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Day one of SABR 38 in Cleveland: And what an odd day it was
2008-06-26 20:50
by Bob Timmermann

Cleveland, which greeted me Wednesday with a passive-aggressive slap in the face, showed a slightly different side to me today. Although I still wonder just what this whole state of Ohio is about. It seems to occupy some nether world between the Midwest (where my family is from and I understand) and the East Coast (which I also understand).

And then there's Ohio.

The SABR Convention had its opening ceremonies, which traditionally features a local SABR member tellling you of all the wonderful things to do in the city. I missed much of this. Or more likely, I just didn't hear them. Last year, someone from St. Louis bragged about the city hosting the 1904 World's Fair. I was expecting Cleveland to brag about losing out on a chance to bid for the 1932 Olympics.

However, this year SABR got Hall of Famer Bob Feller to speak briefly (by Bob Feller standards) at the opening. Feller, who sometimes say things that are quite outlandish, was relatively tame. He did ramble a bit. But he's 89. If I get to be 89, I'm going to ramble. Heck I'm 42 and I'm rambling now and it's just the fourth paragraph.

There were no presentations that grabbed my interest in the morning (and they ended up being canceled when the speakers couldn't make it), so I headed over to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It costs $22 to get in.

I was struck by the fact that for a museum dedicated to music, there really wasn't a lot of it. There were listening stations at a few places and I heard Jimi Hendrix's version of "Gloria" (not suitable for children), but for the most part, you go to the museum to LOOK at things about music. Which sort of defeats the purpose of the museum. Which costs $22 to get into.


I did get some lunch there, although a woman who looked to be in her mid 70s cut in front of me just as I reached the front of the line. My reply "Sure, go ahead. Not a problem." Stupid Midwestern parents teaching me manners.

After my lunch, I saw a little more of the museum, bought some postcards and walked back to the hotel. My body was asking for a nap, so I agreed and snoozed and got up in time for Ron Selter's presentation on the decline of inside-the-park home runs at 3:30 pm. Except for the problem that it started at 3:00 pm. Sorry, Ron.

But I did see Jim Odenkirk's presentation on the Yankees-Indians rivalry of the late 1940s-1950s, Beth Hise's talk about the differences and commonalities between baseball and cricket (I learned quite a bit from this) and finally Catherine Groom Petroski's presentation about an American Legion team from Belleville, Illinois that her grandfather coached.

The latter may not have seemed to have been an important topic, but: 1) my dad grew up near Belleville and 2) it was a good example of how a baseball team unified an often-fractious city and is still talked about today. The team played in 1938. Seventy years later, an American Legion team is still the talk of Belleville.

I could not interest any of my friends in going to Progressive Field for the Indians-Giants game so I headed off on my own. I got a nice seat about 10 rows behind home plate.

Thunderstorms delayed the start of the game until 8:48, but it was worth the wait. Cliff Lee dissected the Giants, striking out a career-high 11 and winning his 11th game of the year.

Cleveland fans impressed me. They do love their team and they're an optimistic bunch even though the team is beset with injuries. They also don't have the St. Louis vibe of "Look at us, we're great fans. We're the world's greatest fans! Love us! Peter Gammons says so!" They just root for their team.

But tonight, there was an extra rooting interest as Omar Vizquel made what was likely his last appearance before Cleveland fans. Vizquel played in Cleveland for 11 years (1994-2004) and won 8 Gold Gloves and played on two pennant winners. Each time Vizquel came to bat, he was given a standing ovation. And when Vizquel flied out to left in his last at bat, he was given a standing ovation as he went back to the dugout and he briefly saluted the crowd.

It did not seem like this was anything forced or manufactured. There were no scoreboard announcements telling people to cheer for Omar Vizquel. The fans just sincerely liked him. There were plenty of Vizquel t-shirts and jerseys present at Progressive Field.

I'll try to write more about Progressive Field tomorrow when I have pictures. My battery was dead in my camera tonight, but that is being remedied as I type this.

My day concluded as I got back again to the hotel after 11. And again there was no place to buy food. (No, I'm not ordering room service. I did eat at the stadium, although not much.) I bought a Diet Pepsi in a vending machine. Except the machine gave me a regular Pepsi.

