cooperstown

Let’s talk ball. This past weekend, the opportunity to go to Cooperstown was in our hands and we gladly jumped on that train. Thanks to our friend, Patrick (HSO!) the three of us set out on the journey to Upstate New York last weekend. And as you guessed it, our first stop was Cooperstown. Sure, I love baseball but there is no comparison when it comes to how much Matt loves baseball. Take a peek at the guest blog below from Matt. Matt recaps his visit to the holy land: Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. If you haven’t been and even if you have, he writes it in a fashion that you are enjoying his pilgrimage alongside of us that weekend.

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

my pilgrimage to the baseball mecca

guest blog presented by: Matthew D. Shalbrack
You can find Matt on Twitter: @hamsterjockey; insta: hamsterjockey, make sure you follow him!

As a diehard baseball fan, I had never made the pilgrimage to Cooperstown, New York to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame and IMG_0400Museum. I’d actually never even been to New York before. How sacrilegious is that? With so much history, tradition and baseball in one place, how had a fan, like myself, never set foot on such sacred grounds?

Well, that all changed the second weekend in June as Kendal Ann, Patrick and I had planned to go up to Upstate New York for a long weekend and made a pit stop in Cooperstown to check out the Baseball Hall of Fame. Let’s just say that I was mesmerized by how much baseball tradition is enshrined within the walls of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

After parking the car and wandering down Main Street, taking in all the sights, sounds and smells of baseball heaven, we finally made it to the coveted Baseball Hall of Fame. The Baseball Hall of Fame is celebrating its 75th Anniversary this year and we picked a great weekend to visit. Not only was the ‘Iron Man’ Cal Ripken, Jr. there himself (we unfortunately did not see Cal) for various events throughout the weekend, the Baseball Hall of Fame actually was opening a brand new Babe Ruth exhibit on the day we went. Talk about great timing.

Once inside, we picked up a map and started to decipher where to go and what to see first. After opting to start on the third floor and work our way down, we entered the “Sacred Ground” exhibit. This exhibit featured quite a bit of information about the ballparks, past and present, themselves. It also featured a ton of new and old memorabilia, such as the Rally Monkey, which is a plush monkey that made appearances in late-inning situations for the 2002 Anaheim Angels’ World Series-winning team.

The exhibit changes from ballparks to players, highlighting individual records that each player has accomplished. Records such as Ripen, Jr.’s consecutive games played streak and the most games played in a career (Pete Rose; 3,562) are records that may (will) never be broken. Finally, upon exiting this exhibit, they have replicas of each ring that the World Series champion receives. It was interesting seeing how gaudy the rings have gotten over the years; it really is all about the bling.

After seeing some great exhibits on the second floor, we headed back to the first floor and walked into a shrine filled with the greatest people to ever be a part of the game of baseball. The bronze busts of each National Baseball Hall of Fame member fill the oak walls from top to bottom. There are 306 total people lining these walls, enshrined in this temple of baseball holiness forever. It was a beautiful sight to witness, one that I never will forget. On the back wall, the original class of Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner and Walter Johnson, is singled out and makes known the start of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Finally, the other neat exhibit on the first floor is a small one and somewhat hidden. It features all kinds of memorabilia from baseball films. Being the movie buff that I am, especially with a soft spot for baseball-related movies, I got a kick out of this exhibit. There’s even a list that gives all the names of the baseball movies, which was quite informational – I mean, did you know there are three Sandlot movies? I knew of two, but not the third. There was even a great black and white photo of my brilliant Twitter avatar, (if you don’t follow me, you probably should @hamsterjockey) Rick ‘Wild Thing’ Vaughn, made famous in the Major League films.

Overall, my first trip to Cooperstown and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum was a definite success. It was so much history packed into one visit though, but that just means I will have to go back. I highly recommend that if you have not been there, visit as soon as you can. If you have visited there, I highly suggest that you go back.

opening day

#baseballisback

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

It’s the moment we have been waiting for, baseball is back. After a long winter, spring couldn’t come soon enough and with spring that only means one thing; baseball! No matter how baseball tries to disappoint you at times, Opening Day is still a welcome and special moment after that long and cold winter.

Baseball, is the greatest game of all. It is your life played across nine innings. It comes with hits, runs and errors. It is played by people who are rather isolated on the field—the pitcher, the shortstop, the center fielder—and when they make a mistake, an error, it’s there for all to see. But they do what you must do every day: Get back in the batter’s box and keep on swinging.

Love-MLB-copyToday, a long-awaited, frenzied and fantastic Nationals Opening Day will start the season.

It’s about time.

the world series

the history of the world series

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

The World Series is underway. We are a few games in and it is a breathtaking game. There is still no outcome of who will win and come out on top. It is a fist clenching series, which will keep you on the edge of your seat.

To me, the World Series are an important time in baseball, and I would argue that any baseball fan feels this strongly about the World Series as well. The World Series isn’t about your team, it’s about the game…okay, okay it is a little bit about the teams, but if your team doesn’t make it, then it’s absolutely about the game. It’s about the beauty of uncertainty, power, the excitement and the fans. Sometimes there is an underdog who takes it all; honestly it’s about the game.

