Life Is Not An “Etch-A-Sketch”

“Turn Etch-a-Sketch upside down and shake and everything disappears.”

When December 31 turns to January 1 on Saturday night, 2016, the good, the bad, the strange, the crazy won’t magically disappear.

No kicking the year to the curb, kids. It’ll still be there, hanging around in your mind with important thoughts like, “Did the cat get stuck in the closet again?”

mookie-in-the-closet

Relax, kids. Mookie’s fine.

I was told I was a little too dour in my sum-up-2016 post from earlier this week, so let’s fix that with just five quick off-the-top-of-my-head things in 2016 that made me smile:

5. Boaty McBoatface. Even though things ultimately didn’t work out with the name.

Continue reading

2016, The Year In Sports: “These Are Not Ordinary Times.”

Well, it was a really rough year, but at least it was a good year for sports!  Right?  Right!!

Penn State fans are very excited to be going to the Rose Bowl next week. Watch out for the tear gas, kids!

Sportswriters and pundits are wrapping up 2016 by telling you that even though the year sucked, it was still a great year for sports.

The year that …

Muhammed Ali died.

Miami Marlins Pitcher Jose Fernandez, 24, was killed in a boating accident.

Donny Everett, 19, a Vanderbilt freshman pitcher, drowned the day before his team played its first game of the college post-season.

The run up to the Summer Olympics in Rio — zika, crime, cost overruns, polluted water, more crime — was like a car chase scene out of Mad Max.

rio-2016-olympics-logo

 

Oh, and the entire Russian Olympic team was doping.

2016-olympic-alternative-doping-logo


Continue reading

Babe Ruth’s Santa: “Tougher than a double-header, but more fun.”

babe-ruth-family-christmas-card-1930s

Babe Ruth family Christmas card, 1930s.

During the 1930s, Babe Ruth, one of the most famous men in America, would dress as Santa Claus at Christmastime and distribute gifts and meals to children and families in need.

In 1931, dressed as Santa, Babe Ruth visited more than 250 kids in New York hospitals. (Yes, that’s plural. He visited hospitals, not just one.)

Continue reading

Jim Sullivan — Mine Run, Virginia & The Christmas Cow

phila-inquirer-3-21-1922-here-is-jimmy-sullivan

Here is Jimmy Sullivan.

His curve is a beauty,

His fast ball has the hop,

And his control is so good

He may land on the top.

George MacKay describing Jim Sullivan in The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 21, 1922.

Posed action of Philadelphia A's James Sullivan

Public Domain

Sullivan pitching with the Philadelphia Athletics, 1922.

Jim Sullivan’s story is that of a 1920s-era right-hander who never could figure out how to control his fastball. (George MacKay’s rhyme was really just wishful thinking). It’s also a tale of three cities. And, a story about a cow wearing a Christmas hat.

(If the promise of a cow wearing a Christmas hat doesn’t keep you reading, then, clearly, you’re not the person I thought you were.)

Jim Sullivan was born in Mine Run, Virginia in 1894.

mine-run-va

Here.

The Sullivan family didn’t settle forever in Mine Run. By the late ‘teens, Sullivan is playing professionally and his family is in North Carolina. Later, he spends an off-season with his father in Kentucky.

Sullivan’s big league career is rather brief.

He played parts of the 1921 and ‘22 seasons with the Philadelphia Athletics and two games with the Cleveland Indians in 1923.

jim-sullivan-with-cleveland-indians-1923

Public Domain

Sullivan, with the Indians (briefly) in 1923.

Twenty-five big league games total, 73.1 innings pitched (all but five with the A’s), an 0-5 record, a 5.52 ERA, and a reputation for wildness.

(Keep reading. I promise … Christmas Cow is on the way …)

Continue reading

Secret Santa — Hey. I Got Your Name.

I never got my taco.

During the World Series, Francisco Lindor of the Cleveland Indians stole a base, and, because of that, Taco Bell promised everyone in America – all 319 million of us – a free taco.

(That’s 54-billion delicious taco calories!)

But, you had to be at a Taco Bell at a specific time on a specific day and, well, my nearest Taco Bell is 25 miles away.

I never got my taco.

Rats.

Continue reading

Clay Bryant – The Alabaman From Virginia

When a ballplayer’s career in the majors is brief – just a game or two – he is said to have had just “a cup of coffee” in the big leagues.

So, if your time in the town where you were born was brief, does it become your “cup of coffee” hometown?

Clay Bryant had more than a “cup of coffee” with the Chicago Cubs.

clay-bryant-chicago-cubs

The right-handed fastball pitcher spent about six seasons with the Cubs – from 1935 through 1940 – including their pennant-winning and World Series-losing 1938 season.

It’s his birthplace that’s the cup of coffee in this story.

Bryant was born in 1911 in Madison Heights, Virginia.

madison-heights-virginia

He wasn’t there long. Maybe a year – or a couple of years at most – before the family moved to Birmingham, Alabama, where his father found work as a pipe fitter. And, that’s where they stayed.

But, being born in Virginia, cup of coffee or not, gets you on my Virginia-Born Project list, even if everyone in baseball forever knows you as “the big, curly-headed kid from Alabama.”

Bryant dropped out of high school when he was 16, and left Birmingham to work his way through the minors. He was called up and played a few games for the Cubs in 1935, and settled there in 1936, where he played until his arm finally gave out in 1940.

Cubs fans who know their history remember Bryant for just one season – 1938.

Continue reading

Stevie. BFF.

