Just Ask Earl is a new feature that Bosox Injection is pleased to present. Esteemed BSI Senior Writer and certified baseball junkie Earl Nash will answer your questions related to baseball: rating prospects, fantasy trade advice, baseball cards, history, pitching techniques, strategy, rules, Red Sox issues, HOF candidates, MLB policies–you name it. If you can think it up, Earl will answer your questions.
Send your questions to [email protected] and Earl will publish the questions and answers on the Bosox Injection site, ensuring that you get your 15 minutes of fame.
Caleb Bryant <[email protected]> asks:
Earl, what are the sox going to need to do this year to ensure that they get to the playoffs and don’t have another season like the last?
Earl: This may surprise many of our readers here at the BSI, since I raked Lucchino over the coals for butting in and jamming Valentine into the manager’s spot on the bench.
I think the current Red Sox 40-man roster can win the Wild Card in the AL East. If megalomaniac Lucchino meddles with decisions, all bets are off.
This optimistic forecast is issued with the standard boilerplate: if they can avoid major injuries.
Cherington has been allowed to take the wheel and put Larry in the trunk; Ben has a two-phase plan: 1. Wait for the Next Great Red Sox team to arrive in 2014-15 and 2. Using trades and the FA windfall money he brilliantly stole from the Dodgers in that daylight robbery, he has built a competitive team with mid-level veteran players.
It is hard to imagine any team but Toronto winning the AL East crown, but I think the Orioles [with “Ho Hum” Hammel as their ace] will drop like an aged canary and land on the newspaper at the bottom of the cage this season. The Bronx Bombers are in “wing and a prayer” mode, rusting parts held together with bailing wire and bubblegum and headed into a death spiral.
The Rays have added a power bat with Wil Myers and, when Chris Archer is your #7 starter, you have a chance to finish behind the Jays. I think Toronto will win the AL East early and the real race will be between the Rays and Sox for the Wild Card slot; the games in Tampa on 9/10, 11, 12 will be dramatic, but the significant factor is that, in the final 13 games, the Red Sox will have an easy schedule: 3 games vs. the deteriorating Yanks, 2 games vs. the Rockies, 6 games vs. the falling Orioles [including the last 3 of the season], and, yes, 3 games vs. Toronto, but they are home games in friendly Fenway.
In sum, what the Sox need to do to make the playoffs is simply get a career average year from the team that Cherington has so skillfully created.
Casey Costello <[email protected]> asks:
How did baseball (and apple pie) become assimilated into American culture?
Unlike rugby, which was imported to the former British colonies of Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Jamaica and others, baseball was not imported; it was invented in America by Alexander Cartwright.
When immigrants arrived in America during the “Golden Age” of immigration, from 1892 to 1924, most wanted to find a way to blend into the new culture; they learned English, the customs of the society, and took an interest in baseball.
“What all these authors describe is the same situation: Their families came to this country from Eastern Europe and they had to get a substitute for what they left behind, the shul and the shtetl,” Solomon says. “So what they found in major-league baseball was a community, a way of becoming American and yet retaining their identity as Jews.” [Eric Solomon, Emeritus English Professor, San Francisco State University]
Few writers know more about baseball’s role in American life than the late Jules Tygiel. In Baseball’s Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy, Tygiel penned a classic work, a landmark book that towers above most writing about the sport. Now he ranges across the last century and a half in an intriguing look at baseball as history, and history as reflected in baseball.
In Past Time Tygiel widens his focus to turn his considerable narrative and interpretive skills loose on the broader tapestry of the game itself. The result is a superb collection of essays on American history filtered through the national pastime’s lens. “If there is a unifying theme”–and there certainly is–”it is that while the game of baseball itself has changed minimally since its origins, the context and format in which Americans have absorbed and appreciated the game have dramatically shifted.”
While most baseball historians say that baseball had its roots in the English game of rounders, there is a general consensus that the game we know today was essentially invented in America, but not, as popular legend says by Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown.
“Throughout the early part of that century, small towns formed teams, and baseball clubs were formed in larger cities. In 1845, Alexander Cartwright wanted to formalize a list of rules by which all team could play. Much of that original code is still in place today. Baseball’s true father was Cartwright.
