About Jackie, The Baseball Bloggess

Loves the 4-6-3 and the serial comma. All baseball is good baseball, but when the Orioles or UVa 'Hoo's take the field, it's great baseball. Baseball historian ... because baseball touches everything. www.thebaseballbloggess.com And, for the Yoga ... www.peacefulhands.com

Baseball Changed. Didn’t It?

Friday night, for the fourth time out of the past six games, Virginia baseball was interrupted, delayed, or postponed by rain and storms. With nothing else to do, this got me to thinking about the future … 

© The Baseball Bloggess

There came a time when the doomsayers were proven right.

The weather had changed.

The rain now came in floods instead of showers, the storms were stronger and more frequent. Outside was not bucolic; outside was a battle, something to conquer as you went from one indoor space to the next. It was too wet or too dry. Too hot or too cold. Too much. Always just too much. Continue reading

What Can You Say About Jackie Robinson That Hasn’t Been Said?

Public Domain via U.S. Library Of Congress

The first mention of Jackie Robinson that I can find in newspapers came in 1937 when he was 17.

(I know there were earlier mentions in the local Pasadena, California paper, but the Internet, like Monday morning coffee, can take you only so far.)

So, in honor of Jackie Robinson Day, I give you these early – but not the earliest – mentions of Jackie Robinson …

On January 13, 1937, Robinson, playing for Pasadena, California’s John Muir Tech, is in a box score in the Los Angeles Times in a basketball game between Muir Tech and Hoover.

Los Angeles Times, 1/13/1937

Muir Tech’s Terriers won 29-27.

Another mention turns up in a Covina, California Argus story on the high school basketball team which notes Muir Tech’s “sensational colored ace” Jackie Robinson. Continue reading

Chris Davis Gets A Hit …

When I was young, but not so young that I didn’t know better, but, still, decades ago, I backed my mom’s beloved Chevy Suburban through the garage door.

It may not be the most embarrassing thing I’ve done in my life, but it is the one that I can think of right now.

It was not a good day. The electric garage door was mid-open when, in a hurry, I backed through it, wedging the door against the top of the car and the garage ceiling, mangling the door opener gears that were still grinding away, and bending the track. I had crushed things so tightly together that I could not back out or in without destroying the frame of the garage or taking the top of the Suburban clean off.

It took the better part of an afternoon to peel everything apart.

It was not inexpensive.

Amazingly … amazingly, then and amazingly, today … my parents didn’t get mad.  Well, not mad on the outside anyway. Accidents happen, they figured, and no one got hurt.

(If you knew my parents, you would know that this was not their usual reaction to such things.)

Embed from Getty Images

 

This brings me to the Baltimore Orioles Chris Davis who has spent many embarrassing moments lately not hitting a baseball in front of thousands of fans who expect more from a highly paid professional athlete. Continue reading

Major A.K. Fulton. The Good Luck Baseball Fan.

I suppose I should tell you that the Baltimore Orioles won two of their first three games this season, defeating the Yankees … in New York.

“At the corner of Unacceptable and Intolerable, the Yankees lost a season-opening series to the Orioles.”The New York Post

Even the Cleveland Spiders, the worst team ever, won 20 games in 1899 (they lost 134), so don’t get too giddy about two wins — no matter how unexpected. (Still … yay.)

That’s not why I’m here, anyway. I’m here to tell you about Major Albert Kimberly (A.K.) Fulton of Baltimore and his strange connection to the Baltimore Orioles of the 1890s.

And, I’m starting at the end …

The Baltimore Sun, 2/1/1900

Major Fulton was 63 when he died in January 1900, living a generous 16 additional years beyond the frighteningly short life expectancy of the time. Continue reading

Dear Baltimore Orioles, I Believe In You.

“Baltimore was bad last year, but this year it will be much worse. Its starting lineup is made up entirely of bums, retreads, and no-hopers. This team is more Major League than the movie.” ~ The Toronto Globe & Mail, April 27, 2019

Dear Baltimore Orioles,

It’s Opening Day and I believe in you.

Sure, I also believe in climate change, e.coli in my romaine, and menopause. These things do me no good, but I must believe in them because they are real.

But, I believe there’s more to you than just bad things.

I don’t believe you are made up entirely of “bums, retreads, and no-hopers.”

Sure, nearly half of your roster — 11 of the 25 players — are enjoying their very first Opening Day in the majors. I’m looking forward to learning all their names.

“It’s a dream come true,” infielder Drew Jackson told The Baltimore Sun. Last year he was playing AA ball in the Dodgers system.

Drew Jackson. I’ve learned one new name already!

I believe that you all have worked up some crazy, ingenious, secret plan that will make you better … better than last year’s historic 115 losses. Better than what everyone else believes is possible.

I believe you’re going to try your best not to suck.

(I can’t believe I had to write that.)

I’m not sure why I believe in you, because it seems pretty hopeless, doesn’t it?

But, it’s baseball season and it’s nice to feel hopeful on Opening Day.

No matter what anyone else says.

I believe in you.

(Please don’t lose 100 games.)

Your Pollyanna Friend, The Baseball Bloggess

P.S. Toronto Globe & Mail Sourpusses: You do know that the bums, retreads, and no-hopers of “Major League” won the AL East in that movie, right? On a bunt … a freaking beautiful bunt.

Go O’s.

 

My Experts Predict The 2019 World Series

Before I unveil my fabulous 2019 panel of baseball experts and their equally fabulous post-season picks, I need to cover two important details.

First, the season has already started. The Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s kicked it off last week with games in Tokyo, which counted for baseball, but do not count with me.

True Opening Day is Thursday, March 28. This is the earliest Opening Day ever and all 30 teams will play. This early start is to allow teams to scatter a few additional rest days into the season. (Need more rest days? Lose 100 games and you’ll get all of October off.)

