Some of my Favorite Baseball Spots on the Internet

I view baseball Opening Day as the same as Christmas morning. It is one of my favorite times of the year. So, as we approached the 2022 Opening Day, I did a countdown, sort of like an advent calendar, but instead of a little toy behind each flap on a box, I posted a new link to some of my favorite locations on the internet.

I thought I would compile them here, in one sport. I hope you enjoy. (I do have to mention that the one for Opening Day itself is from my novel, so I hope this doesn’t seem like one long ad for my book or that I am that much of a narcissist…I just thought it was appropriate for Opening Day.)

Day 1 (24 Days to Go): People will Come

Christmas is about hope and new beginnings. It is about possibilities, starting over, and joy. For those of us who love baseball, oftentimes there is more excitement around Opening Day than Christmas for all the same reasons, plus the fact that if everything goes right, you get to feel that excitement every day for more than six months.

With 25 days until Christmas Opening Day (Opening Day is the 25th day), here is my Baseball Advent Calendar.

Day 1

Day 2 (23 Days to Go) – Casey

Christmas is about hope and new beginnings. It is about possibilities, starting over, and joy. For those of us who love baseball, oftentimes there is more excitement around Opening Day than Christmas for all the same reasons, plus the fact that if everything goes right, you get to feel that excitement every day for more than six months.

With day 2, hope springs eternal and an unexpected ending that we can all relate to.

Day 2

Day 3 (22 Days to Go) – Safe at Home

Today we take a virtual visit with the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and their “Safe at Home” program which includes a series of videos where players, coaches, curators of the museum, authors, writers, and more talk about the game we all love.

Day 3

Day 4 (21 Days to Go) – Irish American Baseball

Top O’ the Inning to Ya! Okay, I can’t take credit for that (and I am not sure I want to), but if you are Irish and love baseball, maybe head on over to the Irish American Baseball Society website and learn about the great contributions the Irish have made to professional baseball.

While my personal favorite Irish-American baseball players are Pete Alonso, David Cone, Keith Hernandez (TIL), Max Scherzer, and Bill Buckner, the list includes 61 Hall of Famers including Cal Ripken, Connie Mack and Derek Jeter (again, TIL). Unfortunately, this list also includes Chase Utley and Roger Clemens, but there is nothing you can do about that.

It was interesting to see Steve Garvey can trace his roots back to the same county my grandparents are from (County Louth). If you want to find out if your favorite player is Irish, head on over with Day 4 below.

Day 4

Day 5 (20 Days to Go) – The 1884 World Series

I assume everyone here has heard of and uses Baseball Reference, but it is one of my favorite sites out there. It has changed very little and is a throwback to the early days of the internet. It is also extremely functional, making so much of baseball history easily accessible. Trying to remember who was on base when Terry Pendleton hit that devastating 2-run 9th inning game-tying home run off the Mets in that huge series down the stretch of the 1987 NL East pennant race? Just check out the Baseball Reference (it was Willie McGee, BTW). Want to know if Moonlight Graham was an actual player? Just go the distance.

And are you curious about the very first World Series ever played? So was I and found that it was just an exhibition series, but the Providence Grays beat the New York Metropolitans (no connection to the modern Mets) three games to none in 1884 and Old Hoss Radbourn (seriously, check out this guy’s stats…he won 60 games that season) started all three games for the Grays and only gave up 3 unearned runs in 22 innings. If you want to see the full stats for the series, check out Day 5 below.

Day 5

Day 6 (19 Days to Go) – Artist Dick Perez

Artist Dick Perez is the official artist of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, having painted the portraits for every inductee. His paintings are known throughout the world. At the start of the pandemic, in May 2020, he created a slideshow of art titled “Baseball in New York” to try to help us all deal with the absence of our pastime. So, I thought it was worth visiting for day 6.

Day 6

Day 7 (18 Days to Go) – 2021 Top Plays

Day 7 is a simple visit to 2021 and the top 100 plays of the season.

Day 7

Day 8 (17 Days to Go) – SABR

SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) is one of those organizations that exist in the background but provides so much value to the game. At its heart, it is a group of individuals that just love this game and look to add to it through research and statistics and their depth of knowledge about the history of the game. Through their website, they provide a number of research articles and journals for free, and membership to one of their chapters is open to anyone.

When I worked for the Baltimore Orioles PR department, from time to time we would get a call from one of the members (Baltimore has a particularly strong chapter, if I am remembering correctly) letting us know of an approaching milestone for a player that we may have missed, an interesting fact about a previous game that only in-depth knowledge of team history would reveal or some streak that we had not noticed. It was often fascinating information that was very much appreciated.

So, for Day 8, go check out what they are about, and specifically, take a look at the “The National Pastime” archives that feature collections of articles about baseball in specific cities and states.

