Everyone has their bucket list. And mine has typical things like skydiving and visiting where my dad was born in Italy. However, numero uno on my list is to attend a game at every Major League Baseball stadium. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love baseball. I, like 16% of national adults, am a Yankee fan. I have been since I was a kid. But, it wasn’t until a once-in-a-lifetime undergraduate internship at the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003 that I became a true fan of the game. Sure, I liked baseball, but it was truly a pinstripe-centric affair. I liked going to games (Yankee games), and I liked watching games on TV (Yankee games).
However, in a short 3 months surrounded by interns from across the country and a great Hall staff, I learned to appreciate what the game of baseball has to offer, not just the Yankees. Through my own research for projects, information that was taught by Hall of Fame staff, and an opportunity to interact with baseball greats, I started to realize that baseball was about so much more than cheering for one team. Baseball is one of the greatest history books one can “read.” So much of history is mirrored on the diamond and is a testimony to American life. From Jackie Robinson joining the Brooklyn Dodgers which broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier to the emergence of social media and its impact, baseball reflects the times in which we live.
After my internship at the Hall, I was not only a Yankee fan but a true baseball fan! In fact, that summer I attended my first Major League game in which the Yankees were not one of the competing teams! And, so my quest for 30 began!
I have been to the following ball parks:
- Yankee Stadium (both old and new) (Yankees)
- Shea Stadium/Citi Field (Mets)
- Veterans Stadium (old Phillies stadium)
- Jacob’s Field (Indians and now called Progressive Field)
- Ballpark at Arlington (Rangers; At one called AmeriQuest Park and now called Rangers Ballpark in Arlington)
- Tropicana Field (Rays)
- Pro-Player (old Marlins stadium; Still home of the Miami Dolphins)
- Camden Yards (Orioles)
- Wrigley (Cubs)
- Nationals Park (Nationals)
- Roger’s Centre (Blue Jays)
- Safeco Field (Mariners)
I try to plan vacations to places that have baseball stadiums I have yet to see. And when a business trip comes up, if there’s a baseball team nearby, my first stop is to their website in hopes they will be home when I am visiting. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t, but I always try!
So, now here I am in 2012. I’m still plugging away trying to take in a game at all the parks, but this is my dilemma……
I plead to all MLB teams….please, stop building new ballparks!!! Two of the stadiums on my list are no longer the home of a baseball team. In 2004, the Phillies opened Citizen’s Bank Ballpark and this season the Marlins will call Marlins Park home. I’m sure the Trop won’t make it much longer either. So, with each stadium I cross off, I fear that before I get to all 30 parks, I will have no choice but to start again!
Sure, one could argue, “just go by the team and not the stadium.” But, that’s not gonna cut it! If I had unlimited time and resources, I would take in all 30 in one season. But, until I hit the lotto, my quest will continue. And as new baseball stadiums are built, I will just have to find a way to visit again! As they say in A Field of Dreams, “if you build it, they will come.”
Play ball!! I’ve waited through a very long, cold winter to hear those words. And now it’s here, it’s here … it’s finally here! It’s baseball season! Although the 2011 baseball season is still in its infancy, in New York, it’s never too soon to talk about the postseason. In a recent New York City Marist Poll, we asked Yankees and Mets fans who they would root for in the most unfortunate World Series matchups. Mets fans were asked who they would root for if the Yankees were playing the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. 61% of New York City Mets fans said they would keep it in the New York family and cheer on the Yankees, and 34% would support the Phillies. I wonder if this was actually the case in 2009?!? When asked who they would root for if the Mets were playing the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, Yankees fans were a little kinder to their cross-town rivals. 83% of New York City Yankees fans said they would be in the Mets corner, while 14% said they would rally behind the BoSox.
As a Yankees fan, the thought of this hypothetical matchup put my stomach in knots and left me wondering what I would do if this horror actually came to pass. After much thought and rationalization, I still can’t definitely say what I would do. Initially, I thought I would support the Mets over the Red Sox. If my New York team didn’t make it to the World Series, why not root for another New York team? But, upon further reflection I started digging a little deeper. In order for the Red Sox to advance to the postseason and ultimately the World Series, they would have had to have a better season than the Yankees. So, if the Sox won the World Series, at least I would know that my Bombers were beaten by the best. It falls under the same logic that had me rooting for the Packers in the Super Bowl. They beat the Giants and it made me feel better about Big Blue’s demise to know it was the Super Bowl Champs that put the brakes on their postseason chances. This kind of thinking also made me a fan of the Duke women’s basketball team after they eliminated the Marist Red Foxes from the 2011 NCAA tournament in a close contest.
So, what’s my conclusion? The answer is “I don’t know.” All I can hope for is that it’s a decision I never have to make. And, if that World Series matchup does ever happen, check back with me … I might be rooting for the New York Red Sox or the Boston Mets!
Until then … happy baseball season!
GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!! Get your vuvuzelas ready because the World Cup semi-finals are underway … or you can do what I did and download the vuvuzela app!
After nearly a month of competition, a new country will be crowned World Cup King on July 11th. A quick look at the history books will tell you the first FIFA World Cup was held in 1930 where host Uruguay won it all, and believe it or not, the United States placed third overall that year. With the game clock still running in 2010 … the 19th World Cup is being played in South Africa, and there have been plenty of upsets (reigning World Cup winner Italy and runner-up France were knocked out after the first round), controversies (bad calls, disallowed goals), and excitement, not to mention the constant buzz of vuvuzelas.
But, have people in the U.S. been watching the World Cup? According to the latest national Marist Poll, 37% of Americans, me included, say they are watching most or some of the month-long event. As someone who has been watching since it started in early June, and continues to watch even though U.S.A. has been eliminated, that finding was bittersweet. At first glance, I thought, “only 37%.” Then, as I thought about it further, I realized that nearly 4 out of 10 watchers isn’t so bad considering supposedly “nobody watches soccer.”