The mysterious forces that run the state of Ohio obviously are conspiring against me.


2008-06-26 21:27:08
1.   mehmattski
A bunch of people at a baseball statistics convention were uninterested in attending a baseball game?

I guess they prefer the smell of spreadsheets and mom's basement to the smell of green grass and hot dogs.

/Buzz Bissinger.

2008-06-26 21:27:37
2.   The Trolley Dodger
No wonder there's mysterious forces there -- the whole place is erie!
2008-06-26 21:36:56
3.   Bob Timmermann
Turns out that when I went back up to my room, they went without me.

I need new friends.

2008-06-26 22:15:18
4.   yankee23
I do prefer Hendrix's version, however. But then I prefer pretty much anything played by Jimi...
2008-06-26 22:16:32
5.   grandcosmo
Your trip so far sounds like a milder version of "The Out-of-Towners".

Its funny to think you willingly went to the RnR HOF.

2008-06-26 23:39:56
6.   Shaun P
You keep on rambling, Bob, and we'll keep coming back to read it.

Will you know refer to the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame as the $ock'$'$oll Hall of $$$$? If paid $22 to get in, I would.

2008-06-26 23:40:33
7.   Shaun P
6 grrr, "Will you now refer"

Of course, it is 2:40 AM, mistakes are bound to happen.

2008-06-27 00:24:55
8.   Eric Enders
From a museum standpoint, the problem with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is that almost every single item is on loan from the artist. They decide they want their crap back, or they decide they don't like the way they are portrayed in the museum, and you could be left without any artifacts to display.

Contrast this with the Baseball HOF, which insists on donations instead of loans. They own 99% of the stuff in their exhibits and are therefore less beholden to people.

2008-06-27 04:38:33
9.   Bob Timmermann
You are also not allowed to take pictures inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
2008-06-27 05:22:16
10.   Bob Timmermann
And because of this, my camera broke.
2008-06-27 06:11:41
11.   larry slimfast
if by any chance you really like roller coasters, rent a car and drive 1.5 hours to the west to sandusky. cedar point is there and is the best roller coaster park on this planet.
2008-06-27 06:30:55
12.   Bob Timmermann
Once Ohio is behind me, I don't know if I will come back to the Buckeye State.

It's aiming for the #36 spot among the 36 states I've visited.

Oklahoma is waiting for word.

2008-06-27 10:59:05
13.   kirk gibson
Hmm...a presentation on the differences between Cricket and Baseball. Does this about sum it up:
1. Cricket matches (games) can last 5 days and at the end of it all there often isn't a winner (and people complain about watching 90 minute soccer games that end in a draw?). Personally, if I'm gonna watch 5 days of the same game, there sure as hell better be a winner or I'm gonna go Chacon on someone.
2. In the afternoon portion of a cricket match, they break for Tea and then resume play.
3. Pitchers = Bowlers and Batters = Batsmen
4. Both sports use "Runs" as the scoring value. And again, cricket teams can score hundreds of runs and there is still no winner at the end of it all. IMHO, that is definitly a valid reason to release your inner Milton Bradley.
2008-06-27 11:45:55
14.   Inside Baseball
So how many stadiums does this make for you and which are your all-time favorites?
2008-06-27 11:51:13
15.   ToyCannon
Saw a great Indian movie with a Cricket match being the central theme. It was the basic story of the British Imperialists being beaten by the down trodden residents of the country they raped in a match of Cricket. That taught me everything about Cricket that I know.

Since then I've watched them play at a local field in the Sepulveda Basin and it is an interesting game.

Is Ditching the Timmermann a game they play at these things?

2008-06-27 11:53:21
16.   Bob Timmermann
Hmm, I'll have to do the parks by just listing them off the top of my head. I'll just do MLB parks (not counting the Tokyo Dome) and some aren't anymore.
Dodger Stadium
Angels Stadium
Qualcomm Stadium
Petco Park
Oakland Coliseum
Candlestick Park
AT&T Park
Safeco Field
Coors Field
Busch Stadium (older)
Busch Stadium (newer)
Wrigley Field
U.S. Cellular
County Stadium
Miller Park
Rogers Centre
Yankee Stadium
Shea Stadium
Great American Ball Park
Progressive Field
PNC Park
Camden Yards
Fenway Park
Fulton County Stadium
Dolphins Stadium
Comerica Park
Tiger Stadium

So that's 28 parks past and present.