Day 8

Day 9 (16 Days to Go) – Making a Wooden Bat

Today we visit the Louisville Slugger Bat factory to see how the bats Major League Baseball uses are made. (That branding is pretty cool.)

Day 9

Day 10 (15 Days to Go) – Spitball Magazine

Looking for a new book on baseball to read? Interested in some prose or poetry on the National Pastime? Spitball Magazine has you covered. While the site seems a bit outdated, there have been recent additions to it as they highlight their favorite new books on the subject. They also have book reviews and a magazine they publish. If you have a few minutes and like something a bit different, check out day 10.

Day 10

Day 11 (14 Days to Go) – Grave Sites

The Baseball Almanac is another one of those old-school websites where it looks like very little has changed (fair warning, it has a bunch of annoying ads, but they are in need of funding for all the free information they offer). It is full of both up-to-date information as well a ton of baseball history (they claim to be the “Official Baseball History Site”).

Some of the more interesting information they have is a breakdown of locations where players were born and died, a list of great quotes, and lists of statistical leaders. However, my favorite is the list of pictures of gravesites for some baseball players and managers. So, Day 11 is just that…pictures of baseball gravesites.

Day 11

Day 12 (13 Days to Go) – Physics of a Curveball

When I was a kid, I remember my physics teacher telling my class that if somehow you could throw a curveball in space, it would go in a full circle back to you, basically hitting you in the back. Now, this seems like pure bunk to me in hindsight, but I got curious about the mechanics of a curveball. I was less curious as to how to throw one and more curious as to why a ball curves. There is a ton of information out there, but I settled on the link for Day 12 because it had some nice graphics to show what is happening with the ball.

(BTW, it looks like my teacher was wrong…If the ball requires air resistance to curve, that isn’t happening in the vacuum of space…but I did nearly fail physics that year.)

Day 13 (12 Days to Go) – Strange Endings

I am not sure I would have labeled this as the Craziest Endings in Baseball History, but they sure are entertaining. Here is day 13.

Day 13

Day 14 (11 Days to Go) – Baseball Gifs

I was exploring Reddit a bit more than usual and I stumbled across a few interesting baseball subreddits I had not seen before. Included in those (and I am not sure how I missed it before) is r/baseballgifs which, among the top of all time include not only a gif of his accuracy in throwing but his pillow fighting skills, as well. Day 14 is the top of what r/baseballgifs has to offer:

Day 14

Day 15 (10 Days to Go) – Baseball Stadiums

If you love ballparks, you have to check out Ballparks of Baseball. Not only does it have a ton of information and pictures on current ballparks, but also has a respectable list of old ballparks, as well. It has a ballpark comparison table, seating charts, and rendering photos & models. One of my favorite features of the site is the list of construction photos that include Wrigley Field, Ebbets Field, and Old Yankee Stadium. This list is day 15.

Day 15

Day 16 (9 Days to Go) – Lost in the Sun

When I was in college I set about making a custom aquarium for fish. I wanted to have a baseball diamond at the bottom and set out making the base roughly the shape of a stadium and then had the glass cut. I wanted the field to be as accurate as possible (scale-wise) and decided to check out the baseball rule book on it. Among the information I was looking for, I discovered that MLB stadiums are required to be orientated a certain way: “1.04: It is desirable that the line from home base through the pitcher’s plate to second base shall run East-Northeast.” Since then, for whatever reason, this has always been interesting to me. I thought others might find it interesting, so, for day 16 is an article from 2014 that discusses this.

If anyone is curious, I finished the tank and it held water for about 20 minutes before it started leaking (fortunately I tested it sitting in a bathtub). The sealant I used wouldn’t bond with the plexiglass I used for the bottom and couldn’t find one that would bond with glass and plexiglass at the same time. The tank moved around with me for years where I was determined to one day get the glass I needed for the bottom, but that never happened and it eventually ended up in the trash.

Day 16

Day 17 (8 Days to Go) – Strange Baseball Rules

While I find the inclusion of the infield fly rule on this list a bit of a stretch, these little know rules are interesting to me. I especially find the fraternizing rule interesting as well as the rule prohibiting catching a ball with your hat. I knew catching a fair ball with your hat was not allowed, but I did not realize the harsh penalty for it. Wow.

Day 17

Day 18 (7 Days to Go) – How a Baseball is Made

It boggles my mind how much manual effort goes into making some items still. It is pretty cool that the balls are still hand-sown! Day 18 is How Baseballs are Made.

Day 18

Day 19 (6 Days to Go) – Trick Plays

Since it is April Fools Day, I thought it appropriate to give you some of the better tick plays in baseball history for Day 19.

Day 19

Day 20 (5 Days to Go) – 2022 Milestones

As we look ahead at the season that begins later this week, there are a number of milestones within reach of a number of players. In his final season, there are a few in reach of Pujols to round out his Hall of Fame resume. Cabrera has a few that he can reach and Scherzer, Kershaw, and Wainwright are all in reach of 200 wins. Day 20 is a look at some of the other milestones within reach.

