the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: baseball

Exciting World Series Publicity Stunt

(IM conversation)

Neil:  I have this fun idea we can do for our blogs.  You realize the Phillies and the Yankees are in the World Series.  You live in Philadelphia.  I live in New York. So, we can do one of those publicity stunts like the mayors of the competing cities do — where if the Yankees win, you are forced to eat a bagel and lox, and if the Phillies win, I will have to eat a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich.  And the loser has to post a photo on the blog as punishment.

Philly Girl:  Doesn’t seem like much of a punishment.  I like bagels and lox.

Neil:  That’s true.  And I like a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich.

Philly Girl:  If anything, I don’t like Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches.

Neil:  OK, so maybe YOU should eat one if you lose… wait, that doesn’t make much sense.   Besides, I like both of bagels and lox and Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches.  What would I eat?

Philly Girl:  Isn’t there some sort of New York food that you don’t like?  Hot dogs?

Neil:  Like them.

Philly Girl:  What else is there?

Neil:  I can’t think of one right now.

Philly Girl:  I don’t really hate Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches.  I just don’t eat them.  They are high in fat.

Neil:  But you eat bagels and lox?  That is high in fat with the cream cheese, no?.

Philly Girl:  I use low-fat cream cheese.

Neil:  Philadelphia brand cream cheese!  Isn’t that ironic?  Everyone in New York also uses Philadelphia brand cream cheese!

Philly Girl:  Never thought about it.   Do they make Philadelphia brand cream cheese in Philadelphia?

Neil:   I have no idea.   I think we are striking out with the food gimmick.  Maybe the loser should be forced to sing a song on his blog.  Like you would have to sing “New York, New York.”

Philly Girl:  And you?

Neil:  I got it.  Elton John’s “Philadelphia Freedom.”

Philly Girl:  My microphone on my laptop is broken.

Neil:  Damn.  I’m not sure mine works either.

Philly Girl:  Are you really into this baseball game?

Neil:  I don’t even like the Yankees.

Philly Girl:  I can’t even name one player on the Phillies.  Until you mentioned it, I didn’t know that they were in the World Series.

Neil:  I think they are.  I think they beat the Dodgers in the National League.  Let me go on Google and check.  (after checking) Yes.

Philly Girl:  So?

Neil:  You ever been to the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia?

Philly Girl:  I have been!

Neil:  That is such a cool museum!  You should come to New York some day.   We can go to the Met.

Philly Girl:  I think I’ll be there at Christmas time.

Neil:  Cool.  We should get together.

Philly Girl:  Sure.  OK, gotta go.  Good luck with the Yankees.

Neil:  Good luck with the Phillies!  May the best team win!

Let’s Go Mets!


It was the bottom of the ninth.  The Mets were losing 3-1.  The young player from the Dominican Republic stepped up to the plate, a former star in his own country, now playing in the major leagues in America’s largest city.  He gripped his bat and whispered a little prayer to Jesus.  His team was 25 games out, so there was little external pressure on our young star.  All of the demands came from within.  It was Hispanic Night at Citifield.  Mariachi players strolled through the food court, playing their heartfelt tunes.  Young dancers performed traditional Puerto Rican dances on the field moments before the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, the anthem of his adopted country.  The singer was a Latina herself, a rising star in the Metropolitan Opera.  The sign behind home plate read Los Mets.  The crowd was larger than usual for a last place team, as the Spanish speaking baseball fans of the NY Mets came to pay homage to their team, and to pay respect to all of the baseball greats of Hispanic heritage from Roberto Clemente to Keith Hernandez.

The crowd was on their feet as our Latino baseball star swung his mighty bat in preparation for his showdown with the ace pitcher of the Atlanta Braves.  There was a fire in the pitcher’s eyes.  He was a real southern boy, a redneck, who would sometimes make fun of the “greenbacks” and “burrito boys” who had taken over the major league, wishing a return to a time in baseball when it was dominated by the good ol’ boys.

The count was 3-2.  The tying run was on second, as the player had just stolen second base.  The momentum was with the Mets.  The crowd chanted the player’s name.  It didn’t matter it the Mets fan was from Colombia or Cuba or Mexico.  Tonight was a night for miracles!

