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

“Baltimore Base-Ball Club’s Suits Have A Washday”

There was a time – long before our time – when a housewife would set aside her entire Monday for doing the laundry.

I do a lot of laundry.

I have a washing machine that will agitate itself into a frenzy. I have eco-friendly laundry detergent and a dryer that runs extremely hot. With the exception of folding, I do very little.

It takes awhile, but it doesn’t take all day.

I still hate it.

But, I really would have hated it in 1895 when hours upon hours were spent boiling water over a fire and then scrubbing and rubbing and twisting out stains with caustic soaps and lye and turpentine until your hands turned red and peeled and bled.

Sure, the clothes wringer made washing day a little less back-breaking, but, as you can see, its biggest benefit was giving the wife time to get dinner on the table in time.

Doing the laundry in 1895 has nothing to do with baseball.

Until I found this …

The Baltimore Sun, 2/7/1895

“This wash-day scene is a sign of spring.” ~ The Baltimore Sun

Fourteen black Orioles uniforms were hanging to dry at the von der Horsts’ on a February day in 1895. Continue reading

In Praise Of “Peculiarly Hypnotic Tedium”

Good news, baseball fans!

All your griping about long and slow baseball games has paid off.

Games are shorter!

Last year the length of the average baseball game dropped – dropped! – to 3 hours and 4 minutes. That’s a savings of 4 minutes per game over 2017.

I hate math, but check out this wizardry …

With a 162-game season, there were 2,430 regular season games scheduled in 2018. At 4 minutes saved per game, that comes out to 9,720 free minutes or – and this is going to blow your mind – 162 hours saved!

Pulitizer-winning novelist Philip Roth once called baseball’s pace “peculiarly hypnotic tedium” and, just to be clear, he meant that in a good way.

I’m sure you put your 4-minute-per-game savings to good use last season.

Maybe you used your free minutes to watch Bongo Cat play Africa

 

The average American shower takes 8 minutes – so you could have had half a shower, which is time enough to soap, but maybe not enough to rinse.

Fun Fact: The 3 hour, 4 minute average baseball game is almost identical to the length of an average NFL football game, but without all the brain-damaging concussions.

(It’s odd that some people who complain about baseball games being too long and slow are the same ones who complain that the off-season – without baseball – is also too long and slow. I watched the Orioles lose 115 games last season. What’s your hurry?) Continue reading

Babe Ruth Gave Up Reading, But I Didn’t

“[R]eading isn’t good for a ball player’s eyes and if my eyes went bad, even a little bit, I couldn’t hit home runs. So I gave up reading.” – Babe Ruth in the St. Louis Star

I never really trusted this old quote of Babe Ruth’s that floats around the internet. But, I snooped around and found it there in an old St. Louis Star.

“Bad Boy No Longer”

In a wide-ranging interview, given during a Yankees batting practice in the spring of 1929, Ruth also clears up the then-and-still prevalent myth that he was an orphan, promises that he no longer “plays the ponies,” notes that the President he admires most is Harding (along with Wilson), but, adds, “Al Smith is my favorite,” and tells his manager Miller Huggins to “go to hell.”

(Harding?)

It’s an interesting interview, but it requires reading, something Ruth was not fond of, but I think that, since you’re here and all, you might be.

I love reading. Continue reading

Season’s Greetings, Nationals Fans! (Finally.)

Dear Washington Nationals Fans,

So, look, I know you may have given up on your Nationals wishing you a Happy Holidays this year, what with their website linking – still … three days after Christmas – to the New York Mets holiday greeting.

oops.

Maybe I was a bit harsh when I kinda-sorta suggested in a recent post that a screw-up like that seemed like a perfect wrap-up of the 2018 Nationals … and so very, very Washington, DC.

But, that was uncalled for. And, I’m sorry if I made you sad.

I’m sure it was just a simple mistake. Let’s blame the interns.

But, I couldn’t stop thinking about you on the holidays – the only fans in baseball that weren’t greeted and thanked for being fans. Even the 115-loss Baltimore Orioles came through to wish me a happy holidays.

(Happy Holidays, Orioles fans. At least we didn’t lose 116!)

Surely, the Nationals couldn’t be that cold. Surely, they didn’t forget you.

They didn’t! Continue reading

Season’s Greetings From [Insert Team Name Here]: 2018 Edition

Many of you will be surrounded this week by family and friends, celebrating the holidays.

I’ve got Editor/Husband here and three cats. The sun is out. It’s pretty low key with the Baseball Bloggess.

I’ve got time on my hands. (And, I haven’t had my breakfast.)

So, as my gift to you, I have binge-watched all 30 Season’s Greeting videos from all 30 major league baseball teams.

I watched them all.  For you.  So you don’t have to.

(And, I’ve got links to every single one.)

Enjoy!

Spoiler Alert: The Dodgers may have lost the World Series, but they definitely won the Holidays. Continue reading

My Favorite Sports-Writing Words Of 2018

The world is on fire.

I mean that figuratively, of course. Or, maybe I don’t. I’m not even sure any more.

I’m just saying there’s just a lot of suck out there.

If only the Baltimore Orioles’ 115-loss season was the worst thing that happened this year. If only.

Can you find the worst team in baseball?

Maybe that’s why sports – and excellent sports writing – is such a joy and refuge when times are tough and the world seems unbearably ugly and mean, because it actually is unbearably ugly and mean.

Sure, you could just binge on cooking shows until spring training. That’s not a bad plan.

But, sometimes it feels good to read something sporty. A little balm for the soul. A little de-suck-ification of life.

When your favorite team wins just a lousy 47 games, poring over box scores doesn’t take much time.

So, here are some of my favorite sports-writing words of 2018. Continue reading

(You know who you are.)

A couple weeks ago, I reached out to let you know about last Saturday’s Open House at my Yoga Studio benefiting the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

I told you about the more than 3,000 animals they cared for this year. Including Cardinals. Blue Jays. Orioles. Cubs. (No Rays. Sorry, Tampa.)

I told you about last month’s destructive ice storm that did massive damage to the animal habitats, pens, and homes at the Center.

Alex the Screech Owl and the Center’s Outreach Director Amanda Nicholson came to the Open House. But, I knew that, because of place and distance, many of you couldn’t.

But, I asked you to donate to help this good cause anyway.

And, you did!

You really did!  My heart nearly burst with happiness when I learned of your generous and wonderful gifts.

Thank you.

But, for those who couldn’t attend, I promised more than just a thank you.

And, I’m keeping my promise. Continue reading