Day 20

Day 21 (4 Days to Go) – Baseball Savant

Baseball Savant, a property of MLB, takes an i-depth look at baseball statistics and matchups. It helps you visualize data and really explore the game played on the field.

Day 21

Day 22 (3 Days to Go) – Baseball Books

Has anyone ever read the book “The Natural”? It is an interesting book that seemed less about the game of baseball and more about human nature. It also lacks that dramatic dream-like Hollywood ending, but is still enjoyable. “Shoeless Joe”, the basis for the movie “Field of Dreams” is a wonderful book and one of my favorites. I love the movie but loved the book even more. “The Bad Guys Won” is an uncomfortable truth about the 1986 Mets that all Amazin’ fans should read. The truth does hurt but doesn’t make Game 6 any less magical.

All three of these books, plus 97 more are on Esquire’s list of the best baseball books of all time which is day 22.

Day 22

Day 23 (2 Days to Go) – Savannah Bananas

This team may not be for the traditionalists, but they look like a hell of a lot of fun. During the summer, they are part of the Coastal Plain League, a summer college league, and are a “real” team. The rest of the time, think Harlem Globetrotters of baseball. Their social media is full of great videos and they look like they work hard to make the game more fun. For day 23, I give you the Savannah Bananas:

Day 23

Day 24 (1! Day to Go) – Take Me Out to the Ballgame

I was originally just going to post a link to the full version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” with Katie Casey and her boyfriend and all that, but then I stumbled on a YouTube clip of Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly dancing and singing the first two verses of the song from a movie of the same name that I had no idea even existed. The late 1940s were an interesting time and I love it. I had to make it Day 24.

(Day 24 bonus, Baseball Almanac has some more details of the song, as well as all the verses. They also have links of different versions of it being played, but none of the links worked for me.)

Opening Day 24!

“From this big, wide, raucous river of humanity, with the bright spring sun shining down, the chorus of chants and cheers and songs started to rise, rarely in unison. The laughter, the nervous discussions about the state of the team, and the wild predictions of the largely optimistic crowd were set as the background music. All the individual voices and chants and songs and laughter, like instruments in a marching band, came together to produce a joyful song that electrified the air. Even those who were mixed into the crowd, alone, felt part of something much bigger.

“Once the river hit the outer edges of the stadium, it split and diverged around the building as people headed in all different directions to get to their gates, and ultimately, their seats. There was no tailgating, no lingering outside of the stadium, no stops at the vendors. This was Opening Day and the field … the grass … was, for most of them, the first glimpse of Winter’s demise, so there was no waiting to see it. A child doesn’t wait in their room on Christmas morning and fans do not hang around outside on this day.

“As she made her way to her gate, she ran into people she knew here and there. Rarely did they stop to talk; they just fell in step with each other and talked as they walked until it was time to part ways again.

“She stopped only once to get her program and scorecard from the vendor she always retrieved them from. She exchanged a few happy words with him, summing up the last six months of their lives with a few simple pleasantries. They could catch up over the course of the next six months, but right now, it was time to see the grass.

“As if guided by some internal mechanism, her legs made their way through the crowd, around the usual bottlenecks and congested spots. She barely looked where she was going as she weaved her way to the turnstile. Again, she exchanged more pleasantries with the ticket taker, another old friend. When he handed back her ticket stub, she quickly stashed it away in some unseen internal pocket of her jacket to ensure it would be there when she got back to the cigar box.

“She quickly made her way to the ramps she used … she couldn’t be bothered with the escalators; too many slow people. Her heart was racing now, less because of the climb and more out of excitement. There were times over the last six months that baseball was the furthest thing from her mind. Days and weeks would even pass without a single thought drifting to the game. It seemed even her dreams were devoid of this love affair. Now … now that she was so close, it was all she could think of and there would be nothing that could hold her back from her friend. While the pain of the previous fall still sat in her gut like a bad meal, a new season was upon her and the past would be forgiven.

“Finally, she was at her section and she entered the short, dark tunnel that led into the seating bowl. It was as black as night, she thought, and the light at the end that washed everyone in front of her into a silhouette only seemed to make it worse. It was the gateway from the past, from the darkness, and it was cold, as she expected it. It was the last gasp of Winter and she took one last deep breath before taking that last step out of the tunnel.

“Instantly, she was warm as the sunlight bathed her. Instantly, the chatter of the other faithful met her ears. Instantly, the smells of the popcorn and hot dogs, and various other foods from around the park, came together. Instantly, she could literally taste the air, with all its electricity, on her tongue. Instantly, before her eyes were the field, the players, the grass, and a thousand other visions of beauty that can only be found in a ballpark.

“Spring has returned.”

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