And then he struck out.  The Mets lost.  The crowd shrugged it off, as it was pretty much expected by the loyal fans, and everyone left for the subway.

Which proves a point about about people.  We ARE all the same, despite our cultural differences.   Whether a player is English speaking, Spanish speaking, Japanese speaking, white, black, mixed-race, or whoever — whenever he plays with the New York Mets, he sucks.

Yesterday was my first visit to CitiField, the brand new stadium for the Mets.  It is the last week of regular season play.  I went with my friend Rob.  I had some ribs and two beers.  The Mets were awful.    The park is much more comfortable and sophisticated than Shea Stadium, with many places to hang out and eat.  It just seemed a bit corporate for my taste, and this ballpark could have been anywhere.  It didn’t read New York or the Mets.   Shea Stadium was definitely old and clunky, but it had the cool 1960’s vibe going for it, still there from when the Mets were young.  When the Mets sucked at Shea Stadium, it was endearing.   When they suck at Citifield, it is depressing.


Rob and I had planned to go to Citifield before the season was over, and this week was our last chance.  He told me he was going to buy the tickets.  A few hours before the game, Rob called me and said that he bought the tickets online at a site called Stubhub, where ticket holders can sell their unused tickets.

“So how much do I owe you for the ticket?” I asked.

“96 cents.”


“96 cents.  Each ticket was 96 cents.  The Mets paid millions of dollars on a new stadium and fancy new players, and you can now get a ticket for the game for 96 cents.”

Next year!

Dreaming About Right Field

Valentine’s Day was now over. I went to sleep late. In the middle of the night, I had a dream. At first, it seemed inspirational — maybe about love? taking chances? — and then it turned into a nightmare.

I just got a job with the LA Dodgers farm team in Florida (I think they are in Arizona now, right?), which is pretty good in this bad economy. It was our first game of the season. Tommy Lasorda (!) gave us a rousing speech, saying there was no room for defeat. It was difficult for me not to laugh during his over-the-top statements about the importance of our mission. I was sitting next to a Christine F. from elementary school, who was now an attractive attorney. In fact the whole team consisted of friends from my past, some still twelve years old, and others now grown up.

“Kramer, get in there!’ said Lasorda. “You’re right field.”

I went out onto the baseball field. I was the last one out. Players were throwing baseballs back and forth. The grass was bright green, and the sunshine was bothering my eyes. I had no idea where to go. I was not sure WHICH side was right field. Was it like stage left? Was it the side I was facing, or from the POV of the field facing home plate? I started to panic. Steve W., someone I have not seen since sleepaway camp years ago, was playing first base. He was always a good athlete.

“Neil, take off your winter coat and winter hat. Are you nuts? You can’t play wearing that!”

I woke up with a headache.

Equal Pay for Fat Male Cheerleaders

Trying out for Florida Marlin Manatees

Att:  This post is a bit irrelevant now since Dagny told me in the comments how much female professional cheerleaders make:  50 bucks a game!  That is outrageous, considering what the players make.  Did anyone else know this?!

I believe in equal pay and equal rights.  That’s why I was immediately disturbed by this article about the cheerleading squads of the Florida Marlins.  The Marlins already have a traditional bunch of hot-babe cheerleaders, called the Mermaids.

Now, in the best “stunt” since Bill Veeck sent a midget to the plate, the Marlins are hoping to draw some crowd by introducing an all-male plus-size cheerleading squad called the Manatees.

Real manatees, 1,200-pound mammals sometimes referred to as “sea cows,” are not considered the most agile of creatures and often get caught in boat propellers.

The Marlins want their Manatees to have the same dimensions, but to be decidedly more agile. Men will be judged on how well they dance a choreographed routine.

It’s a funny idea.  After all, most “real” fans look like beer-drinking schlubs.  Why not promote Real Men?  This way, men can get some eye candy from the Mermaids and some fun from the Manatees.

Maybe this will even make cheerleading and dancing more acceptable to young men, so it doesn’t seem so “gay.”

But, there is a HUGE double standard going on here.

Men selected for the Manatees won’t be paid. They’ll get tickets to games they perform at, and the honor of dancing in front of crowds that have been smallest in major league baseball for the last two seasons.

