December Lunch Meeting

Join us on Sunday, December 10 at 12:30pm at Serranos-Mopac at 5030 Highway 290 West, Austin, TX 78735 (near intersection of MoPac & 290).  M0nte Cely’s wife Linda will be providing her annual batch of holiday cookies, brownies and Jim Baker’s favorite, “buckeyes.”

Please RSVP to Jan Larson at jan.a.larson@gmail.com if you plan to attend.

The Twelve Days of Astros

It’s been one month since the Astros capped an amazing 2017 campaign with their franchise-first World Series championship. In honor of this amazing season, I’ve written a song about it. Like to hear it? Here it go! (cap tip to Calhoun Tubbs).

The Twelve Days of Astros

On the first day of Astros
my true love sent to me:
An Astros championship team

On the second day of Astros
my true love sent to me:
Two franchise names
and an Astros championship team

On the third day of Astros
my true love sent to me:
Three ball parks
Two franchise names
and an Astros championship team

On the fourth day of Astros
my true love sent to me:
Four Fall Classic wins
Three ball parks
Two franchise names
and an Astros championship team

On the fifth day of Astros
my true love sent to me:
Five Springer Dingers!
Four Fall Classic wins
Three ball parks
Two franchise names
and an Astros championship team

On the sixth day of Astros
my true love sent to me:
Six decades waiting
Five Springer Dingers!
Four Fall Classic wins
Three ball parks
Two franchise names
and an Astros championship team

On the seventh day of Astros
my true love sent to me:
Seven games a playing
Six decades waiting
Five Springer Dingers!
Four Fall Classic wins
Three ball parks
Two franchise names
and an Astros championship team

On the eighth day of Astros
my true love sent to me:
Eight fielders fielding
Seven games a playing
Six decades waiting
Five Springer Dingers!
Four Fall Classic wins
Three ball parks
Two franchise names
and an Astros championship team

On the ninth day of Astros
my true love sent to me:
Nine J.V. victories
Eight fielders fielding
Seven games a playing
Six decades waiting
Five Springer Dingers!
Four Fall Classic wins
Three ball parks
Two franchise names
and an Astros championship team

On the tenth day of Astros
my true love sent to me:
Ten thrilling innings
Nine J.V. victories
Eight fielders fielding
Seven games a playing
Six decades waiting
Five Springer Dingers!
Four Fall Classic wins
Three ball parks
Two franchise names
and an Astros championship team

On the eleventh day of Astros
my true love sent to me:
Eleven games a winning
Ten thrilling innings
Nine J.V. victories
Eight fielders fielding
Seven games a playing
Six decades waiting
Five Springer Dingers!
Four Fall Classic wins
Three ball parks
Two franchise names
and an Astros championship team

On the twelfth day of Astros
my true love sent to me:
A Twelve Midnight ending
Eleven games a winning
Ten thrilling innings
Nine J.V. victories
Eight fielders fielding
Seven games a playing
Six decades waiting
Five Springer Dingers!
Four Fall Classic wins
Three ball parks
Two franchise names
and an Astros championship team

November meeting filled with talk of Astros victory and Cuban baseball

Bill Gilbert and Gilbert Martinez recall the Astros thrilling postseason (Photo by Ryan Pollack).

Fourteen chapter members and guests wore gear representing seven professional sports teams – the Astros, Dodgers, Mets, Orioles, Cardinals, Cienfuegos Elefantes, and Cleveland Browns – and the chapter’s BasebALZ Alzheimer’s reminiscence project at the November chapter meeting on Saturday.

Monte Cely, donning an Elefantes cap, created and shared a trivia quiz about Cuban baseball history, which Dan Walsh won. For his efforts, Dan was awarded a Minor League Baseball signed by the son of National Baseball Hall of Fame member Martin Dihigo. Jim Baker (in his usual Mets gear) and Chuck Kaufman tied for second, receiving a Che Guevara bookmark and Cuban peso, respectively.

