Vin Scully Reciting the James Earl Jones ‘Field of Dreams’ Speech is Pure Baseball

“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball.”

…and Vin Scully too.

Scully will be taking a bow at year’s end on what has been an incredible broadcasting career in baseball. It began in 1950, when Scully joined Red Barber and Connie Desmond in the Brooklyn Dodgers radio and television booths. At 25 years old, in 1953, he was the youngest to ever call a World Series game…a record that stands today.

13 NL Pennants, 6 World Series titles, and 66 years with the same team makes Scully an all-timer. It’s hard to imagine someone other than James Earl Jones reciting the “People Will Come”, but then again Scully personifies what the speech means. Scully, like the game itself, endured. His voice is comforting, reminding fans of “when they were children and cheered their heroes.”

Now if only we can get Jones to recite Scully’s famous intro…

It’s time for Dodger baseball! Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant good (day/evening) to you, wherever you may be.”

For comparison.

 

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Can We Have More ‘Bat Dogs’ in Baseball, Please?

During a Wednesday evening stint with the New York Yankees Double-A affiliate, Trenton Thunder, third baseman Alex Rodriguez (and the rest of the internet) found out about one of the best things in all of minor league baseball…

…the “Bat Dogs”.

For the first two innings of Trenton home games, golden retrievers Derby and Rookie pickup the bats after each player’s at-bat. Below are the dogs in action after Rodriguez grounded out early on.

The New York Daily News has a great story on the origins of the bat dogs. As is the way of minor league baseball, Trenton was looking for something new and different that would attract fans to the ballpark. When a fans fell in love with traveling act “Jake, the Diamond Dog” in the late 90’s, the team knew they needed one to call their own. Jake’s trainer found the Thunder a puppy named Chase, who served as Jake’s understudy before going full-time with the club.

The bat dogs have been a staple in Trenton since 2003. Chase bred Derby in 2009 and Rookie was born in 2013. When the team goes on the road, the dogs go home with Thunder Sr. VP of corporate sales and partnerships Eric Lipsman. They don’t leave teeth marks on the bats and the only issue is that dogs really don’t like pine tar, which is understandable.

Some Major League organizations host their “Bark at the Park” promotional nights, which is an awesome opportunity to bring your pup to a ballgame. Others have their own Team Dog, like the Brewers and their little bichon frise named Hank. The first MLB team to implement bat dogs will be the real winner though. It’s not like they are taking jobs from bat boys, as they the dogs could just retrieve bats for the first two innings like in Trenton.

Having dogs around the clubhouse may be good for morale, unlike Adam LaRoche having his child around 24/7 (I couldn’t resist). Just take it into consideration, MLB marketing executives. Who doesn’t love dogs?

Bat Dogs

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Ballpark Foodie: What To Get During White Sox ‘Homecoming Weekend’

It hasn’t been a shabby year to be a White Sox fan. The team’s in 1st place, Chris Sale is undefeated (both as of 10:30 AM CT on May 19th), and the food is absolutely delicious. More on that shortly…

The White Sox are also celebrating the 25th anniversary of U.S. Cellular Field with an awesome “Homecoming Weekend” series against the reigning champion Kansas City Royals. If you attended the 10th Anniversary celebration of the 2005 World Series “Win or Die Trying” White Sox last year, then you know it will be a good time. Along with Fireworks Friday night and cool promotions all weekend, players of White Sox-past like CY Young winner Jack McDowell, 7-time All-Star outfielder Tim Raines, 2-time All-Star closer Roberto Hernandez, and Lance “One Dog” Johnson will all be in attendance.

So what will taste best with your South Side baseball, sunshine and temperatures in the mid-60s all weekend? I’ve made a few visits to the ballpark this season and these were some of the items on the concourse that I can’t wait to go back for.

Bacon Cheddar Pretzel Dog

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Pretty self-explanatory. A big Vienna Beef hot dog on a fresh pretzel bun, topped with nachos cheese and bacon pieces.

Found at the All-Star Stands along both foul lines and behind home plate. 

Tater Tachos

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Who doesn’t love tots? Topped with nacho cheese and jalapeno peppers. Can also be served in a souvenir green batting helmet.

Found in Sections 110 and 544.

