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.
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.
I wrote a poem for you.
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?”
For God’s sake, stop torturing me.
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.
“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.
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.
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.)
Blogging is “the pole dancing of sports journalism.” ~ Frank Deford
… ((thinking … thinking)) ….
… ((still thinking)) …
Oh, for crap’s sake.
I’m not even sure what to say.
Am I supposed to stand up for bloggers? Pole dancers? Both?
How am I supposed to respond to that?
“Virginia is a team that more than deserved to be a very high seed and host a regional. Why that didn’t happen, I don’t know.” ~ Jim Schlossnagle, Coach, Texas Christian University Horned Frogs
Last Sunday, the NCAA named its 16 host teams for their post-season Regional Tournaments which began yesterday.
The University of Virginia — ranked #13 in the country by D1 Baseball, #11 in USA Today‘s Coaches Poll, and #10 in the Baseball Writers Poll — was not among them.
In the scope of injustices in this world, the NCAA’s slight is plenty misguided, sure, but still pretty teeny-tiny.
And, sure you can argue that Virginia is still one of the 64 teams competing in the post-season this weekend. Look at poor Miami, left out for the first time in 44 years.
Yes, you can argue that at least Virginia gets to play today.
(Don’t try to make me feel better. I’m steamed about this.)
Frank Deford passed away on Sunday. He was 78. If you don’t know who he is, that’s a shame. But, here … let me get you up to speed.
Deford was one of the great cerebral sportswriters. His opinions on sports were thoughtful and deep and could be read in Sports Illustrated and in his many books and heard on National Public Radio.
If you ever wanted to be a great sportswriter and great sportsthinker (which isn’t a word, but should be) … if you ever wanted to tear down the ugliness of professional sports to look for the goodness and meaning inside … Deford was one of those rare people you turned to.