Posts Tagged ‘Japan’

Surviving the Long Distance Baseball Relationship: Pro Tips from the First MLB Fan Cave Couple

March 4, 2013

Kelsey on the first official day of stardom in the WBC Fan Cave! [Photo courtesy of MLB Fan Cave's Facebook page]

Kelsey on the first day of stardom in the WBC Fan Cave with Miss America and three other Dwellers! [Photo courtesy of MLB Fan Cave’s Facebook page]


If you haven’t heard yet, Kelsey was selected to represent Team USA in the World Baseball Classic version of the MLB Fan Cave and has been in New York City for about a week now! She’s absolutely killing it in the Fan Cave and USA could not ask for a more passionate fan.

But what does this mean for our relationship? Cue daunting music here! Just kidding — remember that Kelsey is a Cardinals fan from St. Louis and we’ve spent plenty of time thousands of miles apart.

Living on opposite coasts isn’t fun, because my cheesy baseball pickup lines (“Hey baby, wanna lay down a squeeze?”) don’t work as well through a computer screen. But if anyone knows how to do it, it’s Kelsey and I. Here are a few pro tips from the first-ever MLB Fan Cave couple on how to survive this type of long-distance, baseball-loving drudgery:

Tip #1 – You Can Sleep When You’re Dead

Jeremy: I have a full-time job, but in times like these, sleep is overrated. The World Baseball Classic’s schedule doesn’t necessarily lend itself to a normal R.E.M. cycle, with many of the games starting at absurd hours like 2:30 in the morning. But Kelsey’s job is to stay up and watch every inning of every game, and I’ve been doing my best to keep up. So far, I’ve only missed a few innings of the opening round. I get to chat with my girl and watch a premier international baseball tournament? Count me in.

Kelsey: I’m actually luckier than Jeremy. I get to sleep during the day while he goes to work. But he’s absolutely right! As long as you’re functioning well enough in your job, take that time to connect. It’s important to continue your relationship and find your new rhythm — it will probably be different from the one you have when you’re both at home.

Tip #2 – Surprise Each Other

Kelsey: A good surprise is a special way to remind your partner that you think of them. It shows you’re going out of your way…This could be a package, an unexpected call, even a silly poem. Jeremy and I have been known to have fun with song parodies through text message.

Jeremy: How convenient! It is, after all, Kelsey’s birthday on Friday. She knows there is something coming, but has no idea what is in it. All I can promise is that it’s a little more well-thought-out than a texted song parody. Though a performance of “Don’t Go Chasing Curveballs” might suffice for another occasion.

Tip #3 – A Little Social Media Goes a Long Way

Jeremy: Snail mail takes days, and stamps are annoying to find. Plus, who wants to write a long diatribe with a boring old paper and pen when you can crop it all down to 140 characters and a few hashtags? When Kelsey is doing such a social media-heavy job, she’s bound to be on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Tout more than most humans are in a lifetime. A favorite here and a retweet there reminds her that I’m paying attention, even from 3,000 miles away!

Kelsey: Gold stars are like virtual kisses and hugs! And this works both ways. Live-tweeting a game can make it feel as if you’re hanging out together. Just make sure to supplement it with personalized text and other forms of communication to make sure your partner knows they’re special.

Tip #4 – Watch Something Together

Kelsey: Baseball games, movies, TV shows…YouTube videos, even. All can be things you share together, even from miles and miles away. It may be tricky to find the time, but hopping on the phone or on Skype and watching something can make it feel as if you’re both in the same place.

Jeremy: Isn’t social media technology awesome? Believe it or not, one of the first memories I have our relationship is watching Inglorious Basterds together on Skype. Meaning, we synced our starting times and each watched in our respective homes as we chatted. It’s not exactly the same, but as good as it gets for replacing regular movie night.

Tip #5 – Keep the Connection Any Way You Can

Jeremy: Not THAT connection. The one that got you together in the first place! America’s pastime. For example, in my daily perusing of baseball news, I saw an article that piqued my interest. It was about Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina giving unprecedented amounts of praise to a minor league pitcher he caught in Spring Training. The content meant a whole lot more to Kelsey, and she told me as much after I sent the story to her. Baseball is our glue, so we keep applying more, no matter what.