Monte also shared some details from his trip to Cuba with the SABR Cuban Ball group in September. Two dozen SABR members spent a week in Cuba, attending baseball games and taking in Cuban culture.

Other topics included the MLB Awards (such as Jose Altuve’s dominant selection as AL MVP over Aaron Judge), the postseason and thrilling (for some) World Series. We also briefly discussed Bill James’ essay about the Altuve/Judge MVP vote and WAR (Wins Above Replacement), which appear to be his first public statement about that particular statistic. Here’s a link to his critique: https://www.billjamesonline.com/judge_and_altuve/

Astros fans Bill Gilbert, Raeanne Martinez and this author wore Astros championship gear recognizing the team’s dramatic postseason run. Linda Cely, who often bakes a tray of desserts for chapter holiday gatherings, wore a Cardinals shirt. Ryan Pollack, analyst and writer for The Hardball Times and coordinator of the chapter’s annual winter meeting, was clad in an Orioles shirt. Tom Wancho, who joked that the group should expand conversation topics beyond baseball, wore a Cleveland Browns shirt. Dodgers fan Jerry Miller donned a 1988 World Series Champs shirt. Man of many caps Jan Larson was nearly unrecognizable when he appeared cap-less.

Ira Siegel wore a shirt with the logo for BasebALZ, the Hornsby Chapter’s reminiscence project, which just completed its seventh season of programming. Read more about those activities by clicking here: http://www.sabrhornsby.org/2017/11/basebalz-wrap-up-2017/

Predictatron impresario Jim Baker presented this author a framed certificate for winning the chapter’s regular season Predictatron by virtue of successfully selecting the Houston Astros as 2017 World Series Champs. Had the Los Angeles Dodgers won the Series, then runner-up Bill Gilbert would’ve taken the Predictatron title. As a result of winning their divisions, Gilbert Martinez and Wells Oliver will have the Predictatron divisions named in their honor for the 2018 season.

This was the 132nd consecutive month in which the chapter has met, a streak dating to December 2006.

Meanwhile, planning for the 12th Annual Rogers Hornsby Chapter Winter Meeting in San Marcos continues. Save the date: Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. We hope to see you then at Texas State’s Old Main building!

We’ve also set the date for our next monthly chapter meeting. It will be at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10, at Serranos (5030 W. U.S. Highway 290) in Southwest Austin.

Gilbert Martinez with the certificate recognizing his 2017 Predicatron Championship (Photo by Charles Kaufman).

Dodgers even the World Series with the Astros at chapter watch party

A dozen chapter members and guests gathered at Jim Baker’s house on Saturday and saw the Los Angeles Dodgers even the World Series with the Houston Astros two games apiece.

Dodgers fans Jerry Miller (pictured below) and Dan Walsh cheered on their Dodgers, while Astros fans had little to shout about in the 6-2 win by the Dodgers in Game 4, played at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

Jim Baker provided tasty pulled pork sandwiches and sliders. Raeanne Martinez baked delicious brownies accented with Astros-orange sprinkles. Many thanks to Jim, Raeanne and everyone who brought snacks, beverages and goodies to our watch party.

We also had a score-prediction contest won by Jerry Miller who forecast a 6-4 Dodgers win. Two others also picked the Dodgers to win by two runs, but Jerry was the only one to get the Dodgers’ tally correct. For his effort, Jerry won a program from the inaugural year of the Round Rock Express.

Now, with a deciding World Series Game 7 on tap for Nov. 1, we get maximum baseball. No one knows who will prevail, but I’m sure we’ll have a lot to talk about at our next meeting in November (to be determined).

 

 

 

Winning and losing streaks dominate September meeting

Ten chapter members and guests feasted on fine Italian cuisine in North Austin while the Cleveland Indians continued their dominant stretch, the Los Angeles Dodgers, despite their payroll, couldn’t buy a win, and the Houston Astros were on the verge of a sweep by the last-place Oakland Athletics.

