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November 19, 2021 [LINK / comment]

Birding in September: a variety of experiences

I spent much of August preparing to teach for the fall semester, but it turned out that my classes were postponed until the middle of October, so I made the best of my unanticipated extra time in September, which is peak fall migration season. On September 6 I paid a brief late-afternoon visit to Bell's Lane, where I came across another birder, Mark Kosiewski. Thanks to his alert eyes, I managed to see and even photograph some Common Nighthawks that were passing overhead. They have such a curious manner of flying, as their wingbeats seem to have a slightly delayed cadence. In broad daylight, I really should have gotten better photos.

Five days later, on September 11, I went back to Ramsey's Draft, but didn't see much other than a Northern Parula in a low tree and some warblers (including a probable Magnolia Warbler) high in the tree tops. For the first time I crossed the stream and walked up along the trail toward Bald Ridge, which eventually connects with Braley Pond. One of these days I'll hike that entire trail... Next I drove up to the Confederate Breastworks, where I saw an Eastern Wood Pewee, a Tennessee Warbler, and a couple others. After a half hour or so there, I hiked south for a ways along the Shenandoah Mountain Trail. There were many colorful mushrooms but hardly any birds. I was most annoyed as I headed back, but just when all seemed lost, I glimpsed some motion in a tree top, and it seemed like a good-sized bird was in there. Indeed: It was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and it even posed for me in the sunlight as I cautiously got in position for what turned out to be one of my best-ever photos of that species! On the way back home I decided to stop at one of my old favorite places, Chimney Hollow, knowing full well that there usually aren't that many birds there. Well, September 11 turned out to be an exception, as I soon spotted a Blue-headed Vireo, a Bay-breasted Warbler, a Pine Warbler, a Black-throated Green Warbler, and a Nashville Warbler! Unfortunately, the lighting conditions were poor, so my photographs were mediocre.

Montages 2021 Sep 11

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Northern Parula, Bay-breasted Warbler, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Tennessee Warbler, Magnolia Warbler (prob.), Eastern Wood Pewee, Pine Warbler, and (center) Nashville Warbler. (Ramsey's Draft, Shen. Mtn., Chimney Hollow, Sept. 11)

Three days after that, on September 14, I visited Mongomery Hall Park in Staunton. I had low expectations based on past experience there, but it turned out to be a pretty good day. Soon after arriving I saw some American Redstarts and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and the longer I stayed the more interesting species I found. Getting good photos proved to be difficult, unfortunately, partly because the auto-focus on my semi-new Canon PowerShot SX-70 is sometimes unreliable in mediocre lighting conditions. I was very frustrated that I couldn't get a better shot of the Magnolia Warblers that I saw.

Montages 2021 Sep 14

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Parula, Magnolia Warbler, Eastern Wood Pewee, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, White-breasted Nuthatch, Yellow-throated Vireo, and (center) American Redstart. (Mongomery Hall Park, Sept. 14)

Three days after that, on September 17, I drove up to Washington, DC, where Jacqueline was leaving on a jet plane. After a goodbye kiss, I drove to the small park at the north end of the airport, where joggers get exercise amidst the deafening roar of jet engines overhead. I was pleasantly surprised to spot an Osprey perched on a lighting scaffold, as well as two Great Egrets, several Ring-billed Gulls, and hundreds of Rock Pigeons. After a while I drove into Washington, hoping to visit the Holocaust Museum, but learned that one needs to get advance reservations online, so I contented myself with a snack lunch on the nearby Tidal Basin. There I saw a variety of big birds passing overhead, most notably a Caspian Tern! If only it hadn't been such a cloudy day... On the way back I stopped at Huntley Meadows (southwest of Alexandria) for the first time in several years: June 30, 2016, to be exact. A Roseate Spoonbill had been reported there during mid-summer, but it was long gone by September. I held out slim hopes for seeing a King Rail that had been seen there just a few days earlier, but no such luck. I did see, however, several Wood Ducks, Great Blue Herons, and two young Little Blue Herons, as well as a Belted Kingfisher and a young male Common Yellowthroat. I was told that someone had seen a Prothonotary Warbler there earlier in the day, but I missed it. As I was leaving, I saw a good-sized Snapping Turtle on the road but didn't dare coax it to move to safety, so I placed some branches on the road to induce motorists to slow down as the next best thing. It was a very good (albeit overcast) day!

