Posted by: Namar | April 26, 2013

In May, baseball blooms

In May, 1919, the three New York baseball teams, the Giants, Superbas (Dodgers) and Highlanders (Yankees) played Sunday home games…for the first time ever. Prior to that it had been illegal to play on Sunday.*

This was not the case in Chicago, St. Louis and Cincinnati, mind you. They had been doing it for years. And very early in this same decade, Detroit, Cleveland and Washington had joined in the practice as well. But baseball, it was argued in New York, would distract the people from their attendance of church.

Wealthy patrons could ride their horses or play golf on the day of rest; but the common man (and it was almost entirely men attending games at this time) were not allowed to watch a ballgame on the day of rest.

In Boston and Philadelphia, the ban would continue until the 1930s.


* There had been two exceptions: in 1906, a Sunday game between the Highlanders and Philadelphia Athletics at Hilltop Park drew 15,000 fans and raised $5,600 for San Francisco earthquake relief; and in 1912, a benefit game between the Highlanders and the Giants at the Polo Grounds raised $10,000 for the survivors of the Titanic.

Posted by: Namar | September 29, 2012

What are you worth? Get paid small to get rich.

Namar Elysian Baseball money

“… and I suppose there are useful people doing useful things:
Barbers, plumbers, postal workers, truck drivers hauling things, bus
Drivers, doctors, carpenters, plumbers, guys talking on radios, waitresses,
And yes it’s good to have these people doing these things, yet
I will still want something that will make me think and laugh
When so much has failed me now and later
And again and again.”

Many professions contribute much to our daily world and to our society at large; others, it can be a little more difficult to connect the dots.

Some of the top paying jobs in America today include:


Average Salary: $112,160
Current Employment: 272,320

Airline Pilots, Copilots and Flight Engineers

Average annual salary: $118,070
Current employment: 68,350

Financial Manager

Average annual salary: $120,450
Current employment: 477,690

Industrial-Organizational Psychologists

Average annual salary: $124,160
Current employment: 1,230

Petroleum Engineer

Average annual salary: $138,980
Current employment: 30,880

Orthodontists and Dentists

Average annual salary: $161,750-$204,670
Current employment: 101,400

But as productive and high paying as these jobs may be, they will not get you into the “1%” of earners, so popular in the news these days.

Where the 1 Percent Fit in the Hierarchy of Income

The hierarchy of income that underlies the conversation about the wealthiest in our society begins with incomes of $386,000/year of more.
In Major League Baseball, the minimum salary for a rookie, a fresh-faced newbie trying to make the big club–his salary for the year is a minimum $480,000. Now in all of baseball, there are only about 700-750 players at any one time on a major league roster. So only 750 or so are capable of performing at this level; in the jobs mentioned above there are thousands, or hundreds of thousands of those jobs.

But if you are one of the best 125 players, meaning you are among the top 3-4 players on one of the 30 MLB teams, you are likely to be earning much, much more. In fact, the average salary of the top 125 salaries in baseball in 2012 is approximately $12.5 million. That 12.5 million per player, per year, for those elite 125 players.

Year Minimum Salary Average Salary
1970 $12,000 $29,303
1975 $16,000 $44,676
1980 $30,000 $143,756
1985 $60,000 $371,571
1990 $100,000 $578,930
1995 $109,000 $1,071,029
2000 $200,000 $1,998,034
2002 $300,000
2005 $316,000 $2,632,655
2006 $327,000
2007 $380,000 $2,699,292
2008 $390,000
2009 $400,000 $2,996,106
2011 $414,000
2012 $480,000

Even though ballplayers are paid far less and valued far less on a per customer basis then say, teachers, they are able to collect millions of tiny payments from people who find their work valuable enough to entertain them for a few hours.  The scalable nature of their work means that lots of dollars from millions of people end up to be more absolute dollars than a lot of dollars from a few people, which is the model followed by teachers (taxes for teachers–a job that isn’t scalable,…yet).

Posted by: Namar | August 31, 2012

It’s no stunt to watch women

Man gaping at women on the silver screen, all the way back in the 19-teens and twenties. But not for simple beauty. America’s first stunt women, led by pioneering actress Helen Gibson (August 27, 1892 – October 10, 1977) were held in awe by audiences around the world.

Rodeo star Rose August Wenger was the independent, quick-thinking and inventive heroine in the action serial The Hazards of Helen, after being promoted from stunt double to star.

