Epigenetics (prev) is the study of changes in gene expression or cellular phenotype, caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence. David Epstein, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated has written about this topic for his book The Sports Gene (not as reductive as the title might suggest), but cut the chapter because the material he researched was so new as to require that he "caveat the writing rather heavily." Instead, he shared his chapter How an 1836 Famine Altered the Genes of Children Born Decades Later on IO9. You can read or hear more about the book in a half-hour segment from NPR's Fresh Air, opening with a story of Jennie Finch, a softball pitcher who "just whiff[ed] the best hitters in the world." (Related video clip: FSN Sport Science - Episode 7: Myths - Jennie Finch, on the force of fast baseball vs softball; ends with smarmy teaser for a "sex test")
At the age of 19, Joe Engel started pitching for the Washington Senators in 1912 (Google books preview), but he only played one game per year in 1917, '19, and '20, due to arm injuries. Unimpressed with his performance, Manager Clark Griffith shooed Engel off to swap himself for someone from the minors who could play ball. Engel sent back the catcher Edward Patrick ("Ed" or "Patsy") Gharrity. Gharrity turned out to be so good that Engel was hired to scout for Washington, and later manage the Chattanooga Lookouts, then the farm team for Washington. It was there in Chattanooga that Engel's true career in baseball took off, where he was given the title "Barnum of Baseball." [more inside]
Milwaukee Brewer Ryan Braun has been suspended for the rest of the season due to his involvement with a former "anti-aging" clinic called Biogenesis that allegedly supplied athletes with human growth hormone, anabolic steroids, testosterone, and other performance-enhancing drugs (Taiwanese animation video). Alex Rodriguez is expected to be suspended next, along with 15-20 other Major League Baseball players, with punishments expected to linger into the 2014 season.
Tomohiro Anraki might be the next big Japanese pitcher, if he manages to survive high school baseball in Japan. [more inside]
Scorekeeping at baseball games is becoming a lost art. Many other traditions are vanishing from professional baseball as well. "Other traditions lost from our list included boiled hot dogs taken from tepid water and slathered with mustard by vendors, and dugout agitators formerly known as “bench jockeys,’’ and bad-breathed managers such as Billy Martin and Earl Weaver kicking dirt on umpires, while league officials look at it as entertainment."
The Sad and Rapid Decline of the Ball Cap: Including photos of the 67 hats that survived of the author's 90s-era Hat Collection. [more inside]
In 1931 a 17-year old girl faced off against baseball Hall of Famers Babe Ruth and Lou Gherig. They both struck out swinging. Was Jackie Mitchell for real?
Like a lot of us in our mid-30s, he has found his career has landed somewhere between optimal happiness and utter futility. These days, Cervenak is more valuable for his reliability than his potential. He would be a tough guy to lose but not a particularly hard guy to replace. He is organizational depth. He is not a prospect. [more inside]
Yo Dodger Blue (L.A. Loves You) (SLYT) "It's no surprise [Harry] Nilsson was a Dodger fan. They were both Brooklyn born, and both eventually relocated to Los Angeles. In the late 80s and early 90s, when Harry was doing little in terms of his "career," he was still actively writing songs and still coming up with ideas like this to amuse his creativity. These unreleased recordings probably come from 1990. The first version is a studio recording (musicians unknown) while the second version comes from KABC in Los Angeles, where Harry personally showed up to premiere the sing along. It's a catchy, rousing stadium chant that coulda/shoulda worked, though it was never officially adopted by the team." Links to both downloadable versions can be found at the blog For The Love of Harry Nillson. (via) [more inside]
Montaous Walton just wanted to play ball, so he made up a fake online persona, fooled the media, signed with an agent and ended up in handcuffs.
108 stitches per ball. One stitch every 8.3 seconds. For a 10.5 hour shift*. 97 degrees Fahrenheit. Complicated? [more inside]
Héctor Espino landed in Florida on Aug. 6, 1964. A helicopter reportedly flew over Jacksonville, Fla., trailing a banner with the words ESPINO HAS ARRIVED.
The history of baseball stadium nachos.
Last night in Cleveland, the visiting Oakland A's were down by one run with two outs in the ninth inning. A's shortstop Adam Rosales hit a ball that struck somewhere on the center field fence and was either a double or a home run. A home run would tie the game. To make sure they got the call right the umpires went to the instant replay. [more inside]
Matt Kemp signs the ball of a young man who has 90 days to live. This kid has an inoperable tumor that has grown so large that it prevents him from being able to lift the ball he wanted signed. What happens next is beautiful.
