Big, bigger, biggest of the big leagues
With Opening Day around the corner, here's the big deal
Big games, big pitches, big wins, Big Unit, Big Papi, Big Hurt, big innings, big upsets, big hits, big numbers, big seasons, big rallies, big names, big trades, big crowds.
It's almost time for another season of big-league baseball.
Major League Baseball became known as the "big leagues" a long time ago, because there were so many professional baseball leagues, yet only one American League and only one National League. The term itself grew into a colloquialism across all culture, representing the highest caliber of involvement, even shortened to "bigs."
As the countdown continues for another Opening Day, MLB.com decided to look at what's really big about big-league baseball:
The first three letters in the last name of a likely future Hall of Famer. Houston's Craig Biggio enters the 2006 season needing 205 hits to reach 3,000.
Biggest ballparks. They're both in the Big Apple. The House That Ruth Built seats 57,478 fans, and Shea Stadium is close to that with 57,333.
Big target: What Victor Martinez gives Cliff Lee.
According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, online shoppers are now generally comfortable buying big items over the Internet -- from log cabins to giant-screen TVs. If that includes you, then you might want to visit the MLB.com Shop to find a Dreamseat Home Theater Recliner, big sports furniture such as beds and desks, or a computer monitor and billiard lamps.
Big prizes. Go to your favorite club site, and you are sure to find a way to win something big. For example, you can win a big round trip package to a Major League game anywhere this season.
Big crowds. Major League Baseball drew a record of roughly 74 million fans in 2005.
Big mouths. Yeah, there are a lot of those in those big crowds.
Big lead. It's what you hope your team will have in a game. It's what Chone Figgins or Jose Reyes take while on first base, on the way to a steal.
Big scoreboards. They always have been part of the allure, from the days of old Comiskey Park's exploding scoreboard to the magnificence of the Astrodome scoreboard. Visitors to Turner Field and Jacobs Field watch the biggest of big-screen TVs while they're being entertained on the field. Fans at Fenway Park and Wrigley Field still embrace their manually operated scoreboards, and you want big numbers? Each Fenway scoreboard number used to indicate runs and hits measures 16 inches by 16 inches and weighs three pounds. The numbers used for errors, innings and pitcher's numbers measure 12 inches by 16 inches, and weigh two pounds each.
Big Train. Walter Johnson won 417 games and struck out 3,508 batters while pitching for mostly dismal Washington Senator teams, and through generations often has been regarded as the greatest right-hander ever.
Big bandwidth. Most people now have it, and that's a good thing because you need it to watch MLB.TV. For only $14.95 per month or $79.95 for the season, you can watch nearly every out-of-market Major League game this season live over the Internet with a computer and a broadband connection. It's been such a big hit to hundreds of thousands of fans that MLB Advanced Media also has been responsible for streaming each live game of this year's Big Dance to all those college basketball fans.
The Baseball Encyclopedia from Macmillan Publishing contains 3,026 pages and shipping weight is 8.3 pounds.
Biggest part of the field. Try to knock one out in right-center at a Marlins home game, and it will take some serious power. Same with dead-center at Houston's Minute Maid Park, where you have to get it over Tal's Hill and the 435-foot marker -- deepest center-field wall in the Majors.
Texas. Speaking of Houston, you have to mention both the Astros and Rangers here. Because everything's big in Texas.
The Big Red Machine. There's a nice framed photo at the MLB.com Shop featuring Tony Perez, Johnny Bench, Sparky Anderson, Joe Morgan and Pete Rose, ready to be had just in time for that traditional Opening Day parade in downtown Cincinnati.
Big Hurt. Now he's a member of the Oakland A's, and circle May 22-24 on your calendar as his first series back in front of White Sox fans.
The big picture. Why do successful Major Leaguers try to keep an even keel after a big win or a big loss? Because it's a 162-game marathon season, you are going to lose a lot, and if you are a batter you are going to be put out a lot more often than you reach base safely. In the big picture, it's all about getting to the World Series.
Big smile. You have to love it when Junior Griffey has that on his face.
The Green Monster. It measures 37 feet high, with the screen above the wall extending 23 feet. It's waiting for Wily Mo Pena.
Big contracts. Babe Ruth once said he deserved to make more than the sitting president because "I had a better year." Big contracts are waiting for the elite baseball player, and they of course make a difference in the balance of the game as well. There are even salary leagues today in which fantasy baseball owners determine lineups, a sign of the times. Biggest payroll for 2006: Still the Bronx Bombers.
Big party. That's what the Giants' Birthday Bash is if your big day is coming up.
Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Big community involvement happens every day around Major League Baseball, and that charitable organization benefits from various Major League clubs. Take Arizona, for example. The Diamondbacks and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central Arizona honor Bigs and Littles during a home game each season. Prior to the game, participants are recognized on the field where they have the opportunity to meet Diamondbacks players.
Big toe. Lots of Mets fans are watching Pedro Martinez's closely.
Biggest person. In sheer volume, the honor probably goes to Padres infielder Walter Young: All 6-5 and 320 pounds of him.
Big questions. Will Roger Clemens be back and with whom? Can the White Sox repeat? There are always big questions when everyone's talking baseball.
Big kids. That's all they really are, and even the manager in baseball still gets to wear a uniform.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.