After meeting fellow rodeo star Hoot Gibson, they married and she shared his career path into the movies. Her stunt career in movies spanned 80 films, the last being ‘The man who shot Liberty Valance’, by John Ford in 1962.

The first professional stunt woman in America, Helen Gibson, blazed an amazing trail. She’s playing third base for the Lady Ballers in both ends of the Labor Day doubleheader here, against Hoot’s Hellions.

Posted by: Namar | June 29, 2012

Rachmaninoff, Romance and Running Bases

“Baseball is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for baseball.”

Rachmaninoff said something like that. You could look it up.

By the late 18th century, literary taste began to turn from classical and neoclassical conventions. The generation had doubts about the age of reason.Romanticism swept through the world with its spirit was one of revolt against an established order of things; against precise rules, laws, dogmas, and formulas that characterized Classicism in general and late 18th-century Neoclassicism in particular.

It praised imagination over reason, emotions over logic, and intuition over science-making way for a vast body of literature of great sensibility and passion. In their choice of heroes, romantic writers replaced the static universal types with more complex, idiosyncratic characters. They became preoccupied with the genius, the hero, and the exceptional figure in general, and a focus on his passions and inner struggles and there was an emphasis on the examination of human personality and its moods and mental potentialities.

Individualism was on the rise. Previously people had been classified as peasants, merchants or nobles. The creation of the possibility for anyone to become a king became apparent. Napoleon Bonaparte rose dramatically because of the revolution. Fifty years after his death he was still inspiring people to write of tossing responsibility and tradition to the wind. Baseball also showed rebellion against social conventions like the government.

And baseball was born and flourished.

baseball rachmaninoff utopia

Romanticism, like baseball, stresses self-expression and individual uniqueness that does not lend itself to precise definition. Baseball is romantic.

During this time, along came composer Sergei Vassilievich Rachmaninoff. For many in classical music, Rachmaninoff was one of the last connections, if not the absolute last, between 19th century romanticism and modern times. He stands as a giant who combined dazzling virtuosity with stunning efficiency and ease. His recordings shed light on an era of pianists who had mostly died out before the arrival of gramophone-making, leaving their performances in a vast, silent library of myth.

And he would have had a nasty left-handed hook as a pitcher.

He’ll make his pitching debut tomorrow at Elysium Field here on the island.

Posted by: Namar | April 23, 2012

Hero’s blaze new trails. The motivating factors behind the efforts are largely irrelevant, but the new trail, once blazed, is forever a trail. Jackie Robinson traveled the trail (gauntlet?) blazed by Branch Rickey.

Rickey’s career was not successful early on, however. See Keith Olberman’s story …

Baseball Nerd

All this time this weekend debating when the “Highlanders” nickname was phased out, and the “Yankees” nickname phased in, and I missed a jewel sparkling up from one of my primary pieces of evidence.

Take a good look at the stern faces in this photo, particularly in the back row, sitting on the fence at old Hilltop Park:The Yankees – and if the editors of the New York American of 1907 decided to try to sell newspapers by giving away these postcards, and a special supplement of this photo, by calling them the Yankees, so will I – had traded veteran Joe Yeager to St. Louis a month before spring training for a promising but ultimately disastrous utilityman.

He was listed as a catcher, but on June 28th with him behind the plate, the Washington Senators stole 13 bases against the Yankees. Thirteen. “My arm was numb and I…

View original post 61 more words

Posted by: Namar | April 6, 2012

Democracy in action: Let’s Make A Deal

The first integrated audience in t.v. game show history was Monty hall’s Let’s Make a Deal. Not only did the show include people of different colors, but also sizes and shapes. You no longer had to be a slim white person to be on network t.v. Let’s Make a Deal changed that.

A representative audience

And the game itself was a free market bizarre. Bait and switch; boom or bust. And the Big Deal of the Day lead to a famous, regularly debated logic problem, known far and wide as The Monty Hall problem

“Suppose you’re on a game show, and you’re given the choice of three doors: Behind one door is a car; behind the others, goats. You pick a door, say No. 1, and the host, who knows what’s behind the doors, opens another door, say No. 3, which has a goat. He then says to you, “Do you want to pick door No. 2?” Is it to your advantage to switch your choice?” (Parade Magazine , September 1990).

