With Thanksgiving upon us, each Yahoo Sports blog is taking stock of what they're thankful for while also providing menu suggestions and a sport-specific viewing guide for when you hit your couch. Share what you're thankful for on Twitter with the #YSBThanks hashtag or in the comments below. Have a safe and happy holiday!
Mike Oz, Big League Stew editor
I'm thankful for
... fans who make crazy catches: Whether it's bros who use their beer glasses to catch foul balls and then chug the beer, little old ladies who bring their gloves to the games or dads who catch a ball in one hand while holding a baby in the other, I'm thankful for the pursuit of baseball souvenirs and what many people will do to take home a piece of the game they attended.
Love him, hate him, whatever — the guy is a character and he makes baseball more fun to watch. Maybe he doesn't play the game the way stalwarts and traditionalists expect him to, but so what? He was the most exciting player to watch for much of last season. (Not to mention he's great fodder for bloggers). Viva Puig!
The little guys: Thank you, Oakland Athletics. Thank you, Tampa Bay Rays. Thank you, Pittsburgh Pirates. Thank you, small-spending, big-winning teams. Thank you for showing baseball there's another way than just bloating up your payroll, taking advantage of baseball's lack of a salary cap like the teams that spend, spend, spend but don't necessarily win, win, win. There's nothing wrong with spending $200 million to field a baseball team, if you can do it, if a wealthy owner thinks that's the best way to win. But the small teams have shown they can be just as good without spending the money. That shows us that baseball has many different paths to success.
Fenway Park: This season, I had the privilege of visiting Fenway Park for the first time, to witness the World Series champion crowned there. It was an experience I'll never forget. I'm not one of those people who has visited dozens of MLB parks. I can count the number on one hand, actually. Going to Fenway wasn't so much going to a ballgame as it was going to a shrine of baseball. It's truly a place where you feel the history of this great game. It's hard to walk away without feeling inspired. In a larger sense, I'm thankful for places like Fenway that serve as a reminder that newer and fancier isn't always better.
* * *
PHOTO: Bucky Dent rides an apple in the 1978 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade:
The year is 1978; Ed McMahon and Bryant Gumbel are hosting the parade. Ricardo Montalban will appear, as will Burl Ives, Bruce Jenner, the Oak Ridge Boys and the Village People. But imagine being a Boston Red Sox fan and waking up Thanksgiving morning to see Bucky Dent of the New York Yankees — hero/villain of the (in)famous '78 playoff game at Fenway Park — coming down 34th Street in a parade float. Remember, these are the Red Sox fans of pre-2004, 2007, 2013 times, before they were satiated with World Series victories. Ah, at least Bill Buckner in Game 6 hasn't happened yet, the poor souls.
Even better about this photo — get to the theaters soon to see "Midnight Express" (no, that's not a Times Square porno) and Agatha Christie's "Death on the Nile," because there's virtually no home video market yet and it's going to be years until they're on network television or pay TV (as if that fanciful fad will ever take flight), and even then "Midnight Express" on ABC is not exactly the "Midnight Express" you get in the theaters, if you know what I'm saying.
* * *
Mark Townsend, Big League Stew contributor
I'm thankful for...
The ‘Heard on MLB Tonight’ Twitter feed: It’s always nice to know that head-scratching comment or ridiculous analysis we thought we heard from a talking head on MLB Network — here’s looking at you Harold Reynolds, Mitch Williams and Kevin Millar — wasn’t just a figment of our imagination. A little reassurance that we are, in fact, not hearing things and aren’t crazy goes a long way.
Hawk Harrelson’s silence, stories and general confusion
Sometimes all we have on a Wednesday afternoon or late Saturday night are the Chicago White Sox. When that’s the case, we know it’s worth sticking around because Hawk is always one pitch away from providing the night’s most entertaining moment. Whether it’s 30 seconds of dead air following a walk-off home by the opposition, a three-minute rant at an umpire, a story about Yaz or riding Charlie-O the Mule around Yankee Stadium, or even a home run that wasn’t (or maybe it was), the Hawkaroo never disappoints.
Bizarre endings: No other form of entertainment can give you finishes ranging from the simple — home runs and called third strikes — to the absurd — obstruction calls and balks. You honestly never know what’s coming, even up to the point when the last pitch is thrown. It’s a constant thrill ride. Well, most of the time at least.
Underdogs: Every season, clear cut contenders are identified. And every season, two or three completely unexpected teams give those contenders everything they can handle, and sometimes more than they can handle. It doesn't matter how much we know, or what the scouting reports or numbers tell us should happen, teams emerge from the abyss to compete. But it's not just those teams that come out of nowhere. It's the Pittsburgh Pirates, who for 21 years sat on the sidelines during the postseason, but slowly worked themselves back into the picture. Every season there's a team with a story that captivates everyone.
* * *
• Turkey legs at Safeco Field:
• BBQ pulled pork, brisket and mashed potatoes parfait at Miller Park
• A black and white shake from Shake Shack at Citi Field (or Nationals Park)
* * *
David Brown, Big League Stew editor
I'm thankful for...
Cincinnati Reds bat boy Ted Kremer: Kremer seems like the sort of guy who makes it Thanksgiving every day for those around him.
Topps cards absolutely hit a metaphorical grand slam by including Ted Kremer in its 2013 update set, which was released earlier this week. Kremer, a 30-year-old man from the Cincinnati area who has Down syndrome, inspired anybody who heard about his time as a batboy earlier this season for the Cincinnati Reds. Slugger Todd Frazier, one player in particular took a liking to Kremer, even hit a home run for him by request. Later in the summer, the Reds hired Kremer to work in the front office. Clearly, his so-called disability is a misnomer.
At least one more season from Vin Scully
"What's good about Scully broadcasts, other than his familiar delivery, soothing voice and distinctive cadence? He obviously prepares. He's a good reporter. He knows things about ballplayers, and tells stories, that other reporters don't. He's also a solo act for nine innings. No partner. He's his own analyst. And he knows when not to speak. He remembers that it's TV, not radio, and that his words only need to supplement what viewers are watching. Of course, Scully's words do much more than that."
And don't forget to watch for Vin as grand marshal in the Tournament of Roses Parade.
Wil Myers' hair:
* * *
2:30 p.m. ET: Washington Nationals opening day: Bryce Harper hits two home runs and Stephen Strasburg retires 19 straight against the Marlins (airing on MASN)
6 p.m. ET: Cal Ripken ties Lou Gehrig's consecutive games played record (airing on MASN)
7 p.m. ET: MLB Network Countdown: 2013 Plays of the Year (MLB Network)
10:30 p.m. ET: Tim Lincecum throws a no-hitter against the Padres (CSN Bay Area)
11:30 p.m. ET: "5 Outs: Chicago Cubs 2003" (CSN Chicago) A documentary that looks back at the Chicago Cubs season and analyzes the fallout from the Steve Bartman incident during Game 6 of the NLCS. Includes interviews with Sammy Sosa, Kerry Wood, Moises Alou and Dusty Baker. — M.T.
* * *