Cubs vs Indians. Choosing The Right World Series Team For You.


I’m going to have to watch someone play baseball this week. And, so are you. Let’s figure out which World Series team to root for.

The Chicago Cubs last won a World Series in 1908. The Cleveland Indians last won a World Series in 1948.

There’s a certain comfort in being able to shake your head at the end of a losing season and say, “Well, we always lose, that’s what we do.” Fans start to hang on to this excuse like a crutch. It becomes the excuse for every misplay, every error, every loss.

Just to be clear, Cubs and Indians fans, that ends today. No more are you “long-suffering.” You’re now winners. Enjoy the pressure that goes along with that.

A lot of thinking goes into choosing a World Series team to root for. Not by me, of course, but by other people.

You could spend hours poring over ERAs, WARs, FIPs, and Batting Averages.

You could.

You could study baseball stats and figures for the next seven hours and come out convinced that the Washington Nationals will beat the Red Sox in six.

Yup, and where does that put you? Back at square one.

Let’s look at more important things.

When choosing between the Cubs and Indians, here are some facts that may help you choose the best team for your needs.

First, let’s look at 1908, the last year the Cubs won the World Series, and 1948, the last year the Indians won.

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All Baseball Is Local.

Most of the world doesn’t have a team playing so late into baseball’s hallowed October post-season.

Los Angeles and Chicago do. Cleveland, too.

And, Toronto. (Even though we all know that no one likes baseball in Canada. And, yes, I’m still steamed about the fan who threw his beer at Orioles outfielder Hyun Soo Kim earlier this month … and the other fan who threw his beer at Orioles outfielder Nate McLouth in 2013. Dear Canada, I don’t forget.)

But, that’s it. Dodgers, Cubs, Indians, Blue Jays.

The rest of us must find the local in our October baseball elsewhere.

Each fall, college baseball teams around the country hold “Fall Ball” seasons or “World Series” intra-squad competitions. It keeps veteran players sharp and gives freshmen a chance to show that they can play at the college level.  And, it gives the rest of us something to do until Spring Training rolls around.

The University of Virginia (UVA) Cavaliers are holding their seven-game Orange vs. Blue World Series this month.


UVA’s Jake McCarthy, Team Orange, considering a steal. UVA’s Justin Novak, Team Blue, waits at short. Or, as Editor/Husband describes the Orange vs. Blue series: “Brother against Brother.”

The games are free and while the stands aren’t packed, you’ll find baseball fans, assorted scouts with radar guns, and the player’s parents, who often sit together and watch with the deep and seasoned concentration of loving moms and dads who have been watching from the sidelines since their sons were in tee-ball.

The games can be surreal. It’s hard to cobble together two full squads from just one team, so one team here plays without a DH or a 9th batter. There’s a “Designated Runner” who’s been sent in to run for a batter who can hit, but because of injury hasn’t been cleared to run. Games can go seven innings or eight … or less or more … depending on the time, the day, or the whims of the coaches. Games can end in a tie.

It is a game. But, the rules of the games get blurry sometimes.


Outfielder/Pitcher Adam Haseley swings at the first pitch of the 2016 UVA Fall Ball Season. The 4 p.m. shadows creep over the infield and batter’s box much earlier, quicker, and thicker than in the spring.


Team Orange’s Jack Weiller waits on second while Team Blue talks strategy on the mound.

The UVA Orange team has won two games and one game ended in a tie for those of you who keep track of those sorts of things. They play again on Friday.

At a time when the world – and our nation – seems so divided, angry, and divisive isn’t it nice to be able to root for everyone?

Because when your home team is playing your home team, all you can do is cheer.

And, you can’t get more local than that.

Photos: University of Virginia Orange vs. Blue “World Series”, Davenport Field. Charlottesville, Virginia. October 2016. © The Baseball Bloggess

In response to WordPress’s Weekly Photo Challenge “Local”. See lots more photos from this challenge here.


Garland Shifflett — The Pitcher From Elkton

Elkton, Virginia is the halfway point between where you are now and where you want to be.


It is snugged tight between the Blue Ridge Mountains on its east side and the Massanutten Mountains on its west side.