The first recorded baseball contest took place a year later, in 1846. Cartwright’s Knickerbockers lost to the New York Baseball Club in a game at the Elysian Fields, in Hoboken, New Jersey. These amateur games became more frequent and more popular. In 1857, a convention of amateur teams was called to discuss rules and other issues. Twenty five teams from the northeast sent delegates. The following year, they formed the National Association of Base Ball Players, the first organized baseball league.”
As for the apple pie:
“Samuel Sewall, distinguished Alumnus (1696) of Harvard College and citizen of Boston, went on a picnic expedition to Hog Island on October 1, 1697. There he dined on apple pie. He wrote in his diary, “Had first Butter, Honey, Curds and Cream. For Dinner, very good Rost Lamb, Turkey, Fowls, Applepy.”
That is the first, but hardly the last, American mention of a dish whose patriotic symbolism is expressed in a 1984 book by Susan Purdy, As Easy as Pie: “This is It!–what our country and flag are as American as. Since the earliest colonial days, apple pies have been enjoyed in America for breakfast, for an entrée, and for dessert. Colonists wrote home about them and foreign visitors noted apple pie as one of our first culinary specialties.”
We cannot claim to have invented the apple pie, just to have perfected it. As long ago as 1590, the English poet Robert Greene wrote in his Arcadia, “Thy breath is like the steame of apple-pyes.” But Noah Webster’s American dictionary of 1828 suggests a difference between British and American versions, the American having more crust: “a pie made of apples stewed or baked, inclosed in paste, or covered with paste. “
In modern England, the term “apple pie” refers to tarts.
Rebecca lyn Saint Clair <[email protected]> asks:
|Earl,A philosophical question. Do you believe that Baseball can still be considered ‘America’s Game’? If so why…. and if not, why not. This question is based in my understanding of the game of baseball being a game of the ‘everyman’… the blue collar working class guy. We, as families, would go to dirt/grass lots, under the lights, to watch the local teams… $5 or $10 would get you a ticket. A hot dog was .50 and the players would stay after to sign balls or just talk. Now, the players, managers and owners are part of the 1%… major league tickets are so over-priced that the average family cannot afford them. The big stadiums are bankrupting communities and teams have no loyalty to their fans. The individual player is no longer ‘in touch’ with their fan base and the big money ego’s and tantrums create even a larger gap. Interested in your answer… Earl: Great question. At some point [1970s?] baseball became a big business. Where teams were formerly owned by individuals [Tom Yawkey owned the Red Sox, Horace Stoneham owned the N. Y. Giants, Walter O’Malley owned the Brooklyn Dodgers], today they are owned by corporations and that means the bottom line is “making a profit.”
And, they must make enough of a profit to pay the huge salaries to players. So, ticket prices, food prices, parking prices, souvenir prices, etc. are raised. A report by Team Marketing for 2012 said:
” The Red Sox, Yankees and Cubs charge the most for tickets. Most expensive beer? That “honor” goes to the Miami Marlins, whose cheapest beer is $8. From the release:
The average ticket (which excludes premium categories) for the 2012 season is $26.98, 1 cent higher than last year’s survey. Sixteen teams raised prices.
In the previous two seasons, tickets to baseball games already had the slowest growth in the history of the 21-year history of the survey, with a 1.2 percent increase in 2011 and a 1.5 jump in 2010.
The Fan Cost Index, the total price to take a family of four to a game increased by 2.4 percent to $207.68. [http://sportsfans.org/2012/05/2012-mlb-fan-cost-index-27average-ticket-208-to-take-family-of-four-to-game/]
Like me, many fans stopped attending MLB games after the strike in 1994–95; it was the eighth work stoppage in baseball history, as well as the fourth in-season work stoppage in 22 years.
I suggest that you join those of us who now support our local Minor league team. The prices are fair and you can get seats much closer to the field. The Minor league players may make more errors, but they play like they care. There are also many excellent college baseball teams and Legion ball leagues.
In the early days, there were town teams that were supported by local businesses. There were no Jumbo Tron scoreboards, over-paid players, or Luxury boxes. People sat in lawn chairs or on bleachers, like the ones at the Field of Dreams field in Iowa.
The best way to kill the corporate ownership of baseball is to not feed them any money—don’t attend MLB games. The game of baseball is alive and well on green and brown diamonds all over America.