Kelsey: Luckily, baseball is one of the sports that has most embraced social media and the online world. It’s easy to share baseball-related content from far away. This will remind you of some of the things you have in common and keep you talking about daily life apart from work and sleep.

To see more pro tips from the first-ever Fan Cave couple, visit our last two blogs. First, one from Valentine’s Day. And how to survive rival fandom.

London 2012: Disgracing the Olympic Games

August 2, 2012

Much to your dismay (probably), this blog won’t be about NBC’s sub par coverage of the London Olympics, nor will it be a long, angry diatribe about prime time viewership allowing super spoilers.

Instead, I want to talk about two sports; one you probably follow closely, one you probably only played in high school gym class because you absolutely had to (and let’s be real – nobody wants to be held back for failing high school gym).

First, soccer. “Football,” as it’s known abroad. Silly foreigners! Football is for helmets and pads and skull crushing and heaps of money and shitty commissioners! But, I digress.

I know so..er..football isn’t exactly the most popular sport here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. But people are starting to come around. And every couple of years, football frenzy reaches peak performance in America, when our Women’s National Team is in the World Cup or Olympics.

While our Men’s National Team squander in eternal awfulness, the Women’s team is actually one of the best teams in the world annually. And they are one of the favorites again in this 2012 Summer Olympics. Their biggest competition will likely come from Japan (curse thy name, World Cup shoot out ninjas!) and the powerhouse Brazil team.

And those are the two teams who will be playing each other in the next round of Olympic soccer. The issue I have with them playing, is that it never should have happened. Buhhhhh whaaaa?

Japan’s coach Norio Sasaki apparently told reporters that she told her players to purposely play to a draw against a weak South African squad in its last game of pool play. Interesting strategy – not illegal, not intentionally “throwing” the game…but seriously immoral and against the integrity of both the sport and the Olympics themselves. 

You can read more about Japan intentionally playing to a 0-0 tie HERE. 

I really wish South Africa had somehow popped a last-second goal in to completely knock Japan out of the tournament. Why? Because the whole reason Sasaki wanted to tie and finish 2nd in their group was to avoid traveling – wait for it – 300 miles to play their next game tomorrow.

Really? 300 miles? That’s a four, maybe five-hour drive. A one hour flight. It’s like going from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo.

To cap it off, the strategy backfires big time. Good for you, Japan. You get to stay in Wales and play on the same field you “tied” on. Plus one for comfort and familiarity? Minus 100 for not realizing you now have to play BRAZIL in the knockout round.

For the sake of footballers and sports fans across the entire globe, I sincerely hope Brazil pounds Japan into the turf tomorrow. Because the flight back to Japan is sure a hell of a lot farther than Wales to Scotland. Sheesh.

Now, let us turn our attention to the fierce competition that revolves around a …ball?… with the funniest name in sports history. Badminton and its star player, the shuttlecock (don’t pretend you didn’t giggle)!

Four pairs of female badminton players representing China, South Korea and Indonesia were disqualified from the doubles tournament for purposely losing matches in order to get better seeds in the later rounds.

At first glance, you might think “So? It’s badminton.” Well, believe it or not, badminton is actually fairly popular outside of America. And those teams that threw the matches are insanely good at it. Good to the point of making me wonder why they felt the need to lose on purpose? 

The Chinese teams especially dominate that event, but they needed to be lazy and have their way with easier teams along the way to another inevitable gold medal? Come on.

It’s an even more cowardly move than Japan’s soccer team. At least Japan didn’t throw the match they were in – they simply played conservatively for a stupid reason and slide tackled the sport IN THE FACE while doing so.

In my opinion, purposely losing is a whole different beast. Misty May Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings had never lost an Olympic set until yesterday, but they would never take it easy in the opening rounds in order to line up with easier opponents on their way to a gold.