Montages 2021 Sep 17

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Ring-billed Gull, Great Egret, Bald Eagle, Osprey, Caspian Tern, Common Yellowthroat (juv. M), Wood Duck (F/J), Great Blue Heron, and Little Blue Heron (juv.). (Reagan Airport in Arlington, VA; Tidal Basin in Washington, DC; and Huntley Meadows, VA, Sept. 17)

Roll your mouse over that image to see the Osprey with a jet taking off in back, and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge several miles to the south beyond that.

My next bird outing was two days later, September 19, when the sun was shining brightly. I did a brief walk around the boardwalk at Augusta Springs, and saw a family of Eastern Phoebes, several Cedar Waxwings, some American Goldfinches (already molted to non-breeding plumage), an Eastern Wood Pewee, and -- finally -- something truly noteworthy: a Swainson's Thrush, my first of the season!

On September 21 I went to Bell's Lane and saw some Cedar Waxwings, Cape May Warblers (first of season), a Palm Warbler (FOS), Eastern Phoebes, several Broad-winged Hawks (FOS, in a small "kettle"), and a Red-tailed Hawk. It was very cloudy, however, so my photos weren't very good.

Two days later, September 23, I joined Penny Warren's Augusta Bird Club field trip to nearby Bell's Lane. The sun was shining bright and we saw a Pied-billed Grebe on the private farm pond, but it was hard to get a good photo with the harsh early light on the water. Later we saw some Cedar Waxwings, a Wilson's Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, a Common Yellowthroat, Cape May Warblers, and just as we were finishing, a large number of Broad-winged Hawks. (I only saw a dozen or so.) Not being satisfied, I decided to go back in the afternoon, and struck paydirt: Black-throated Green Warbler, American Redstarts, more Palm Warblers, and my very first Ruby-crowned Kinglet of the season!

Montages 2021 Sep 23

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Palm Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, American Redstart, Black-and-white Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Eastern Phoebe, Cape May Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, and (center) Black-throated Green Warbler. (Bell's Lane, Sept. 23)

The very next day I went to Mongomery Hall Park, and for the second time that month, got surprisingly lucky there. Soon after arriving I saw some Warbling Vireos high up in the trees, and then a probably Yellow-throated Vireo. After a lengthy time walking around to the north side of the big hill, I finally came across a species I had seen there during migration season in years past: a male Black-throated Blue Warbler! He was hard to photograph, unfortunately. I had somewhat better luck capturing the images of a Magnolia Warbler and a Swainson's Thrush, but the biggest surprise of the day was spotting four (4) Scarlet Tanagers (all female or young) in a bare tree next to the soccer field.

Montages 2021 Sep 24

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Scarlet Tanager (F/J), Magnolia Warbler, Swainson's Thrush, Warbling Vireo, Cedar Waxwing, Downy Woodpecker (F), and Black-throated Blue Warbler (M). (Mongomery Hall Park, Sept. 24)

The day after that I decided to visit the Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch for the first time this season. As I was about to get into my car, I looked up and was dumbfounded to see two Bald Eagles soaring directly above! One was an adult, and one was a first-year juvenile presumably being instructed how to hunt for food. At the communication tower along the Blue Ridge Parkway I saw a female (or juvenile) Black-throated Blue Warbler and some Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, but not much else. At the Hawk Watch I saw some Red-tailed Hawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks, and a Broad-winged Hawk or two.

Bald Eagles

Bald Eagles: adult and first-year juvenile. (N. Staunton, Sept. 25)

As the month wound down to a close, I finally managed to photograph an almost perfectly-illuminated Ruby-throated Hummingbird at our back porch feeder!

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (F). (N. Staunton, Sept. 27)

To see some of the bird photos mentioned above but not shown, as well as more montages and photos of individual birds, go to the Wild Birds chronological photo gallery page.



November 16, 2021 [LINK / comment]

Second straight Silver Slugger for Soto!*

The 2021 Silver Slugger Awards were announced last Thursday, and the Washington Nationals' right fielder Juan Soto was among the three National League outfielders so honored. Soto also won last year, when he led the NL with a .351 batting average. This year he led the majors in RISP batting average (.396), in on-base percentage (.465), and in walks (145). No other qualifying MLB player had more walks than strikeouts this year. Congratulations, Juan!

