Archive for March, 2014

Play Ball! Test your baseball knowledge with a quiz

Pedroia_Tag_8671 - Copy_50percentThe 2014 Major League Baseball season opens this week, and to celebrate its arrival, here’s a little trivia. Answers are  below.

  1. The first one’s easy: Who won the World Series last year?
  2. In the television show Seinfeld, what was Jerry’s favorite team?
  3. What was Babe Ruth’s primary position when he played for the Red Sox?
  4. With a runner on first and one out, the batter hits a pop up to the shortstop. But before the fielder catches the pop, the umpire calls the batter out. Why?
  5. What is a southpaw?
  6. Which team did the Mighty Casey play for?
  7. These three brothers all played professionally: Joe, Dominic, and Vince. What was their last name? Hint: the best known one played for the Yankees.
  8. Name the last person to have a batting average over .400.
  9. In the play/movie Damn Yankees, what does the lead character do in order to play for his beloved Washington Senators?
  10. What is the claim to fame of Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Frank Chance, of the Chicago Cubs in the early 1900s?
  11. This uniform number has been retired across baseball. What is the number and who wore it? Hint, the number was the title of a 2013 movie about that player.
  12. Name the two Major League Baseball teams with nicknames that do not end in “s.”
  13. What is the distance between the bases?
  14. Which team has the highest payroll in baseball?
  15. The Cy Young Award is given to the best ___ in each league.
  16. The popular movie series “Major League” is about a hapless team of misfits that unite and win the pennant. Name the team.
  17. The 2014 season really began earlier this month when the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks played two games in this faraway land. Name it.
  18. Speaking of the Dodgers … what is a Dodger?
  19. What is a “can of corn?”
  20. Shoeless Joe Jackson and other deceased players return from the beyond to play ball in a field built at the site of an old cornfield in this 1989 movie.


  1. The Boston Red Sox won the 2013 World Series.
  2. Like the real-life Seinfeld, Jerry was a Mets fan.
  3. Babe Ruth was a pitcher with the Red Sox, and a very good one.
  4. The batter is called out because of the Infield Fly Rule. It prevents the fielder from intentionally dropping the ball and turning a double play (the runner would be staying on first because of the pop-up, thus being an easy out).
  5. A southpaw is someone who throws left-handed.
  6. In the poem written by Ernest Thayer, The Mighty (albeit overrated ) Casey  played for the Mudville nine.
  7. Joe, Dominic, and Vince DiMaggio all played in the majors.
  8. Ted Williams batted .406 in 1941.
  9. In Damn Yankees, Joe Hardy makes a deal with the devil to play for the Washington Senators.
  10. The three Cubs ability to turn a double play was immortalized in a poem, “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon.” Written by a New York Giants fan during a game, it begins: “These are the saddest of possible words: Tinkers to Evers to Chance …”
  11. The number 42, worn by Jackie Robinson, has been retired across Major League Baseball.
  12. The Red Sox and White Sox are the only teams with nicknames that do not end with an “s.”
  13. The bases are 90 feet apart.
  14. The Los Angeles Dodgers have the highest payroll in baseball at $235 million, followed by the Yankees ($204 million) and Philadelphia Phillies ($180 million).
  15. The Cy Young Award is given to the best pitcher in each league.
  16. The “Major League” movie series portrays fictional players of the Cleveland Indians.
  17. The Dodgers and Diamondbacks played the first two games of the season in Australia. The Dodgers won both.
  18. The name Dodgers dates back to the team’s days in Brooklyn, when it was called the “Trolley Dodgers,” a tribute to the many trolley cars throughout the borough. The name was eventually shortened to Dodgers.
  19. A can of corn is an easy-to-catch fly ball.
  20. Shoeless Joe Jackson and others returned from beyond to play in Field of Dreams.

16-20   MVP
11-15    All Star
6-10    Prospect
0-5      Bench warmer


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Lessons learned from a self-made man

John_BizantakosSaturday would have been my Uncle John’s 99th birthday. I grew up in the house next to his, and being named after him, always felt a special bond.

He was also a self-made man, who taught me a great deal. So, in honor of his birthday, some of his lessons:

‘Kill them with kindness’
His single most repeated piece of advice. Took me years to realize he was right, but it’s spot-on wisdom. Whenever I feel the urge to tell someone off, I smile and think of these words.

Reward loyalty
I shoveled his driveway and mowed his lawn from junior high school through college. I never asked for a raise, but he gave me one each year.

Take responsibility
My grandfather died at a very young age, leaving my grandmother with a houseful of kids. Uncle John became head of the house at 14 or 15 and began working to provide for his mother and siblings.

Teach responsibility
One summer Uncle John decided we’d paint his house. He told me I was the boss and he the helper, so the task of deciding what and when to paint fell on my young shoulders. We also set an hourly rate, and he asked for a weekly bill, with my hours worked. It was one of my first financial lessons.

Set a direction and let people do their work
The first time I mowed his lawn, he walked around with me, letting me know whether to cut or leave a variety of items growing around the house. After that, he left me alone to do the work.

Be a gentleman (or lady)
My uncle was polite, courteous, and well groomed. His clothes were always neat and pressed. I sometimes wonder what he’s thinking as he looks down on me, going to the supermarket unshaven and in paint-covered jeans.

A penny saved …
Okay, it was originally Ben Franklin’s idea, but Uncle John believed in working hard and saving his wages. He encouraged us to do the same.

Family first
I could write pages about this one. He worked hard to provide for his family, and all of us owe him a debt of gratitude. I hope to be half the man he was.

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