You would never see a baseball team lose purposely to win a Wild Card spot instead of the division so they get to play the A’s instead of the Yankees. And though NFL teams like to sit their players in week 17 when the playoffs are assured, you can bet those scrubs falling all over themselves are working their tails off to win the game still.

Sports are sacred. Everybody ultimately wants to be the best at whatever they do, and sports is one way we measure that.

Best athlete. Best team. Best scorer. Best defender.

And what higher honor than being the best at your sport in the entire world? That means out of 7,057,351,245 or so people in the world, you are number one.

Whoa.

Yet, with stakes like that, the Japanese women’s soccer team and especially the eight women disqualified from the badminton tournament have disrespected a collection of Games started by the Ancient Greeks to honor the gods. Isn’t that sort of like farting in God’s general direction?

Okay, okay that’s a little far. I apologize. But as a fan of sport, I fully endorse the badminton players’ disqualification. I wholeheartedly hope Brazil rolls Japan like sushi in tomorrow’s soccer game.

And I REALLY hope the International Olympic Committee reconsiders how “far” soccer teams have to travel in future Games, so this problem can be avoided altogether.

Maybe we should give the Expelled Eight and Japan’s soccer team a little taste of how much we respect sports in America…have you watched that link yet?…you probably should…thank you.

Told ya badminton could be cool!

Debut Battle: C.J. Wilson vs. Yu Darvish

April 9, 2012

We have two A.L. West pitchers making debuts with their new teams today. In Arlington, it’s the Japanese sensation, Yu Darvish, making his first official start in America (against Ichiro’s Seattle Mariners, no less). And the Angels will throw their big off-season acquisition C.J. Wilson against the Twins.

So, who will do it better today?

I feel that this is an even playing field seeing that both are facing bad offenses. Although, Darvish does have the benefit of playing in front of a home crowd.

My gut is telling me Wilson will have a better game. Partially because he put up stellar numbers last year as a member of the Rangers in the regular season. He has a really electric fastball from the left side and can break you off, too.

Darvish has a full arsenal of pitches at his disposable as well, but he’s unproven outside of Japan. He got hit hard by a couple Padres in Spring Training, which is never a good sign. Still, I’m expecting a quality start out of Darvish.

I just think Wilson will put up a GREAT start today. My predictions are as follows:

Wilson (LA): 7.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 8 K, 1 BB

Darvish (TEX): 6.1 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 5 K, 2 BB

Both teams will win. But in the battle of newly-inked aces, Wilson gets the nod today!

Opening Day Predictions

April 4, 2012

Okay, okay. I know the A’s and Mariners played in Japan and the defending-champion Cardinals already defeated the Marlins at the new stadium earlier tonight. But a big slate of games is finally set for tomorrow, and I couldn’t be more excited. 

We’ve got seven games lined up for tomorrow, capped off with reigning Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw and my Dodger squaring off against the Padres in San Diego. Without further adieu, here are my predictions for tomorrow’s games:

Boston Red Sox at Detroit Tigers: This is the first of the great pitching matchups we’ll see over the first weekend of play, but it might just be the best one. Jon Lester will take the hill against last year’s Cy Young and MVP winner, Justin Verlander. Normally, I’d expect a pitcher’s duel, but Lester is a notorious slow starter, so look for a big game from Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder and the Tigers to take the home opener 5-2. (Side note: Jose Valverde will get his 51st straight save, creeping slowly towards the record of 84)

Atlanta Braves at New York Mets: I like this pitching matchup for a number of different reasons. First of all, I really enjoy watching Tommy Hanson pitch. If he’s healthy for Atlanta this year, it’s going to be huge for their playoff aspirations. But the real story here is Johan Santana’s return to the hill after a multitude of injuries have crippled the former Cy Young winner. I’m going to take my first upset, but don’t expect the Mets’ winning streak to last long. Give me the Mets 3-2.

Philadelphia Phillies at Pittsburgh Pirates: Another former ace takes the hill on Opening Day, hoping to rebound. Erik Bedard won’t have as much success as Johan does in New York, although I do expect an above average season out of the lefty in 2012. Roy Halladay is going to be too much for the young Pirates offense, and the Phils take it on the road 5-0.