I personally equate the World Cup to the Olympics. Regardless of one’s interest in the game of soccer, the bottom line is that, as a country, we rally behind our guys. You may not know all the players’ names, that the field is called the “pitch,” or understand all the rules, but you know that there’s a group of guys representing the red, white, and blue and want them to succeed. I was watching the USA’s final World Cup game against Ghana at a restaurant. There were “ohs” and “ahs” when a great opportunity to score was missed, there was cheering, there was an entire restaurant on the edge of their seats when Landon Donovan took his penalty kick and then sent it into the back of the net to tie the game. That day, everyone there was a soccer fan, because everyone was a USA fan.
In 1998, I was on a school trip to France and Spain the year the World Cup was in France. I remember we were getting on the metro to go to dinner, and it was packed with people coming from a game. Their faces were painted, and they were singing. It was incredible to see and a moment I will never forget. My classmates and I, as well as other hotel patrons, hovered around the small TV in the lobby to watch the games (when our educational tour schedule permitted, of course). At 15, it didn’t sink in then, but it’s incredible that one event can have such a unifying effect. We didn’t all have the same native language, but we all spoke one language … The World Cup.
Soccer is a language I’ve been speaking for a while. It has been an important part of my life since I first stepped onto a field at 6 years old. For the next 12 years, it was something I could not do without. I played on local town teams until I aged out, joined the JV team in middle school, and played Varsity soccer in high school. And, because playing in the fall wasn’t enough, I played indoor soccer in the winter. I even sustained an injury that left me with six screws and a plate in my ankle as mementos. Granted, it has been a decade since the last time I played soccer competitively, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy the sport any less. As it always does, watching the World Cup makes me want to get back out there and play again.
I believe playing soccer as a child makes me more inclined to follow the World Cup. In fact, when you look at the results from Marist’s latest national survey, of USA residents who played soccer when they were young, nearly 6 in 10 — 58% — say they are watching most or some of the World Cup.
It’s no secret that professional soccer in the United States doesn’t hold a candle to “futbol” in Europe and South America. But, this World Cup has been making headlines with atrocious officiating, talks of using instant replay, upsets, and even “off-the-pitch”drama. Is that enough to make Americans want to take in a soccer game? Or does Major League Soccer need to revamp and find ways to “Americanize” the game to make it more attractive here? I don’t know the answer, but I do hope that Major League Soccer can ride the World Cup wave and maybe, just maybe, at the next World Cup in 2014, it won’t take a bad call, a milestone goal, or a tabloid story for everyone to know the group of guys that are Team USA!
Rogers Hornsby said, “People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” I share this sentiment with the legendary second baseman.
The Yankees take top honors among baseball fans nationally with 11% of those fans saying they support the Pinstripes. In New York, 58% of the state’s registered voters who are baseball fans do the same. As a person who shares this allegiance, I couldn’t have imagined a more picture-perfect ending to the 2009 season than a 27th World Series Championship, but with my elation came a sense of sadness. Baseball season was over … now what? I think A. Bartlett Giamatti put it perfectly… “It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.”
Yeah, sure, I enjoy football season, and it gives me my sports fix through the winter, but it’s not the same. I don’t watch football with the same knowledge and passion that I do with baseball. I wait and wait for the day pitchers and catchers report to spring training. It’s a signal that a new season (as well as a visit to Florida for spring training) is just around the corner!
To say the least, I can’t wait for Sunday! No, not because it’s Easter, and I have an excuse to eat chocolate all day, but because its baseball’s opening night! And, as if the start of the 2010 season wasn’t exciting enough for this baseball fan, the game is a marquee matchup between my Bronx Bombers and rival Boston Red Sox. The baseball gods must really love me this year!!
As the 2010 season begins, and my quest to attend a game at every Major League Baseball stadium continues, I have one thing to say, “Play ball!!!”
I wait all winter for it to be baseball season again. I make an annual trip to Tampa in March to visit friends and go to Yankees’ Spring Training. I feel like a little kid every time I go to a Major League game. Then, every once in a while, I step back and receive a reality check.
Robert S. Wieder said, “Baseball fans are junkies, and their heroin is the statistic.” I could not agree with this statement more. However, there is a stat that I am having a really hard time wrapping my head around.
On Monday, June 1st, the New York Yankees set a Major League Baseball record for the most consecutive games without an error, surpassing the previous record held by the 2006 Boston Red Sox. How many games was this streak, you ask? 18. No, that’s not a typo…it’s 18. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Yankees, and I love that they are playing good baseball right now, but 18 is a record?!?! I’m not sure I know of any other job in which one would be commended — better yet, immortalized in the record books – for going 18 days without making a mistake.
Is it wrong to expect that someone would go to work every day and not make a mistake? In an era of free agency and big contracts, it’s hard to be excited that my boys of summer went 18 games without committing an error. Isn’t that what they get paid to do? Especially when put in context of the entire season…the MLB season is 162 games long plus the post season. So, 18 games does not seem like a mind-blowing statistic. What’s worse? It took three years for this record to be broken. Not ONE MLB team has managed to go longer than 17 games in a row without an error until last night.
I have a genuine appreciation for the game of baseball, all of its records, and that Elias Sports Bureau has a statistic for a statistic. I spent the summer of 2003 during college as an intern at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown where I experienced firsthand how sacred it is to be a part of baseball immortality. While there, I also enhanced my appreciation for the history of the game and how it’s developed. I can’t help but think back, though, to that summer…one walk into the records room can make anyone feel inferior…and wonder how this record fits with all the rest of the MLB records. It’s 18 games.