Saturday, February 20, 2016

Mixed Bag

They're Baaaaaaaack!

Crooner Andy Williams notwithstanding, the beginning of baseball season is the REAL "most wonderful time of the year." It is especially so this year since my beloved Kansas City Royals are the defending World Series champions.
LHP Brian Duensing

Although players reported to spring training in Surprise, Arizona on February 18 (my birthday), the first official workouts were yesterday. The team's defense of its title is now underway.

The team announced on Thursday that they had signed former Minnesota Twins pitcher Brian Duensing to a minor league contract. Duensing's odds of making the team are long, but the Royals have a recent history of guessing right on pitchers, and Duensing could well earn a bullpen spot. Brian was LF Alex Gordon's teammate in college, and the two are still close friends.

The main areas of interest for fans this spring are the battle for the 2B job between Omar Infante and Christian Colon and the adjustments to the starting rotation and bullpen after the departures of Johnny Cueto and Ryan Madson to free agency. Starter Jason Vargas will not be available for much of the season either, as he is recovering from the Tommy John procedure, and Greg Holland won't pitch at all this year due to his Tommy John surgery following the World Series.

"Shall I buy you some peanuts and Cracker Jack?"

Some Cracker Jack would be nice, but I hate raw peanuts...

Another Loss

The beginning of spring training notwithstanding, yesterday was a tough day. In the morning came the news of the death of Harper Lee at age 89. Later on, images of Antonin Scalia's viewing at the Supreme Court building started popping up all over the internet...

Scalia's SCOTUS colleagues pay their respects

Before the day was over came the news that Italian scholar and author Umberto Eco had passed away at age 84.

Original 1986 "one sheet" poster

I always found Eco's essays interesting reads, but as a fan of mystery fiction I will always remember him for his wonderful 1980 novel The Name of the Rose.

In 1986 the novel was made into an underrated motion picture starring Sean Connery, F. Murray Abraham, and Christian Slater which I still enjoy watching.

Requiescat in pace, Signor Eco.

Leader of the Pack

From the pen of Henry Payne, whose editorial cartoons you should read often, as I do.

Until Next Time...

While there is no "official" song for Major League Baseball, its unofficial anthem is certainly "Take Me Out To the Ball Game." It is part of the DNA of every baseball fan, myself very much included.
Sheet music circa 1908

At the time the song was written in 1908 by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer, four of the five players who formed the first class inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936 were still active players: Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson.

Considering the fact that neither Norworth nor Von Tilzer had ever been to a game at the time the song was written, it is truly remarkable how well they captured the essence of what it means to be a baseball fan.

The first recorded version of the song was performed by Edward Meeker and captured for posterity by Thomas Edison himself in 1908. In 2010 it was added to the National Recording Registry curated by the Library of Congress.

Today's send-off is a special video featuring the song made by the Kansas City Symphony and Chorus prior to Game 3 of the 2014 World Series (the Royals beat the San Francisco Giants 3-2 in that game). Enjoy...

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