It’s About A Toothbrush (Except It Isn’t)

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.

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The Pole Dancers of Sports Journalism

Blogging is “the pole dancing of sports journalism.” ~ Frank Deford

So …

 

… ((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?

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“Welcome Fans!”

“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.)

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The Thoughtful Voice Of Frank Deford

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.

One of my first posts on here was five years ago and was about Deford’s NPR piece on performance enhancing drugs in sport.  “If you doubt the bodies, there is no sport,” he said which was poetic and beautiful and in nine words conveyed more about the use of PEDs than other writers could say in 1,000.

One of his last commentaries for NPR was in March about the challenges that come when baseball tries to change the strike zone while umpires are left to have their own opinions about things.

You can find something from Deford to dig in to – on nearly any sport you choose – in Sports Illustrated’s Deford archives.

In his final commentary on NPR earlier this month, Deford said: “Nothing has pleased me so much as when someone — usually a woman — writes me or tells me that she’s appreciated sports more because NPR allowed me to treat sports seriously, as another branch on the tree of culture.”

OK, so maybe that was a little misguided and sexist, implying that women might not generally be thoughtful sports fans, but I’m going to give him a pass on this, considering it a generational misstep. But, I’m including it because … “another branch on the tree of culture” is, again, simply beautiful.

Deford would get a little too serious at times about sports, when I prefer sports, especially baseball, to have a bit of lightness … to be a needed distraction from the world at large. I wondered sometimes if he even found sports fun.

But, that seriousness was often necessary to shine a light on injustice, unfairness, or disharmony. Someone had to do it.

And, he did.

Swamp Funk. Orioles Slump. The Sultan of Swat Shows The Way Out.

July 26, 1928

Everyone slips into a rut at times.

The Baltimore Orioles haven’t won a game in a week.

They’ve looked listless and weary and miserable. It’s only May and they look like they’ve been playing on fumes for months.

Their pitching has been unreliable, often stinky, but, with no real starting ace, no closer, and a constantly rotating cast of bullpenners, what can you expect?

Last night, in losing to the Houston Astros on national television, the broadcasters put much of the blame on Orioles closer Zach Britton being on the disabled list (where he’ll stay until at least July or, who knows when). His absence, they thought, must be why the Orioles are so stinky.

But, Britton’s bum arm can’t explain some atrocious starting pitching, sleepy hitting, or the stab-me-in-my-heart-this-sucks-so-bad errors in the field.

Are Orioles slumps worse than the slumps that hit other teams?

Probably not, but I’m going to go ahead and say yes anyway, because I don’t care about other teams and Orioles slumps put me in a swampy funk.

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Our Season In The Blue Seats (part 3)

Sure, I know I’m wearing out my welcome, but here’s one last look from our season in Virginia baseball’s blue seats.

Last post on this. Promise.

If you’re playing catch-up … here’s “Our Season In The Blue Seats” (part 1) and (part 2).

I have a college chum who is an accomplished photographer. He tried to help me understand how carefully manipulating the wheels and buttons and levers on my camera can create a beautiful photo. But, I just can’t seem to ever get it right, especially when I’m trying to shoot through — and wash out — the protective netting at a game while actually also watching the game.

So, my pictures are frustratingly not right most of the time. Which is ok, because if people like me could take a great photo with ease, all the good photographers in the world would be out of work. Which is to say, I’m keeping all the professional sports photographers in business, which makes me a job creator. You’re welcome.

I took a lot of pictures while we watched Virginia baseball from the coveted blue seats this season. A lot.

These were all shot through the protective netting. They are my favorites.

Virginia Pitcher Teddy Paisley.

I’ve been waiting all season to tell you about Teddy Paisley.

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Our Season In The Blue Seats (part 2)

I’m the person you meet at a party who wants to show you a picture on her phone and then as she’s sweeping through hundreds of them she stops to show you a bunch of unrelated ones that have made her nostalgic (well, as nostalgic as a picture from 2013 can make one). She ultimately forgets the one she was looking for in the first place, which is ok, because one more tiny picture from last summer’s family reunion filled with people you don’t know is going to end the friendship.

Just a few more pics from our season in baseball’s blue seats at the University of Virginia. I promise it won’t take long.

(What? You missed ‘Part One’? Poor dear. Start here.)

Today’s theme – ACTION!

My camera doesn’t catch much action at the game. Blame the camera. (All of these photos were shot through the protective netting.)

Sure, I missed catcher Caleb Knight’s homerun swing, but I did get Virginia’s celebration in a game versus Pittsburgh.

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Our Season In The Blue Seats (part 1)

Editor/Husband broke his leg on New Year’s Day.

You might think that this was a terrible thing and it was. Not for me, of course, but for him. It was a lousy thing to happen.

But, look at the bright side.

His bum leg wasn’t ready for steep steps. And, our season tickets for University of Virginia baseball are out in the bleachers and up some very steep steps. We had to figure this out. Because I don’t care whose leg is broken, we’re not missing baseball.

So before nearly every home game this season I stood in line at the ticket window – sometimes for nearly an hour – in the hopes of upgrading that day’s tickets to closer-in seats that would be an easier commute for Limpy.

Those close-in seats are the ones that fans like us, with our bleacher tickets, dream about.

The blue seats.

Real seats with sturdy backs, not the long backless benches that line the rest of the park. When you’re in the blue seats you can put your bottle of water beside your feet and not worry that someone will accidentally kick it into the opening in the bleacher floor where it will disappear into the abyss.

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The Short Life & Tragic Death of Walter “Mother” Watson

I wish I had a photo of Walter “Mother” Watson of the Cincinnati Red Stockings to show you, it being “Mother’s Day” weekend and all.

I know he was a pitcher. A three-game cup-of-coffee guy. But, righty? Lefty? No clue.

Over two games, just 14 innings, in May of 1887, the Red Stockings put Mother Watson on the mound.

Watson gave up 18 runs in those two games though, to his credit, only 9 of them were earned.

He played just one more game for the Reds, when they stuck him out in left field.

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“It Is Something That Seems Endless.”

“This thing called segregation here is a complete and solid pattern as a way of life. We are conditioned to it and make the best of a bad situation.” ~ Rosa Parks

It is synchronicity, I guess, that allowed me to discover this week the Library of Congress’s digitized online collection of the papers and photos of Rosa Parks, the civil rights pioneer. (It was all because of pancakes, and I’ll get to that soon enough.)

(You can find the Library of Congress collection here. )

Parks refused to give her bus seat to a white man in 1955, which led to the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott which led to the civil rights era which led to the end of segregation … eventually.

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Parks being fingerprinted by Montgomery police during the bus boycott

Parks refused to give her bus seat to a white man eight years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball.

Which shows you how important, and yet how unfinished, Robinson’s achievement was.

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