It is halfway between here … and there.

It’s an anonymous town. The town you pass through, but where you never stop unless you need gas, a snack, or a bathroom.

All my friends around here tell me they’ve been to Elkton. But, when pressed, I discover they mean they’ve been through Elkton, or driven past Elkton, or they’ve stopped out on the highway at the Dairy Queen, but they’ve never actually been to it.

Garland Shifflett, who pitched in the majors, but mostly the minors, from the 1950s into the 1970s, was born in Elkton in 1935.


The Los Angeles Times once profiled him on their front page.

His major league career was brief, just 16 games. A few games in 1957, a few more in 1964. But, his minor league career, over 16 seasons, was much longer and richer.

But, there he is on the front page of the Los Angeles Times in the spring of 1972. Next to stories about the Hanoi Offensive, an indicted New Jersey Congressman, and President Nixon’s doctor’s enthusiasm for acupuncture.

Top of the fold. A story about Garland Shifflett and his long career in the minors.


“Anonymous Man.”

A front-page profile in the Los Angeles Times about a player I didn’t know should have made this story simple. Instead, it has bothered me for a couple weeks now. Ever since I found it and ever since we made our visit to Elkton.

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The Better Business Bureau Made Me Mad

It was a prim and stern woman’s voice on my office voice mail yesterday.

“Yesssss. [pregnant pause] This is the Better Business Bureau.  My name is [  ]. This message is for the owner of the company. Please return my call. My direct line is [  ]. I will be in my office until 4:30 p.m.” ((Click))

There was no “thank you.” No “goodbye.” No reason why this unfriendly person at the Better Business Bureau was calling me.

I’m just a one-person office. The “owner of the company” is me. The massage therapist and Yoga teacher is me. The bookkeeper and laundry washer and taxpayer and phone answerer and toilet paper buyer and Yoga mat roller and vacuum cleaner emptier and the one who carefully picks the ladybugs off of the office window and brings them outside to freedom? All me.

Did someone complain about me to the Better Business Bureau? Why else would they be calling?

Did I forget an appointment? Is someone upset that we did too many Down Dogs in class last week? (We didn’t, honest!)

Of course, I called them back. If someone was going to complain that the table warmer wasn’t warm enough during their last massage, I wanted the opportunity to explain.

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The Orioles Lose & The Dogs Won’t Stop Barking

My neighbors have dogs.

Not just a couple cute, shaggy, tail-wagging mutts from the local pound, but a kennel filled with hunting dogs.  Loud, hungry, and annoying dogs who start barking at about 5 each morning.

We live on a farm and by “neighbors,” I mean the people who live about a half-mile away through an old field that has too steep a drop to a creek bed to ever be a real pasture. (To reach these neighbors by road, you would have to drive out to the main road, take a right, and then another right, and then another right. By road, they are about five miles away. But, through the field, they’re much closer.)

I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure there are about 63 rabid wolf-hounds in that kennel and they haven’t eaten in days. They would probably chew your arm off if you got too close.

They don’t bark all the time, but when they do, they all do. They’re loud and their noisy discontent travels through the pasture like a storm cloud that opens up right over our house.

Some days they are louder than others. Like right now.


Last night in the AL Wild Card game, the Baltimore Orioles lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, the team that no one loves from the country that doesn’t even like baseball.

They lost in the 11th on a three-run homer.

The Orioles season is over.

Those damn dogs are rattling the walls of our house right now.

Sometimes on the weekends when the dogs are especially depraved and hungry, you can hear the dude over there yell at them.  “SHUT UP!  SHUT UP! SHUT UP!”  There is momentary silence and then the barking gets even louder.  Every single time. He yells at the dogs and they just start barking louder.  If I’m sitting on the porch, I’ll sometimes look over at Hell Hound House and say – just a little louder than the last time – “Yeh, dude, that’s still not working.”

The Orioles made some mistakes last night. Their bats were cold and, sure, O’s fans will spend the next five months second-guessing the decision by Manager Buck Showalter not to bring in their Cy Young-deserving closer Zach Britton, who, we are 100 percent certain, would not have given up a three-run homer in the bottom of the 11th to the Blue Jays (a team that, I think I’ve mentioned, no one even likes).

