My workday yesterday was (to say the least) not as productive as it could have been, and I have the MLB Network to blame. I discovered shortly after reporting to work yesterday morning that the Brewers game was going to be broadcast live on the Network, for only the second time this spring. After work, gym, dinner, and some blog reading, I turned on the TV only to discover that I would not be watching and listening to my familiar FSN Wisconsin personalities, Brian Andersen and Bill "Rock" Schroeder, but the less familiar SD4 Padres broadcasters.
After the first half inning, though, I got over my initial frustration. The color commentator was hilarious! Perhaps it was his random movie quoting (which he does ALL THE TIME), or more specifically, the fact that he quoted Caddyshack. "There's no gambling at Bushwood, sir!" was his cry between outs in one of the innings of the 6-5 Padres victory. Are you serious??? Who quotes that movie but me and the guys at work?!?!
The man's name is Mark "Mud" Grant, and if you've never heard a Padres tv broadcast, you are certainly missing out on one of the greatest voices - and greatest personalities - in the business. He doesn't have the experience, or years in the game, as say Bob Uecker, and so his stories don't span hearly 50 years of professional baseball, but this guy is pretty damn funny.
Brewers starter Braden Looper left a slider a bit too high in one at bat, and it was absolutely crushed over the left field fence by the Padres' Brian Giles. On the replay, Grant exclaimed "You hangie, we bangie!" And bangie Giles did. Looper was absolutely attacked last night, giving up 7 hits, 4 runs (2 earned), and 2 HRs over 4 innings. They sure had his number last night.
But anyways, back to this Mark Grant guy. I remember him as a player when I was a kid, I know for a fact that I used to have some of his baseball cards. I'll have to find some more, and send them off for some TTM lovin this season. His major league career wasn't anything to write home about, but a good pitcher none the less. He played for 7 different teams over 10 seasons, but never found a permanent home. After a break from baseball to do some broadcasting, he pitched for the Cubs AAA Iowa team, and even found a home in China during the '96 season when he pitched for the Uni-President Lions.
Interestingly enough (or if you're me, very interesting) our Wikipedia trail takes us to that CPBL team, the Uni-President Lions, who last year changed their name to the "Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions". I shit you not. Apparently the Uni-President Corporation owns 7-Eleven in Taiwan, and this helps with advertising I suppose. For all the 3,000 fans that attend the games, on average. Nice away uniforms, right?
In following the rabbit even further down the Wiki-hole, I discovered that this 4-team (once 9-team) professional baseball league in Taiwan was hurt in 1997 by what has become known as the "Black Eagle Scandal". Ooooooooooh, sounds scary! Well, I guess it all came down to game-fixing, "Black-Sox" style. It all started in 1996, during the "August 3rd Incident", when a number of Brother Elephant players (CPBL team from Taipei) were held at gunpoint at their hotel, threatened with death if they did not cooperate with some gang members in a game-fixing gambling scheme. The following year, investigations were conducted and all but 2 players from the China Times Eagles ballclub were kicked out of baseball over game-fixing. The other teams in the league were forced to lend players to the Eagles in order to finish out the season. During the next two years, two other franchises were involved, players expelled, and attendance dropped so drastically the two franchises were forced to shut down.
Several more game-fixing scandals have occurred since then, including one in 2008, known as the "Dmedia Incident". Members of the Dmedia T-Rex were prosecuted for game-fixing, including the GM, team spokesman, coaches, and three players. The team was expelled from the league. One of the players involved was Cory Bailey, whose charges were dropped after he paid back the money he was given to "throw" the games. Cory Bailey, hmm...this wiki-rabbit hole keeps going...
Cory Bailey (shown here in his 1994 Topps card) pitched for a few years in the majors. During a spring training game in 1993 he came out of the bullpen in relief, and combined with Frank Viola to pich a no-hitter against the Phillies. He pitched in 172 MLB games, went 9-10 with a 3.96 ERA. In 2007 he pitched with AAA Iowa (finally, the wiki-trail comes full circle. Mark Grant pitched for the Iowa Cubs, too!) and moved over to Japan, and later China for the '08 season. This is when he was involved w/ the rest of the DMedia T-rex team. After returning the money he made from being paid off, he was banned for life from playing in Taiwan's CPBL.
So there we go - the "six degrees" if you will of Mark Grant, completed in 2 turns. I guess baseball is a small world, though.