How Will You Spend Your 35 Seconds?

I’m no baseball purist.

I’m not going to try to convince you that Christy Mathewson was a better pitcher than Clayton Kershaw.

christy-mathewson

(I just like mentioning Christy Mathewson on here.)

I’m not going to try to convince you that Babe Ruth was the greatest ever. (He was. This is not up for debate. If you wish to disagree, I encourage you to set up a Babe Ruth Hater blog. Seriously. This blog is not for you.)

I’m not going to try to convince you that baseball was better in the “good old days.”

Because this, for one.

colored whites sign

There are many innovations and changes over the years that have made baseball better. I’m all for ’em.

Putting facemasks on catchers? Good.

Infield fly rule? Kinda weird, but good.

Balk rule? To be honest, I don’t see the point, but I’m good with it. Sure. Balk it up!

Designated hitter? Very good. (Stop arguing, National League, just give in already. DH. Good.)

New 2017 rule mandating that four-pitch intentional walks will no longer include four pitches, but will simply require a simple “Oh waiter? Check please.” wave of the hand from the dugout?  Are you kidding?

Baseball’s rule-makers promise us that this simple (stupid) new rule will speed things up. (It was also the only rule change baseball and the player’s union could agree on.)

Four-pitch intentional walks will no longer be an agonizing, endless, thankless ordeal that has ruined the game for countless would-be baseball fans who don’t have the time to spare for such frivolousness.

Time saved? 35 seconds per game. Baseball will be fun again!

I’m not going to waste my 35 seconds arguing about how stupid a rule this is.

Sure, the human attention span is now just eight seconds, which means, congratulations humans!, goldfish are now more thoughtful than we are.

goldfish-cracker

Has no problem with a four-pitch intentional walk.

Anyway, sometimes weird things happen during intentional walks. Weird things that will never happen again, because we don’t have the attention span of a goldfish.

Earlier this week, in an extra-innings college game, an intentional-walk pitch soared over the catcher’s head, allowing the winning run to score.

And, here’s a very young Miguel Cabrera in a game against the Baltimore Orioles in 2006 …

“I’ve just never seen anybody walk anybody like that.” ~ Jim Palmer

Gone.

Because you had to have a shorter game. You’re oh-so-busy with all the important stuff you have to do. You couldn’t sit there for a few seconds to let a four-pitch intentional walk accurately include four pitches. You had to have your stupid 35 seconds back.

Now, you do. I hope you’re happy.

I Told The Internet I Liked The Orioles. The Internet Was Not Impressed.

They say that baseball is “the thinking man’s game” and by “they,” I really do mean “they.” Because, I don’t know who, exactly, said it. Or, who said it first.

Except for Editor/Husband. He just said it. Just now.

I’m guessing it’s a baseball fan who said it first.

And, I’m going to go ahead and say, they’re right.

But, apparently, bad news Baltimore Orioles fans.

Because Facebook just informed me of this:

less-intelligent-orioles

Here’s the deal. A friend shared this article with me, discussing how Big Data companies can discover all sorts of things about you based on all the internetting you’ve been doing, and, in the case of this one particular study, all the things you’ve liked on Facebook.

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Culpeper’s Hall of Famers – Talking Baseball at the Culpeper Museum, March 19

pete-hill-eppa-rixey-culpeper-virginia

Pete Hill, outfielder, Negro League & pre-Negro League (left). Eppa Rixey, pitcher, Philadelphia Phillies & Cincinnati Reds (right)

I’m delighted to announce that I have been invited to speak about the lives and careers of Culpeper Virginia’s two National Baseball Hall of Fame members, Pete Hill and Eppa Rixey. The talk will be at the Museum of Culpeper History in downtown Culpeper on Sunday, March 19 at 2:00 p.m.

museum-of-culpeper-history

Just five ballplayers in the National Baseball Hall of Fame were born in Virginia.  If this seems a little light to you – it did to me, too.  Still, that’s five more than North Dakota, Arizona, Hawaii, and Alaska – combined – so  there is that.

California has 24 members, Alabama has 12, New York 31. Maryland, Virginia’s neighbor to the north, has 12. Not that this Hall of Fame thing is a competition. (Except that it is.)

But, back to the five from Virginia.

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“If You Can’t Make A Hit In A Ball-Game, You Can’t Make A Hit With Me”

vintage-baseball-postcard-a-chance-play

circa 1910

There are many weird stories about Valentine’s Day. I’ll share just one with you.

St. Valentine – there are three St. Valentine’s if you’re keeping track, and this St. Valentine was one of the three – was imprisoned by the Romans for either a) helping Christians escape from the Romans, or b) marrying young couples when the Roman emperor expressly told him not to. Either way, St. Valentine ended up in prison, fell in love with the jailor’s daughter, and, before being put to death, sent her a card signed, “From Your Valentine.”

In this world of “Alternative Facts,” I’m sure this story is absolutely true.

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Baseball Is A Billion Times Better Than Nougat

When I was a kid there was this amazing “Seven Up” candy bar, made by a company in Minneapolis.

seven-up-bar-label

Heard of it?