If you were to consult the official play-by-play scoring for Friday's game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Chicago Cubs, you would find nothing unremarkable about the bottom of the 8th inning. As the scoring tells it, Jean Segura of the Brewers hit an infield single, then stole second base. Ryan Braun walked and was thrown out on an attempted steal of second, Rickie Weeks struck out, and the inning ended when Segura was thrown out attempting to steal third base. [more inside]
1st Triple Play of 2013. The Yankees pull off a unique 4-6-5-6-5-3-4 triple play. It's the first turned by NY since they executed a more conventional version in 2010. But as an A's fan, I prefer this one, which is is bit more uncommon.
A collection of baseball writers have gotten together for a different kind of fantasy draft. All the players are fictional, although some players are more fictional than others. [more inside]
On April 3rd, MLB pitcher Brandon McCarthy (wikipedia, twitter) will take the mound for his first regular season start as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. It will also be the first regular season game he plays in since taking a line drive off the head last September. Buzzfeed contributor Michael J. Mooney profiles McCarthy.
Jeff Sullivan, newly reunited with the Seattle mariner's blog "USS Mariner", offers his thoughts on the Marlins releasing former (and hugely disappointing) Mariner Chone Figgins--odds on, the end of Figgins major league career. [more inside]
One man documents his neverending quest to collect all the Tim Wallach baseball cards. Not one of each card, but every single copy of every single Tim Wallach card ever made in the history of baseball cards. If you have any in your possession, he asks that you mail them to his law office's PO box. Maybe you can work out a deal. [more inside]
Shunned by New York's bachelorette population after handing out one too many gift baskets, Derek Jeter loses his confidence with the fairer sex and retreats to Springfield a broken man. There he finds a kindred spirit in Moe, the only man on Earth lonelier than the heartbroken Captain...The two leave Springfield to start a holistic living clinic in North Haverbrook and are never heard from again. The New Springfield Nine: If Mr. Burns had to re-staff the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant softball team with a lineup full of present-day players, who should he choose?
The Sporting Statues Project maintains a list of statues of sportspeople in the UK and has just added one of baseball statues in the US. Everything from 18th century strongmen and still active players to fans and little leaguers can be found in their directory. They also have some links to abstracts of papers they've presented on their research into sports statuary.
Both Ripken and Champagne have that same look of determination, of steely grit and fiery passion, in their eyes. For Ripken, it was to play in 2,632 straight games, for Champagne, it was for the bag of Beggin’ Bits the photographer had hidden in his camera bag: the 1993 Milk Bone Super Stars Trading Cards.
Three days of watching baseball with Bill Murray in 1990. Old Style beer and a drunken Mick Fleetwood feature prominently.
If you were going to set out to build a successful national baseball team you probably wouldn’t select a country with most of its land sitting below sea level. Camden Depot presents a brief history of honkbal, as the Netherlands nine get ready to compete in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, exactly 100 years after the formation of Quick Amsterdam, Europe's first baseball team. Last time around, the Dutchmen knocked the mighty Dominican Republic out of the tournament. This year's Dutch team, led by veteran Andruw Jones and Orioles prospect Jonathan Schoop, both natives of Willemstad on the island of Curacao, puts more Dutch talent on the field than there has been since Bert Blyleven's last game. (Blyleven is the Netherlands' pitching coach.) Don't leave it till game time -- learn to speak honkbal now!
A Real World Series: Inside the world championship of blind baseball. "It’s different this year. I can’t get last year’s Series out of my mind, even though it ended in the last week of July, when Taiwan took two from Austin on a rainy Saturday in Ames, Iowa, to win the title in the 37th annual world series of blind baseball." [more inside]
The Hall of Fame voters have decided not to enshrine one of the greatest pitchers of all time, despite his stellar on-field performance. No, not Roger Clemens: Rick Reuschel, who, according to High Heat Stats, was one of the 50 greatest pitchers in baseball history. Bonus: Joe Posnanski on why Rich Reuschel was better than Jack Morris.
In the classic baseball movie The Pride of the Yankees, Gary Cooper played lefty icon Lou Gehrig--but Cooper was a righty. To cover this up, legend has it the filmmakers made a Yankees uniform for him with the print reversed, had him run to third base rather than first, etc, then flipped the shots after filming. But is it true? [more inside]
"Footage of Pope John Paul at an indoor batting cage during his 1987 visit to California"
A day after Earl Weaver, Cardinal great Stan Musial has passed away. Stan spent 22 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, racking up a lifetime batting average of .331 and was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.
