to Charlie)
A Yankee fan.

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Tammany Tiger's picture

During the 1970s, I went to school in the Midwest but my family was on the East Coast, so I would often visit a ballpark or two as part of the road trip. Later, I had a job that entailed a fair amount of travel, and I was able to fit in some more ballpark visits. Cheap airfares and frequent-flyer miles enabled me to visit the rest. The quest ended in August 1989 at Fenway Park, where the Tigers were playing a true doubleheader* against the Red Sox.

Before flying to Boston, I wrote Ernie Harwell, the beloved Tigers' announcer, and told him that Fenway would complete my ballpark quest. Back home, the office manager where I worked had the game on. She said that Ernie mentioned me, and commented on how hard it was to see a game in every park.

* True doubleheaders, as opposed to the split-admission variety, are very rare these days. The Tigers were on their way to 100 losses that year and weren't exactly a prime attraction.

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Shahryar's picture

First of all, there are a lot of teams and a lot of states. Then you have to be there during baseball season. You have to go to Texas, to Florida, to Washington, California, Pennsylvania, Missouri.....and that's just scratching the surface, so I salute you on that remarkable accomplishment!

Last night I found a forgotten book, an old copy of the Official Encyclopedia of Baseball. One fascinating section had schematics (if that's the right word) of all the ballparks....all 16. Outlines of the parks, the seating sections, the distances to the fences. I got excited, remembering how important that was to me as a kid. And you made it to all of them! Or at least to the ones still in use during the 70s and 80s.

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Tammany Tiger's picture

Their names are Ben Blatt and Eric Brewster, and they wrote about it in a book titled I Don’t Care If We Never Get Back, which was published last year. The two are Harvard graduates. Blatt is a math whiz who specializes in sports analytics (what the rest of us call "statistics") and ran a computer program that would get them to all the parks in a 30-day window. The problem is that a computer can't tell you what games are going to get rained out. Sure enough, a torrential rainstorm wiped out a White Sox game, and the two had to come up with a new itinerary ASAP. Ironically, they figured one out by hand.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

MarilynW's picture

Every year I go to Softball City in Surrey BC for a week of softball watching. My granddaughter is attending UMass at Lowell on a softball scholarship. Her team the River Hawks is in Florida right now. Yes, I love baseball, it's the game.

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Cordelia Lear's picture

when I was a kid. Somewhere buried in our basement is the glove I saved up to get. No organized girls teams back then - at least where I lived.

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"Never separate the life you live from the words you speak." --Paul Wellstone

PowerOffHijack: New Android malware spies from 'shut down' smartphones

A new malware for Android devices is capable of making calls, sending out text messages to third parties and taking photos even after the user has apparently switched off their smartphone.

The malicious program, which was discovered by AVG security research firm, works by
hijacking the shutting down process of the mobile device.

When the user presses the phone’s power button to switch off, the malware only makes it look like the device has stopped operating.

So while the shutdown animation is being displayed and the screen goes black, the mobile device actually keeps working.

Myself, I hate cell phones, I own an old flip-phone that I only take on vehicle trips in case of an emergency, otherwise it just sits on my desk. I am fairly tech literate but have an aversion for cell phones, I don't even know how to work a smart phone.

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Cordelia Lear's picture

are starting to freak me out a bit.

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"Never separate the life you live from the words you speak." --Paul Wellstone

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

bobswern wrote up on DK, about code on data sticks.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/02/17/1364910/-Breaking-Kaspersky-Exp...

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

When we leave the DC area, I will shed it.
The family wants to keep one non-smart cellphone around for safety reasons. I am a bit irritable about that, seeing as how I went 37 years of my life without a cell phone and did just fine, but am willing to compromise. The smart phone is going away, however.

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

gulfgal98's picture

All I have is an old style flip phone which I use mainly while traveling. So many people are shocked that I do not text either. From what I have seen with those I know who do, texting is a time waster. If it is really important, then call me. Otherwise, if it can wait send an email. Wink

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"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West

"There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare." Sun Tzu

"Propaganda is one hell of a drug." Abby Martin

"Politicians are cowards." Mike Gravel

Cordelia Lear's picture

but trying to get someone under 25 return a call or an email is pretty damn tough. Unless of course they have access to FaceTime which somehow makes them think you should be available whenever for as long they want.

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"Never separate the life you live from the words you speak." --Paul Wellstone

Cordelia Lear's picture

This evenings WSJ bulletin tells us the State Dept still hasn't caught the hackers.

Three months after the State Department confirmed hackers breached its unclassified email system, the government still hasn't been able to evict them from the department's network, according to three people familiar with the investigation.

Government officials, assisted by outside contractors and the National Security Agency, have repeatedly scanned the network and taken some systems offline. But investigators still see signs of the hackers on State Department computers, the people familiar with the matter said. Each time investigators find a hacker tool and block it, these people said, the intruders tweak it slightly to attempt to sneak past defenses.

Hello? With all the $$$ we throw at the MIC you would think they could find peole who are just as sneaky and talented as the hackers and beat them at their game.

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"Never separate the life you live from the words you speak." --Paul Wellstone