Welcome To The Club

The Baltimore Orioles were “Sweep … Swept … Swupt” by the Cubs this weekend. They were clobbered. Drubbed. Smooshed. Crushed. Laid to waste.

This morning, the O’s are nine games back in the AL East and tied for last (Good morning, last-mate Blue Jays!). They are seven games under .500.

The Orioles’ starting rotation’s ERA is 6.02 which is nearly the worst in baseball (thank you, Reds starters, whose 6.04 ERA has kept the O’s pitchers out of last place. At least for now).

How will I know it’s over? I’ll know it’s over when the beat writers headline their morning wrap-up “Available Orioles” … when fans hashtag their O’s tweets with #DumpsterFire and #Sell … and when in-the-knowsters like Ken Rosenthal name the teams that, like hungry dogs, are circling the Orioles looking for players.

(Uh-oh.)

I wrote a poem for you.

 

Welcome To The Club

The A’s sold some relievers

As they take their team apart

The Chi Sox Sale’d Quintana

The O’s have lost their heart.

 

The Blue Jays and the Phillies

The Reds and Giants, too

The season’s just half over

But, it’s off-season now for you.

 

For those teams who can’t win series

It’s the setting of the sun

Just picking out the prospects

Traded for their number ones.

 

Baseball in October

That day-dreaming now is done

For all those fans whose teams have slid

Baseball has lost its fun.

 

The game is not the story

Swept at home, or in a rout

The story’s now of trading

The men who got shut-out.

 

Have fun Astros and Dodgers

Brewers, Red Sox, and the Nats

While you’re out crushing baseballs

I’ll take pictures of my cats.

Cuz the rest of us are Mudville

“We’ve struck out” is what we sing

So, let’s close our eyes at bedtime

And dream of better things in spring.

 

“Ain’t Baseball Great?”

The Baltimore Orioles have used the same insipid tagline on their television commercials for years now. (I want to say 60 years, but, well, at least the last couple seasons.)

“Ain’t Baseball Great?”

Today, with the Orioles five games under .500 and in last place in the AL East, every time that stupid, tired, old commercial, with its obnoxiously cheery, “Ain’t Baseball Great?” comes on … even if I’m not paying attention, even if I’m in the other room, even if I’m half asleep, I answer. Because only a shmoo doesn’t answer when someone asks them a question.

“Ain’t Baseball Great?”

“Ain’t it?”

For God’s sake, stop torturing me.

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Happy Birthday, George

George Mullin was born on the 4th of July, 1880, in Toledo, Ohio.

He was a pitcher. A righty. Mostly for the Detroit Tigers (1902-1913), with a few other seasons with a few other teams scattered in after that, and ending in 1915.

He was six feet tall and his weight hovered around 200 pounds, so people called him Big George. He struggled with his weight and was often reprimanded for being out of shape.

He was 32 when he took the mound for Detroit – the second game of a double-header with the St. Louis Browns – on his birthday, July 4, 1912.

This was no marquee matchup. The Tigers were a game under .500 (36-37), while the poor, poor Browns (who today are the poor, poor Orioles) had won only 19 games, losing 49, and were well-mired in last place.

1912 Detroit Tigers. (George Mullin is in the back row, far right. Directly in front of him sits Ty Cobb.)

Things hadn’t been going well for Mullin in 1912 either. Age and weight had taken their toll and he was not in great shape.

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“Gateway To The Majors”

“Within the ball park, time moves differently, marked by no clock except the events of the game. This is the unique, unchangeable feature of baseball and perhaps explains why this sport, for all the enormous changes it has undergone … remains somehow rustic, unviolent, and introspective. …

“Baseball’s time is seamless and invisible, a bubble within which players move at exactly the same pace and rhythms as all their predecessors.” 

~ Roger Angell

Baseball keeps me close.

It keeps me close to my dad who didn’t even really like baseball, but it keeps me there nevertheless whenever I hear Vin Scully’s voice (less often now) or see a Dodger’s logo. Even though my dad’s been gone for years.

The Giants next, and I’m very small, because that’s where we were when I was very small.  Just an hour away from Willie Mays.

The Twins come next, reminding me of teenaging, because there we were when I was teened. Twins games on a North Dakota radio station, while my dad waited for the forecast that would tell him if the thunderstorm from the west would bring crop-killing hail.

And, finally then, the Orioles remind me of being young and fresh at a new job, in a new city, with the whole world and countless years ahead, wide open for the picking.

A single game today can take me to all those yesterday places.

It’s a different world inside a ballpark. It’s like being in a snowglobe. Without the snow, of course.

I love how every time I post about my baseball memories on here, people post their memories, too. And, I love how they all float together in that wonderful baseball snowglobe.

So, yesterday, sure.

But, it’s tomorrow, too.

Because, things move on and change, that’s what they do.

And, the players that fill the rosters of your nearby summer team — college leagues and Legion ball — won’t be there forever, and, in some cases, won’t be there long.

Their dreams are somewhere else tonight while you sit in the bleachers remembering whatever it is that you remember.

But, maybe, many years from now, one or two of those players will look back on a summer night at a tiny Charlottesville ballpark – where, by some witchery, a cool breeze always wafts through the stands no matter how hot the day has been – and maybe they’ll remember a game that they played here once.

Their “Gateway to the Majors.”