Oh, wait … the dogs just stopped barking. Just like that, it’s quiet again.

But, my heart is still going to be sad for awhile.


My Experts Are Way Better Than Your Experts

Last April, I asked several non-baseball “experts” to predict the post-season. To be one of my experts, the bar was set pretty high (or low depending upon which direction you’re looking). You simply needed to not know anything about baseball and not be a fan.

That April post is here: My Experts Predict the 2016 World Series

When one of my experts complained that he didn’t understand why the NEW YORK Giants were in the NL West, and I had to explain that the New York Giants played football, which is an entirely different sport, I had just the crack team of unpaid, uncaring experts that would make my predictions perfect.

When some of “my team” insisted that not only did they not know anything about baseball, but that they actively “hated” the sport, I knew I’d done well.

As the regular season came to a close yesterday, I want to commend my team of experts, because, quite frankly, they were often spot-on better than the paid baseball “experts” on TV, and on blogs, and in Twitter-ville.

Not to brag, but my guys are way better than your guys.

Who had the Red Sox winning the AL East?

Did you? Of course, you didn’t.

But, Clinton did.

Clinton picks the Red Sox

Who had the Orioles in the Wild Card?

You didn’t. (I knew you were wrong about that, but you were being stubborn.)

Hats off to Lindsey. She knew.  (So did I.)

Lindsey and Sarah pick the Wild Cards

(Lindsey’s daughter Sarah had the Braves in the Wild Card, which is sort of sweet. Wrong, but sort of sweet.)

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Monroe’s “Terrific & Terrible” Ken Dixon

In 1903, a mail train departing from Monroe, Virginia derailed 80 miles away in Danville.


Monroe, Virginia

This may not be something you know anything about. But, it was one of Virginia’s worst train crashes and is retold in the old country song, “The Wreck of the Old 97” that Johnny Cash once covered.


The derailment, the result of excessive speed and trying to keep the train and the mail on schedule, killed 11.

That pretty much sums up all I knew about Monroe. (And, to be fair, even that is mostly about Danville and when we get to Danville on this Virginia-Born Project, I’m sure you’ll hear about it again.)

That train wreck 80 miles away may be all anyone knows about Monroe, Virginia, because, if you set your GPS to Monroe, it will lead you off Business Route 29 and to an empty and desolate rail yard.

(You’re going to have imagine some train tracks running through a spooky, empty field. Editor/Husband told me to take a photo of the tracks. I said we didn’t need to bother because I was sure that we would find something better to show Monroe. I should listen more to Editor/Husband.)

When cities start to sprawl, the one-time little towns that were out on the edges start to dissolve or just get absorbed into a ghostly kind of suburbia. Who needs a grocery store when the big city, in this case Lynchburg, is just 10 minutes away?

We found railroad tracks, houses, churches, and a community center.

In case the GPS was lying, this sign is the only proof that we actually visited Monroe.

Monroe seems to be split today by Route 29, the four-lane highway that will take you south to Lynchburg in just a few minutes, or Charlottesville, about an hour north. Houses cluster on both sides of the highway.


Editor/Husband: “There’s a lot of Monroe, and there’s not a lot of Monroe.”



While an island filled with possums sounds delightful, this sign was just a cruel tease. We saw no possums or island on this road.

Monroe was also the birthplace of Ken Dixon, who was born there in 1960 and pitched for the Baltimore Orioles between 1984 and 1987.

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Sweep. Swept. Swupt.

You may not think “swupt” is a word.

You are wrong. (Technically, you are right. But, today, you are wrong.)

To be swupt is to lose all four games of a four-game series to the Boston Red Sox. Which is what the Baltimore Orioles did this week.

Losing 2-5, 2-5, 1-5, 3-5. Or, to simplify things, losing the series 8-20.

(Orioles Magic? Orioles Tragic.)

Losing ugly and losing, at least for the moment, their hold of a post-season wild card spot.

With just one week left in the regular season, there aren’t many moments left to right this shaky ship.