Many people initially reason that with only two doors left, the probability should be 1/2 that the car is behind No. 1. However, if you assume that the host knew where the car was, and was obliged to open a door with a goat, then the probability is actually 1/3 that the car is behind No. 1. To see this, note that at the outset, the probability is 1/3 that the car is behind No. 1. Since at least one of the other two doors has a goat, the host has revealed nothing about the contents of No. 1. Thus the probability of 1/3 for door No. 1 remains unchanged.

An alternate explanation appears here:

Posted by: Namar | February 20, 2012

Remembering Gary Carter

Gary Carter passed over last week and there are a couple of things that come to mind worth sharing.

Thousands of fans shared their stories of Carter’s graciousness, courtesy and good nature. These stories weren’t new and none of them were particularly poignant. There were countless stories of how Carter gave of himself  with autographs, letter, personal visits, phone calls and kind words. The media leaned on him for quotes–good one–when everyone else was too tired, or angry, or embarrassed to talk.

Fans were eager to share them with each other and the watching-listening world. But where the right people paying attention? If every professional athlete could hear how much Carter meant to these folks, how this fine athlete will be remembered by so many not for what he achieved on the field or in the record books, but rather for the kind of person he was and how he treated people.

Hearing those stories begs the question: why is this so rare? It may not come natural to most athletes to be able to do this so well, but it isn’t about just doing it well, –it’s about just doing it at all. It’s treating fans as people who matter, who have worth and who don’t really want your game-used item.  What they want is to be recognized by the athlete as their fan. Carter did this. Naturally.

There’s another thing that tells you that Carter had a different perspective than most. In 1986, when Carter singled and scored a run in the 10th inning of game 6 against the Red Sox, the Mets were still trailing by a run with 2 out. Nevertheless, Carter put on his catching gear, expecting the game would continue …even though his team was still being behind… with two outs. What followed, of course, was the most dramatic comeback in World Series history (until last year’s Cardinals comeback in game 6).  He was expecting to play on.

Wherever he is now, Carter has his gear on and is ready to play.

Posted by: Namar | February 7, 2012

The home of beauty and joy and neverty

On the eve of his 14th birthday, the boy was skating joyously across the ice, when he was suddenly bumped from behind. Losing his balance, his skates went out from under him and he fell to the ice, his head making sudden, hard contact with the ice.

The boy’s 6-year-old brother, Jimmy, watched it happen. And now  it was Jimmy’s role to make the very difficult call home and tell his parents that about the serious accident. When Jimmy’s brother died a few days later, his mother fell into a deep depression. Taken to bed with grief, his mother retold tales of her childhood, and expressed her wish for her boy to never grow up, to stay the sweet and innocent boy he is. She called for Jimmy’s brother so painfully and so often that Jimmy took to dressing and acting like his brother to ease his mother’s pain.

As Jimmy grew up, he would make up plays with his friends and act in them. He continued his writing and in 1904 created a stage pay called “Peter Pan, or  The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up”  which was later adapted into a novel in 1911 — Peter and Wendy  (later Peter Pan and Wendy, and eventually Peter Pan).

JM Barrie went on to pursue other childhood pleasures, forming his own cricket team and calling them the Allahakbarries –the peculiar team name coming  from a mistaken translation: Barrie thought Allah Akbar meant “Heaven Help Us” though it translates to “God is Great”.

Barrie recruited players from the literary community, establishing a star-studded team unlike any other: H.G Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jerome K Jerome, G.K. Chesterton, A.A. Milne, P.G. Wodehouse , and A. E. W. Mason (who wrote The Four Feathers), and E.W. Hornung (who created the Raffles novels), all played for the team at various times.

And although there are earlier records of the name Wendy, its popularity is commonly attributed to Barrie and the success of Peter Pan in the early 20th century. His use of the name derives from the daughter of Barrie’s friend, the publisher W. E. Henley. Margaret called Barrie her “fwendy-wendy”. When she died at six years of age, Barrie immortalized her with the use of her name.

But perhaps JM Barrie’s greatest legacy was his bestowing, in 1923,  the rights from his Peter Pan to the Great Ormond Hospital in London, the first hospital providing in-patient beds specifically for children in the English-peaking world.

