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. www.thebaseballbloggess.com And, for the Yoga ... www.peacefulhands.com

Macy’s New-Old Baseball Balloon: Harold In Black & White

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There is a new balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this morning and you must stop whatever you are doing this morning to watch.

It’s Harold, the baseball player balloon, from Miracle on 34th Street, recreated for 2017. In black and white.

Could there be anything more wonderful, more perfect, more … more … well, everything?

It’s a baseball player throwback balloon … in black and white!

Courtesy: Macy’s

Here he is in the 1946 Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.

On this Thanksgiving, I hope that you have much to be thankful for.

I do.

Including you. Those of you who stop by here … who comment … who agree that baseball isn’t too slow … who agree that box scores are best read in a newspaper spread out on a table, not on an iPhone (although in a pinch, that iPhone is going to have to do) …  who cheer me up when the Orioles lose … you guys are great.

I love that baseball has made us friends. I’m thankful for you!

My dad and I always watched the Macy’s Parade together on TV. It was one of those magical things that we always did together. My dad died 11 years ago – on Thanksgiving Day. But, he would never want me to lose my love of the Macy’s Parade.

So, I need you to do just one thing for me.

Watch for Harold the Baseball Player today with me, would you? He’s the one in black-and-white.

Here’s a little more about new-old Harold.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ben Huffman. Floyd Baker. Two Players & Luray.

They should have been best friends, Ben Huffman and Floyd Baker.

And, who knows? Maybe they were.

They were farm kids who went to the same high school, played together on the same semi-pro team, played for the same St. Louis Browns – although at different times – and each became a successful scout after his playing days ended.

Ben Huffman

Floyd Baker

One was a good infielder with a so-so bat. The other could hit, if only things had worked out. One played 13 seasons in the big leagues; the other, just one. But, on average, similar stats, if you put them side by side. You can look it up if you want.

Luray, Virginia – pronounced LOO-ray, please – is a tiny town just shy of a 100 miles SW of Washington, DC.

Here.

If you’ve heard of Luray, you are either from Luray, or from somewhere near Luray, or have at some point in your life been one of the 500,000 people who come to Luray each year to visit its famous caverns.

And, I promise, we’ll get to the caverns. In a sec. But, first, baseball.

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Dear Nationals Fan

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Dear Nationals Fan,

I come to you today, not as a rival, but as a friend.

A friend who knows the insurmountable pain and suffering you have endured this week … this week when there has been no loss worse than the one you suffered at the hands of the Cubs, ending your season.

Ouch.

(Sorry, Team USA Soccer, any Nats fan will tell you that your humiliating loss to Trinidad and Tobago this week, eliminating you from next year’s World Cup, isn’t even close.)

I come to you today, dear sweet Nat-atoodies, not as a rival, but, as I think this through, maybe not as a very good friend, either.  Think of me instead as a companion, as you snuggle up with us in the off-season … Diamondbacks, Indians, Red Sox, Rockies, Twins fans … we’re all here.

Even we lowly Orioles fans who got the off-season tidied up for you by finishing last in our division.

Welcome aboard.

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Tom

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And I showed you stars you never could see

I remember where I was, exactly where I was, the moment I first heard Tom Petty.

There are reasons why a random memory like this decades-old one sticks and others do not and it has to do with axons and neurons and blood vessels and synapses in the brain all just popping open at the right moment, sweeping up the memory, and storing it.

Don’t you hear the rock ‘n’ roll playin’ on the radio?
It sounds so right

It was 1977. It was morning. I was on a school bus.

I can tell you where I was sitting … on the left side, probably over the wheel well, because that’s where I always sat.

The driver had rigged up a radio with a speaker, his primitive way of piping down the student savages that he carted back and forth everyday down miles of unkept gravel roads on the longest bus route in the county.

It was always tuned to KFYR.

The song was “Breakdown.”

And, my still half-asleep ears perked up in a “What’s this?” kind of way. It jangled. I liked any music that jangled. I still do. And, I really liked this.

Between classes that morning, I was walking down the hallway and my best friend Jana was walking the other way.  She handed me a note.

That’s what we did. We wrote notes on scraps of paper and passed them in the hallways. Like texting.

And, in this particular note she wrote … and I’m paraphrasing a bit, because my memory might be strong but it’s not all crazy-weird perfect. She wrote this: “Did you hear that song by Herbie and the Heartbeats????????????”  (There may have been more ????????? I’m not sure of that.) She had heard the song on the radio, too.

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“The Sandwiches Were Said To Be Delicious.”

The Baltimore Sun, 9/26/1954

“The ghosts of Wee Willie Keeler and all the other old-time Oriole greats, who love so much to win, will have to await some other year before they can frolic again in triumph.” ~ The Baltimore Sun, September 26, 1954

On September 25, 1954, on the last day of the regular season, the Baltimore Orioles lost their 100th game.

Losing 100 games is that limbo bar that separates the terrible teams that lose 99 from the truly awful ones who lose 100.

Like the 1954 Orioles.

1954 Orioles

It is possible that the Tigers, the Phillies, and the Giants could cross under that 100-loss bar this season. But, with just a week to play, it’s not likely.

The 2017 Orioles were eliminated from the post-season last night with their 9-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

If the O’s lose their remaining six games – and I strongly urge them not to do this – they will have lost 88.

At least it’s not 100.

The 1954 Orioles, formerly the St. Louis Browns, were finishing up their first season in Baltimore on September 25. They were the first major league team in the city since 1901.

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“I’m The One”

“The irrepressible backstop [Welington Castillo] homered again to give the hosts a 7-5 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday night before a sellout crowd of 45,416 at Camden Yards. This time, it was a three-run home run in the seventh inning that erased the possibility of another bullpen-generated loss.” ~ The Baltimore Sun

May 20, 2017    |    Orioles – 7   Blue Jays – 5

The irrepressible backstop …

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Welington Castillo

I’m not sure when the past becomes history. Yesterday? A week ago? How much time has to pass before we call it history?

Do you remember Saturday, May 20?

I do.

I mean, I didn’t at the time think I’d need to remember it. But, I remember it now.

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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.

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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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