An Embarrassment Of Abandoned Words

Every few days, I sit down to write something blogg’ish.

And, every few days of late, I abandon the task.

It seems that every time I sit down to write, the news overtakes whatever it is I’m thinking about. Baseball musings take a back seat to the pandemic, to wildfires, to hurricanes, to floods, to racial injustice, to politics, to despair.

What I’m left with is a discarded pile of unfinished thoughts that I don’t have the heart to recycle.

Here are a random few of my most recent abandoned words. It’s all I have for you …

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Baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson Day every year. Players of every color wear his number 42. We are unabashedly proud of this. We act like we single-handedly destroyed racial inequality on April 15, 1947.

Hardly.

Abandoned, September 13, 2020.

If this baseball season is so efficiently compact and the games nipped into shortness – seven-inning double headers, super-speedy extra innings – why am I so tired?

Abandoned, September 6, 2020 Continue reading

The Kinda-Sorta-Almost Midway Point

I suppose 2020 is not the first time someone chose to watch, or not watch, baseball based on principles.

Baseball is a reflection of who we are at this moment in history. Who we were yesterday is reflected in an aging box score and who we become tomorrow will come into focus sometime during tomorrow’s games.

So, who are we?

Are you watching baseball in 2020 or are you sitting it out – sitting it out because you’re concerned that players are risking their health by playing … sitting it out because they are wearing “Black Lives Matter” patches on their sleeves … sitting it out because it’s a shortened season that might become meaningless … sitting it out because of new rules like that man-on-second-to-start-extra-innings thing?

Everybody’s got their reasons.

But, hey, about that new rule.

I thought it was stupid. Not just stupid, but crazy-stupid.

Come to find out, it’s not so bad. When the game you’re watching slogs into hour four and your team can’t seem to push one more lousy run across, that one lousy run being all your team needs to win … and all you can think is that this game is going to go on for another four freaking hours and it’s nearly midnight …

Yeh, all of a sudden, you’ve got a man on second and no outs. That perks me right up.

So, let me just say this about that – I was wrong. That stupid new rule about starting a man on second in extra innings wasn’t so stupid after all.

This is how the new rule works.

And, seven-inning games for double headers?

Hallelujah!

So who are we then, baseball fans?

Conflicted. Continue reading

Chapter Two: Pete The Girl

This may be the slowest serial ever. If you don’t remember Chapter One – which was months ago – you’ll find it here.

Photo by Michael Morse on Pexels.com

There is no such thing as an uncomplicated ballplayer.

He wasn’t sure how long it’d been. How long since his brain would flicker as he tried to recall a word, a name, a something else.

“Normal aging,” the doc said. “Nothing to worry about.” But that was years ago – 10, maybe more. It was just annoying then. A lost name here or there. It was more than that now.

He would be talking to someone he knew. Someone he knew he knew and suddenly his mind would go numb – the person would keep talking but he wouldn’t catch a word. Instead, he’d be consumed by the realization that he no longer knew the person’s name.

The name he knew he knew.

He would start through the alphabet, like thumbing the pages of an old phone book.

Allan. Bill. Cameron. Danny.

Danny? Is it Danny?

The name would usually come to him. But, not always. It made him wonder – is this how it ends, everything just goes blank?

His hands trembled a little now, too. And, when they did he would lace and squeeze his fingers together or hold his wrist tight with his other hand, or rub his palms as though washing them with air. Little things that no one would notice and that would slow the tremors that came more often now.

She noticed.

Pam. Patti. Polly. Penny.

Peach.

Maybe it was because Peach was a little girl, so when she stood next to her grandfather her eyes were closer to his hands than to his eyes. Or, maybe it was because she wasn’t trying not to notice, which was what her mother and the others would do.

They’d pretend not to see, but Peach didn’t.

“Grampa, why’s your hand shaking?”

Dammit.

He paused for a moment just to make sure. Pam, Patti, Polly, Penny …

“I don’t know, Peach.”

