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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

37 MLB Players Destined to Become ‘Guys’ Who Will Be Remembered

Over the weekend, I went and visited my parents in the D.C. suburbs, ostensibly to help them move some things ahead of retirement but mostly to go through a bevy of things from my childhood that they needed either to toss or put in storage. That’s how I chanced upon the three binders of baseball cards I’d collected as a kid from around the age of eight to about 12 or 13, and while that means I didn’t get a start until the mid-1990s, I was still pulling cards from the hobby’s heyday of the 80s, particularly the end of the decade, which produced enough cards to build a bridge to the moon. But digging through baseball cards from 20–30 years ago is an exercise not so much in nostalgia as in sudden reminders of players who briefly existed, played and vanished—players who, despite careers of little impact, still had carved out space in my brain. I was, in other words, Remembering Some Guys.

The idea of Remembering A Guy is one pioneered by Deadspin’s David Roth, who has built a small cottage industry out of plucking semi-obscure names from the depths of the sport and resurrecting them online. There are no exact qualifications for what makes a Guy; like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart on obscenity, you know one when you see one. Stan Belinda was a Guy; Carlos Baerga was a Guy; Ty Wigginton was very much a Guy. They’re players whose careers weren’t dotted with accolades or gaudy stats, but who hung around regardless, becoming mildly memorable in the process. They’re the baseball equivalent of That Guy in movies, usually a veteran character actor like Michael Ironside or Zeljko Ivanek who pops up in turgid action movies as a military officer or as a supporting character in a half-baked network drama about Powerful Bad People. The quintessential Guy was on five different teams in a seven-year career as a utility infielder, fourth outfielder or back-of-the-rotation starter. He also probably had a huge mustache.

Remembering Some Guys isn’t confined entirely to baseball; the NBA and NFL produced scores of Guys as well. But MLB seems to have the lion’s share of them, likely because of the preponderance of old baseball cards floating around the world that documented not just the game’s greatest stars but also the dudes on its edges. Those cards were the great democratizer: Everyone got one, even the lowliest of the low. Players whose MLB lives consisted of no more than a few weeks in September still got the card treatment; that helped ensure a steady supply of Guys.

But while flipping through those old cards, I got to wondering: Who will be the Guys of tomorrow? Who will endure through the mists of time to get recollected a decade or two from now? Who will get name-checked out of nowhere by a president for being a very big, very strong guy?

Remembrance of Players Past, or In Search of Lost Athletes

 

QLE Posted: September 18, 2019 at 12:42 AM | 44 comment(s)
  Beats: players

Friday, August 23, 2019

Ballplayers never know what day it is

Once, in spring training a few years ago, I was talking to a ballplayer — I think it was Jake Lamb, but it might’ve been another Diamondback — and I mentioned something happening “on Wednesday.” The player nodded and said, “wait, what’s today?” I chuckled, he chuckled and said something about how every day in spring training is the same and it’s hard to keep track.

I suspect this connects with our arguments elsewhere involving clutch….

 

QLE Posted: August 23, 2019 at 03:12 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: days, players

Friday, August 02, 2019

The Atlantic League is proving that change can be hard for baseball players

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. — Immediately following the seventh inning of a game between the New Britain Bees and the hometown Long Island Ducks last week, there was a ceremony on the field at Bethpage Ballpark to induct the newest inanimate member of the Hall of Fame. Even if you were among the small crowd that came out to watch independent ball in person on a warm Thursday night, you might’ve missed it. The whole thing took less than a minute and 45 seconds because it had to — abbreviated time between innings is one of the handful of rule changes that Major League Baseball is piloting in the Atlantic League this season.

Ducks owner Frank Boulton slipped out of the stands to receive the earpiece that home plate umpire Fred DeJesus had been wearing all evening. A couple of pictures were snapped, and then Boulton returned to the stands as DeJesus donned a new earpiece so the game could go on.

From there, the earpiece would head to Cooperstown to commemorate the official league-wide rollout of the Automated Ball-Strike System (ABS) powered by TrackMan. Or, as everyone has taken to colloquially calling it, robot umps.

“It’s hard for me to put into words how momentous what we’re watching is ’cause it looks so ordinary,” Atlantic League commissioner Rick White said, watching the small ceremony play out from seats just behind the first-base dugout. “That looks like any pitch you’ve ever seen at any ballpark. When Freddie calls a strike, it looks like any strike call you’ve ever seen at any ballpark. But when I think about what’s gone into this, and the incredible amount of resource and time everyone has put into this, especially our umpires, it’s a hugely momentous thing.”

Interesting article, unfortunate title.

QLE Posted: August 02, 2019 at 01:24 AM | 21 comment(s)
  Beats: atlantic league, change, players, robot umpires

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Former NFL players die at a faster rate than other professional athletes, study finds

A new study of more than 6,000 former professional athletes found that National Football League players died at a rate that was almost 1.3 times higher than Major League Baseball players. It’s the first to compare mortality rates between two groups of professional athletes; previous studies that compared professional athletes to the general population showed a lower risk of death for football players.

The findings, published Friday in JAMA Network Open, come amid growing concern about head trauma among current and former NFL players and their risk of developing the neurodegenerative disease CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The NFL players died of neurodegenerative diseases at a higher rate than MLB players, though both groups of athletes were more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than brain diseases.

“There is so much press and buzz around the neurocognitive stuff, and that was one of the important things to come out of this,” said Marc Weisskopf, an environmental epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a study co-author. “But for cardiovascular disease, the number was higher, and since it’s more common, let’s not lose sight of the fact that it’s a very important issue.” 

Previous studies looking at mortality rates among NFL players compared them to the general population and found that NFL players tended to fare better. One study from 2012 found that NFL players had overall decreased mortality as well as lower cardiovascular mortality than the general population. Another paper that year also found that overall mortality in NFL players was reduced, but did find that they had rates of neurodegenerative mortality that were three times higher than the general population.

I’d like to think that this sort of thing would help in attracting top talent- then I look at how much money the television networks would lose if football declined in popularity…..

QLE Posted: May 25, 2019 at 06:04 PM | 19 comment(s)
  Beats: football, mortality, players

Thursday, April 18, 2019

From ‘blimp folder’ to Foot Locker: Fake jobs MLB players use to fool fans

Zack Britton, New York Yankees: I was out with my cousin one time and got to talking to some people, and inevitably someone asked what we do. We just didn’t feel like bringing up the whole baseball thing, so my cousin told him that we were football pylon manufacturers. First, he was like, “What’s that?” There happened to be a football game on, so we’re like, “See the thing at the goal line? Those are pylons.” He was like, “What? That’s a business?” There can’t be that much to know about manufacturing football pylons, right? We kind of just rolled with it, and the guy lost interest immediately. It’s not a conversation starter—it’s a conversation ender. And that’s kind of the whole point.

Jim Furtado Posted: April 18, 2019 at 02:31 PM | 28 comment(s)
  Beats: players

 

 

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