February 2009

Latin America

No, I’m not going to Latin America, but I just received the following email from my friend Megan who’s there now:


Hey Zack,

We went to a baseball game today and I thought of you… Granada vs. Rivas… so awesome. Best seats in the house were $5 for two tix, beer at $1 each, manual scoreboard, goats just over the outfield fence, kids in the trees watching from outside the park, and the game was so genuine and awesome. No 100 mph pitches, just awesome baseball playing. Declared a tie at 2/2 after 13 innings. Have you ever been to a game in Latin America? I can’t remember. You should totally go… you could get a ball no problem, it would be awesome. If you want me to go with you and translate, I totally will. Amazing.

We’re flying home this Saturday… Hope to see you sometime soon.


In other news…

I have two big baseball-related things in the works. They’re not quite 100 percent official at this point, so basically, get READY for some news. Maybe next week. Big stuff. I mean it.

long-lost family photos

My aunt Judy recently unearthed some OLD photographs of me that I’d never seen. Check ’em out…

This one was taken in my very first bedroom (not the one with the baseballs) with my dad when I was just a couple months old:


Here’s one with my cousin Nicho in early 1978 (when I was still just a few months old):


Oish! That jumpsuit does NOT look comfortable. Nicho, by the way, is Judy’s son and he’s currently the president of an auction house in New York City called Swann.

Okay, here’s a shot of me in late ’78 when I was about a year old:


This next photo, taken in East Hampton shortly before my 3rd birthday, is a bit scandalous (for MLBlogs) so I had to…yeah:


I dream of a world in which violence will be censored and nudity will not…but I digress. Here I am as an 11-year-old (one year before I snagged my first baseball), playing a duet with my half-brother Henry:


And finally, here’s another photo that was taken that same day. From left to right: me, my grandma Ruth, my mom, Henry, and my grandpa Lou (who started the Argosy Book Store):


That’s it. Thanks once again for bearing with me while I talk about stuff that has nothing to do with baseball. Gimme another six weeks, and I’ll be fully back in snagging mode. Oh…and if you want to see my whole life in pictures (including the half-dozen I shared here), visit the Photos page on my web site.

Taiwanese translation

I just found out that my book Watching Baseball Smarter has been translated into Taiwanese and is coming out this spring.


Check out the front cover:


(Is it just me, or is the runner being called safe before touching the plate?)

Here’s the back cover and the spine (which I hear will be 1.2 centimeters thick):


It appears that this version will have a dust jacket, and it appears that these will be the inner flaps:


Now…in case you’re wondering what all this Taiwanese text means, I got a translation from my editor:

A great book for baseball fans
By Zack Hample
translated by Tzu-hsuan Chen, Tang-yao Kao & Chi-jen Chen

Recommended by,
James Wang, Anchor, Major League Baseball on FTV
Chun-da Lin, Anchor, Videoland Sports
Cheng-dian Yang, Anchor, Videoland Sports
Ching-long Yang, renowned baseball commentator and coach,
Keith Hernandez, 1979 batting champion and MVP, World Champion in 1982
About the translator:
Tzu-hsuan Chen
Assistant Professor, Department of Journalism, Shih-hsin University
PhD, Mass communications, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Tang-yao Kao
Master, Department of Journalism, Shih-hsin University
Chi-jen Chen
Graduate student, Department of Journalism, Shih-hsin University

Ready for a few sample pages from Chapter One? Here goes:



And so on.

Anyway, that’s it. Just wanted to share.

MLB Network

I’ve been hearing from lots of people that there’s a brief clip of me in one of the MLB Network’s commercials. Remember when I caught a Jason Giambi home run on September 16th and then snagged a Johnny Damon homer the next night? Well, the network is using a clip from my celebration after the Damon homer, and two people have been kind enough to send me photographs of their TVs. Here’s the first…


…and here’s the second:


When is MLB finally going to hire me as “Ambassador of Fun”? Maybe give me my own TV show about snagging baseballs? Or even just a segment on a show?

