Tag Archives: baseball

Baseball in December? Here’s a good read!


If you love baseball you may like Dan Barry’s recent book on the longest game ever played in professional baseball. 33 innings (in April in Rhode Island!) of Triple A baseball between the PawSox and Rochester (NY) Red Wings in 1981. Players such as Cal Ripken and Wade Boggs played in the game but the book goes beyond the play-by-play to cover the back story of many of the lesser known players, the umpire, the PawSox owner, and even the Red Wings’ radio announcers. Even if you don’t like baseball, I suspect you can find lots of human interest in the book to stay interested. Warning, the only negative is the author has to include the F word quite a few times.

While we think about the millions made in professional sports, the vast majority of players never make it to the “bigs” or only do for a few games. This book shares some of the experiences and struggles of those minor leaguers chasing dreams that never materialize–for the love of the game.

I imagine that this read was far better than actually attending the game.  Oh, and by the way, the game concluded in June (it had been suspended in the 32nd inning) with 6000 plus people in attendance. So, lots can say they attended the longest game even though almost all failed to attend the most grueling part.

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Filed under Good Books

Living through the life of another


Citizens Bank Park - From the Break from Right...

Image by wallyg via Flickr

Last night I took my family to a Phillies/Red Sox baseball game. My wife gave me two tickets for father’s day without knowing that another wonderful person offered me two of his tickets to the same game. In many ways, it was a great and blessed night: wonderful weather, great seats, time with one of my sons, a gem of a pitching outing by Cliff Lee despite the fact that I’m a Red Sox fan, a batting practice ball caught and given to my son, and best of all…missing keys turning up in at lost and found (if God hadn’t answered that prayer…well this would be a far different post!).

But, I do want to note a couple of observations about human behavior (notwithstanding the great behavior of whoever found my keys and turned them in…THANK YOU):

  1. People drink far too much. Going to the game means indulging in food and drink
  2. Related to this…it is interesting to watch strangers pass a twenty dollar bill down the row to the aisle, beers and change come back down. No one seems to even play with copping either the beers or money. Outside the park, I’m pretty sure the same values would not apply
  3. Put on a shirt for your team, drink (see #1 above), and you enter the Lord of the Flies. People acting if THEY were the team. When their team does well, they are inclined to make sure the “enemy” is duly scorned and despised.
  4. Some fans of the opposing team (Red Sox fans in this case) don’t seem to realize the odds are against them. Some “men” in front of us decided they would take on the fans in front of them. Created some anxiety in myself and my son. Probably #1 involved. Thankful security took care of the issue.
  5. I’m all for cheering, but some cheer in such a way that makes you think they’re cheering for righteousness and jeering the Nazi Germany. (I”m sure this would also be true if we were in Boston, where I took a beer over the head at one game I attended there).
  6. Some people who pay top dollar for their seats don’t seem to stay in them very much. I can’t count the number of times some of the fans left to buy drinks and other merchandise, and take care of business in the bathroom.

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Filed under Cultural Anthropology

Scandals and privacy: Why we want both


I was listening to a news story about the Alex Rodriguez steroid scandal yesterday and reading the third chapter in Lauren Winner’s “Real Sex” book and I  got to thinking about the confusion in our culture: We demand privacy AND we love the scandal. Follow me for a minute:

1. A reporter asked the “man on the street” whether he thought Alex was no longer a role model for his sons. The man replied something to this effect, “What Alex puts in his body is his own business. Stop reading his mail. He has to make his own decisions and so do my sons. It’s a matter of privacy.” So, this man argued that what Alex does with his own body should be his own business since at the time of his taking the steroids it wasn’t illegal.

2. This thinking is commonly found in conversations about sex as well. Winner, in chapter 3, discusses our culture’s acceptance of the mantra, “what two consenting adults do is none of anyone’s business.” In fact, it shouldn’t even be the topic of conversation. FYI, Winner is arguing the opposite–that what you do in the bedroom is a matter of concern for the Christian community. So, Christians should care about their neighbor’s sexual ethic as it impacts the whole community. 