In response to the photo challenge: Delta – symbolizing transition, change, and the passage of time. For more photos from this WordPress challenge, click here

Photo: Charlottesville Tom Sox, Cville Weekly Field, Charlottesville, Virginia. June 17, 2017 © The Baseball Bloggess

It’s About A Toothbrush (Except It Isn’t)

Let me tell you a story. It won’t take long.

This is Mookie.

Mookie is one of three feral cats who now live with us. He’s adorable, isn’t he?

Sweet as can be. Especially considering he was born in a barn a couple years ago to a very wild, slightly nuts feral cat, and wasn’t touched by a human until he was nearly six months old.

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Photos From Dad

There aren’t a lot of pictures of my dad.

He was the family photographer. He was the one who documented his life, our lives, and the passing of time.

He had the camera. He took the photos. There weren’t many times that someone took a photo of him.

I took this one.

My dad’s photos – and he took thousands of them – were neatly sorted, by topic, and filed, along with their negatives, in big plastic boxes. Most included handwritten notes – sometimes written over the front of the photo – explaining  who, or what, or when.

Tractors and wide fields of North Dakota wheat being harvested. And, pets. And, every house we ever lived in. And, flowers. And, squirrels. And, plenty of people I don’t know. And, cars.

(There are a few more photos of me, his daughter, than there are of the cars he has owned. But, it’s pretty close.)

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The Pole Dancers of Sports Journalism

Blogging is “the pole dancing of sports journalism.” ~ Frank Deford

So …

 

… ((thinking … thinking)) ….

 

… ((still thinking)) …

 

Oh, for crap’s sake.

I’m not even sure what to say.

Am I supposed to stand up for bloggers? Pole dancers? Both?

How am I supposed to respond to that?

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“Welcome Fans!”

“Virginia is a team that more than deserved to be a very high seed and host a regional. Why that didn’t happen, I don’t know.” ~ Jim Schlossnagle, Coach, Texas Christian University Horned Frogs

Last Sunday, the NCAA named its 16 host teams for their post-season Regional Tournaments which began yesterday.

The University of Virginia — ranked #13 in the country by D1 Baseball, #11 in USA Today‘s Coaches Poll, and #10 in the Baseball Writers Poll — was not among them.

In the scope of injustices in this world, the NCAA’s slight is plenty misguided, sure, but still pretty teeny-tiny.

And, sure you can argue that Virginia is still one of the 64 teams competing in the post-season this weekend. Look at poor Miami, left out for the first time in 44 years.

Yes, you can argue that at least Virginia gets to play today.

(Don’t try to make me feel better. I’m steamed about this.)

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The Thoughtful Voice Of Frank Deford

Frank Deford passed away on Sunday. He was 78. If you don’t know who he is, that’s a shame. But, here … let me get you up to speed.

 

Deford was one of the great cerebral sportswriters. His opinions on sports were thoughtful and deep and could be read in Sports Illustrated and in his many books and heard on National Public Radio.

If you ever wanted to be a great sportswriter and great sportsthinker (which isn’t a word, but should be) … if you ever wanted to tear down the ugliness of professional sports to look for the goodness and meaning inside … Deford was one of those rare people you turned to.

One of my first posts on here was five years ago and was about Deford’s NPR piece on performance enhancing drugs in sport.  “If you doubt the bodies, there is no sport,” he said which was poetic and beautiful and in nine words conveyed more about the use of PEDs than other writers could say in 1,000.

One of his last commentaries for NPR was in March about the challenges that come when baseball tries to change the strike zone while umpires are left to have their own opinions about things.

You can find something from Deford to dig in to – on nearly any sport you choose – in Sports Illustrated’s Deford archives.

In his final commentary on NPR earlier this month, Deford said: “Nothing has pleased me so much as when someone — usually a woman — writes me or tells me that she’s appreciated sports more because NPR allowed me to treat sports seriously, as another branch on the tree of culture.”

OK, so maybe that was a little misguided and sexist, implying that women might not generally be thoughtful sports fans, but I’m going to give him a pass on this, considering it a generational misstep. But, I’m including it because … “another branch on the tree of culture” is, again, simply beautiful.

Deford would get a little too serious at times about sports, when I prefer sports, especially baseball, to have a bit of lightness … to be a needed distraction from the world at large. I wondered sometimes if he even found sports fun.

But, that seriousness was often necessary to shine a light on injustice, unfairness, or disharmony. Someone had to do it.

And, he did.

Swamp Funk. Orioles Slump. The Sultan of Swat Shows The Way Out.

July 26, 1928

Everyone slips into a rut at times.

The Baltimore Orioles haven’t won a game in a week.

They’ve looked listless and weary and miserable. It’s only May and they look like they’ve been playing on fumes for months.

Their pitching has been unreliable, often stinky, but, with no real starting ace, no closer, and a constantly rotating cast of bullpenners, what can you expect?

Last night, in losing to the Houston Astros on national television, the broadcasters put much of the blame on Orioles closer Zach Britton being on the disabled list (where he’ll stay until at least July or, who knows when). His absence, they thought, must be why the Orioles are so stinky.

But, Britton’s bum arm can’t explain some atrocious starting pitching, sleepy hitting, or the stab-me-in-my-heart-this-sucks-so-bad errors in the field.

Are Orioles slumps worse than the slumps that hit other teams?

Probably not, but I’m going to go ahead and say yes anyway, because I don’t care about other teams and Orioles slumps put me in a swampy funk.

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