Somewhere on the internet, someone thinks that not only can your team trade for Stanton, but it won’t be that hard.
Giancarlo (a.k.a. "Mike") Stanton is one of the most exciting young baseball players in the game today. Known primarily as a power hitter with potential Hall of Fame talent, he has hit some legendary home runs, including one he hit as a minor leaguer that reportedly traveled 500+ ft on its way out of Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium and another that broke the scoreboard at Marlins Park and, at an off-bat speed 122.4 mph, was the hardest hit home run ever recorded by the ESPN Hit Tracker. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price likened Stanton to a video game "create a player." But recently, when the Miami Marlins dumped five of his teammates in a blockbuster, cost-cutting trade with the Blue Jays (effectively removing them from contention for the near future), Stanton expressed his dissatisfaction publicly, opening up rumors that he might be next to be traded. Internet baseball fans responded by proposing their own hypothetical (and often wildly optimistic) trade ideas, which Ben Lindbergh of Baseball Prospectus kindly compiled into one list: Stanton trade packages proposed by fans of every team on the internet this offseason.
Flash Friday!!! It's Winnie The Pooh Home Run Derby! In Japanese! And insanely difficult!
Baseball Magazine, founded by Jake Morse in 1908, was the first monthly baseball magazine in the United States. The LA84 Foundation has posted free online copies of the first thirteen years of Baseball Magazine. [more inside]
2012 has been one great year for pitcher R.A. Dickey. He climbed Kilimanjaro. He published a well-received autobiography revealing for the first time that he'd been a victim of sexual abuse as a child. He starred in a documentary about the knuckleball at the same time as he continued his reinvention of the pitch, to often dramatic effect. After a fantastic season, he became the first knuckleball pitcher, and one of the oldest pitchers ever, to win the Cy Young Award, pitchers' highest honor. And now, pending a contract extension, he's been traded to the rapidly improving Toronto Blue Jays.
"But more important than mere longevity was the fact that he had lived through and been a part of more baseball history than almost any other man."
The results of the 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee Election were released today, and the three men elected were Jacob Ruppert, who owned the Yankees for 24 years and helped steer the team from mediocrity in the 1910s to some of the greatest teams in baseball history; Hank O'Day, one of the longest-serving umpires in league history and the man who made the official ruling on Merkle's Boner, and Deacon White, the first great catcher and one of the main players in the first baseball dynasty, the Boston Red Stockings of the 1870s National Association. [more inside]
Today is the 85th birthday of Hall of Fame baseball announcer Vin Scully. He will be returning next year for his unprecedented 64th season calling games for the Dodgers, in a career reaching back to the team's Brooklyn days and their move to Los Angeles in 1958. The New York Yankees tried to pry him away in the 1960s, but he remained with the team and has become an LA institution. In the 21st Century, he has inspired blog names and tattoos and even dabbled in the online world himself during a game last season -- as an experiment, he asked fans to get a topic trending on Twitter about Dodger catcher A.J. Ellis, "a nice boy." Later in the broadcast he announced sheepishly that Ellis was trending across the U.S. This coming Monday, he will be taking over the team's Twitter feed to answer questions -- tag your tweets #askvin. [more inside]
"If at any time during my tenure here you find there’s a pattern of owners and owners’ officials singing my praises, you’d better fire me. I’m not kidding."
Who to root for now? As a result of FOX/News Corp. going into business with the New York Yankees through by acquiring a 49% stake in the Yankees's regional sports network, Craig Robinson disavows his Yankees fandom, and goes in search of a new baseball team to which to swear his allegiance and passion.
"We have little trouble recognizing that a chess grandmaster’s victory over a novice is skill, as well as assuming that Paul the octopus’s ability to predict World Cup games is due to chance. But what about everything else?" [Luck and Skill Untangled: The Science of Success]
From the mid 40s to the mid 50s Coronet Instructional Films were always ready to provide social guidance for teenagers on subjects as diverse as dating, popularity, preparing for being drafted, and shyness, as well as to children on following the law, the value of quietness in school, and appreciating our parents. They also provided education on topics such as the connection between attitudes and health, what kind of people live in America, how to keep a job, supervising women workers, the nature of capitalism, and the plantation System in Southern life. Inside is an annotated collection of all 86 of the complete Coronet films in the Prelinger Archives as well as a few more. Its not like you had work to do or anything right? [more inside]