Elsewhere in the National League, the Atlanta Braves picked up four of the nine Silver Sluggers, and five teams got one such award each. In the American League, the Blue Jays (3) and Red Sox (2) garnered five of the Silver Sluggers, and four teams got one each.

* How's that for a tongue-twister? The announcer in the MLB.com video about that announcement used almost the exact same phrase: "This is the second straight Silver Slugger award for Soto..."

Harper set to become NL MVP

According to an unconfirmed rumor that spread on Facebook today, Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt (who played with the Philadelphia Phillies for his entire 19-year career) has been asked to announce the National League MVP for 2021. That can only mean one thing: Bryce Harper has been chosen as Most Valuable Player. Assuming that is the case, it would be Bryce's second such award, the first being in 2015, when he was elected unanimously. It will be interesting to see how many votes went to Juan Soto, who was my pick.

Rookies of the Year

In the American League, Randy Arozarena of the Tampa Bay Rays was chosen as Rookie of the Year. He became almost a household name as he led that underdog, over-achieving band of misfits from St. Petersburg to their second straight AL East Division title. Last year, when his team made it to the World Series for a second time, he was chosen as American League Championship Series MVP. So how can he be a rookie this year? He only played 23 games in the covid-shortened 2020 season, and 19 games (with the Cardinals) in his actual "rookie" season of 2019. (I wonder how many partial seasons you can play and still be eligible to win Rookie of the Year in your first full season?) His teammate Wander Franco ranked third in voting for AL ROY. In the National League, meanwhile, Jonathan India, who plays second base for the Cincinnati Reds, received 29 of 30 first-place votes to become NL Rookie of the Year. He hit 29 home runs and got 69 RBIs, providing spark for a team that desperately needs it.

Managers of the Year

This year's Manager of the Year awards went to Gabe Kapler of the San Francisco Giants in the National League, and to Kevin Cash of the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League. Kapler not only led the Giants to their first postseason appearance in five years (which I find hard to believe), but to their biggest number of wins (107) in franchise history. That is pretty amazing. For his part, Cash was the second manager ever to win this award two years in a row. Only the Braves' Bobby Cox (2004-2005) did it before. (I picked Dusty Baker on the AL side partly for sentimental reasons, since he served as manager for the Nationals for two years.)

So, that just leaves the AL MVP and both leagues' Cy Young winners to be announced. So far, I'm 3 for 4 in my predictions made last week, or 3 for 5 if you include the all-but-certain NL MVP.

Syndergaard to wear an Angel's halo

I heard about this "breaking news" (?) just before midnight: New York Mets' ace pitcher (and free agent) Noah Syndergaard has signed a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels. See ESPN.com. (Why would he sign for just one year, and why so early in the postseason?) A number of other mid-career free-agent superstars signed fat long-term contracts with the Angels, and then -- so it would seem -- they just took it easy and collected their salaries. (I probably shouldn't name names, but several examples come to mind.)



November 10, 2021 [LINK / comment]

Birding in August: hot, as usual

Some bird species begin to migrate during August, and others (especially tall wading birds) scatter into the interior of the U.S. And then there are birds such as the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, which we rarely see until August. (From what I can tell, they apparently breed in woodland areas away from densely populated areas.) This year one showed up on July 31, and we had them out back virtually every day from then until the end of September. The one in this photo clearly shows reddish streaks on its throat, indicating it is a young male:

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, juv. male. (N. Staunton, August 4)

On August 9, I drove up to Pocosin Cabin in the Shenandoah National Park, one of our favorite birding "hot spots" in the Shenandoah National Park. (I had intended to stop there while driving along Skyline Drive on my way back from Washington on June 17, but ran out of time.) I did see a nice variety of warblers, and other special birds such as a Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Canada Warbler, but didn't have as much luck getting good photos.

