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The Sweetest Man In History Writes to Beckett Monthly

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Because the Internet can be such a cold and mean place, I think it's necessary to remind ourselves every now and then that people have feelings. Of course, I personally won't be doing that — the Internet would rip me to shreds if I did — so instead I will turn to B.M. from California who, in 1987, sent the sweetest and most sensitive letter ever written to Beckett Baseball Card Monthly.

Every month, Beckett would publish their "Weather Report," a tabulated list of baseball players broken into two sections: "Hot" and "Cold." The "Hot" players were on the come-up and playing well, while the "Cold" players were slumping. Quick-fire rankings are nothing new, and Beckett's "Weather Report" was by no means groundbreaking, even in 1987. However, one reader — our hero, B.M. — didn't see it as a fun and easy read, but rather a cruel and insulting missive that could emotionally harm the professional baseball players featured on the "Cold" list:

Here's the full text:

I just received the first issue of Beckett Monthly. It is great fun reading it; but, I really got a knot in the pit of my stomach when I came to page 7 -- the "Weather Report." This is so unkind, and I can't help but feel how it must really hurt a man like "Oil Can" Boyd, who has thrilled us to the tips of our toes with his concentrated, exciting performances -- especially in some of these games last season! And Gary Carter, who plays his heart out. And youthful, ever hopeful, Willie McGee! Pete Rose is Cold? You've got to be kidding!! And Reggie! And George Brett!! Did you ever stop to think how this must make them feel?? Like nobodies -- dirt! Please don't do this to these beautiful guys who bring so much joy to the baseball fans of the world! It's one thing when a 10-year-old from Peoria writes in and says Pete Rose in [sic] "Cold." It's quite another thing when a publication like Beckett, read by thousands of impressionable little guys, proud of their handsome collections of Strawberry, or Coleman, or Yount, etc., publishes a "list" of "cold" players! I can't believe you do this! I understand many of the players themselves read Beckett and collect cards! It's so cruel and unnecessary. Please don't.

We should all take B.M.'s words to heart. It's easier than ever to pass along flippant takedowns, be the target a celebrity, the subject of a viral meme, or even the "youthful, ever hopeful, Willie McGee." So let B.M.'s thoughtfulness echo: "Did you ever stop to think how this must make them feel?? Like nobodies -- dirt!"

Beckett responded to B.M.'s letter, saying the "Weather Report" represents the opinions of their readers and not the views of the magazine's editorial staff. "We certainly are not intending to offend any of the players...In our opinion, to publish a Hot list would be giving our readers only half the story." Half the story indeed, unless "B.M." is Beckett Monthly's own conscience, writing in after years of painful guilt. In that case, a Hot list would barely even be a small fraction of the story. What centaurs hide around the corners of a card collector's labyrinthine mind? We may never know.

In case you were wondering, "Oil Can" Boyd was listed yet again on the "Cold" list in the very issue in which B.M.'s plea appears. That's two months in a row, so you might want to sell his card if you can.

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Pop Culture
The Simpsons's Classic Baseball Episode Gets the Mockumentary Treatment
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Fox Sports, YouTube

Opinions vary widely about the continued existence of The Simpsons, which just began its 29th season. Some believe the show ran out of steam decades ago, while others see no reason why the satirical animated comedy can’t run forever.

Both sides will no doubt have something to say about the episode airing Sunday, October 22, which reframes the premise of the show’s classic “Homer at the Bat” installment from 1992 as a Ken Burns-style mockumentary titled Springfield of Dreams: The Legend of Homer Simpson.

As Mashable reports, “Homer at the Bat” saw Montgomery Burns launch his own baseball team and populate it with real major league players like Wade Boggs, Steve Sax, and Jose Canseco to dominate the competition. In the one-hour special, the players will discuss their (fictional) participation, along with interviews featuring Homer and other members of the animated cast.

It’s not clear how much of the special will break the fourth wall and go into the actual making of the episode, a backstory that involves guest star Ken Griffey Jr. getting increasingly frustrated recording his lines and Canseco’s wife objecting to a scene in which her husband's animated counterpart wakes up in bed with lecherous schoolteacher Edna Krabappel.

Morgan Spurlock (Super-Size Me) directed the special, which is slated to air on Fox at either 3 p.m. EST or 4:30 p.m. EST depending on NFL schedules in local markets. There will also be a new episode of The Simpsons—an annual Halloween-themed "Treehouse of Horror" installment—airing in its regular 8 p.m. time slot.

[h/t Mashable]

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Big Questions
Why Do Baseball Managers Wear Uniforms?
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Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Basketball and hockey coaches wear business suits on the sidelines. Football coaches wear team-branded shirts and jackets and often ill-fitting pleated khakis. Why are baseball managers the only guys who wear the same outfit as their players?

According to John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball since 2011, it goes back to the earliest days of the game. Back then, the person known as the manager was the business manager: the guy who kept the books in order and the road trips on schedule. Meanwhile, the guy we call the manager today, the one who arranges the roster and decides when to pull a pitcher, was known as the captain. In addition to managing the team on the field, he was usually also on the team as a player. For many years, the “manager” wore a player’s uniform simply because he was a player. There were also a few captains who didn’t play for the team and stuck to making decisions in the dugout, and they usually wore suits.

With the passing of time, it became less common for the captain to play, and on most teams they took on strictly managerial roles. Instead of suits proliferating throughout America’s dugouts, though, non-playing captains largely hung on to the tradition of wearing a player's uniform. By the early to mid 20th century, wearing the uniform was the norm for managers, with a few notable exceptions. The Philadelphia Athletics’s Connie Mack and the Brooklyn Dodgers’s Burt Shotton continued to wear suits and ties to games long after it fell out of favor (though Shotton sometimes liked to layer a team jacket on top of his street clothes). Once those two retired, it’s been uniforms as far as the eye can see.

The adherence to the uniform among managers in the second half of the 20th century leads some people to think that MLB mandates it, but a look through the official major league rules [PDF] doesn’t turn up much on a manager’s dress. Rule 1.11(a) (1) says that “All players on a team shall wear uniforms identical in color, trim and style, and all players’ uniforms shall include minimal six-inch numbers on their backs" and rule 2.00 states that a coach is a "team member in uniform appointed by the manager to perform such duties as the manager may designate, such as but not limited to acting as base coach."

While Rule 2.00 gives a rundown of the manager’s role and some rules that apply to them, it doesn’t specify that they’re uniformed. Further down, Rule 3.15 says that "No person shall be allowed on the playing field during a game except players and coaches in uniform, managers, news photographers authorized by the home team, umpires, officers of the law in uniform and watchmen or other employees of the home club." Again, nothing about the managers being uniformed.

All that said, Rule 2.00 defines the bench or dugout as “the seating facilities reserved for players, substitutes and other team members in uniform when they are not actively engaged on the playing field," and makes no exceptions for managers or anyone else. While the managers’ duds are never addressed anywhere else, this definition does seem to necessitate, in a roundabout way, that managers wear a uniform—at least if they want to have access to the dugout. And, really, where else would they sit?

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