Members of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes taking in the solar eclipse in 2017. Photo courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
As the baseball world prepares to celebrate NASA and the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, lets take a look at the other ways baseball has partnered with NASA and the scientific community. In 2017, NASA used the total solar eclipse as a teachable moment in minor league ballparks, but it wasn’t the only time they used baseball to give us a science lesson.
NASA has also given lessons on the Aerodynamics of Baseball and Forces on a Baseball. A few years ago they even superimposed the Apollo 11 landing site onto a baseball diamond (and other images) to help us understand just how big the moon is:
Of course, NASA scientists aren’t the only ones taking in a ballgame. Check out the video below from Chevron’s STEM Zone:
In fact, more baseball teams are teaming up with schools and organizations to teach kids about STEM, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Baltimore Orioles, and Arizona Diamondbacks. The Bowie Baysox, the double-A affiliate of the Orioles, hosts a STEM education day every year and with cool STEM activities. And – back to those NASA scientists – the Boston Red Sox hosted a STEM Education Day at Fenway Park last year for over 4,000 students. The event featured NASA exhibits and demonstrations as well as presentations by NASA scientists.
And, let’s not forget the fact that the current Assistant GM for the Baltimore Orioles used to work for NASA. Coincidence? I think not.
Parker Bobblehead giveaway from the Fresno Grizzlies, June 1, 2019
The country is gearing up for the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, which will occur in a little less than one month, and baseball teams are definitely joining the party. The first team to celebrate NASA and Apollo 11 this year was the Fresno Grizzlies, who earlier this month gave fans a bobblehead of their mascot, Parker.
Baseball and the space program are a natural combo, as both reflect the history and values of society. Over the next month, I’ll share more space-related baseball info and events.
Detail on Parker’s box, which is modeled after the NASA logo:
This past Saturday was “Star Wars Day” at the Washington Nationals. It seems like nearly every Major and Minor League team hosts a Star Wars Day during the season, many occurring on or near May the 4th. This one, however, was worth waiting for – especially for the Obi-Sean Kenobi bobblehead! Check out the pics below, including that one of Lando Calrissian as part of the grounds crew. (All photos by Michael George.)
The thing that led me to become a baseball sociologist is the simple fact that each team and ballpark has their own distinct personality. Part of that is the traditions that occur at the park. At Nats Park, traditions include the President’s Race, a stupid cheer (“Nats, Nats, Nats, Woo!”), singing stupid songs at the 7th inning (like “Take on Me” by A-ha), showing up late, and roaming around the stadium not really paying attention to the game. I caught several of these on camera at the game I attended last week.
Saluting the military:
The presidents and the Presidents’ Race:
The bullpen cart that almost nobody rides in (but it still zooms around the park anyway):
Standing around chatting, not paying attention to the game, and blocking the view for those of us who actually want to watch the game:
Only at Nats Park!
Every once in awhile a team has a promotional giveaway that makes me wish I could just take time off from my day job and hop in a plane or car to go to a game so I could get that cool giveaway. Last year it was the Hartford Yard Goats’ Goat Yoga Bobblehead. This year it is the “Child of Immigrants” t-shirt from the Fresno Grizzlies.
I don’t know enough about the Nationals new triple-A team or Fresno, to know if this is a political statement or just a shout-out to the area. Maybe its just the Baseball Sociologist in me, but I LOVE this t-shirt! They’re giving it away for this week’s T-Shirt Thursday. You have just about a day left to order your tickets for Thursday’s game where you can pick up this totally cool shirt during the game.
Opening Day for Minor League Baseball is this Thursday! This year I have even more teams to follow since I’m now a San Diego Padres fan. And one of my favorite Bowie Baysox, Aderlin Rodriguez, now plays for the Padres triple-A team, the El Paso Chihuahuas. Last year, in what now seems like fate, I saw the Lake Elsinore Storm, the Padres single-A affiliate, so now I need to follow those guys as well to see where they end up.
Last week, the Orioles’ minor league affiliates announced their break camp rosters. Below are links to the O’s minor league teams and a few other important teams (i.e., the teams I root for):
Baseball is going to be exhausting this year with all these teams to follow!
As news broke of Bryce Harper signing with the Philadelphia Phillies, one Nats reporter noted:
Bryce Harper in 2017, photo by Keith Allison (via Wikipedia)
That got me thinking: how many games have the Nats and Phillies played against each other? How have the Nats fared? How will the Nats do against the Phillies without Bryce?
Well, I have answers to the first two questions. Only time will tell the answer to the third question.
Baseball Reference provides stats for each team’s season. So, here’s how the Nats have fared against the Phillies since 2005 (when the Expos moved to Washington, DC, and became the Nats):
- Games played: 260
- Games won: 125
- Games lost: 135
- Runs Scored: 1,109
- Runs Allowed: 1,143
- Extra innings games played: 29 (14 10-inning games, 5 11-inning games, 5 12-inning games, 2 13-inning games, and 2 14-inning games)
- Extra innings games won: 15
- Double headers played: 5
- Double header games won: 5
- Double header games lost: 5
- Games decided by walk-off: 29
- Number of walk-off wins: 17
Basically, the Nats and Phillies have been pretty evenly matched, though the Nats have lost a few more than they have won (125 wins to 135 losses) and the Phillies have outscored them 1,143 to 1,109. The Nats have a few more wins determined by a walk-off (17) than the Phillies (12).
How have individual Nats pitchers done against the Phillies? Here are the records of a few current and former Nationals pitchers:
- Tyler Clippard: 2-5
- Ross Detwiler: 3-3
- Erick Fedde: 2-1
- Gio Gonzalez: 11-7
- John Lannan: 3-13
- Jason Marquis: 1-4
- Tanner Roark: 6-9
- Max Scherzer: 8-1
- Stephen Strasburg: 10-2
- Jordan Zimmermann: 6-8
So, three of the four guys with winning records against the Phillies (Fedde, Scherzer, and Strasburg) are still with the Nats. They should try get the fourth guy back (Gonzalez) – they’re gonna need all the help they can get against the Phillies now.