Montages 2021 Aug 9

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Hooded Warbler (M), Canada Warbler (F/J), Cerulean Warbler (F), Black-and-white Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak (F/J), E. Wood Pewee, Chestnut-sided Warbler (M), and (left center) American Goldfinch (M). (Pocosin Cabin trail, August 9)

Ten days later (August 19), I took some time off from preparing to teach fall classes and went hiking at Braley Pond in western Augusta County. Before I had even left home, however, I saw a young Cooper's Hawk out back, and managed to get a quick photo of it. Upon reaching the forested foothills out west, I stopped at the crossroads near Elkhorn Lake, which often abounds with warblers, etc., but not that day. I glimpsed some American Redstarts and an E. Towhee, and that was about it. While driving back south I spotted a pair of Wild Turkeys on the road up ahead. At Braley Pond I saw a fair number of birds, but nothing spectacular until I was about to leave. That is when a Northern Parula (probably a juvenile based on its messy-looking feathers) appeared in a nearby bush, and posed just long enough for me to get a good photo. Even better, I then spotted a well-camouflaged Brown Creeper on the side of a tree. That species is a rare breeder in Augusta County, and is not generally seen in lowland areas until the colder months. That was a huge find!

Montages 2021 Aug 19

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Cooper's Hawk (J), American Goldfinch (M), Wild Turkey, Pine Warbler, Brown Creeper, White-breasted Nuthatch, Northern Parula, and (center) Red-eyed Vireo. (N. Staunton, Braley Pond, etc., August 19)

Two days later I went to Augusta Springs, but it was pretty quiet for the most part. The only birds of special note were a Scarlet Tanager (female or juvenile) and a Green Heron. (I should mention that on the 5th, 14th, and 24th days of the month I made visits to Bell's Lane, but didn't see any noteworthy or unusual birds.)

On August 28, in conjunction with a visit to the Blue Ridge Community College campus, I stopped at Leonard's Pond, located about five miles to the northeast. That's a hit-or-miss birding hot spot, and it so happened that I got lucky that day (which was indeed hot!), with six different sandpiper and plover species! Getting great views of a Lesser Yellowlegs and a Pectoral Sandpiper was especially gratifying.

Montages 2021 Aug 28

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Solitary Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, and Least Sandpiper. (Leonard's Pond, August 28)

To close out the month, I drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway on August 30, but pretty much struck out in the warbler department. Near the big communications tower, there were a few Ruby-throated Hummingbirds contesting flowery bushes. At Raven's Roost overlook, I saw some Common Ravens squawking and performing aerial displays, as well as a Red-tailed Hawk and a Broad-winged Hawk. At other locations I also saw several E. Wood Pewees, American Goldfinches, a Red-eyed Vireo, and a Worm-eating Warbler.

Individual photos of some of the birds in the above montages can be seen on the Wild Birds chronological page.



November 8, 2021 [LINK / comment]

Birding in July: a few random "hot spots"

(NOTE: Once again, I have fallen way behind -- four whole months -- in documenting my birding activities in this blog. I am getting caught up, however, and will continue to do so.)

After midsummer, birds aren't quite as active, devoting most of their attention and energy to feeding and caring for their young fledglings, rather than ostentatiously singing and courting. Likewise, my birding activity in July was diminished compared to the month of June. On the third day of the month, I headed to the Bald Mountain trail, located at mile marker 22 along the Blue Ridge Parkway. I was hoping to see one of the Black-throated Blue Warblers that Marshall Faintich had reported there a week or so previously. On the way there, I stopped at the Three Ridges overlook, near Wintergreen, and saw an Indigo Bunting or two. Soon after arriving at the primary destination, I spotted a Dark-eyed Junco singing. It's always odd to see those "winter" species so close to home during the summer months. Most of them breed in northern latitudes, but some choose higher elevations in Appalachia. I saw a few of the usual warblers, but the highlight of the day was a family of Red-breasted Nuthatches.

