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April 10, 2013

Fringe Average Podcast

Episode 2

by Jason Parks and Mike Ferrin

The second episode of Fringe Average: We answer email questions, talk about Umpires and how to fix the strike zone, Roy Halladay & Matt Harvey, Jose Fernandez and what the Elvis Andrus deal means for Jurickson Profar.

(explicit content)

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Email Us fringeaverage@baseballprospectus.com
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Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

9 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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Dave Holgado

Great anecdote about "The Natural," and I echo your sentiment about the lights-exploding scene ("when I first realized that baseball was the sh*t") entirely. Randy Newman may also deserve a hat tip for that.

My top 3 in-person baseball memories (I recognize nobody's necessarily going to care about any of these, but y'all have got my wheels turning now, and I want to jot them down before I get too old to remember them as clearly):

(3) April 27, 1982

My earliest baseball memory is from the age of 4, watching Reggie Jackson hit three out in Game 6 of the '77 World Series from the comfort of my living room in rural upstate New York. I never saw my childhood hero play in a Yankee uniform in person, but I was lucky enough to attend his first game back at Yankee Stadium after joining the Angels. I remember chanting "Reg-gie!" before every at-bat with the rest of his still devoted fans, and especially before his last one, when he homered off of Ron Guidry, causing us all to break into an even more pointed chant of "Steinbrenner Sucks!" The game ended due to rain after the bottom of that inning, which might be why it seemed perfectly logical to me, a few years later, that the skies opened up every time Roy Hobbs went deep.

(2) October 6, 1993

I hate Curt Schilling. Always have, really. (I was at the bloody sock game, and am still convinced it was ketchup.) But as a college student in Philadelphia, being subjected to endless Phillies hype on sports radio, I found myself a bit sucked into the team and its fortunes during its 1993 playoff run. Plus, my older brother was (somehow) a lifelong Phils fan from the Mike Schmidt days. So as a gift to him and myself, I had scored us tickets to the first game of the NLCS against the Braves at Veterans' Stadium, the first playoff game either of us had ever been to. Even though the seats were nosebleed (read: uppermost row of the upper deck in RF at the Vet, probably closer to the nearby Holiday Inn than we were to home plate), and even though something in the back of my mind still didn't like this Schilling guy (a premonition that he would one day play for the Red Sox, perhaps), for a few hours that day I became a phull-phledged Phanatic. Schilling struck out the first five Braves in a row, and the crowd grew louder after each one. The game went to extras, with the Phillies winning it in dramatic fashion. (Retrosheet says Kim Batiste drove in John Kruk with a double to win it in the 10th. I'll take their word for it.) When we arrived back to my apartment in West Philly, my brother and I learned that our maternal grandfather (who was probably more responsible than anyone else for our shared love of the game) had just died of a heart attack. We stayed up the rest of the night, drank beers and talked baseball, including our memories of the stories our grandpa used to tell us, his favorite being how he "once saw Lou Gehrig take a shower." (Not quite as odd as it sounds. As a teenager, he was working in the locker room of the Armory in Oswego, NY when Gehrig's barnstorming *basketball* team, of all things, came through town one off-season. That one must have been in *his* top 3.)