I won’t grow up!
No, I promise that I won’t
I will stay a boy forever
And be banished if I don’t!
And Never Land will always be
The home of beauty and joy
And neverty
I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up
Not me!
Posted by: Namar | December 31, 2011

“Doops” — two thousand years of playing to win

A brief history of performance enhancing drugs:

Olympic Games, B.C.  “The use of drugs to enhance performance in sports has certainly occurred since the time of the original Olympic Games [from 776 to 393 BC]. The origin of the word ‘doping’ is attributed to the Dutch word ‘doop,’ which is a viscous opium juice, the drug of choice of the ancient Greeks.”  –Larry D. Bowers, PhD  “Athletic Drug Testing,” Clinics in Sports Medicine, Apr. 1, 1998

The Colosseum Games, A.D. Gladiator competitions and chariot races are popular in Ancient Roman culture and the Coliseum is expanded to hold 60,000 spectators in 100 AD. Chariot racers feed their horses substances such as hydromel (an alcoholic beverage made from honey) to make them run faster and gladiators ingest hallucinogens and stimulants such as strychnine to stave off fatigue and injury and to improve the intensity of their fights. — Ramlan Abdul Aziz, MD “History of Doping,” Presented at the WADA Asia Education Symposium, Aug. 29, 2006

1800s  “The modern applications [of drug use in sports] began in the late nineteenth century, with preparations made from the coca leaf — the source of cocaine and related alkaloids. Vin Mariani, a widely used mixture of coca leaf extract and wine, was even called ‘the wine for athletes.’ It was used by French cyclists and… by a champion lacrosse team. Coca and cocaine were popular because they staved off the sense of fatigue and hunger brought on by prolonged exertion.”  — T. H Murray, PhD  “The Coercive Power of Drugs in Sports,” The Hastings Center Report, Aug. 1983

1886 Twenty-four-year-old Welsh cyclist Arthur Linton dies during a race from Bordeaux to Paris; though the cause of death is reported as typhoid fever, he is believed to have taken trimethyl, a stimulant. (SportsIllustrated)

1904  “Olympics marathon runner, Thomas Hicks, was using a mixture of brandy and strychnine [a stimulant that is fatal in high doses] and nearly died. Mixtures of strychnine, heroin, cocaine, and caffeine were used widely by athletes and each coach or team developed its own unique secret formulae. This was common practice until heroin and cocaine became available only by prescription in the 1920s.”  —  Mark S. Gold, MD  Performance-Enhancing Medications and Drugs of Abuse, 1992

1940-45 According to anecdotal accounts, the Nazis test anabolic steroids on prisoners, Gestapos andHitler himself. Testosterone and its analogs are used by German soldiers to promote aggressiveness and physical strength. Retrospectively, according to his physician, Hitler’s mental state toward the end of his life exhibits characteristics that some scientists associate with heavy steroid use: mania, acute paranoid psychoses, overly aggressive and violent behavior, depression and suicidal ideologies. (SportsIllustrated) 

1945-47 Anabolic steroids are used to help reverse the wasting effects of war and concentration-camp imprisonment. (SportsIllustrated)

1950s  “The first ‘effective’ performance enhancing drugs, the amphetamines, which were used widely by soldiers in the Second World War, crossed over into sports in the early 1950s. These drugs — nicknamed la bomba by Italian cyclists and atoom by Dutch cyclists — minimize the uncomfortable sensations of fatigue during exercise.” — Timothy Noakes, MD, DSc  “Tainted Glory – Doping and Athletic Performance,” New England Journal of Medicine, Aug. 26, 2004

1965  British cyclist Tommy Simpson, named Sports Personality of the Year by the BBC in 1965, dies during the 13th stage of the Tour de France on July 13, 1967. The cyclist, whose motto was allegedly “if it takes ten to kill you, take nine and win,” consumes excess amounts of amphetamines and brandy to combat the effects of an illness and he continues to ride until his body shuts down.  Simpson’s death creates pressure for sporting agencies to take action against doping.  — Matt Slater, “Gene Doping – Sport’s Next Big Challenge,”, June 12, 2008

1969 Sports Illustrated produces a three-part investigation about performance-enhancing drugs in sports. Sources predict that the use of such drugs will eventually explode into an epidemic. (Says former Los Angeles Dodgers team doctor Robert Kerlan, “The excessive and secretive use of drugs is likely to become a major athletic scandal, one that will shake public confidence in many sports just as the gambling scandal tarnished the reputation of basketball.”) (SportsIllustrated)