WTF?!  Men, don’t do it!  I know it will be fun for you.  But for tickets to the game YOU PERFORM IN (I hope it ain’t the bleachers) and the HONOR?! You think the Mermaids are so stupid?  You think they are giving you that T&A for the HONOR of the dopey team?

Florida Marlin Mermaids 

They get PAID!  Don’t be suckers.  Men who shake their stuff should get the same compensation as women who do.

Second Base With Sophia

(AP photos from

"Neilochka, would you come over tonight?" Sophia asked.

"Sure.  What for?" I thought.  "Hmm… maybe she’s missing the ol’ Neilochka.  I put on some Brut and headed off to Redondo Beach."

I arrived with thoughts of scoring with Sophia.   But no.  Well, to be honest, there was some scoring.  In fact, there was a whole lot of talk about getting to second and third base. 

"I want to watch the baseball game tonight with you.  Everyone at work was talking about the Angels, and I still don’t understand how this stupid game works."

"You’ve lived in this country for so long.   Why don’t you know baseball?"

"It’s soooo boring.  But today I want to finally learn." 

Tonight  I would teach the Russian/Israeli Sophia all about baseball.

Now I’m not a big baseball fan, but I played and still follow the Mets… sometimes.  I played in Little League… poorly.   And I certainly know the rules of baseball, from the ball to the balk, from the RBI to the ERA.

How hard could this be to teach Sophia all about baseball?



"That’s a ball."

"Why not a strike?"

"Because it didn’t hit the right zone.  You see that area around the catcher’s glove?"

"The catcher?  What team is he on?"

"The Angels."

"I thought the thrower was on the Angels?"

"The pitcher.  Yes, he is."

"So, why is the catcher trying to take away his own team’s ball?"



"Sophia, now there is one out."

"I thought there were two outs."

"No.  There are two balls and two strikes.  But there is only one out."

"OK, he just missed the zone.  So that was a ball.  So, it’s now three balls and two strikes."

"Great, you’re getting it.  It’s a full count."

"A full account of what?"



"Why did the pitcher throw it to the guy at first base rather than to the hitter?"

"Oy, this is a little complicated.  You remember the White Sox guy… the good-looking guy who got the hit before."

"Right.  Good-looking Japanese White Sox Guy."

"OK, Good-looking Japanese White Sox Guy is now on first, and he’s taking a lead because, uh, because, uh, I don’t know how else to say this… he’s thinking of stealing."

"Stealing what?"

"This is a little advanced, but sometimes when a runner is on the base, such as Good-looking Japanese White Sox Guy, he can start to run when the pitcher throws the ball — and he can steal the base."

"And what does he do when he steals it?  Does he run off the field with it?"



"He caught it! Yay!  He’s out!  That’s good for us, right?"

"Sort of.  But because he hit is so far, the guy on third is tagging up.  He’s running home to score."

"I thought you can’t run when there is an out."

"Usually, you can’t.   Unless you hit it really far away, then the runner can… he just can tag up.  Forget it about it.  It doesn’t happen that much."

"It just happened now."

That’s because he hit it into the outfield."

"The outfield?"

"The outfield is out there!  The infield is in here!"

"You don’t have to yell.  I hear you."

"It’s just some weird rule."

"Weird rule?  This whole game is nothing but weird rules.  In soccer, they kick the ball, everyone knows what’s going on.  Here, I’m thinking they just made up the rules as they went along."

"Forget it.  It’s not that important.  But you understand the difference between the outfield and infield?"

"Yes.  If you hit it to the outfield, you’re out.  If you hit it in the infield, you’re in."



"Strike three!  He’s out."

"Not really.  Remember what I told you.  As long as he makes contact on that last strike, he still gets another chance."

"For how long?"

"As long as he makes contact."

"What if he keeps on making contact for three more hours?"

"Then he’s up for three more hours."

"I see.  And what happens if in the bottom of the ninth, the Angels catch up?"

"Then they keep on playing into extra innings."

"Let me guess.  Even if it’s for three more hours…  This thing is never over."

"Baseball is like chess.  It is a very intellectual game."

"Oh, yeah.  That Angel spitting some brown stuff onto the grass looks like a real Einstein."

"Once you get into it… there’s nothing like a good baseball game."

"Booooring! I’m beginning to think they made up the game just to sell hot dogs and beer to the people in the stands."

"Finally!  You understand the real meaning of baseball!"

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