Tagged: Jason Bateman


A lot on the site today about the “cross-over appeal” of the World Cup, and there’s no doubt about it; half the televisions in the Yankee club this afternoon were tuned to it (and half is a lot of televisions), and two of my companions and I stuck around to watch the last 30 minutes of the USA-UK tie.

But, while firmly believing that neither game is as much a sport as it is a cultural inheritance, and freely stipulating that if neither had ever been played and both were invented tomorrow, both would have a hard time catching on anywhere in this electronic age, I have to insist: I just don’t think soccer measures up to baseball in any respect excepting the joy people derive from each.
More over, soccer’s support in this country reminds me of a dining room set we got when I was seven. It and the accompanying swivel chairs were much ballyhooed, and in the style of that Keep-Up-With-The-Joneses era, my mother boasted about them to all the other mothers. Came the grand day of the dining set’s arrivals and the swivel chairs were unavailable, on back order, and identical looking non-swiveling chairs had been given us as loaners. Well, one of my mother’s friends came over and decided to one-up my mother by explaining the history of these chairs, her familiarity with the product, and her superior ability to judge the efficacy of the swivel mechanism. The chairs would not budge, but she would not let that stop her. While seated in one, she lifted it up, half with her feet, half with her hands, and bounced it a few times to the left and a few times to the right. “Yes, I can tell,” she said, “you got the good ones. Not the best, we have better ones, but these are good too.”
In her mind, they swiveled.
To me, that’s an American soccer fan, seeing suspense and action where there is little. More disturbing, perhaps – and maybe this is why European fans in particular are noted for their violence – is the almost complete non-interaction of the spectators with the sport. Fans are kept engaged at all times at a ballgame; in every one of them at least one baseball winds up in the seats, and if you’re lucky, a player will, too. Fans can impact play on the field without doing more than standing and moving their arms (ask Steve Bartman, or, me, in an identical play at Yankee Stadium in 1972 or 1973 involving no less than Moises Alou’s Dad as the fielder). To effect the game, the soccer fan must run on to the field. Or sing. Or run on to the field while singing.
It doesn’t swivel. Sorry.
But enough of that. Back to the world of Daniel Nava and somebody who owns a Bryan Bullington shirt. The Nava story is self-explanatory (has soccer had one like that since Dixie Dean retired?), the Bullington one I’ll get to in a moment.
First, a shot of one of my friends at the ballpark today. 


Ex-soccer player himself, was happy with the tie, didn’t see anything special in the US-UK game.
Jason Bateman is a Dodger fan, in town to reveal a new online comedy site he will co-populate with Will Arnett (not attending today’s game). Here, Jason, also the Commissioner of his own fantasy league for five seasons, signs a baseball for a fan who obviously no longer cares about the value of the baseball.
A considerable debate preceded this about where exactly he should sign the thing since the store-bought ball appeared to have a logo placed in the traditional “sweet spot.” I suggested that it no longer mattered, providing his signature was not upside-down compared to the manufacturer’s inscription on the ball itself. If you happen to see this ball on eBay with the inscription erased, this photo will serve as the certificate of authenticity.
Downloaded this thing “CameraOne” for iPhone – I think the cost was $1.99 – and it gives you a zoom on the phone. It’s a little grainier than I would like, but not by much. Examples:
Thumbnail image for IMG_2443.JPG
Derek Jeter at the plate, at the left; the Golden Knights of the U.S. Army Parachute team arriving early.
One last image, from last week, a Pirates’ fan missing a foul ball and, in frustration, throwing his glove. He was wearing a shirt representing Bryan Bullington, the first pick in the 2002 draft, who had a lifetime 0-3 record in Pittsburgh. If he’s a relative, that’s one thing. Otherwise, you might want to have a tailor take the lettering off. It’s like going to a Mets’ game wearing a shirt with “CHILCOTT” on the back.

Well, You Asked

First, thanks to all who posted comments. Let me violate the standard format of responding by addressing topics and not individuals (to quote Billy Crystal from a long time ago, “and you know who you are”).

There is a correct answer on the trivia. I’m at the Giants-A’s in Phoenix Municipal Stadium Saturday when a “security” fella (typical to the Spring Training equation, he’s a retired judge from Jersey named Bob) asks if I know the story of the lights in the ballpark. Obviously I did not and it appears very few people, even other stadium nerds, do. Yet there, as part of a series of timeline notes, engraved in the stone flooring ringing the ballpark, is the tale of how the lights were removed from the Polo Grounds after the last National League game there in September, 1963, and brought to Phoenix Stadium in time for its opening in March, 1964. This more or less confirms something I’d suspected: the Mets appear to have rented the Polo Grounds from the Giants in 1962 and 1963 – certainly as bizarre an arrangement as baseball has ever seen. The Giants had built or re-built at least the last three versions of the ballpark, and apparently retained ownership even after they moved to San Francisco. The land, oddly enough, was still owned by the Coogan Family (as in “Coogan’s Bluff”) at least into the ’60s.
To more contemporary issues: I actually retired from Fantasy Ball in 1995 for fear of having to draft a line-up of UPS Drivers. Got talked back into it in 2007 by my friend Jason Bateman, then played football in his league that year. The rust having been shaken off, I won them both last year (NL-only, six-by-six format, no freezes, Jason likes to count Holds for goodness sakes). This year I’m co-owning an AL-only team in a league with some of the ESPN experts. I take this way too seriously (the league that went out of business in 1994 had 40-man rosters and we actually held a two-round amateur draft two weeks ahead of the actual MLB draft). I’m better now but I still can’t imagine giving away my sleepers, at least until after the draft Sunday. I will say this, if it’s of any use: I saw Albert Pujols in Clearwater ten days ago and he looked 100% healthy for the first time in years. And no hint of a paunch. And I know my paunches.
There were questions about the Dodgers and Pirates, specifically about Andre Ethier. I have always expected great things of him, but against some pretty mediocre Texas pitching he went 0-for-5 and the response in the press box was neither encouraging nor sympathetic. As to the Buccos – an organization filled with some of the best people in baseball – they would be competitive if they had more than one starting pitcher. There may actually be a deep bullpen: Evan Meek has inherited – no, sorry, I’ll stop there, but he does look like he grew up after last year – and they think Donald Veal might have, too. Combine them with Grabow and Capps and it’s an entirely different concept from last year’s bullpen, which more resembled the firemen from Fahrenheit 451. Pittsburgh’s problem, of course, is July 31st. Since the starters would have to perform miracles to get them to .500, they will have to sell off again, and that means Adam LaRoche and Jack Wilson and maybe even Freddie Sanchez. But McLouth’s the real deal, McCutchen will be, and they think they’ve straightened out Andy LaRoche. Sadly, the sports-record-breaking 17th straight losing season still seems tragically inevitable.
And there was a question about George Kell, who I always thought was an underrated player, an underrated broadcaster, but anything but an underrated man. Ernie Harwell rightly got the lion’s share of the love but George was a gentleman of the old school: he assumed nobody knew who he was (he approached me when I was at ESPN and said, and this is verbatim, “Hi, Keith, I’m an announcer with the Tigers. My name is George Kell” – the sweetness of the introduction overcame my surprise that he would think anybody in baseball wouldn’t know him by sight, or at least when he used that remarkable voice of his. I have a few tapes of his radio work in the 1962 post-season and he might have been the best play-by-play man among ex-players. His ability to convey rising excitement by getting louder and especially faster, matched that skill in the Gary Cohens and Brent Musburgers.