Washington Nationals at Chicago Cubs: Raise your hand if you’re as excited to see Stephen Strasburg on the mound tomorrow as I am! He takes on the re-tooled Cubs and Ryan Dempster at Wrigley. And I’m sorry Cubbie fans, but the curse will continue, starting with an ugly loss at the hands of the Nats. I’m going to enjoy watching Strasburg go 8 innings with 10 strikeouts in a 7-1 win.

Toronto Blue Jays at Cleveland Indians: This might be the most underrated pitching matchup of the day. If you like young, up-and-coming stars on the bump, this is the game for you. Ricky Romero is my dark horse candidate for A.L. Cy Young this year, and Justin Masterson for Cleveland isn’t far behind. I think this is going to be the best pitching duel of the day. Toronto takes it 1-0 on a late solo homer by Jose Bautista.

Miami Marlins at Cincinnati Reds: One of the Marlins’ big free agent acquisitions is opening this series, and Mark Buerhle can certainly be trusted to give a quality outing. Johnny Cueto gets the ball for Cincy and two very strong offenses will have their respective hands full. Give me the wily veteran for the new-look Marlins’ first win in a 4-3 game.

Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres: You know this is the one I’ve been waiting to talk about. You’ve gotta like the young lefty Kershaw to start defending his Cy Young title with a pretty dominant win at Petco Park. I think the Dodgers put up a five spot on Edinson Volquez early and chase him from the game. I want to give the Padres a pity run to sound unbiased, but they just aren’t a good enough team to score against Kershaw. Final score: 6-0 Dodgers.

That’s all folks! Call in sick tomorrow, ditch school, and watch MLB Network all day to see my picks put into motion. Happy baseball! Peace.

First LIVE baseball game!

April 3, 2012

It’s officially back for me, folks. Last night, I went to AT&T Park to watch the Oakland A’s play the San Francisco Giants in an exhibition game. A final tune-up for the regular season. Except for the A’s, who already played two real games in Japan. Rage. Don’t ask me about that.

Anyway, the Giants pulled out a 4-2 victory behind timely hitting from Brandon Belt and Melky Cabrera. Brian Wilson got an enormous ovation when he trotted in from the bullpen for the save attempt. I hate him with all my might, so needless to say, I stayed in my seat looking at my phone.

But the biggest ovation of the night came for San Francisco’s pride and joy, Buster Posey. He’s back from a horrific leg injury suffered at the beginning of the 2011 season, and while I love his game, I hate his team. So I wasn’t too happy about that.

But enough about my gripes (PSYCHE! Those are just getting started…). Here are some other observations from game one of my soon-to-be epic season of fandom:

– Cliff Pennington is going to have a better season than a lot of people realize. By no means does that make the A’s a contender, but he’s a sleeper. Take him late in your fantasy drafts.

– Giants fans continue to amaze me. And not in a good way. There was a group of sober, jersey-wearing Giants fans within ear shot who didn’t even know who most of their team’s players were. This isn’t a statement on their fan base in general, as I have many good friends who are solid, die-hard Giants fans.

– Eric Sogard turned on a Madison Bumgarner (who looked slightly shaky for once) pitch and pulled it down the line for a two-run homer to start the scoring. Boom!

– Josh Donaldson plays a mean third base. Two very nice running, over the shoulder catches in foul territory. His throwing error was Jemile Weeks’ fault at first base. You don’t stretch with your throwing hand, bro.

– I hate to admit it, but damn it if AT&T  Park isn’t pretty. The view of the Bay is so freakin’ awesome.

– That is, until the seagulls started a coordinated flight pattern over the stadium with intent to poop. No joke, the game was forgotten for at least three innings while people dodged flying gull feces. Props to the…rather large woman three rows ahead of me for laying out like Coco Crisp for a fly ball in order to get away from a white and brown bomb flying at her head. Underrated mobility from that lady.