Montages 2021 Jul 3

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Indigo Bunting, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Black-and-white Warbler, Dark-eyed Junco, American Redstart, Hooded Warbler, and Ovenbird. (Bald Mountain trail and Three Ridges overlook, July 3)

Three days later, July 7, I led an Augusta Bird Club field trip to Reddish Knob and vicinity, with four other members in attendance. As usual there were Chestnut-sided Warblers at the open meadow along Briery Branch Road just before you reach the top of the mountain, and in several places along the crest of the mountain. Along the dirt road leading northward to Bother Knob, we saw several Cedar Waxwings, Chipping Sparrows, as well as a Yellow-rumped Warbler and a possible Veery. None of us saw the Mourning Warbler which had been reported in that area a week or two earlier, however. The big highlight was a Red Crossbill spotted in a tree top by Tom Roberts at the road intersection where they are often seen. Driving toward Reddish Knob we saw a family of Blue-headed Vireos, very active and amusing, but difficult to see in the poor light. It started to rain again at the summit, so as soon as we enjoyed another good look at a Chestnut-sided Warbler, we headed home.

Montages 2021 Jul 7

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Red Crossbill (F or juv.), Red-breasted Nuthatch, Blue-headed Vireo (juv.), Black-throated Green Warbler, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Wood Pewee, and Chestnut-sided Warbler. (Reddish Knob & vicinity, July 7)

Four days after that, I did a solo expedition to Highland County (where the bird club usually does a field trip in early June), but my preliminary stop at the Ramsey's Draft picnic area yielded the biggest surprises. There I had a great closeup view of a Northern Parula, along with a Blue-headed Vireo, a Canada Warbler, and two or three Black-billed Cuckoos. I was astonished by the latter two species, which are quite uncommon.

Crossing into Highland County, just north of the town of Blue Grass I saw a guy with a big camera by the side of the road, and stopped since I assumed he was a birder. It turns out that he was more of a general nature photographer who was visiting from Pennsylvania. He pointed out the bird he saw in a nearby tree: a young Bald Eagle! Then I drove north to the former home of Margaret O'Bryan, where I was hoping to see a Golden-winged Warbler. There I met a nice couple who work with the Virginia Society of Ornithology; they explained that the VSO had acquired the house and surrounding land, which was great news. In that vicinity I saw some Orchard Orioles, House Wrens, and glimpsed some warblers, but not the one I was looking for. Next to the house I noticed this bench, which had just been delivered and unwrapped:

Margaret OBryan bench

This bench was built to commemorate the life of Margaret O'Bryan, an enthusiastic birder who always welcomed us to her home when we did field trips to Highland County. Click on the photo to see it full size.

Montages 2021 Jul 11

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Northern Parula, Blue-headed Vireo, Black-billed Cuckoo, Canada Warbler, Great Blue Heron, Bald Eagle (juv.), and Orchard Oriole (F). (Ramsey's Draft & Highland County, July 11)

On Friday July 15, I paid a brief visit to Bell's Lane, and soon after arriving spotted two (later three) Green Herons in the small pond that is shrouded by bushes. By aiming my camera just right through the branches, I managed to get a great photo of one of them. I also saw some Eastern Kingbirds and a loud House Wren, along with the others listed below.

Montages 2021 Jul 15

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Eastern Towhee, Belted Kingfisher, Eastern Kingbird, House Wren, Green Heron, and (center) Cedar Waxwing.

Early in the morning of July 27 I went back to Bell's Lane with Jacqueline, and we soon spotted a Red-shouldered Hawk in a tree not far away. I also had a tantalizing glimpse of a Great Crested Flycatcher and the other usual summer residents of that area.

Montages 2021 Jul 27

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Eastern Phoebe, Indigo Bunting, Peregrine Falcon, American Redstart, Chestnut-sided Warbler, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak (male). (Shenandoah National Park, July 27)

Individual photos of some of the birds in the above montages can be seen on the Wild Birds chronological page.



November 8, 2021 [LINK / comment]

Gold Glove winners announced

Now that baseball is over and done with for the year, all that's left is to decide on which players deserve awards for top performance -- and perhaps to gossip about trades and free agent signings. Yesterday the Gold Glove winners were announced, and the St. Louis Cardinals set a record by winning five of the nine awards: Paul Goldschmidt (1B), Tommy Edman (2B), Nolan Arenado (3B), Tyler O'Neill (LF), and Harrison Bader (CF). Two members of the World Series champion Atlanta Braves received Gold Gloves: pitcher Max Fried and right fielder Adam Duvall (who was traded by Miami in July). None of the Washington Nationals were even nominated for a Gold Glove, however.