They stopped making it in 1979, I’m afraid, so you’ll have to wonder about its wonderfulness. A single chocolate candy bar with seven – SEVEN! – little pockets carved into it, and each one was filled with a different flavor.

Mint!  Coconut!  Butterscotch!  Fudge!  Caramel!  Butter Cream!

And, Nougat!

Nougat.

First of all, nougat is not a flavor. Second of all, nougat is horrible.

tom-hanks-big

I don’t think anyone has ever intentionally eaten nougat. And, I’ll bet it was nougat that did in the Seven Up bar. Well, that and a pretty clear trademark infringement with 7-Up soda.

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Just South Of The White House, They Played Baseball

News from Washington, DC …

“A Base Ball Club has just been formed in this city. … It is a good sign to see such health-promoting exercises taking the place of insipid enervating amusements.” ~ The Washington Star, November 4, 1859

See, things were enervating back then, too.

There are far more important websites – newsy-type places trying to make sense of today’s Washington – you could be reading right now and I encourage you to do that.

In a sec.

Because, there was a time when, just south of the White House, they played baseball.

According to Histories of the National Mall, the first baseball games were held on the White Lot – the 52-acre park south of the White House that is now the Ellipse – in 1860.

white-lot-baseball-fields-1940s

Public Domain. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection LC-USW31-058724-C

The White Lot baseball fields in the mid-1940s.

During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln would take an occasional break from war strategy and catch a game at the White Lot with his son Tad.

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Sitting Here, Thinking About “Len, The Slugger”

These last few winters, the story has been pretty much the same. The Baltimore Orioles need an outfielder. Preferably two, but at the very least one.

And, every January, Orioles management scoops up a still-available outfielder at a bargain price. The Orioles get the guy for a year, he has a great season – greater than anyone could have imagined – and then “poof” he’s gone the next season, to a far richer, more generous team.

This brings me, in the most meandering way, to the brief career and life of Len Sowders.

len-sowders

Len Sowders

Sowders played just one season in the majors — 1886. He was a Baltimore Oriole.

He was an outfielder (who moonlighted some at first). A so-so fielder. A left-handed batter with a .263 average from his handful of at-bats in Baltimore.  Not a lot of power, but still, .263 isn’t the worst you can do.

That puts him right around current O’s centerfielder Adam Jones’s .265 last season and Mark Trumbo’s .256, the Orioles’s one-season outfielder whose 47 home runs led all of baseball last year and who is now a free agent looking for much more money than the Orioles will offer.

This Trumbo homer last August was a grand slam.

Back in 1886, Sowders was picked up by Baltimore late in the season from a minor league club in Nashville.  Before Nashville, he’d played in Evansville, where he was also known for running a local fish business and for making loans with interest (fitting, I guess, that a man in the fish business was also a loan shark). He was, one newspaper assured readers, a good player and a strict church-goer.

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The Only Broken Hip In Baseball

On August 11, 2013, Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Cody Ross fell while running to first. It was a routine ground out, but his spike caught in the dirt at a weird angle and he stumbled. Awkwardly. Then, he tumbled. He had dislocated and broken his hip.

It’s believed that Ross was the first – and only – major league player to ever break a hip while running the bases.

 

It was, they said, a freak injury.

Editor/Husband’s doctors and nurses assured him last week that he is the first – and only – person to ever break a hip while meditating. (They all got quite a chuckle out of that.)

It was, they said, a freak injury.

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He “Bustered” His Leg

On May 25, 2011, in San Francisco, Florida Marlins outfielder Scott Cousins collided with Giants catcher Buster Posey in a play at the plate. Posey’s leg was broken. He was out for the rest of the season.

(You can watch it here, though I wouldn’t recommend it.)

On January 1, 2017, in Orange, Virginia, in what I think was some sort of weird performance art recreation, Editor/Husband played the role of Buster Posey. Scott Cousins was played by my Yoga Studio floor.

For those of you who were so quick to believe that 2017 couldn’t be suckier than 2016 … you are wrong.

Editor/Husband fell and “bustered” his leg on New Year’s Day.

That is, he fractured the neck of his femur which is the fancy pants way to say, he broke his hip. (But having a broken hip sounds like something a frail grandma would do, so we’re going with broken leg which sounds more “Posey-an.”)

granny

Nope.

sylvester-leg

Well, not quite. But, close enough.

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Life Is Not An “Etch-A-Sketch”

“Turn Etch-a-Sketch upside down and shake and everything disappears.”

When December 31 turns to January 1 on Saturday night, 2016, the good, the bad, the strange, the crazy won’t magically disappear.

No kicking the year to the curb, kids. It’ll still be there, hanging around in your mind with important thoughts like, “Did the cat get stuck in the closet again?”

mookie-in-the-closet

Relax, kids. Mookie’s fine.

I was told I was a little too dour in my sum-up-2016 post from earlier this week, so let’s fix that with just five quick off-the-top-of-my-head things in 2016 that made me smile:

5. Boaty McBoatface. Even though things ultimately didn’t work out with the name.

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