In re: Battle of Ohio – Mustard edition

Over the Fourth of July weekend I went down to see one of the Battle of Ohio/I-71 Series/Indians v. Reds/whatever you want to call it interleague game between my Cleveland Indians and the Reds. Was a great time, a pretty decent number of Indians fans showed up, which helped add to the atmosphere. I can’t say I am a huge fan of the Great American Ballpark – nothing wrong with it, nice, clean, new, fairly generic stadium. I guess I wish they would have done something a bit more interesting and a bit more open to the river (on the lower deck you can’t see out to the river, which would be a nifty feature I think). Okay, well not to go on about the stadium, I wanted to mention the mustard. One of the truly great features of going to ballparks is local foods, unfortunately for quite a while the trend to go w/ a mass market food service provider and having national brands pushed a lot of these aspects out – but fortunately Jacobs Field, oops Progressive Field, up in Cleveland has not gone to only having yellow mustard (while they do have the ubiquitous Heinz yellow mustard) they also have the famous and popular Bertmans’s Ballpark Mustard.   Cleveland actually has two mustards (neither is made there) (Stadium Mustard is the other and is the one at Brown’s Stadium – and seems to be made in IL) and they are both great and they are the main reason you must grab a dog at the ballpark or a Browns game. There is debate among some Clevelanders about which is better, some folks don’t seem to know there are two or that there is a difference and both seem to claim to be the original (they share some overlapping history, when the one handled retail sales and the other was for the stadiums).  Some say that following a lawsuit Stadium Mustard got the name and Bertman’s got the recipe.  (see a Battle of two spicy mustards.   Hear more on the story about it on the Splendid Table Podcast – May 9, 2009) including how the two split, the legal battle between the two and how neither is made in Cleveland (Bertman’s is made in southern Ohio – go figure).

So back to the ballpark in Cincy, in one of the fun interstate rivalary elements they cooked up for the weekend the ballpark was conducting a mustard taste off, Cincinnati Reds stadium’s Uncle Phil’s (more on that later) versus Bertman’s Ballpark Mustard. I am biased towards the Bertmans so I voted for that, but Uncle Phil’s was pretty good too. Neither were yellow mustard so I was happy to grab a dog before we sat down and I put some Uncle Phil’s on it and enjoyed the Indians win and the hot dog. Not sure who won the voting or if they even counted up the slips.

Interestingly enough I got home and looked up Uncle Phil’s and learned it doesn’t have much to do with Cincy and that it hasn’t been around for a long time as the Red’s mustard and it seems like for a year or two they stopped using it as the mustard – but it seems to be back.  According to this article the Red’s featured Uncle Phil’s for 6 and 1/2 seasons (see here).  And is made in Wisconsin.  Funny enough that Bertman’s is the one that is made nearby Cincy – kinda wonder why they don’t get into using that one.


In re: Flip Flop Fly Ball

Recently recieved as an early birthday present (very early indeed) a fantastic book Flip Flop Fly Ball by Craig Robinson.  I had seen a few shots from the book and knew instantly when I saw it that I would love it.  (I love graphical representations of information and have the amazing Charles Joseph Minard depiction of Napoelon’s march on Russia hanging in my office — order here)  What I didn’t realize and if you don’t want the amazing opening lines of the book ruined stop reading now — the author is not American, didn’t grow up watching baseball, got interested in it less than 8 years ago and lived in Germany at the time he got into baseball.  What you say!  I was surprised to say the least, but he has a great story of how he got into baseball, watched on the internet and eventually created all kinds of amazing infographics depicting all kinds of cool stats like the altitudes of each ball park and a venn diagram taxonomy of team names.  So for any baseball fans who have a soft spot for good visual design and some nifty infographics I highly recommend Flip Flop Fly Ball.

see his blog Flip Flop Fly Ball and also see a review on Slate of the book Flip Flop Fly Ball: Four infographics from Craig Robinsons baseball graphics tour de force. 1 – By Craig Robinson – Slate Magazine.

In re: Crew Stadium #1 stadium of the decade?

Crew Stadium Named #1 ?Stadia magazine is a pretty intense industry magazine from what I can tell on just what its says, Stadia.  It had ads for grass companies, seating and in-depth articles on the newest of those as well.  They recently in their 2010 showcase issue  celebrating their 10 years as a magazine had a list of “Ten from 10: In the last decade Stadia has chronicled the arrival of many new stadia, arena and sports facilities, but here’s our pick of the most notable facilities to have adorned our pages…”  Surprisingly, very suprisingly humble Crew Stadium here in north Columbus made the list, more surprising it was named #1.  Now of course it doesn’t compare in anyway size, feature, design, prestige, etc to most of the list that follows (the new Wembly stadium in London, the oversized larger than life Dallas Cowboys Stadium among others, but still they chose it #1.  The reason was more the impact the stadium has had on soccer in the US, being the first soccer only stadium in the MLS, being built as the vision of the late Lamar Hunt, and leading the trend so that now the norm in the MLS is to build a soccer only stadium.