In the American League, former Washington National Michael A. Taylor (who joined the Kansas City Royals after last year) won the Golden Glove for center field. His team mate Andrew Benintendi also won the award. The Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics also won two Gold Gloves each. For a complete rundown, see MLB.com.

Today the nominees for the rest of the awards were released, and two Washington Nationals players (or perhaps one and a half, given that one of them was traded to the Dodgers in late July) are in the running: Max Scherzer and Juan Soto. Also, former Nats manager Dusty Baker is up for his fourth Manager of the Year award. He led the Nationals to NL East Division titles in 2016 and 2017, whereas the two predecessors (Davey Johnson and Matt Williams) won the Manager of the Year award in 2012 and 2014, respectively, when the Nats won the division title. (See October 22, 2017.) Also, former Nats slugger Bryce Harper had a great second half of the season, and is a serious contender for NL MVP, but Juan Soto developed a legendary reputation with his historic .465 on-base percentage (.525 after the All-Star break). He briefly led the majors in batting average in mid-September, but dipped to .313 by the end of the season. Pitchers were afraid to pitch to him, for good reason.

Category American League National League
Rookie of the Year Randy Arozarena (TB) Dylan Carlson (STL)
Wander Franco (TB) Jonathan India (CIN)
Luis Garcia (HOU) Trevor Rogers (MIA)
Manager of the Year Dusty Baker (HOU) Craig Counsell (MIL)
Kevin Cash (TB) Gabe Kapler (SF)
Scott Servais (SEA) Mike Shildt (STL)
Cy Young Award Gerrit Cole (NYY) Corbin Burnes (MIL)
Lance Lynn (CHW) Max Scherzer (WSH/LAD)
Robbie Ray (TOR) Zack Wheeler (PHI)
Most Valuable Player Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR) Bryce Harper (PHI)
Shohei Ohtani (LAA) Juan Soto (WSH)
Marcus Semien (TOR) Fernando Tatis Jr. (SD)

Nationals players (this year) are in bold face. Red check marks () are my picks.

Globe Life Field football

Football in baseball stadiums

Thanks to Terry Wallace, I learned that the "Commanders' Classic" football game between Army and the Air Force on Saturday was held at Globe Life Field, the nearly-new home of the Texas Rangers. (Army won, 21-14.) So, needless to say, I had to make a football-layout diagram for that page. While watching the game on TV, I saw no trace of the warning track used in baseball games, but given the fact that the field is artificial turf, it may be just a matter of different color and/or texture. Temporary spray paint? Actual dirt is rarely used in stadiums with artificial turf these days. Anyway, I updated the Football use page, adding Globe Life Field.

You may think it strange that they played that game in Globe Life Field and not the Rangers' former home, Globe Life Park, which had been rebuilt for the specific purpose of accommodating football games.* (Apparently, so did the folks at ESPN, as I noticed that their scoreboard mobile app erroneously indicated that that is where the game was being played!) Talk about a waste of money! Another alternative would have been nearby AT&T Stadium, but the Dallas Cowboys hosted the Denver Broncos the next day, and the cleanup chores might have made games there on consecutive days inconvenient.

* Such a football conversion was also done at Turner Field, former home of the Atlanta Braves ; see below.

Ex-baseball stadium name changes

Terry also informed me that Globe Life Park, which had already been renamed three times since it first opened in 1994, is now called "Choctaw Stadium," in a naming rights deal with the Choctaw Casino in Oklahoma, which I drove past in 2014. So I updated that page with the information about the new name. It's now being used as a soccer stadium, and you know what that means... (See soccerstadiumdigest.com.)

But wait, there's more! I also recently learned that the [Braves' -- not Rangers']* former stadium, Turner Field, which had been renamed "Georgia State University Stadium" after being converted to football use in 2017, is now called "Center Parc Stadium" (don't ask), so I updated that page, as well as the Stadium names chronology page, where I try to keep track of such things.

For the record, here is a complete list of all former full-time MLB stadiums that are still standing, excluding the two that have been drastically reduced in size, and are now used for other sports: Jarry Park (now Stade Uniprix) in Montreal and Braves Field (now Nickerson Field) in Boston. RFK Stadium may be demolished as early as next year, but the remaining six either remain in active use or will (apparently) be maintained for the foreseeable future. And some of them may undergo yet another name change or changes in future years...