Broadcasters and managers and players will tell you that it is very hard to win all four games of a four-game series. (They will also tell you that visiting teams hate four-game series for weird reasons … like players don’t like to stay in the same hotel and town for so long. It’s four games. It’s one game more than a typical three-game series. Are players seriously that sensitive that playing one more day is such a burden? You know what’s a burden? Watching your very most favorite team in the whole wide entire world give up five – FIVE! – unearned runs in a single game and then lose that game to the Red Sox, 5-1.)

The Red Sox must have been miserable this week what with the burden of this four-game series and all.

Here’s rookie Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi overcoming the sadness of a four-game series by celebrating following one of their wins this week by dancing like Michael Jackson.


Look how happy they are! (The Orioles were happy once.)

Just for the record, the University of Virginia kept Benintendi, then a center fielder at the University of Arkansas, hitless during the 2014 NCAA Regionals Tournament.

I know, because I was there. Here’s an ESPN screen cap of the Baseball Bloggess and Editor/Husband watching it happen.


Sure, no one looks very happy, but Virginia shut out Arkansas that day 3-0.

The Orioles are seven games back and in third place in the AL East. They are a half game back of the second Wild Card spot.

Dear Orioles, There are nine games left to play. Fix this.



My Dad’s Green Hammock & Vin

“It’s a wonderful feeling to be a bridge to the past and to unite generations. The sport of baseball does that, and I am just a part of it.” ~ Vin Scully, Dodgers Broadcaster since 1950

I think we all have squishy memories.

The squishy ones are the memories that have no specific moment or event to make them distinct. They remember no special day or place. No exact time. Instead of one particular thing, a bunch of routine moments from the past squish together to make one single thought.

I have a lot of squishy memories.

Here’s one.

When I was a kid we lived in California. And, on Saturdays, after the lawn was mowed and the Saturday chores were done, my dad would stretch out on his green hammock (a hammock supported by a metal frame, rather than trees, with white fringe along its sides, and with a matching green pillow attached at the top.)

The Googler, which is a frightening tool, took “vintage green hammock with white fringe” and gave me this photo of my dad’s hammock.


This is the exact one. The very same one that I haven’t seen in 40 years. I was so surprised to see it, I did a double-take. And, then I patted myself on the back for remembering it perfectly, right down to the pillow.

I can see my dad on that hammock on Saturday afternoons in California, drinking a Coors beer, with a blue portable radio that he brought out onto the patio with him. Listening to a ballgame.

Almost always, listening to Vin Scully call a Dodgers game.

This is something Vin Scully still does. Something he has done for 67 years. Something that he will only do for two more weeks before he retires at age 88.

To hear Vin Scully’s voice is to bring me back to Saturdays with my dad in his hammock. Sunny, warm days, when the most important choice I had to make was deciding whether to roller skate first, then go swimming, or to go swimming first, then roller skate.

To hear Vin’s voice is to have that Saturday back. A day in California a long time ago, when I was small and my dad was in his hammock.

And, when Vin retires at the end of this season, that memory will fade just a little, become just a little bit blurrier, a little bit squishier.

A lovely interview on National Public Radio this morning with Vin Scully. Listen here.


Marvin Goodwin, “The Gentleman of Gordonsville”

I have 290 Virginia-born ballplayers to account for. I have 114 Virginia birthplaces to visit.

Where do I start?

Somewhat unrandomly, I’ve ended up in a little town just 25 minutes away from our house – a place I’ve been to scads of times.steinbeck-travels-with-charley

Not exactly out seeing the unseen world, but you gotta start somewhere.

What were you expecting, John Steinbeck? (Steinbeck made up a lot of Travels with Charley, you know. He said he listened to the Yankees-Pirates World Series while driving around with his dog in the fall of 1960, but now I’m not even sure that’s true. In any event, I’m not making up any part of my trip to Gordonsville, Virginia.)


Marvin Goodwin was born in 1891 in Gordonsville, which is a little town in the middle-ish of Virginia. He was a pitcher who had a few good – well, good enough – big-league seasons between 1916 and 1925.


Gordonsville was a small town back then and it’s a small town now.

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