The New York Sun, 4/23/1919

Opening Day in 1919?

April 23.

Second, Sports Illustrated.

Hi, SI guys. (And, by “guys” I mean, literally, guys, because girls are generally unwelcome at Sports Illustrated.)

Last year, my experts outsmarted the dude-fellas at SI who were sure the Nationals would win the World Series.

They didn’t.

Neither did the Colorado Rockies, which was the team my cat chose. My cat.

But, the Rockies did make the post-season. Do you know who didn’t make the post-season? The Nationals.

So, Mookie the Cat – 1, Sports Illustrated – 0.

Being outsmarted by my cat apparently did in SI, because there are a lot of words in their latest MLB preview issue (including calling the Baltimore Orioles “ugly” … twice), but no official World Series pick. Best I can tell, they will commit only to predicting the Dodgers will be the strongest team in the NL and the Astros, the strongest in the AL.

Where’s your Series pick, smart guys?

Are you SI, or are you SI’m Afraid To Be Wrong Again?

My 2019 panel of experts is clear that SI is wrong about the Dodgers and the Astros. And, as in previous years, my panel is awesome. Continue reading

Bryce Harper’s Big Payday Got Me Thinking …

Do you remember the first time you got paid for work? Not a weekly allowance for washing the dishes, not the handful of ones from the neighbors for babysitting their kids (in a house filled with brazen mice who hid under the sofa in the daytime but came out after dark. Wait. That’s another story.)

Not those stuff-the-coins-in-your-pocket-not-really-a-job jobs, but a real job.

For me, it was Kmart.

I was Number 29. “Number 29 to the registers. Number 29.” My ears perked up like a puppy hearing car wheels in the drive whenever I heard that over the loudspeaker. They always called me first. Always. Because I loved being Number 29. And, I would race the entire length of the store and have my register open before the manager could call a second time. I loved being needed.

It was only for a year, maybe not quite that, from my senior year in high school until I left for college.

Courtesy Devils Lake Daily Journal, via Creative Commons.

It closed last year.

I still remember that first pay envelope. I kept it for a long time in a folder of important things. (Important things that my mother went through one day and threw out. Wait. That’s another story.) Continue reading

Real Baseball. Games In February. Games That Count.

You can cheer for spring training and it might be warm where you are. But, it’s not quite spring – not quite, not yet – in Virginia.

Last week.

But, it is baseball season. And, not the warm-up-the-bones-in-games-that-don’t-count variety that the big leaguers are playing in Arizona and Florida right now.

Real baseball. Games that count.

The 2019 University of Virginia baseball team began their outside team practices back in January. In cold, snowy, polar votex’y Virginia.

Their regular season began two weeks ago. (Ok, their regular season began two weeks ago … in Arizona. I’ll give you that. But, your nit-picking is missing the point. My point.)

Last weekend, they played Villanova in Charlottesville and it was cold. Bone-chillingly-butt-numbingly-nose-frozenly cold.

(Ok, so maybe it wasn’t that cold on Sunday, and, yes, some people wore shorts to Sunday’s game. But, people who wear shorts in not-freezing-but-still-not-warm winter weather are not to be trusted.)

It was cold – 45-degrees cold – on Friday.

And, before you interrupt me again to tell me how soft people are today and how back in the day people lived without heat or fluffy parkas or polartec or hand warmers, let me point out that the University of Virginia baseball team 100 years ago – the 1919 team – had not even ventured outdoors until the middle of February because their baseball season would not begin for several weeks and it was too cold to practice outside. Continue reading

Manny Got A Job.

I’m not sure why I care so much about Manny Machado.

Manny Machado, you may have heard, is expected to sign a $300-million, 10-year contract with the San Diego Padres.

(The San Diego Padres – the team you always forget when you’re trying to name all 30.)

Not Manny.

This is the biggest free agent contract in sports history.

Until, I guess, Bryce Harper signs – with, maybe, the Phillies – later this week.

Not Bryce.

(The Philadelphia Phillies – the team with the name that’s not even trying. All teams should do that. The Washington Washies. The New York Yorkies – woof! The San Diego Sandies. The Baltimore Balties. Whatever.)

Having boatloads of quality free agents still unsigned when spring training is well underway is both weird and disconcerting. Continue reading

Turn It Off.

“More than 100 million people will watch this year’s Super Bowl. If you’re going to be one of them, and you care about the players on the team you’re rooting for, then don’t fall for the fantasy notion that fancy new helmets are going to protect their brains. Instead, support changes to the game that will truly protect players.” ~ Usha Lee McFarling

You knew I wouldn’t let Super Bowl Sunday pass by without my annual reminder that football is a vile, brutal, and unacceptably dangerous game. Also, stupid.

High-Tech Helmets Won’t Solve The NFL’s Concussion Problem

After the number of concussions in the NFL spiked dramatically in 2017, the number during this past season dropped by nearly one-quarter.

My favorite part of this story, written on NFL.com, is that the NFL was “startled” by the spike in concussions in 2017.

Really? That startled you? Because it didn’t surprise any of us regular people who have even the slightest understanding of what happens when your head is slammed into, say, the ground, with the weight of 300-pound lineman on top of you.

The NFL attributes some of the drop in 2018 to “advanced helmets.” And, they may be right, but when your game is still suffering hundreds of concussions each season, I’m pretty sure your “advanced helmets” aren’t advanced enough.

Or, as Pulitzer Pulitizer Prize-winning science writer Usha Lee McFarling wrote in the Los Angeles Times on Friday:

“No helmet, unless one is invented that can be inserted directly into the skull, can prevent concussions.” Continue reading