Mark Townsend

  • How to survive Thanksgiving as a baseball fan: Volume 2

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 11 hrs ago

    It's that time of year again: Thanksgiving!

    The meaning of Thanksgiving is self-explanatory. It's a day to celebrate all that we're thankful for in life, with the added perks of gathering with friends and family to share laughs, eat turkey sandwiches and watch wall-to-wall football coverage.

    All of that sounds perfect, unless of course you're a baseball fan craving nachos, hot dogs, peanuts and actual baseball providing an escape. Sorry, folks, that's not how it works. Thanksgiving will do little to satisfy those cravings. Instead, you'll be stuck with Joe Buck and Phil Simms as background noise, and you'll be reminded how far removed we are from the World Series, and how far we still are from spring training.

    The reality is, dedicated fans of our national pastime are firmly entrenched in no man's land, and there's still no light at the end of the tunnel. It's all about getting through another day, and in this case there's no escape from football's powerful clutches. That is, unless you follow our helpful suggestions to create that escape while fulfilling all of the expected obligations.

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  • Hank the Ballpark Pup to make stage debut in 'A Christmas Carol'

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 21 hrs ago

    It's been awhile since we've heard from Hank the Ballpark Pup, but it turns out there's a good reason. The Milwaukee Brewers canine mascot, who stole the hearts of baseball fans when he trotted on to the scene during spring training in 2014, is preparing to steal hearts again on the theater stage.

    According to Cait Moyer, author of the Brewers' blog Cait Covers The Bases, Hank will make his acting debut at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater on Dec. 9, during a production of the Charles Dickens’ classic 'A Christmas Carol.' 

    Everyone from @MayorOfMKE to @Brewers's Hank "Ballpark Pup" will join us onstage #ACC40th.

    Holiday pawtographs for all!  

  • Ken Johnson dies at 82, was only pitcher to throw nine-inning no-hitter and lose

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 22 hrs ago

    Ken Johnson, the pitcher behind one of baseball's most notable anomolies, has died at age 82.

    Johnson's son, Kenneth Jr., confirmed the news to the New York Times on Wednesday, stating his father had battled Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases in his later years and ultimately died from a kidney infection on Nov. 21.

    Johnson leaves behind a notable legacy in baseball, though not necessarily for the totality of his career. Johnson spent parts of 13 seasons (1958-70) in the big leagues, suiting up for seven different teams (Athletics, Reds, Astros, Braves, Yankees, Cubs and Expos) while posting a respectable 3.46 ERA over 1,737.1 innings.

    It's a career worthy of a cap tip, but it's his remarkable performance on April 23, 1964 that will be most remembered in baseball lore.

    While pitching for the Houston Colts .45's, Johnson allowed no hits to the Cincinnati Reds, yet still took the loss in the game. That marks the only time in MLB history that a pitcher lost despite throwing a nine-inning no-hitter.

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  • Win your Christmas party with the Jose Bautista bat flip sweater

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    Courtesy of Fresh Brewed Tees, we present the Jose Bautista bat flip Christmas sweater, which commemorates Bautista's epic bat flip following his ALDS-clinching home run in Game 5 against the Texas Rangers.

    Sweater of the year. via @FreshBrewedTees @JoeyBats19

    This is real and it's absolutely spectacular.

    [Related: AL MVP Josh Donaldson emerges as face of baseball and a nation]

    But that's not the only sweater available. It's just one in a series of creatively designed sweaters dedicated to connecting baseball with Christmas.

    National League Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant is also represented.

    Buying this right now

    As are the 2015 World Series champion Kansas City Royals.

  • Cubs release new renderings of plaza under construction outside Wrigley Field

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    It's quite ambitious, as construction for a brand new plaza to the west of Wrigley Field is underway that will dramatically change the atmosphere and upgrade the facilities Cubs' brass uses to perform its daily tasks.  

    [Report: MLB could play a series of games in London as early as 2017]

    Among the tenants in the plaza will be many of the Cubs key front office personnel. There will also be studio space for local media partners from CSN Chicago, WGN, ABC and CBS to record pre and postgame content. And there's something in it for the players too, as the team will move to an updated and upgraded clubhouse that will be constructed under the renovated land.

    Brett Taylor from Bleacher Nation has the full rundown of what the project entails. He also tweeted out new renderings released by the Cubs showing what the finished project will look like. 

