Feasting on turkey and baseball

Yesterday I made a day trip to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving dinner. It’s not the proverbial “house I grew up in,” but it’s still the place to be when my family gets together. There was a turkey dinner with all of the usual side dishes, in the company of the people I spent every day of the first 18 years of my life with. It was an idyllic Thanksgiving, really.

As it often does with my family, talk of baseball filled the air. Before sitting down to eat, my brother express his disappointment with the Cubs for hiring someone other than Ryne Sandberg as their new manager. He doesn’t share my enthusiasm for Theo Epstein, so I tried to bring him around to my point of view. I don’t think I was successful, but I appreciated the conversation, anyway.

At the table, my father, his brother, my brothers and I talked about this year’s World Series at great length: the Cardinals and how remarkable it was that they even made the post-season to begin with; Game six as something we’ll never see again in our lifetimes; the benefits of the Joe Torre-sanctioned rainout for his former team; and the unlikely heroics of David Freese. We speculated as to whether Albert Pujols will remain a Cardinal or sign with someone else. And we, as Cardinals fans and/or National League partisans, took note of Prince Fielder’s home run that won the All-Star game and gave the Cardinals home-field advantage for the Series.

When dinner was over and it was time to clear the table, I had feasted on baseball as much as I had on food. And that’s something to be thankful for.

#MLB got it wrong

For last night’s 9/11 remembrance game in New York, which was broadcast by ESPN and was basically the capstone of the 10 year commemoration of the events of September 11, 2001, Major League baseball got wind of a plan by the players. The full story is here, but essentially the Mets’ players wanted to honor the first responders of the NYPD and others by wearing their logos, rather than the Mets logo, on their caps during the game last night.

It isn’t like MLB and ESPN weren’t going all out anyway, with the pregame ceremonies and everything else. The players wanted to get in on it, too. A small gesture, but important for the city they play in and align themselves with. A no-brainer, right?

Apparently not. The powers that be in Major League Baseball–which is headquartered in New York City, I might add–sent Joe Torre out to deliver the news that this gesture would not be allowed. Then, they took it one step further, according to Mets’ pitcher R.A. Dickey’s tweets, by confiscating the players’ hats. So, unlike the actions of Steve Trachsel, John Franco, and the other Mets players who defied a similar mandate in 2001, this time MLB decided to be proactive in heading off any dissent from the players.

When I saw this story in today’s news, I thought immediately of the Steve Trachsel card shown above. Trachsel was a Cub for many years, and played for the Mets during the 2001 season and several years thereafter. And that’s where it gets interesting. The card above appeared in a set of cards put out by Upper Deck in 2007. More than five years had gone by since Trachsel and his teammates had worn these caps–consequences be damned–and this action was still making its way into baseball card sets. The “FDNY” jumps right off the card, and the reason why he has it on is clear to everyone who remembers that day’s events.

When this card was released, in the Spring of 2007, Steve Trachsel was technically a free agent. He could have signed with the Mets again, but there was no guarantee that he would do so. In fact, Trachsel signed with the Baltimore Orioles, presumably after this card came out, and a second card with Trachsel in an Orioles uniform was released later that year. But it seems as if someone at Upper Deck, with probably lots of Steve Trachsel images to choose from, chose to use an image from five years earlier, either to commemorate Trachsel for defying MLB’s rule, or possibly to honor the first responders themselves.

And now, with the memories and the pain of 9/11 brought to the surface again, MLB cut its players off at the knees. It feels petty on their part, and I will suggest that any negative reaction they get from this will be richly deserved.