Discounting my home parks (Dodgers and Angels), I would say the favorites on the road have been PNC and Coors.

The least favorites were Shea and the older Busch.

2008-06-27 11:59:39
17.   Linkmeister
Does the stadium still have that guy beating the drum incessantly? I remember a few years back ESPN would show him every time they showed a Cleveland highlight.
2008-06-27 11:59:45
18.   Bob Timmermann
The cricket presentation actually was more about 18th and 19th century versions of cricket that were more similar to baseball as they had limited numbers of players and foul territory.

The absensce of foul territory in cricket is a big difference between it and baseball. Also cricketers can swing defensively to prolong their time at bat. A baseball player who swings defensively either hits a foul ball or grounder back to the pitcher.

The presenter, who grew up in Cleveland, but lives in Australia (and her accent went back and forth), had a drawing of an 18th Century cricket player standing with much more of a baseball stance with the bat being held up high.

2008-06-27 12:00:35
19.   Bob Timmermann

And I got a new camera to take some pictures tonight. I'm hoping there's no rain. The weather is beautiful today in Cleveland. Chamber of Commerce weather!

2008-06-27 12:13:07
20.   Inside Baseball
16 Thanks. My friend went to PNC Park a few years back and still raves about it (and Pittsburgh, surprisingly, where he seemed to have had the exact opposite experience as you are having in Cleveland.)
2008-06-27 12:14:25
21.   Inside Baseball
16 That's quite an impressive list btw. I only recently got to double digits myself.
2008-06-27 12:22:51
22.   Eric Enders
Pittsburgh is a fantastic city and PNC Park is the best park in baseball... well, maybe behind Wrigley Field.
2008-06-27 13:21:54
23.   berkowit28
"Also cricketers can swing defensively to prolong their time at bat."

Not to prolong their time at bat, principally. To avoid getting out unnecessarily. I would say that this is the biggest difference between cricket and baseball, and the reason for cricket's much slower pace (in addition to having to get 10 men out, not 3, to end the innings). It's as if every hit can be, by batsman's choice, a foul ball.

When the batsman's figures that there's no way he can make a run (no time to get to the other wicket, or he's pretty sure he'd be hitting it straight into a fielder's hands for an out), he just protects his own wicket from being hit by the ball (another way to get out) by batting it down. Unlike baseball, where that would be a line drive or maybe a bunt, he does not need to run. He can just stand there. That really slows the game down, as you can imagine. But it intensifies the duel between batsman and bowler (pitcher). They can keep this up for a long time, with two different bowlers alternating every six pitches, and other bowlers being substituted by the (playing) captain when he deems it better strategy. (Previous bowlers take up a fielding position and can be brought back in to bowl later.) The main effort of the batsman when batting defensively is to make sure he actually gets his bat, and not his padded leg (yet another way to get out), on the ball, and to avoid getting an edge of the bat on the ball which will pop it into the hands of one of the many infielders who are waiting very close in. He does, of course, need to score runs if his team is going to win some day. So every bowl (pitch) becomes a matter of judgment if he is going to play defensively or risk trying to make runs (1 to 4, or 6 if he can hit it out of the park).

There's a lot more strategy and tactics involved in cricket. But it sure can be slow at times. It actually becomes incredibly exciting after long periods when the game seems to be heading for a draw or one result, to suddenly have it change course, usually by a good many batsmen get out quickly by great bowling.

2008-06-27 14:01:27
24.   bobsbrother
There's plenty of music at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, just outside the backdoor of the arena there. Plus a tribute to Hee Haw! And it's cheaper. At least, it was when I went there. However, there were a lot more people I'd never heard of.
2008-06-27 14:28:34
25.   Bob Timmermann
I have much to teach my brother.
2008-06-27 15:13:47
26.   bobsbrother
Should I mention how many ballparks I've been too?
2008-06-27 16:35:49
27.   Bob Timmermann
Stop bragging BBWAA member!

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