While I appreciate just a bit more crew stadium now and am glad the crew isn’t playing in front of 90,000 empty seats in Ohio Stadium, I do think in my fantasy world that the crew should move to a downtown stadium the spot I propose is next to Abbot Labs just east of North Fourth St. south of 670 – I don’t even know if that is feasible for any number of reasons, land owner, if the lot is big enough, etc, but from my window it looks to be and would replace a pretty empty field, but would set it close enough to share the arena district resources, court casual soccer fans and add a vibe to the game of having pre and post game options in bars/restaurants that are not really a factor at the State Fairgrounds location.

So I guess it sounds pretty ungrateful saying all this after being named #1 and having a stadium and a team in the first place, but don’t forget that #1 was for being first and  now despite being not so old I think some people might be able to realize some improvements, aside from the location, building an urban, small and compressed stadium would allow our loud fans to have more impact and create an environoment where I think casual fans could learn the game and grow the sport.

Anyway, I got a bit off topic, but I did think the Stadia magazine top 10 was interesting and you can read the whole issue online which is kinda longer and more indepth then I was expecting, ended up reading some articles on plenty of strange topics I hadn’t thought about.  See the latest issue here: Stadia latest

The Black & Gold Standard (crew blog) has the quick list of the top 10 here:

The Black & Gold Standard » Blog Archive » Stadia Magazine names Crew Stadium #1 stadium of the decade

In re: Another football story: “Is It Time to Retire the Football Helmet?”

“One of the strongest arguments for banning helmets comes from the Australian Football League. While it's a similarly rough game, the AFL never added any of the body armor Americans wear. When comparing AFL research studies and official NFL injury reports, AFL players appear to get hurt more often on the whole with things like shoulder injuries and tweaked knees. But when it comes to head injuries, the helmeted NFL players are about 25% more likely to sustain one.”

via Is It Time to Retire the Football Helmet? –


Another story on football head trauma, any interesting take that actually makes sense.  Rugby players definitely have huge risks of injury, but they ‘hit’ in a different manner than American football players do, almost never in rugby do player have the huge intensity driving tackles you see in the NFL, instead players bring them down in such open field tackling situations with more a judo move where you go with them going down with them, rather than through them.  Now there a lot of differences in rules that make inches gained throughout the field of football more important (first downs) but its just interesting.

In re: Football, dogfighting, and brain damage

Football, dogfighting, and brain damage : The New Yorker.

Interesting article by Malcolm Gladwell about head injuries in football.  One of the interesting things that he raised when I saw him on PTI and before I read the article was his comparison to boxing that after an acknowledgement of the huge physical/mental toll boxers will have to deal with the sport declined significantly from its height as a main stream sport to its status now.  The NFL is clearly at the top of the US charts right now, but it could be headed for demise as scientists learn more about the brain damage it causes.  While talking about this article with some people many of them didn’t think the comparison or at least juxtaposition to dog fighting was warranted and was probably just a  grab to get in the all things Vick.  I disagree to a point and think that the point Gladwell makes is that inherently dog fighting is cruel and inhumane to dogs and that one cannot have a dog fight without those components, similarly he makes the point that football is inherently going to cause brain damage (studies at UNC football practices showed damaging impacts even in soft drills).  For comparison Gladwell points to Nascar that in the wake of several deaths was able to change the safety of the sport and continue, but he says technology won’t help the NFL.

So enjoy it while we got it, someday when we know the full extent of the damages more clearly (and it seems that day is near) what parents will let their kids play football?  The same ones who sign up for boxing most likely and that means probably it will decline in popularity.

In re: Playoffs full of ex-Indians

Good for them, but definitely sad for an Indians fan to see so many ex-Indians playing all over the playoffs.  Was thinking about this while watching the Cardinals/Dodgers series that seemed like almost everyone had been an Indian, “flyout from Belliard to Ludwick..”  it did seem like a good chunk of the players had been Indians (Ronnie Belliard, Ryan Ludwick, Manny Ramierez, Casey Blake, Mark DeRosa and even Jim Thome) but the rest of the playoffs seems to be loaded as well: CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee already got wins and then there is Carl Pavano and Victor Martinez.  Oh well, heres to next year.

I googled it and saw someone had noticed this already and had a good post on this “Littered with ex-Indians” from Waiting for Next Year.

In re: Soccer gaining traction?

Thought this was a good column about the US v. Mexico game by Bill Simmons who isn’t really a soccer guy, but claims he is getting into it (and was into it enough to travel down to Mexico to see the game in the Azteca).  I’ll tell you, one of the major attractions for me that he hits on is that the game doesn’t have commercial breaks and ends 2 hours later letting you go about your day

See the column here