The group discussed the meaning of these streaks. Does it mean that the Indians are a lock to win the World Series? No. Does it mean that the Dodgers are headed to another disappointing playoff exit next month? No. Does it mean that the Astros’ loss of the American League’s best record portends a dire outcome in October? No.

For the most part, most in our group recognize that anything can happen in the playoffs, so late-season streaks – winning or losing – don’t necessarily foretell playoff outcomes. For example, Jim Baker noted that the 2000 Yankees stumbled down the stretch (9-17 in September that year), but went on to win the World Series.

Jan Larson talked about his annual baseball trip, this year to San Francisco, taking in a Giants game and an Athletics game. His group experienced two records – the Angels’ use of an AL record 12 pitchers in an extra-inning win against the Athletics, and a record-high temperature of 106 degrees in San Francisco.

We also discussed the drama of the pursuit of the second wild card spot, especially in the American League. But some noted (ahem, Jim Baker) that these are .500-teams and sub-.500 teams vying for October glory. To be fair to Jim, most of the group seemed to be in agreement that having mediocre teams in the playoffs isn’t ideal for baseball.

This was the 130th consecutive month that the chapter has met.

In addition to baseball talk, chapter members and guests were treated to Jim’s crayon scoreboard creation on the paper table runner at Macaroni Grill (see photo above).

The next chapter meeting is scheduled for Oct. 28, the evening of Game 4 of the World Series. A watch party is planned at Jim Baker’s home in Cedar Park. More details to come about those festivities.

Members endure wet conditions, avoid rain out for August meeting

Ten chapter members braved steady rainfall from Hurricane Harvey to enjoy a Tex-Mex lunch and talk baseball on Saturday, Aug. 26.

In keeping with the MLB Players Weekend in which teams featured Little League-inspired alternate team jerseys with players’ nicknames, we proclaimed what nicknames we’d have on our team jerseys.

Like the players, most of our nicknames have interesting back stories from childhood, school and work experiences. Here’s a list of the nicknames we shared at the meeting: Jan (RAM Man); Bill (Stat Man); Ira (Bird); Dan (Dan-o); Ryan (Ryry); Mike (Pickle); Raeanne (Red); Jim (Bakes); Anne (Boo); and Gilbert (Mad Dog).

For some members (such as Ira Siegel, Mike Dillon and Jim Baker), their nicknames derived from their last names. Others were plays on first names or other characteristics.

Many thanks to Dan Walsh for sharing a baseball-themed crossword puzzle that he created. Fifty-seven of 132 clues are baseball related (marked on the clues in bold and italics). See below to download the puzzle.

The group also welcomed a new SABR member who attended her first Hornsby Chapter and SABR meeting, Anne Keene. She shared with us that her father, Jim Raugh, played minor league ball and trained with the Detroit Tigers from 1957 to 1960 and with the Minnesota Twins in 1961. She’s also shared a photo of her dad when he was a ballboy for a Navy team that Ted Williams played on in the 1940s. Accordingly, Anne said she is working on a book and is most interested in World War II-era ballplayers. The chapter is hoping to have Anne as a guest speaker at the Hornsby Chapter Winter Meeting in January 2018 (mark your calendars for Saturday, Jan. 13).

It was the 129th consecutive month that the chapter has met. Since December 2006, the chapter has met at least once a month, and sometimes, more than once.

We’ve not yet scheduled our September meeting, so watch for updates on the email list and Facebook page.

Dan Walsh baseball crossword puzzle

Please note that the download includes the puzzle and the answer key.

BasebALZ enjoys Alzheimer’s Night at Dell Diamond

Thirteen participants, volunteers and family members attended Alzheimer’s Night at Round Rock’s Dell Diamond on Monday evening July 31.  As often happens when we venture to Dell Diamond, the game went extra innings with the hometown Express taking a walk-off 7-6 win in the bottom of the 11th on a two-out, two RBI double by 3B Will Middlebrooks.

In addition to the exciting game, many of us enjoyed the “$1 hot dogs and sodas” promotion on Harry Potter Night at the ballpark.  Needless to say, a good time was had by all.