It’s really no surprise that the first national recognition I ever received on this blog was for a post that also included the first photo of our cat Stevie.

Stevie Dew

 Stevie, in 2012, illustrating how Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) can come in different forms.

She was a stray, not-quite-feral cat who turned up in our barn five years ago and quickly moved in.

stevie votes

The second time my blog received national recognition, there was Stevie again. This time, in 2013, showing how cheaters have manipulated All-Star Game balloting. 

I had not only a friend, but an excellent Baseball Bloggess co-pilot.

She came along as I read War & Peace a few off-seasons ago …

Stevie Reads War And Peace

She wrongly picked the Atlanta Braves to win the 2015 World Series …

stevie says 2015

She complained about the very few cats featured in the annual Baltimore Orioles “Pet” calendar … Stevie & Jim Johnson

And, sometimes she was plunked into a post for no reason, other than she was just so damn cute …

stevie relaxing

She was one of the sweetest, friendliest, purringest cats I’ve ever known. (And, I’ve known a lot of cats.)

She was my BFF.

She got along with the other cats in the house. She was a “no drama” kitty.

She didn’t mind people and wasn’t one of those run-and-hide-in-the-box-springs cats when strangers walked in.

She got sick a couple days ago, although it was hard to tell because she kept purring and carrying on with her regular routine. She slept every night right next to my head. Just like always. She purred.

But, her favorite thing in the world was a meal (she was pretty starved when she turned up at our house those years ago, so it was no wonder that she delighted in a bowl of food more than anything else).  And, when she stopped eating we knew that something was wrong.

It was. And, yesterday we had to say goodbye.

Someone once commented on one of my posts that I should change the name of my blog from The Baseball Bloggess to something more general, so I could write about other things.

They didn’t understand. The Baseball Bloggess can write about whatever she wants.

And, today she wants to write about Stevie.

BFF.

stevie-in-the-box

 

Continue reading

Tinker, Evers, the 1908 Cubs, & Why Am I Writing About Politics On Here?

These are the saddest of possible words:

“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,

Tinker and Evers and Chance.

Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,

Making a Giant hit into a double –

Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:

“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

~ Franklin Pierce Adams, New York Evening Mail, 1910

In 1908, it was the infield of Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Frank Chance – shortstop, second base, first base – who helped carry their Chicago Cubs to a World Series victory.

tinker evers chance

They weren’t the greatest double-play makers in history, but they sure make a good poem, don’t they?

And, they helped lead those 1908 Cubs to the Series.

You know what happens next. It takes 108 years before the Cubs win another World Series. Which they did just two weeks ago.

Which is what I should be writing about. Because Chicago put on a celebration that was beautiful and exciting and embraced us all.

 

But, that’s not what this is about.

I often tell my friends that part of my love of baseball is how it – and its long, rich history – reflect us. Both good and bad. Our society, our culture.  Who we are. Baseball is us.

Until this week.

Continue reading

“No Baseball Beyond This Point”

no-baseball-beyond-this-point

© The Baseball Bloggess

Baseball is over.

The World Series went seven exciting games, which is as much baseball as one can have. A World Series only promises you four games, so to have the Series go the full seven – and an extra inning last night to boot! – is like taking two brownies from the buffet table. Sure, you know you were only supposed to take one, but the second one was so delicious.

Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs who won their first World Series since 1908. It took a rain delay and an extra inning, but Cubs fans, no more sad-faces from you, you’re winners now.

And, chin up, Cleveland. You gave it your best.

(The Orioles haven’t been to a World Series in 33 years.)

your-stats-are-booming

And, thank you, Mother Nature for raining on Cleveland at midnight slowing down Game 7 even more. Baseball fans were exhausted, but a bunch of them were also reading my post from earlier this season that explained how long baseball rain delays last. (Short answer: Until it stops raining.)

So, now what? The brownies are gone and what are you going to do with yourself until baseball comes around again?

(Oh, I know, you freakish baseball nerds … the off-season calendar is loaded with stuff. Free agency and qualifying offers and the Rule 5 Draft and GM Meetings and the Winter Meetings and the awards, from Gold Gloves to Cy Youngs to MVPs. But, you know that’s not baseball. That’s just stuff.)

It’s only been a few hours. I miss baseball already.

(And, brownies. I could really use a brownie right now.)

(And, a good strong cup of coffee.)

Photo: 2016. © The Baseball Bloggess

Cubs vs Indians. Choosing The Right World Series Team For You.

world-series-2016

I’m going to have to watch someone play baseball this week. And, so are you. Let’s figure out which World Series team to root for.

The Chicago Cubs last won a World Series in 1908. The Cleveland Indians last won a World Series in 1948.

There’s a certain comfort in being able to shake your head at the end of a losing season and say, “Well, we always lose, that’s what we do.” Fans start to hang on to this excuse like a crutch. It becomes the excuse for every misplay, every error, every loss.

Just to be clear, Cubs and Indians fans, that ends today. No more are you “long-suffering.” You’re now winners. Enjoy the pressure that goes along with that.

A lot of thinking goes into choosing a World Series team to root for. Not by me, of course, but by other people.

You could spend hours poring over ERAs, WARs, FIPs, and Batting Averages.

You could.

You could study baseball stats and figures for the next seven hours and come out convinced that the Washington Nationals will beat the Red Sox in six.

Yup, and where does that put you? Back at square one.

Let’s look at more important things.

When choosing between the Cubs and Indians, here are some facts that may help you choose the best team for your needs.

First, let’s look at 1908, the last year the Cubs won the World Series, and 1948, the last year the Indians won.

Continue reading