Merkt’s Cheesy Beef Sandwich

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Merkt’s should have sold you by itself. Thin-sliced ribeye steak grilled and infused with the Merkt’s cheese, topped with Comiskey Pico.

Found at the Burger Barn stands in Sections 112 and 528.

Also found at theBurger Barn stands…

Bacon on a Stick + The Comiskey Burger

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As my friend Night Train Veeck once described it, here’s the #ProTip:

Step 1. Order both the double-thick maple bacon on a stick and the double-patty Comiskey burger (with Merkt’s cheddar and pico).

Step 2. Remove the stick from said bacon.

Step 3. Place double-thick maple bacon on the burger.

Step 4. Enjoy…and eat like nobody’s watching.

Other Delicious Items

Beggars Pizza – Section 163

  • Barbecue Chicken Pizza
  • Italian Beef Giardinara Pizza
  • Chicken Parm Sandwich
  • Fried Caprese Ravioli
  • Cheese-filled Breadsticks
  • Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie

Hooters Buffalo Chicken Sandwich – Section 156

  • Also wings available with medium, hot and honey Thai sause

35th Street Tacos – Section 127

Avacodo/Bacon Grilled Cheese – Sections 110 & 544

 

Cuban Sandwich – Along LF on 100-level and Club

Elotes & Tamales – Sections 104, 127, 142 and 529

 

Wow Bao – Section 158

 

Funnel Cake & Churros – Sections 110, 155 and 531

 

Grilled Hot Dogs, Polish Sausage and Brats – EVERYWHERE

 

…and gluten-free options. It’s cool. My my mom needs this guide. via the White Sox Website.

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Be sure to share your foodie photos at the ballpark or follow along for more on Facebook or Twitter

Ballpark Foodie: Much More Than a ‘Sausage Race’ in Milwaukee

Saturday, I took the trip from Chicago up I-94 to take in some baseball, beer and delicious encased meats. Celebrating my dad’s birthday a little early, we made a day pairing the Lakefront Brewery with Milwaukee baseball. Very thankful the fine people at the Brewers shared this so I knew what to look forward to before getting to Miller Park.

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Getting to Miller Park early is a fun experience. There’s tailgating, bags, grilling and every Wisconsin team logo present. Even in 30 degree temps, there’s a pretty solid party raging. Under the dome is a different kind of party though, and way more than the mid-game Sausage Race that you’ve heard so much about…

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During batting practice, I took the opportunity to walk the 100-level concourse, engulfing myself in the smells of ‘Stormin Gorman’ pulled pork sandwiches, Banh Mi brats (with asian slaw and cilantro lime mayo), and assorted sugar-coated, roasted nuts.

On the 200-level, toward right field, I was directed to the “Brat Boys” concession stand where the real fun was…

The Wisconsin Dog

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With homemade beer jam, sauerkraut and a big pile of bacon.

 

The Jalapeno Popper

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Deep fried jalapeno peppers and nacho cheese.

If you crave something sweet, I highly recommend heading toward right field on the 100-level concourse and finding the bright green “Hoely Moley” Doughtnut + Frozen Custard Sandwich stand.

There are a litany of topping options, like pecan pie pieces, peanut butter, Nutella, and more. I went with the first choice on the board though.

The ‘Baby Spice’

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with cinnamon donut pieces, caramel and fudge.

Oh, and the game went 12 innings, Padres won 8-7, and Andy Grammar played a post-game concert!

Thank you for the good time, Milwaukee. I will certainly be back to explore some more this summer.

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Piffcast: The Thirteenth – Jessica Kleinschmidt and The Winter Soldier

Making her return to The Piffcast is FanDuel sportswriter Jessica Kleinschmidt! With Chicago being the hottest town in baseball at the moment, we ask Jessica to settle a few Cubs/White Sox arguments for their respective fanbases that will likely come up before the Crosstown Cup series. We also cast our own version of the Space Jam sequel, but with Major League Baseball players. Find out if your favorites make the cut! (27:21 mark, if you’d like to jump ahead)

Now that Captain America: Civil War is finally here, TJ and I (WITHOUT ANY SPOILERS) discuss what the movie got right compared to Batman v. Superman. I also reveal where it ranks in my “Favorite Movies of 2016 so far” list.