Italian fare and baseball talk at the halfway mark for the July meeting

Fourteen chapter members and guests met for an Italian lunch on Saturday and gabbed about the Astros’ dominance in the American League, Jeff Bagwell’s upcoming Hall of Fame induction and potential trade deadline deals.

Bill Gilbert brought an interesting trivia quiz in which all answers were members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame (including soon-to-be and recently inducted members). Tom Thayer won the quiz and received a Baseball Hall of Fame trivia book as a prize.

Other topics included the practice of stadium naming rights, significant sporting events at the Houston Astrodome, the All-Star game and instances of east coast bias in baseball coverage (for example, ESPN.com’s headline about “Ex-Yankee Robinson Cano” winning the All-Star game). We also talked about Buck Showalter’s ability to build strong clubs that go on to the World Series without him. Orioles fan and baseball writer Ryan Pollack joked that he’s waiting for Showalter to depart.

The chapter continued its consecutive monthly meeting streak with this, the 128th consecutive month with a meeting.

Also, your humble reporter apologizes for leaving out a vital piece of information from the June 2017 meeting summary: Tom Wancho was the winner in Jim Baker’s manager quiz. Apologies for the oversight and congratulations to Tom!

The August meeting has not been scheduled, so look for information on the group email list and the Facebook page soon.

June meeting features Express win, bbq

Fourteen chapter members and guests dined at Salt Lick BBQ and watched the Round Rock Express beat the New Orleans Baby Cakes, 4-2, on Saturday, June 3.

The Express-Baby Cakes game included several players with Major League experience, such as Jurickson Profar (with the Texas Rangers), Will Middlebrooks (with the Boston Red Sox, San Diego Padres and briefly with the Milwaukee Brewers), and Brandon Barnes (with the Houston Astros and Colorado Rockies).

Jim Baker also noted that Baby Cakes third baseman Steve Lombardozzi is related to Domenick Lombardozzi, an actor most notably known for playing Det. Thomas “Herk” Hauk on HBO’s “The Wire.”

It was the 127th consecutive monthly meeting for the chapter. Jim Baker provided an interesting quiz on naming all 30 of the current Major League managers. Other questions included naming the managers with the most wins, most losses, highest winning percentage, and highest career postseason winning percentage. In addition, Jim asked us to name the five current managers who did not play in Major League Baseball.

Various topics of discussion included the Houston Astros’ hot streak, Edinson Vólquez’s no-hitter (first no hitter of the 2017 season), and the Texas Rangers’ struggle with one-run games this season, in sharp contrast with their record-setting performance in such games last season.

UPDATE: The July meeting will be at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, July 22, at Macaroni Grill at the Arboretum (9828 Great Hills Trail, Austin).

 

 

Express fall in group’s first outing to the ballpark in ’17

Thirteen chapter members and guests enjoyed a gorgeous night for baseball and saw the Round Rock Express fall 5-1 to the Oklahoma City Dodgers on Saturday, the group’s first outing to Dell Diamond this season.

A tight 1-1 game through 6 innings involved good pitching performances from Dillon Gee for the Express and former Major Leaguer Justin Masterson for the Dodgers. But the Dodgers tagged Tanner Scheppers for four runs in the 7th inning to secure the victory.

Meanwhile, Gilbert Martinez, taking his usual stroll around the ballpark recognized Wesley Wright, a relief pitcher in the Express bullpen. Wright, a lefty reliever for the Houston Astros for six years, has since pitched for the Blue Jays, the Cubs, the Orioles and the Angels. Wright pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the Express.

Ryan Pollack (pictured below) represented the group well by twirling his way during the Chicken Dance. Jennifer Kaufman appreciates Ryan’s happy dance moves.

Prior to the game, many in the group joined for a barbecue dinner at The Salt Lick.

This was the chapter’s 126th consecutive month with a meeting.

Next chapter meeting will be a return engagement at Dell Diamond on June 3. More information will be forthcoming from Jan Larson.

(Photos by Gilbert D. Martinez)