The Thing About Sign Stealing

“I don’t suppose that it is strictly sportsmanlike, but baseball is a strenuous game, and there are times when a man may feel sorely tempted.” – Detroit Tigers Manager Bill Armour, 1906

“Dishonest signal stealing might be defined as obtaining information by artificial aids. The honest methods are those requiring cleverness of eye, mind, and hand, without outside assistance.” – Hall of Fame Pitcher Christy Mathewson, 1912

Steal a base and you’re a star, steal a sign and you’re a cheater.

Explain that to me.

In August, the New York Yankees snitched on the Boston Red Sox who were stealing signs, using Apple watches to signal the Yankees catcher’s signs to the Red Sox dugout.

Spitball!

Here’s what I don’t get.

A Red Sox staffer, watching the game on video in the clubhouse, decodes a sign from the Yankees catcher, texts it to the Apple watch of a trainer in the dugout, who gives the message to a nearby player, who signals to the Red Sox runner on second, who relays the pitch by some signal or other to the batter.

Like this?

They had time to do all that? Maybe the game really is that slow.

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Artie!

Look, I’m not one to tell you what to do with your Labor Day Monday. You worked hard for this day off. You should enjoy every single minute of it.

If you think napping in a hammock is the best way to celebrate, then, hey, I’m not going to tell you to do anything different.

Really? Hammock napping? That’s the best you can do?

What if it rains?

Here.

Here’s what you should do with your Labor Day Monday.

Watch Artie Lewicki make his big league debut with the Detroit Tigers.

Artie Lewicki pitching for Virginia in 2014

Last week, the Tigers traded Cy-Young-pitcher-with-the-hot-model-girlfriend Justin Verlander and a boatload of cash to the Houston Astros for a handful of prospects (none of whom was rookie outfielder Derek Fisher, so I immediately lost interest in whatever prospects the Astros gave up).

Into Verlander’s spot in the Tiger’s rotation? University of Virginia alum Artie Lewicki, who will make his big league debut, getting his call up from the AAA Toledo Mud Hens.

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Benji, The Runner. #4,000

Back in May, the New York Yankees beat the Chicago Cubs 5-4. It took 18 innings and 6 hours and 5 minutes. The game started on May 7 and ended on May 8.

The game ran so long they ran out of baseballs.

Also on May 7, elite long-distance runner Benji Durden ran the Colorado Marathon — 26 miles — in 3:48:25, finishing second in his 65-69 age group.

Courtesy Benji Durden

I hate math, but by my inexpert calculations, Benji could have run a marathon-and-a-half in the time it took the Yankees to win that single game.

Benji ranked among the top 10 U.S. marathoners for six straight years in the 1980s. He was ranked seventh in the world in 1982.

He has trophies, awards, and ribbons galore celebrating his still-running running.

(I have one award, in case you were wondering, from the time I won a Jell-O contest where I built an amazingly lifelike Washington DC Metro car out of Jell-O, clogged with unsmiling peanut passengers and stuck in a snow drift made out of stale miniature marshmallows. This was a long time ago, and it’s still one of my proudest moments. I won a sash cut out of butcher paper with “Miss Congealiality” written on it in Sharpie. I still have it. The sash, I mean. I still have the sash.)

Please note the period. Jell-O is a complete sentence.

Back to Benji. To add to his still-growing list of accolades is this – Benji Durden is the 4,000th follower of The Baseball Bloggess.

(I know. This accomplishment falls a little flat, especially now that you know about the Jell-O award.)

Real bloggers know that, like my Jell-O Metro car, blog follower lists can get clogged with a lot of spam, weird bots, and people whose names resemble passwords. (Hi, 5nML$234HN00C!) No one is quite sure why this happens or what’s in it for the bots that follow. So, while 4,000 is a real number, it is also an unreal number, and I can say that my real live readership – of non-bots who speak English and like to read about baseball – is smaller. Much smaller. Much, much smaller.

But, fake number or not, when I hit 3,999 earlier this summer, I put out the call to my friends to push me to 4K.

Meet my friend Benji Durden. #4,000.

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The Dangers Of Poetry

On July 17, I wrote you a poem.

I hadn’t written poetry since, oh, since Junior High. It wasn’t very good poetry, but the words rhymed, so I’m not sure why you expected anything better out of me. The words rhymed. It was a poem.

On July 17, I wrote you a poem and six hours later I was sick.

Sick, for real, with a 101 fever and chills and visions of this finally being the end and well, I had a good run. (I occasionally overreact in cases of high fever. High fever panic commences for me at about 98.9.)

The New York Times, 4/6/1925

On April 5, 1925, Babe Ruth collapsed with a fever, infection, and an abscess in his gut. But, not before hitting two home runs in a spring training game. He’d been running a temp through spring training and didn’t rejoin the Yankees for eight weeks.

I am here today, recovered after 16 days with an obnoxious summer virus, to tell you five truths about illness.

One. Babe Ruth clearly was much tougher than me.

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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.

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“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.

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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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