– My goodness, Aubrey Huff is slow. He failed to cut off a ball that was headed for the corner even though it passed him on its way to the wall about eight feet from where he was originally positioned.

– The aforementioned trailer truck (Huff) didn’t help his case, getting gunned at home on a play at the plate early in the game. But a very nice throw from Josh Reddick in right field!

– Santiago Casilla made a relief appearance for the Giants. And I had his jersey on! From when he played on the A’s. Hashtag, awkward. Good thing I had a jacket on to cover the name so I didn’t look like a complete dweeb. Hey, we all make mistakes.

– My buddy, who later fell asleep in his seat (wtf?!) caught a Yoenis Cespedes homer in batting practice. Does this make him the first person to ever catch a BP home run by Cespedes in an American Major League park?! Hang on to that sucker, dude. Might be worth a few bucks in like 30 years.

– Lastly, the Giants did throw up a pretty sweet montage of the city, complete with the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, and other recognizable monuments. I giggled to myself in my seat, wondering what an A’s version of that would be. Five minutes of a camera circling Jack London Square?

That’s all I have. It was a great time, despite the flying crap and the final score. Can’t wait until next week when I get to see the A’s for the first time in a game that COUNTS in 2012! Until tomorrow, bring an umbrella to San Francisco. ‘Cause that shit cray. Literally.

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

March 29, 2012

Well this is embarrassing. I set a personal goal this morning during the A’s vs. Mariners game from Tokyo, to out-tweet all nine MLB Fan Cave finalists’ combined total. By myself.

And I think 146 tweets in two and a half hours later, I viciously exceeded my goal.

Can you blame me? Bartolo Colon, of all people, looked like a Cy Young candidate. Yoenis Cespedes hit his first career Major League home run. Crazy stuff was goin’ DOWN in Japan this morning!

Baseball is the only thing that I feel good about staying up that late for. I’m two energy drinks deep and have two more in the fridge, for emergency purposes only. Luckily for me, there will be no more games broadcast at 2 a.m. anymore. And apparently, that’s lucky for you too, if you follow me on Twitter.

I mean, if I were you, it could be worth a look. Might be entertaining. Don’t you want to read all the nonsense I tweet at ungodly hours throughout the night when jacked up on quercetin and other unpronouncably fancy energy supplements?

Honestly, most of those tweets probably fell on deaf ears (eyes…?). Who in their right mind would be so enthralled by someone who tweets “Jonny Gomes sucks #boo” every time he takes a called strike that they actually hit the glorious little Follow button?

I can’t give you a good reason to follow me @Jamblinman. Here’s my best shot: I love baseball with a fiery passion. I love it enough to stay up until 4:30 a.m. when I have to wake up at 6:30 a.m. to drive an hour to work. I love it enough to quit jobs just so I don’t sacrifice baseball time (done it before, will do it again). I love it enough to dedicate a solid portion of my free time every day to thinking, talking and writing about it.

And now that we’ve recorded two official MLB games in 2012, shit’s gonna get even crazier. You realize there are well over 2,000 more games this season right? And I plan on following every single one of them. If I can’t be IN the Fan Cave, I’m damn well gonna pretend I am!

So if you are a lazy baseball fan, follow me on Twitter (again, @Jamblinman) and you don’t even have to look at a box score all season! If you are a crazy baseball fan, follow me on Twitter to argue vehemently with me, or just to have a good ol’ baseball discussion! In 140 characters or less, please.

This is what I do. Can’t stop, won’t stop. Follow me. You won’t regret it. Also, while we’re at it…follow @3u3d to get updates from the cool group of fans who bring you the weekly Three Up, Three Down podcast and blog.

Who knows? You might even get a re-tweet or response from the crew of @_SeasonTicket_ as I traverse the United States this summer in my girlfriend’s car, in dire search of America’s best baseball experience. Yes, you have to follow that one too.

Here’s your task for the day: Log in to Twitter. Search @Jamblinman. Hit “Follow.” Search @3u3d. Hit “Follow.” Search @_SeasonTicket_. Hit “Follow.” Boom. Roasted.

#UntilTomorrow #TweetMe


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