3. Yet, we love the scandal. As a culture, we are more prone now than ever to air someone’s dirty laundry. Haven’t we just been bombarded with some actor’s profanity filled rants? Obama appointees Some actress’ sex tape is “leaked”? Now, Alex Rodriguez is a juicer. I’m sure Joe Torre’s book about his Yankee years will sell big. Why? It’s going to have juicy, PRIVATE, details. We love the scandal. Just not our own.

By the way, the church really isn’t any better. We’ve all heard and repeated things like: “Did you hear about ____ son and what he did?” “Did you hear about ___ down the street and that their pastor was caught doing ____?”

Point: We want the freedom to do what we want in private without others finding out. We don’t want friends and family prying and asking those direct questions about our sex lives or other potentially embarrassing activities. Yes, I know, many of us are in accountability groups because we know we need people prying. But, really, does any human since our fig-leaved first parents really want accountability? No, even though we know that when we have folks asking us the tough questions, we’re less likely to be outed in a scandal.

2nd point: Oh, and we love the scandal for personal reasons. It makes us feel better. I, for one, would NEVER take steroids. That makes me feel better, even though I might have my own private struggles with being honest about taxes, time sheets, how I parent when no one is watching, etc.

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Filed under Christianity, church and culture, Cultural Anthropology, News and politics, Psychology

Phillies win and mob psychology


Congratulations to the Phillies. They stayed focused after 46 hours of delay to win the World Series. It was fun that the game last night lasted only 3 more innings. I let my boys stay up to watch it and so the weird rain-delay suspension worked in their favor. I’ve thought that MLB was doing a disservice to their future fans by having the games so late here in the East.

This morning I heard reports of hooliganism: cars overturned, windows smashed, and other destructive behavior. Likely the number of violent and criminal actors were small and similar to other cities that win national championships. Normal maybe, but it does raise the question as to WHY do individuals engage in violence as a means to celebrate their team?

So, I got on my PsychInfo database to see what I could find on the topic.

Not surprisingly, most of the literature is about European and South American soccer matches. It seems that English hooligans are seen as the worst. But, I found little in the way of helpful information to get to the psychology of mob violence after sporting wins. But I did find these little tidbits:

1. Intergroup relationships that increase a common identity serve to establish group power and a sense of legitimacy. Hence why most of Broad Street was impassable. Individuals by the thousands hung out on the street with no sense to make room for cars. They felt they had a legitimate right to be in the street and the power to be there even when cars might need to get through.

2. The higher the profile of policing, the higher risk of disorder. Hmmm. Seems the more police appear in para-military or riot-gear the more fans feel aggressive. The flip side was found true in 2004 in Europe. Lower profile policing seems to build the sense that the police and the fans share the same goal: celebration. Hmmm again. Maybe this is why when I become more authoritarian in the home, I get less cooperation.

3. The pathway to violence may be this: winning plus alcohol = increased aggression. Apparently, losing does not increase violent behaviors. Winning doesn’t dramatically increase happiness (so the study found) but does increase aggressiveness.

By in large, this is an understudied phenomenon. Someone developed an incomprehensible “Elaborated Social Identity Model of Crowd Behavior” but it wasn’t particularly helpful to my questions.

I guess one of my problems is that I am not attracted to crowds of any kind and so mob celebrations whether at an official parade or after a game make me want to run. Just watching the crowd last night on TV made me feel a bit claustrophobic.

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Filed under Identity, Psychology

Sox game


My wife and I were given a wonderful gift of Red Sox/Phillies tickets for today’s game. Had great seats and enjoyed most of it since the Red Sox won–even without 3 of their biggest stars in the lineup. The weather held and wasn’t too hot. It was nice to enjoy it kidless as well!

A couple of observations. People drink WAAAY too much. We were surrounded by 20 somethings who pounded the beer. 6, 7, 8 beers (each costing $6.50). No wonder they had to get up after every half inning to pee. Second, Philly fans weren’t too nice to us but they could have been much worse given the history of the Philly mean-spirited fan. Choice words were said about Boston and Boston fans but none directly to our face. I did worry given the amount of alcohol consumed. Finally, the park has quite a nice feel and I’m not sure their is a bad seat in the house. Lastly, the Phillies fans really booed JD Drew. Didn’t help as he was 4 for 5 with a 3 run homer.  

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Filed under Red Sox