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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

[Sports] American Pies - The love affair with baseball

In Had’s absence today, I’ve managed to throw together a little something. Had will be back tomorrow with some quality football analysis and stuff.

Ah baseball. America’s favourite pastime. Why? Cos it is the most attractive to your average Jim America.

Let’s take a look at some of the factors why:


Okay so baseball doesn’t support its players into perpetuity, not like golf anyways (Is the senior tour the most boring sports organisation on the planet? Im mean come on!!! We didn’t watch the coots when they were smackin the ball 300 yards off the tee, chipping in from 100 yds and shootin 6 under, what make you think we’re gonna watch em when they aren’t makin the fairways more than 60% of the time? Hell, if Michael Campbell wasn’t finally givin some stick to the fatcat American golfers, we wouldn’t really be paying the game any attention at all. And I don’t wanna hear any of your “fastest growing sport in the world” gash. It only growing fast with middle class whites and Asia. At least the current PGA has cheerleaders. Anything younger than 45 on the senior courses is considered a hazard (to the weak hearts of the old fellas)). But I digress.

The point I was trying to make was that unlike many other professional sports, your use-by date doesn’t roll around when you reach 29. Unlike football, American football, cricket, rugby, basketball, tennis, you can still see players, not just playing the sport but leading the sport. Names such as Randy Johnson (42), Roger Clemens (43) and Raphael Palmeiro (41) and Barry Bonds (41) are playing into their 40’s and playing bloody well. Its widely accepted that you don’t really start to play your best baseball till you are in your 30’s and a lot of players don’t really make the jump into the majors till they are in their mid 20’s. It is very unusual for a player drafted from college to make the starting team and it’s almost completely unheard of for a player to come straight from high-school, unlike basketball where the NBA is fast becoming a glorified crèche.

Each baseball team has a 40 man roster through from opening day up until September 1st they are only allowed 25 men on their day to day playing roster. The remaining 15 men, sit in Triple A “farm” teams where they practice and maintain their skills in anticipation of a call-up to the majors. This triple A while seeming to be class below the majors is actually much better than it appears. Often MLB clubs will keep top quality players in Triple A just so they have reliable reserves for the inevitable injuries that strike. The Yankees, much to everybody’s delight I’m sure, got caught with their pants down big time on this one, when virtually all of their star pitchers went down with injuries and they had no really good back-ups.

There are about 10 levels below the majors, all designed to bring up new talent. There is not a long of money in the day to day play of the true minor leaguers (from Double A down to Rookie) about $1500 - $2000 per month for seven months for the Double A players, and progressively less as you go further down. But this comes on top of usually a fairly hefty signing bonus; anywhere from $500K to $2.5m and more. They are generally drafted out of college, pretty much the only place you can play competitive baseball, so most are aged between 21-25. Unless they are a phenom, or a Dominican/Cuban, they usually get about 2-3 years of minor league to see if they will be able to make a career out of Baseball. But with the bonus safely tucked away in the bank, and living the baseball lifestyle for 24 months, it’s a pretty good life for 20 something. Only 10 percent of minor leaguers ever graduate to the Majors.


Up until recently you could take as much as you like and the worst you’d get was a holiday. They’ve cleaned it up a bit recently [See Had’s report here] but if you’ve got a good rep, give to charities etc, its unlikely any drug conviction will have lasting effects.


Baseball is tailor made for the bigamist. On the road for 3 months of the year, generally 3 days in each city at a time 30 cities, staying in the best hotels, paying for nothing. Yip, your virtually a land-based sailor.

Big meals and tight pants

You can eat as much as you like. No matter how much you weigh, those pants will always make you look fat, so don’t even worry about it.

So there you have it. Tenuous, yes but a good light bit of Wednesday afternoon reading. But baseball is awesome, I mean come on, any sport that has such cool names as Yogi Berra, The Kansas City Royals, Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth and Kenesaw Mountain Landis just has to be good.

Who is Kenesaw Mountain Landis, I hear you say? Only the coolest name of a sports commish there has ever been*.

Finally a little test can anyone tell me what these numbers mean to a true baseball fan?

a) 755

b) 4,256

c) 61



*This is a totally un-researched claim.

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