She smiled, turned, and ran up the stairs. She clattered around and quickly ran back down. She was holding her grandfather’s baseball glove – now her glove – with a ball shoved into its worn pocket. Continue reading

The #8. The Cal Ripken, Jr. Anniversary Of Blogging.

Eight years ago today, the Orioles lost.

And, I started this blog.

Eight is not a particularly momentous, landmark’ish anniversary. But, should you insist, gifts of pottery are appropriate.

In the baseball world, eight would be the “centerfielder anniversary” … so I give you this Orioles’ish clip: Adam Jones, playing centerfield for Team USA, robbing Manny Machado, playing for the Dominican Republic, in the World Baseball Classic in 2017:

In the baseball world, this would also be the #8 Cal Ripken, Jr. anniversary … so I give you this from 1996:

“… a career high eight runs, matching his uniform number.”

Continue reading

I Will Make The Most Of It.

© The Baseball Bloggess

“Is it as good as you remembered?”

You know what I mean.

You go back to your old stomping grounds – your childhood home, your college campus, or that place where you did that thing that you did for the very first time – and you are sure you will conjure up the very same feelings, the very same wonder, the very same joy that whatever it was once brought you.

It never does, does it?

So when I write “Happy Opening Day” … as I write every year … I know there’s no going back to baseball’s old stomping grounds this year.

Opening Day has always been – should always be – a time of hope, a time of joy. Even when your team is crummy, there’s still hope, right? Maybe not as crummy? Not as crummy as last year.

I don’t feel hopeful today.

I feel foreboding.

You’ve got one team that doesn’t have a home to play in. Players opting out for their own safety. Empty stadiums filled with weird artificial noise.

Artificial joy.

But, as long as they insist on playing, I will make the most of it.

Happy Opening Day.

Go O’s!

 

Nothing Is Real.

Photo: Rachel Xiao via Pexels.com

Just a few hours ago, the Baltimore Orioles announced on Twitter that tonight they will be playing real life baseball.

I sometimes slam on my brain brakes when I stumble over an especially egregious typo as I’m reading stuff online. What happened here wasn’t a typo exactly, but I slammed on my brain brakes anyway, and I I reread it to make sure that I read what I thought I read. And, what I read was, indeed, what I thought I read.

Real life baseball.

Real life.

Real.

This, today in 2020, transcended typo.

To quote John Lennon – who said a lot of things better than people like me – describing Strawberry Fields, the park of his youth … “nothing is real.”

Because, nothing is real … or right … or normal these days and certainly not baseball, which is kicking off a 66-day season this week and pretending it will somehow, someway equal a real six-month season. Continue reading

The Bubble Bloggess

Baseball’s annual All-Star break would begin tomorrow … if this were a normal, pandemic-free world. Which it’s not.

It is …

… a cheese on apple pie, Wile E. Coyote catches the Roadrunner, messed up, all wrong, pandemic-full world.

It is a cat’s hairball atop a dead cactus atop that moldy slimy thing in the back of the fridge atop the mouse that died under the couch that we didn’t know about until … that smell … world.

It is horrible.

It is a world where Mike Trout’s mother tweets a photo of Mike Trout wearing a mask while playing because she wants to encourage people to wear masks because a lot of people seem to not understand the concept of how masks work to mitigate the spread of disease.

And, “Wear a mask so you won’t die or make other people sick” is, apparently, not encouragement enough for some people.

Sorry. Wandered off. Continue reading

One Inning.

© The Baseball Bloggess

Is this what baseball will be, just hanging on to the memory of one last game?

The one game that you thought would go on forever?

The game where you sat, somewhere up in the stands. Tight up against those other fans.

Seeing what you always see and not wondering if you’d ever see the likes of that again.

Was that you?

A fan in the stands.

July 11, 1910

The not-so-good Cardinals are playing the not-so-good Doves on a partly cloudy Monday in St. Louis.

Game time 3:45 at old League Park. You know the place. The one with the beer garden.