(1) September 25, 1998

After taking the bar exam in July '98, and before moving to NYC to start work, I decided to attend the final 45 games of the St. Louis Cardinals season in person. I had no connection to the city or the team. But Mark McGwire looked like he was going to do it, and damn it, I was going to be there when it happened. So I rented an apartment for two months within walking distance of Busch, flew to the away games in HOU and FLA, and drove to the rest of the away series in MIL, CIN, CHI, PIT, and NYM. (I think this is now referred to as #want.) This story begins five days earlier, when I had stood less than ten feet away from where Big Mac's actual 66th home run (the one that was incorrectly ruled a ground-rule double) touched down in the LF bleachers in Milwaukee. While the botched call seemed important at the time (Sammy Sosa then trailed McGwire by only two home runs), it took on even greater significance over the next few days, when McGwire's bat went silent and Sosa hit two out to draw even at 65. On this day, the Cards hosted the Expos for the first game of their season-ending three-game series, and as I sat in the left field bleachers in the third inning, I heard a slowly building roar from a section of the stands closer to the foul pole that was populated by a large contingent of Cubs fans. Sosa had just hit number 66 and was now in the lead. (Chicago was on the road that day and for the remainder of the season, so these fans had apparently made the trip down Route 66 to root against Big Mac in person while listening to the radio call of Sosa's at-bats.) I was a fan of Slammin' Sammy's as well (awfully hard not to be), but in my mind, this threatened to completely de-legitimize my entire trip. I was invested in this thing. It had to be Big Mac! Maybe half an hour later, McGwire came to the plate, and sent a moon shot down the LF line, into that very same section of gloating Cubs fans. (Again, the parallels to "The Natural" are unavoidable. "You get that, Max? Don't ever look back, Max! Ever!") From my vantage point I was sure the thing was fair, and for an instant, McGwire seemed to think so, too. Alas, it was foul, the realization of which let the air completely out of the packed stadium. But on the very next pitch (maybe I'm romanticizing this, but it was surely in the same at-bat), he launched his 66th into the cheap seats to tie things up again. For me, the drama of that half-hour stretch and of that at-bat eclipsed that of his final four homers over the next two days, and even that of his fateful number 62. I know we're "not here to talk about the past." But that's a part of mine that will stay with me for the rest of my days.

OK, I've gone on far too long. Not sure where else I could have gotten away with posting this. Thanks for indulging me, and thanks even more to your podcast for causing me to re-remember all of these things.

Apr 10, 2013 15:15 PM
rating: 6
Dave Holgado

Ha. I like how Randy Newman has a BP player card.

Apr 10, 2013 15:16 PM
rating: 0
BP staff member Mike Ferrin
Guest Commenter

Your McGwire story is fantastic. Can you email your post so it's easier to
Collect together? I want to read it next week for sure.

Apr 10, 2013 15:49 PM
Dave Holgado

Thanks, Mike! Could not find your email on the "contact us" page, so I sent it to the Professor instead. I hope I have all the facts right on that McGwire story, it's a bit hazy after all these years. But one thing I'm sure of is that there was no fan interference on that one he hit in Milwaukee!

Apr 10, 2013 16:46 PM
rating: 0
Dave Holgado

I know I'm just about the only one reading this now, but last night I found some references to Lou Gehrig's off-sesaon barnstorming basketball team (in, among other things, an old Syracuse newspaper which has been archived online for posterity). Looks like the game my grandfather went to (and worked as a locker room attendant at) must have happened sometime in January 1928. Neat! Also of note, Gehrig and his teammates were apparently a bunch of "rough and tumble" hackers.

http://fultonhistory.com/Newspaper%2017/Syracuse%20NY%20Journal/Syracuse%20NY%20Journal%201928/Syracuse%20NY%20Journal%201928%20-%200107.pdf (see the article in the middle, called "Gehrig Has Star Team")

http://www.saltcitycagers.com/1927-28_Season_Articles.html (see the entry for 1/22/28, "Hanson Leads Mates To Victory Over Gehrig")

Apr 12, 2013 08:48 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Mike Ferrin
Guest Commenter

Sure. You can always send it to the address above: fringeaverage@baseballprospectus.com

Apr 10, 2013 16:51 PM

Maybe my computer has too much #slack, but the link appears to be down.

Apr 12, 2013 14:14 PM
rating: 0
BP staff member Dave Pease
BP staff

Please try it again. We are having a heck of a time keeping these online but we'll keep working on it.

Apr 13, 2013 13:06 PM
Brad Clark

You read my email last week and there was no episode this week, I thought I killed the show! Glad to see you tweeted that it should be up today!

Apr 18, 2013 09:17 AM
rating: 0
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