Free Baseball: Things Are Not As They Seem Edition

It snowed today. Well, just a little …


Can’t see it? Here, look again …


A dusting of snow and, look, a mystery cat!

Well, it snowed enough that lots of things around me closed for the day.

While this smattering of snowlets has closed things in Virginia, it’s the kind of snow that someone in North Dakota wouldn’t even notice. “It snowed last night? Really? I didn’t notice the dusting on top of the other 20 inches that have been here since September.”

I lived in North Dakota for awhile, I should know.

So, this may not seem like anything to you.

But, sometimes things are not as they seem … and this dusting has upended Central Virginia.

And, as a result, hundreds and hundreds of schoolchildren around here got to sleep in, blissfully unaware for one more day of important things like Algebra, adverbs, and Chester Alan Arthur.

Today in “Free Baseball,” three other things that are not quite what they seem.

10th Inning: Tommy Hunter, Retail Dude

Tommy Hunter is one of the Baltimore Orioles longest-tenured and pretty steady (mostly steady, often steady … or, at least, more-often-steady-than-not steady, 2.97-ERA-in-2014 steady) bullpen relievers. I’m soft on the boys of the bullpen. It’s a thankless job being a reliever. Even when you’re great – or at least steady more often than not – you’re unheralded. You’re probably never going to win a Cy Young (although occasionally relievers do), you’re probably not going to be an MVP of anything, and, apparently, unless it’s the 8th or 9th inning, you’re not going to be recognized, even by your own fans.

Tommy went “undercover” to work at the Orioles Fan Store in nearby York, Pennsylvania last summer.


 “The Hunter jerseys just came in, man. I’ve got a couple of them, too.”

Watching him hawk Tommy Hunter jerseys is why I believe bullpens – and the boys who live there – are one of the best parts of the game. Watch here.

We (heart) Tommy.

11th Inning: Baseball in Japan


“It’s not just baseball. It’s something else. It’s something more.”

Each spring dozens of high school teams from around Japan come together at Koshien for a nine-day tournament that captivates the country. Like “the Super Bowl and World Series rolled into one,” it is one of Japan’s biggest sporting events.

In “When 772 Pitches Isn’t Enough,” writer Chris Jones tells the story of Tomohiro Anraku, a 16-year-old pitching phenom from Saibi High School and one of the top baseball prospects in the world, and his appearance at Koshien.

The culture of youth baseball in Japan – the dedication to perfection at any physical or emotional cost – is fascinating. And, when you read of how Anraku throws 772 pitches over five games in nine days, it’s also frightening.

The article first appeared in ESPN: The Magazine, and, most recently, in the 2014 Edition of The Best American Sports Writing.  Read here.

12th Inning: The Birth Of A Twins Fan


Because I am a loyal (some would say annoying) Orioles fan, people assume I live in Baltimore. Not true. Although I lived in nearby Northern Virginia for a number of years, I’ve never lived in Baltimore. To get to Camden Yards today takes us a good three hours, usually in terrible I-95 traffic. When we’re about halfway to Baltimore, I will thumb my nose at much-closer Nationals Stadium as we pass by it. I’m a loyal Birdland Girl.

This week Verdun – who writes the fabulous Verdun2’s Blog – explained how he, a lifelong Dodgers fan, inadvertently turned his son into a Minnesota Twins fan simply because of one seemingly innocuous act when his son was small.


It’s a great read. Read here.

(Although, had he handed a Yankees card to his son on that fateful day, it would have been a tragic and sad story. Whew!)

Pitchers and Catchers Report in just 35 Days!


Free Baseball refers to the extra innings that occur after a nine-inning game ends in a tie. For me, “Free Baseball” are the extra things that don’t quite fit into my regular-sized posts.


15 thoughts on “Free Baseball: Things Are Not As They Seem Edition

  1. I love the arrows pointing out the snow!! And the blog about how the author’s son became a Twins fan is wonderful. And as always, so is yours :)

    • Nope … this new black cat is a wild one. There are a couple grey ferals around that I’m working on, though! They seem to really like my regular meal delivery service, but still haven’t quite gotten the courage to come over and say “thank you” when I swing by to drop off the grub. :)

  2. That’s about as much snow as the Red River Valley has seen. We’ve had one snowfall of 1.2 inches, but nothing more significant. Temperatures in the 30s in January. UVA baseball should be hitting the road soon, too. And the Wahoo men’s basketball team is really playing well.

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