* CORRECTED ON NOVEMBER 17.



November 4, 2021 [LINK / comment]

World Series 2021: Braves are the champions!

To the surprise and amazement of almost everyone, the Atlanta Braves won the World Series in Houston two nights ago. Game 6 itself was rather uneventful and anti-climactic for the most part. The Braves' starting pitcher, Max Fried, who had given up six runs and was tagged with the loss in Game 2, got off to a rocky start, giving up a leadoff single to Jose Altuve and then missing a catch at first base, but he managed to get out of the inning unscathed. For the next five innings he was nearly flawless, allowing just three more hits (singles) and no runs. Atlanta jumped to a 3-0 lead in the third inning as Jorge Soler crushed a monster home run that sailed over the railroad tracks above left field and out of the park. (The roof at Minute Maid Park was open.) After that there was no looking back. Dansby Swanson homered and Freddie Freeman hit an RBI double in the fifth inning, and Freeman hit a solo homer two innings later to pad the lead. Final score: Braves 7, Astros 0. Just like two years earlier, the fans in Houston exited glumly while the visiting team celebrated an improbable, historic triumph.

Back in Atlanta (or the northwestern suburbs, that is), fans of the Braves gathered at Truist Park, where I paid a brief visit last February:

Truist Park Battery Plaza

Battery Plaza, the south entrance to Truist Park, as seen on February 25, 2021. On Tuesday night it was jam-packed with several thousand euphoric Braves fans watching Game 6 on a big video screen. Prior to Opening Day 2022, it will be festooned with numerous signs and banners heralding Atlanta's World Series victory.

Congratulations and BRAVO to the Braves!

LONG wait for another WS title

The Braves had to wait 26 years since their last championship, in 1995, and 25 years since their last National League pennant, in 1996. Indeed, a striking characteristic of World Series champions over the past several years (see the Chronology annual page) is that almost all of the teams (or franchises) had not won such a title for decades.

Year World Series champion Previous league pennant Previous World Series title Number of years waiting
2015 Kansas City Royals 2014 1985 30
2016 Chicago Cubs 1945 1908 108
2017 Houston Astros (Colt .45s) 2005 NEVER 56
2018 Boston Red Sox 2013 2013 5
2019 Washington Nationals (Montreal Expos)* NEVER NEVER 15 (50)
2020 Los Angeles Dodgers 2018 1988 32
2021 Atlanta Braves 1996 1995 26

* The former Montreal Expos (founded in 1969) became the Washington Nationals in 2005.

At MLB.com, Will Leitch identified seven teams that "need a championship the most," so I put together the following table, which is more "diverse and inclusive." smile The last team in his list (in bold face below) may surprise some people. As I pointed out on July 22, 2020, "even though the Yankees had the winningest regular season record and reached the postseason more often than any other team from 2010 to 2019, they failed to win the American League pennant even once. Quite bizarrely, this was the first decade in almost a century that the Yankees failed to reach the World Series at all!"

For some reason Leitch excludes a number of other teams, mentioning four that he implies just aren't likely to even make the postseason any time soon: Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Detroit Tigers. So I added them to the table, along with five other teams that have been waiting a long time, ranked in order of how long they have waited: the Texas Rangers, Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays, Cincinnati Reds, and Colorado Rockies. The seven remaining teams have all won the World Series during this century.

Team Previous league pennant Previous World Series title Number of years waiting
Milwaukee Brewers (Seattle Pilots) 1986 NEVER 51 (52) years
Cleveland Indians * 2016 1948 73 years
New York Mets 2015 1986 35 years
San Diego Padres 1998 NEVER 52 years
Tamps Bay Rays 2020 NEVER 24 years
Minnesota Twins 1991 1991 30 years
New York Yankees (!!!???) 2009 2009 12 years
Seattle Mariners NEVER NEVER 45 years
Pittsburgh Pirates 1979 1979 42 years
Baltimore Orioles 1983 1983 38 years
Detroit Tigers 2006 1984 37 years
Texas Rangers (Wash. Senators) 2011 NEVER 49 (60) years
Oakland Athletics 1990 1989 32 years
Cincinnati Reds 1990 1990 31 years
Toronto Blue Jays 1993 1993 28 years
Colorado Rockies 2007 NEVER 28 years

Previous franchise names are listed where appropriate.
* NOTE: the Cleveland Indians will be renamed the "Guardians" in 2022.