There were other postseason championships that took place as early as 1884. These were World Series, too, matching the champion of the National League against that of the American Association, but when the latter circuit folded in 1891, there was no interleague postseason contest until the warring AL and NL came to a peace agreement in 1903. The World Series is Don Larsen’s perfect game. The Babe’s called shot. Willie Mays robbing Vic Wertz.

The World Series is about the best of the best that season. Each year, teams play each other in hopes that at the end of the season, they will play in the championship. The World Series is a best of seven series that celebrates our national pastime. I would say this is an event every year which is as an important as any holiday. This is as important as Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Eve and even the Fourth of July. Just  like the start of any season, we are anxious with anticipation; we are anxious for the World Series. I am more anxious for the World Series than I am for Christmas Eve.

For a little history, many changes were on the horizon and in 1901, the American League was established much to the dismay of the senior circuit. Suddenly, baseball found itself engaged in a “civil war” as both rival leagues competed separately for the fan’s loyalty and attention. Two years later, a truce, previously known as the “National Agreement”, was redefined outlining baseball’s employment, salary and travel requirements. The 1903 compromise produced the business blueprint for major-league baseball and resulted in a merger that has lasted to this day. Once again, Boston and Pittsburgh, the top American and National League teams, found themselves competing against one another in the first official “World Series”.

in closing, I read an article the other day that just about sums it all up. The article was found on Slate.com and called, Why Kids love Baseball, by Jordan Ellenberg.

I tried to make my son into an Orioles fan, like me. But the day at Miller Park he saw Carlos Gomez steal second, then third, then break for home, scoring on a wild pitch, like he was playing Atari baseball against a team of hapless 8-bit defenders, he became a Brewers fan for life. (To be precise, he describes himself as 70 percent Brewers, 30 percent Orioles.) We get along fine, in our mixed household. The inconsistency of our rooting interests doesn’t bother him. If there is a lesson baseball can offer us, it’s one about our deepest commitments; that they’re arbitrary, and contingent, but we’re no less committed to them for that. If I’d been born in New York, I might have been a Yankees fan, but luckily for me, I was born in Maryland, so I’m not. Jerry Seinfeld once remarked that baseball fandom, in the age of free agency, amounted to rooting for laundry. That’s not an insult to the game, as Seinfeld, a giant Mets fan, surely understood; it’s a testament to its deepest strength. My son’s love for the Brewers, like mine for the Orioles, is a love with no reason and no justification. True love, in other words.

There you have it folks. You just love the things you do, and there is no changing it. To me, baseball is something I will always love; baseball was the first thing I fell in love with. It is like true love.

let’s talk baseball

game 1: World Series, let’s do this!

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

The Church of Baseball

Ladies and gents, welcome to the first day of the 2013 World Series. Tonight, we enter Game 1 as the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals duke it out on the field in a best of seven; winner takes all. Now let’s face the facts: the Red Sox and Cards haven’t faced each other in more than five years (under circumstances that mattered).

As we all know I am not a Red Sox fan, and by any stretch of the means I am absolutely not a Cardinals fan. However, I am a baseball fan. The World Series is always an exciting time for a baseball fan, regardless if your team makes it or not.

Since both teams are very well-rounded, we can expect this to be a long series with many ups and very few downs. The mistakes will be limited on both sides. Both the Red Sox and the Cardinals have proved their record this past summer making it even more evident that these games will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Break-down of the teams

Red Sox

Over all a kick-ass team. They are powerful with offense, disciplined and a have a high rate of reaction to situations. They have an incredible team. There is a the triple threat of Dustin Pedroia (second baseman), Big Papi (David Ortiz, the DH) and Mike Napoli (catcher/first baseman). The Sox have this not so secret weapon, who is a sure thing. Allow me to introduce you to Koji Uehara. Honestly, if any of the games go past the 9th inning I feel sorry for what is coming to the Cards because of the Ninja closer, Koji Uehara.

Cardinals

Randy Choate (LOOGY) he has a niche and a valued unique skill set for pitching, defense in stealing,  and strength. Michael Wacha (pitcher) he is 0 for 26 in a post season. The cool thing about Wacha is he is a rookie who was called up not too long ago, can you imagine being a rookie and pitching in the World Series–mind blown, in my opinion he’s one of the best things the Cards have going from them! Oh and Matt Carpenter, he’s kind of a knockout as well, with hardly ever missing a base post hit– he should be someone the Red Sox are keeping their eyes on. Did you know that the Cardinals ranked No. 1 in the majors with a caught stealing percentage of 40?

Right now, the Red Sox have a 57% change of winning it all. It is very uncommon that the fate will be determined within the first game, but anything can happen. As the Red Sox have a home-field advantage and are the favored team this year–it looks like things could turn out for the best for them. This year’s postseason have been exciting. We have seen David Ortiz and Carlos Beltran put themselves in the center of attention at critical times, and we have seen others pack up their bags for an early vacation. This is the time we get to see who is going to give it there all and contribute to their team. Now is the time when that extra work out, the late night batting practice and the additional hype is going to pay off.

This is the beginning of a beautiful series and I cannot wait to see how it all unfolds. Take a seat and enjoy the game; play ball!