The one with the fans. Those St. Louis fans. Those cranks. Those bugs.

They got so crazied up one day back in June that they threw their pop bottles onto left field. So many empty bottles rained down on Pittsburgh’s outfielder that the umpire had to stop the game. He asked a cop to stop the fans.

But, it was awfully hot. And, the cop would not.

And, just a few days ago, a fight broke out in the bleachers. Even the players stopped to watch.

But, things are quiet on July 11. Continue reading

Let Me Just Say This About That …

So, baseball is back. It’s going to be different, but, we’re promised, it’s for the best.

Just remember this: nothing good ever comes from a situation that includes the words “it’s for the best.”

Beginning in late July, each team will play 60 regular-season games crammed into 66 days. For those of you that complain that games are too long, congratulations: You’ll get through an entire season in less than half the time!

“Hurry, Hurry,” you said.

You who complained about the length of games got exactly what you wanted – games will be shorter, in that there will be fewer of them. And, if it was the 3-1/2 hour games that annoyed you and not the 162-game season, then you should have been more specific when you were whipping up your stupid warlock incantation.

People who complain about long baseball games also, invariably, are the ones who complain about how expensive games are. And, yet longer games are a better value for your money, so explain that to me, Complainers.

This is a bizarro season wrapped in strangeness and covered in weird.

In other words, it is just like everything else these days.

And, let me just say this about that … I’m not comfortable reopening my studio, going out in public without a mask, or standing within 15 feet of a stranger. And, I’m not sure I’m comfortable asking Mike Trout and Mookie Betts and the entire Baltimore Orioles roster (whose names sort of escape me at the moment) to do that either.

But, if we’re going to do this … let me just say this about that …

Editor/Husband just asked if we’ll call the rest of the pre-season which will commence on July 1 “Spring Training” and his question paralyzed me. (Correct answer: MLB is calling it “Training.” Because lack of imagination is the springboard to a successful 60-game season.)

This season is so freaky-quirky-nutty-weird already that it’s pretty much a given that the Orioles will win the World Series. Yay.

I want to just touch on a few of the new rules the league has devised to make the upcoming 2020 season more comfortable and maybe even slightly safer for players. These rules – I’m just guessing here – were cobbled together by a special brainstorming team who spent an afternoon holed up in a conference room with six cans of Red Bull, a bag of Cheese Doodles, and a whiteboard. Continue reading

My Dad, Decisions, And A Dog Named Lady

This story will eventually spin around to a dog named Lady. So, you’ll definitely want to stick around for that.

But, this story is, more importantly, about my dad.

They say you won’t understand your parents until you are a parent yourself. This has always placed me at a disadvantage.

But, I’ve realized a few things since they’ve been gone.

My mom taught me “things.” The skilled how-to-do “things.” My dad, in a weird way he probably didn’t realize, taught me how to figure things out for myself.

I’m always interested to hear other people’s “father stories.”

“My dad taught me to bike … “

“… to fish …”

“ … to drive a car …”

“… to throw a baseball …”

And, to be honest, it always makes me a little jealous.

My dad didn’t teach me any of those things. But, I think my dad gave me space to figure things like that out for myself.

When I wanted a bike, like all the neighborhood kids already had, he said, “When you show me you know how to ride a bike, I will get you a bike.”

This took more than practice. This required me to cajole my friends and barter with them into loaning me their bikes, five minutes here, 10 minutes there, so I could practice. I’m sure I bent a few handlebars and dinged up a few frames when I wiped out. But, I figured it out, and one night after my dad got home from work, a friend – I’m pretty sure it was Pam, the girl down the block – loaned me her bike and I rode it to my house so my dad could see that I had learned to ride a bike.

That weekend, I had my bike.

And, it was purple with a flowered banana seat and it was exactly — exactly — the bike I dreamed of.

So, my dad didn’t teach me how to ride a bike. Not exactly. Or, did he?

My dad also gave me space to make decisions on my own, and here’s the story I want to tell. Continue reading