1990 The Anabolic Steroids Control Act is introduced by Congress. It classifies steroids as a schedule III controlled substance, for which trafficking is now a felony, not a misdemeanor. (SportsIllustrated)

1991  Major League Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent sends a 7-page memo to all of the major league teams on June 7, 1991 that states: “The possession, sale or use of any illegal drug or controlled substance by Major League players or personnel is strictly prohibited… This prohibition applies to all illegal drugs and controlled substances, including steroids.” In the absence of any testing, enforcement, or publicity of the rule, many players and team management later claim to have been unaware of Vincent’s policy (according to interviews conducted by ESPN writer Tom Farrey in 2002). Vincent later says he sent the memo because of rumors about Jose Canseco and admits, “We could have done a lot more lecturing, lobbying, and educating. But I didn’t know anything about steroids.” — Tom Farrey “The Memos: A Ban Ignored,” ESPN the Magazine, Nov. 2005

2000 Urinalysis tests are improved to detect EPO, but blood doping — the injection of one’s own red blood cells — remains undetectable. Potential risks of blood doping include blood clots, strokes and thromboses. (SportsIllustrated)

2002  Dr. Don Catlin, a pioneer of drug testing in sports, identifies norbolethone, the first reported designer anabolic steroid, in an athlete’s urine sample for the first time. The discovery is a breakthrough in drug testing because designer steroids have rarely been detected until this point, allowing some dopers to pass drug tests without being caught. Anti-Doping Research. “Key Anti-Doping and Doping Developments in Sport,” (accessed May 6, 2009)

2002 Ken Caminiti, who retired from baseball after the 2001 season, admits in the June 3 issue of Sports Illustrated that he was using steroids when he won the 1996 National League MVP award, adding, “I’ve made a ton of mistakes. I don’t think using steroids is one of them.” He estimates that at least half of his fellow big leaguers are regular juicers. (SportsIllustrated)

2009 The National Amateur Bodybuilders Association (NABBA) Belgium Nationals Bodybuilding Championships are canceled because the 20 competitors flee the site when three anti-doping officials show up unannounced to do surprise steroid testing. — Millard Baker “2009 NABBA Belgium Nationals Cancelled after Steroid Testers Surprise Competitors,”, May 18, 2009

2011  “Mike Jacobs, a first baseman in the Colorado Rockies organization who has played over 500 games in the major leagues, including dozens with the Mets, is the first professional baseball player to test positive for human growth hormone, a banned performance-enhancing drug. Jacobs, 30, is the first professional athlete in the United States to test positive for H.G.H., said a spokesman for the World Anti-Doping Agency…  — J. Macur, M S. Schmidt “Minor Leaguer Tests Positive for H.G.H.,”, Aug. 18, 2011

Where will we go from here?

Posted by: Namar | November 25, 2011

A Ballad of Baseball Burdens

A Ballad of Baseball Burden

The burden of hard hitting.

Slug away Like Honus Wagner or like Tyrus Cobb.

Else fandom shouteth: “Who said you could play? Back to the jasper league, you minor slob!”

Swat, hit, connect, line out, goet on the job. Else you shall feel the brunt of fandom’s ire

Biff, bang it, clout it, hit it on the knob

-This is the end of every fan’s desire.


The burden of good pitching.

Curved or straight. Or in or out, or haply up or down,

To puzzle him that standeth by the plate, To lessen, so to speak, his bat-renown:

Like Christy Mathewson or Miner Brown,

So pitch that every man can but admire

And offer you the freedom of the town

-This is the end of every fan’s desire.


The burden of loud cheering.

O the sounds! The tumult and the shouting from the throats

Of forty thousand at the Polo Grounds

Sitting, ay, standing sans their hats and coats.

A mighty cheer that possibly denotes

That Cub or Pirate fat is in the fire;

Or, as H. James would say, We’ve got their goats

-This is the end of every fan’s desire.


The burden of a pennant.

O the hope, The tenuous hope, the hope that’s half a fear,

The lengthy season and the boundless dope,

And the bromidic, “Wait until next year.”

O dread disgrace of trailing in the rear, O Piece of Bunting, flying high and higher

That next October it shall flutter here:

This is the end of every fan’s desire.



Ah, Fans, let not the Quarry but the Chase

Be that to which most fondly we aspire!

For us not Stake, but Game; not Goal, but Race –

THIS is the end of every fan’s desire.

– Franklin P. Adams

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