Feel free to react as you listen on Facebook or Twitter. Subscribe on iTunes here and listen to our past Piffcast episodes

MLB All-Star Game Voting Has Begun

Just 3 weeks into the regular season, polls are officially open for Major League Baseball’s All-Star game voting. You can vote early and often by clicking here to go directly to the ballot.

The 2016 All-Star Game takes place July 12th, at Petco Park in San Diego, CA, with some of the best craft beer selection you could ask for. Voting ends June 30th at 11:59 PM ET. Fans can vote up to 5 times in any 24-hour period.

This is what my first ballot looks like, considering the small sample size of work everyone has done so far.

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As of Sunday, April 24th at 1:00 PM CT…

  • Cubs OF Dexter Fowler leads the league in Wins Above Replacement (1.8 WAR) and is tied for the most doubles hit (9).
  • White Sox OF Adam Eaton leads the league in Defensive WAR (0.8) and runs saved (7) while batting .309.
  • Nationals 2B Daniel Murphy leads the league in Batting Average (.411) *with the required number of at-bats*
  • Nationals OF Bryce Harper and Rockies SS Trevor Story lead the league in Home Runs (8), while Harper leads all in Runs Batted In (22).
  • Astros 2B Jose Altuve leads the league in Stolen Bases (7).
  • Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo and Orioles 1B Chris Davis lead those in their respective leagues at their position in Home Runs (6).
  • Orioles 3B Manny Machado leads the league in Hits (27), Total Bases (53 and, On-Base Plus Slugging (1.225 OPS), while batting .397.

You can make your votes and see the stats lined up from each player from the MLB website here.

Let us know who you are voting for on Facebook or Twitter. 

Your Annual Reminder It’s Opening Day

While the weather forecast may have called for overcast skies (a day after disheartening April blizzards in Chicago), there’s still a ray of sunshine breaking through any and all mundane mediocrity clouding your life. For one day, every cliche and sports movie monologue feels as inviting as the guy selling programs when you walk through your favorite stadium’s gate.

Only a handful of teams are playing today, the Cardinals, Pirates, Blue Jays, Rays, Mets and Royals. The whole league will be in action tomorrow and the hometown love will pour over each respective ball club, but it’s amazing how we can all be just as excited today. Is it because everyone is tied for first place at this very moment? Do we forget that there are 161 games to go and anything can happen from now till October? Or is it because we just can’t help but “get romantic about baseball”?

The romance is real. It hits you when you first climb the steps from the concourse toward your seats at Wrigley Field, much like walking up a ramp to your aisle at Fenway Park when the sun starts to set. If you’re lucky enough to share that with someone, don’t take it for granted. As a White Sox fan, I lose myself in their brand new pregame montage every year, with moving music and memories. I forget I’m 28 years old and involuntary noises erupt from my windpipes as the fireworks signal it’s time to begin. There are micro-versions of these instances throughout the long regular season, but nothing compares to the first.

I could go into a long thing about hope for every team, only for someone (maybe myself) to shoot it all down with projections, sabermetrics, and the pessimistic cold hard reality check that not everyone is meant for the playoffs. However, baseball is weird…quite possibly the weirdest of the major sports. While numbers, trends, and track records are real and incredibly valid, you can’t predict injuries, suspensions, personal issues, trades or the litany of fortune-bending occurrences that are bound to happen over the next 6 months.

Also alluring is the mystery of what kind of greatness and individual accomplishments this new season will hold. Who will be the closest to batting .400? How long will someone go in their hitting-streak, and will the challenge Joe DiMaggio? Who will throw the next perfect game? Can anyone emulate the 1998 home run race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire (and not be busted for steroids)? Where will longtime veterans finish on the all-time lists (Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Albert Pujols) and who can we get excited about to possibly surpass them someday (Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Kris Bryant)? Who will come out of nowhere?

Right now, more than any time the rest of regular season, you can comfortably be a fan. You can be excited. You can be optimistic. You can be a full grown…kid. For a few hours at a time, you can escape to a game you love and forget about the drama and stresses of life for a little bit. It’s Opening Day. Just have fun.

Share your experiences and thoughts with me this season on Facebook or Twitter