World Series in Braves' stadiums

The 25-year pennant-less interval (1997-2021) endured by fans in Atlanta coincides rather closely with the period (1997-2016) during which they made Turner Field their home -- almost as if Turner Field were jinxed! That got me to thinking, which is always dangerous... Looking at the history of the Braves' stadiums in the table below, one might conclude that Braves Field was likewise "jinxed." The only time the Braves themselves actually played a World Series game there (in 1948) they lost, and just five years later they abandoned that home -- and the city of Boston -- for greener pastures in Milwaukee. The Boston Braves' only World Series victory (1914) was when they were using Fenway Park, as a "tenant" of the Red Sox. This adds an interesting dimension to the "curse of the Bambino" suffered by Red Sox for 80+ years, as if such sorcery plagues the whole city of Boston. Might this be related to the Salem witchcraft trials? smile

Stadium Built 1st
World Series
2nd
World Series
3rd
World Series
4th
World Series
Fenway Park (owned by Red Sox) (1912) 1914
Braves Field 1915 1915 1916 1948
Milwaukee County Stadium 1953 1957 1958
Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium 1966 1991 1992 1995 1996
Turner Field 1997
Truist Park 2017 2021

Underlined years above indicate World Series victories (4 Braves, 2 Red Sox); the other 5 years were defeats for the Braves.
* The above table cells with a reddish background pertain to the Boston Red Sox, who were both the "landlords" (1914) and later the "tenants" (1915 and 1916) of the Boston Braves.




 

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What's this about?

This blog features commentary and musings on a diverse but well-defined set of topics, from a critical-minded conservative point of view, featuring a veritable library of original graphics and statistical information. It is distinguished in many ways from the rest of the "blogosphere." My blog entries cover a rigidly defined set of topics, with varying degrees of intensity according to how much is going on in each area, and how much time I have. Being somewhat of a "do-it-yourselfer," I chose a "home-made" approach rather than conforming to the common blogging systems such as Blogger or WordPress. The blog entries and archives are arranged in a sort of "proprietary" scheme that I have gradually developed over time. Finally, being an old-fashioned, soft-spoken kind of guy, I avoid attention-grabbing sensationalism and strident rhetoric, and strive instead to maintain a reasonable, dignified, respectful tone.

"It's not just a blog, it's an adventure!"



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NOTE: Additional blogs are listed on the respective category pages: Baseball, Politics, etc.


My blog practices

My general practice is to make no more than one blog post per day on any one category. For this reason, some blog posts may address more than one specific issue, as indicated by separate headings. If something important happens during the day after I make a blog post, I may add an updated paragraph or section to it, using the word "UPDATE" and sometimes a horizontal rule to distinguish the new material from the original material. For each successive day, blog posts are listed on the central blog page (which brings together all topics) from top to bottom in the following (reverse alphabetical) order, which may differ from the order in which the posts were originally made:

  1. Wild birds (LAST)
  2. War
  3. Science & Technology *
  4. Politics
  5. Latin America
  6. Culture & Travel *
  7. Canaries ("Home birds")
  8. Baseball (FIRST)

* part of "Macintosh & Miscellanous" until Feb. 2007

The date of each blog post refers to when the bulk of it was written, in the Eastern Time Zone. For each blog post, the time and date of the original posting (or the last update or comment thereupon) is displayed on the individual archival blog post page that appears (just before the comments section) when you click the [LINK / comments] link next to the date. Non-trivial corrections and clarifications to original blog entries are indicated by the use of [brackets] and/or strikethroughs, as appropriate so as to accurately convey both the factual truth and my original representation of it. Nobody's perfect, but I strive for continual improvement. That is also why some of the nature photos that appear on the archive pages may differ from the (inferior) ones that were originally posted.

The current "home made" blog organization system that I created, featuring real permalinks, was instituted on November 1, 2004. Prior to that date, blog posts were handled inconsistently, and for that reason the pre-2005 archives pages are something of a mess. Furthermore, my blogging prior to June 1, 2004 was often sporadic in terms of frequency.



 

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