Big League Stew - MLB

If you have a profile on Facebook, there's a 100 percent chance you're being bombarded with requests to write "25 Random Things" about yourself.  It's navel-gazing at its finest, but it's also perfectly suited for the blog environment.

Here on The Stew, we're throwing the challenge a curve by requiring that all responding bloggers relate their 25 things to baseball. Now batting is Rob Iracane, co-founder of Walkoff Walk

1. My Little League career ended early when I was hit in the left eye with a baseball. It wasn't a line drive that caused massive orbital damage, mind you, but a lazy pop fly that I lost in the sun. It gave me a bad shiner but mostly injured my pride.

2. I think Bud Selig should open up the MLB.com vaults and let bloggers embed baseball video on our blogs. Get your product out there, Bud!

3. Lives and breathes the New York Yankees although I am rational enough to realize that there are 27 other teams in baseball deserving of my respect (plus the Mets and Orioles).

4. I am excited to experience the 2009 season at Yankee Stadium and was actually pretty glad to see the old place go. Still, I think CitiField is going to have the better concessions.

5. Despite my passion for the Yanks, I'd drop them like a concrete doorstop if New Jersey ever got an expansion franchise.

6. I love PNC Park in Pittsburgh although Citizens Bank Park is a far better stadium to experience because it's usually full of passionate baseball fans. People make the park, folks.

7. I've only ever had two favorite active players, first Don Mattingly and now Derek Jeter. I jumped on his bandwagon after Mattingly retired following the Yankees sad playoff loss in '95 to the Mariners. Luckily for Jeter (and me!), the Yankees gave up on their initial plan to have Tony Fernandez as the starting shortstop in '96.

8. Alan Trammell and Dale Murphy were my other two favorites during the 1980s, because along with Mattingly, those were the only three oversized Topps baseball cards I had in the 1985 set. The cards were the size of my friggin' head!

9. My buddies and I hit up a Braves/Expos tilt at Olympic Stadium in Montreal a few years ago and nabbed seats behind the dugout. During batting practice, I knocked a small child over to grab a baseball tossed into the stands by Andruw Jones.

10. When my family and I went on a California vacation back in August 1990, we hit up a Phillies/Dodgers game at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers were up 11-3 after the eighth inning so we followed the LA faithful out the gates and into our rental station wagon. That's where we listened to the Phillies stage a nine-run ninth inning comeback to win the game 12-11. Whoops.

11. I own no replica jerseys, only three baseball caps, and just one 12-year-old Derek Jeter t-shirt. If anyone out there wants to buy me a belated birthday gift, I'll take one of those classy dark blue Yankee polo shirts.

12. The most amazing baseball event I've ever seen in person was Aaron Boone's walkoff tater tot to win the 2003 American League Championship Series for the Yanks. The best part about it? I was with two Red Sox fans.

13. My favorite baseball writers are ESPN's Rob Neyer, Baseball Prospectus' Joe Sheehan, and, of course, Yahoo's own Kevin Kaduk.

14. If I was stranded on a desert island and could survive on only three different baseball concessions, they would be Yankee Stadium's hot-popped popcorn, Philadelphia's crab fries with extra cheese dip, and the kielbasa sandwich from the club level in Pittsburgh.

15. I've never been to Chicago or St. Louis or Detroit or Kansas City or Minneapolis or Milwaukee or Cincinnati or Cleveland. My Midwestern baseball dance card is woefully blank, but I'll trade 'Duk a seat at the new Yankee Stadium in exchange for a ticket to Wrigley.

16. I met my girlfriend at a Mets game. Really.

17. My favorite baseball player of all time is Willie Mays, something I inherited from my dad, a Giants fan from back when they played in the Polo Grounds. He played the game with grace and ardent passion and years later and still shows up to Giants spring training to school the kids on the fundamentals of a game he started playing professionally over 60 years ago. Meanwhile, I don't even remember how to do high-school level calculus.

18. Something else I will inherit from my dad: the complete 1959 Topps card set. Along with the plastic-covered furniture in the parlor, they're the only things my grandmother didn't throw out.

19. I'm excited to have Bob Costas join the MLB Network and call some real live actual baseball games this season, despite the fact that everything I've read about the guy lately has painted him as irascible, defensive and completely unfamiliar with the Internet. He's my kinda guy: short and snarky and excellently-coiffed!

20. My favorite baseball book ever written was "Dodger Dogs to Fenway Franks" by the great Bob Wood. He toured 26 baseball parks in under two months back in 1985 and wrote up his experiences, assigning each place a letter grade. Sadly, most of the parks are gone now.

21. My least favorite baseball book ever written was "Baseball for Brain Surgeons" by Tim McCarver. I still don't understand if the title was supposed to be a joke or not; the book mostly features McCarver bragging that Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton were such great pitchers because McCarver called such a great game. If you want, I'll film myself burning this book and post it on YouTube.

22. The best play I've ever seen in person was during Game One of the 2000 World Series, game tied 0-0 in the sixth, two outs, Timo Perez on first. Todd Zeile laced one off the top of the left field wall that bounced back towards David Justice, who picked it up and threw it to Jeter, who relayed it to Posada and nailed Perez at home, who had earlier been lazily rounding second base thinking Zeile's hit was a tater tot.

23. If I won the lottery today, I'd move to San Diego tomorrow, live on the beach in La Jolla, get a membership to the San Diego Zoo, and spend 81 days a year in 72 degree weather at Petco Park, eating fish tacos and drinking ballpark margaritas.

24. My three favorite baseball names in history are Snuffy Stirnweiss, Heinie Manush, and Socks Seybold. Socks! Just like the cat.

25. I was way ahead of this trend and did four of these lists six years ago.

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