Attention MLB Network people: If you’re reading this, send me to a different ballpark every week throughout the season, and let me give a tutorial on how to snag baseballs (and collect autographs) in every stadium. I’ll teach kids how to do it. I’ll demonstrate the glove trick and ask foreign players for balls in their native languages. I’ll sprinkle in lots of Watching Baseball Smarter tips so people can learn more about the game itself and become bigger and better fans. I’ll even do a whole segment (if you can provide the footage) of web gems and bloopers…by FANS. Tell me that wouldn’t be insanely fun and popular. C’mon, people, enough with the standard analysis and highlight shows. Let’s shake things up a bit, eh? I’m good in front of the camera. Here’s my TV reel if you don’t believe me. Think about it. But not for too long. The season is almost upon us…

A-Rod and Scrabble

I don’t really want to think or talk about A-Rod. The whole thing
sucks, and if it’s true that he used steroids even once, then I think
HE sucks. Will I still root for him? I’m not sure. I need to wait and
see how it all plays out, but most likely he and I are done. It’s sad.
And I’m done talking about it.

What I really want to talk about is my last trip to the New York
City Scrabble club. I’d mentioned in a comment last week that I was
going to blog about it, so here goes…

I went with my friend Leon Feingold, who’s not only a former minor league pitcher and a competitive eater
(and a whole bunch of other cool/wacky things), but he also loves
Scrabble. He and I have played about half a dozen times, and although
he still hasn’t beaten me, I once beat him by just ONE point…so yeah, he’s good. He’d
never been to the NYC club, so I made sure to let him know that he was
in for a real challenge. As a result, he spent ten minutes studying a
word list before Round One. Here he is (in the white sweater):


For all you people who’ve read Word Freak and/or watched Word Wars,
the guy sitting at the table in the photo above (organizing yellow
score slips in order to determine the match-ups) is former world
champion and current club leader Joel Sherman.

Leon had a choice of playing in the beginner or expert division. He
chose the latter, and although he didn’t end up winning any games, he
held his own against some top players.

As for me…
I had a surprisingly good night. In my first game, I played two bingos–MINTIER
for 63pts and OUTSpEND for 77–en route to a 17-point win over a good
player named Phil Polsky. Final score: 384 to 367. Here’s the board
(with the unplayed tiles sitting along the bottom edge):


Leon was still playing when my game ended so I wandered over and took a
photo. Look closely and you can see that he has seven letters of an
eight-letter word on his rack:


Unfortunately he had no place to play it.

My second game was also a success. I faced against another solid player
named Judy Kass and squeaked out a 27-point win, 389 to 362. I only
played one bingo–SWANKER for 94pts–but it swung the momentum in my
favor because my opponent challenged and ended up losing her next turn.
Here’s the final board:


Round Three was a disaster. I got CREAMED by one of the top-rated women
in the world. Her name is Lynn Cushman. She played two bingos–TRACHEID
for 78pts and DEMOTES for 93–and beat me by 146 points. Ouch! So much
for my cumulative point spread. Final score: 431 to 285. I had both
blanks and still didn’t manage to play a bingo. It was such a miserable
performance on my part that I was too embarrassed to take a photo of
the board.

The good news is that in Round Four…


…I beat a guy named Andrew Friedman by 126 points, so I ended up
feeling a little bit better about myself. The final score was 429 to
303, and I played two bingos, one of which was worth 107 points! The
word was JESTING; the jay was on a double letter score, the whole word
was doubled, and the ess hooked onto the end of DEAFEN. Not bad. But
I’ll admit that it was all very lucky. My other bingo was HIDEOUtS
(lowercase tee because it was a blank) for 66pts. Here’s the board:


Here’s my final score slip…


…and here I am with Leon (as Joel accidentally lunged in front of the camera while cleaning up):


Good times.

Thanks for indulging me while I blog about non-baseball happenings…