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  • Christian Arroyo ends AFL championship game with incredible sliding catch

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

    Dramatic not because of a walkoff home run, basehit, steal of home, balk or some type of offensive happening. Dramatic because the game ended on an almost impossible sliding catch by San Francisco Giants prospect Christian Arroyo.

    [Watch: 7-year-old boy performs Australian national anthem through hiccups]

    With two strikes and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Cardinals infield prospect Aledmys Diaz popped up a ball foul down the third-base line seemingly headed for no mans land. Three players chased after it, but it was Arroyo who emerged from the pack at full speed and took charge. As he neared the warning track along the wall, Arroyo went into a slide, reached back over his head and snagged the ball from the air.

    There was plenty to celebrate for all members of the Scorpions, but especially for Arroyo. In addition to that defensive gem, he was 2-for-5 in the game with two runs scored. He also added another excellent defensive play in a game that was filled with web gems.

    Way to go, guys.

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  • Noah Syndergaard wants to be a ‘Met for life.’ Is that possible?

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

    Though there's no real urgency surrounding Noah Syndergaard's status with the New York Mets — he's under team control through 2021 — fans can take solace in the fact the 23-year-old star has no intentions of leaving the city.

    Speaking to the New York Daily News this week, Syndergaard made it clear that he views New York as his home and wants to be a 'Met for life.' 

    “When I came here for the (2013) Futures Game we went to Times Square and I thought it was amazing. Being from a small-town I’d never seen anything like it and I wanted to come back,” Syndergaard said. “Now, I’ve had a chance to broaden my horizons from Time Square and explore more of the city.”

    “I love it here,” Syndergaard said by phone Thursday. “I had some time after the season and I wanted to just experience all I could of it. I wanted to do things I couldn’t do in the season and I am having a lot of fun.”

    “I want to be a Met for life,” Syndergaard said. “I love it.”

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  • Watch: 7-year-old boy performs Australian national anthem through hiccups

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

    We're not sure if anyone had that same conversation with 7-year-old Ethan Hall on Friday, but the talented young singer would not let anything deter him from completing the national anthem before an Australian League Baseball game.

    Not even a bout of hiccups.

    [Elsewhere: South Korea celebrates Premier 12 championship with epic teammate flip]

    There was no hiding it either. Hall had the hiccups. But he didn't even pause, let alone panic or allow it to throw him off his game. He simply powered through them and delivered both an outstanding and memorable rendition.

    Young Ethan Hall made his country proud and made people all over the world smile. Just to have the courage to stand there and sing is pretty impressive. To continue when life threw him an unexpected curveball, that's beyond impressive, and perhaps beyond what some more seasoned veterans would have done. 

    Well done, young man. Keep on singing.

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  • Astros looking to add closer, build dominant bullpen

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 5 days ago

    While the MLB offseason is often unpredictable, one thing that is now crystal clear is the Houston Astros desire to add a closer.

    On Saturday, ESPN's Jayson Stark reported the Astros are 'hell-bent' on getting something done over the winter, and have already made several phone calls to express interest in various options.

    [Elsewhere: Jake Arrieta wins big during Esurance MLB Awards show]

    Among Houston's top targets are Aroldis Chapman of the Cincinnati Reds, Andrew Miller of the New York Yankees, and Brad Boxberger of the Tampa Bay Rays. They've also checked in with the Philadelphia Phillies about Ken Giles, who stepped in as closer after Jonathan Papelbon was traded to the Washington Nationals, and are said to be eyeing free agents as well.

    [Check out Big League Stew on Tumblr for even more baseball awesomeness.]

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  • Vin Scully made debut broadcasting college football from Fenway Park roof

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 5 days ago

    As Boston College and the University of Notre Dame prepare for Saturday's football battle at famed Fenway Park, we've been reminded of one fascinating tidbit from the career of broadcasting legend Vin Scully.

    On Nov. 12, 1949, Scully actually made his professional broadcasting debut at Fenway Park, calling a college football game between Maryland and Boston University.

    [Related: David Ortiz insisted Torii Hunter Jr. get his locker for Fenway football game]

    As the story goes, Scully was recruited by Red Barber, the sports director of the CBS Radio Network, and then tabbed as a substitute for the broadcast when the scheduled play-by-play man reported sick.

    Vin Scully made his pro play by play debut at Fenway Park in 1949... Doing a Boston U-Maryland FOOTBALL game. Stuff u learn while prepping!

    You'd be hardpressed to find two more iconic entities in sports, and they are forever linked not by baseball, but that one college football game.

    BLS H/N: Cut 4

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