Worst Place

Editor/Husband thinks it’s important to tell you, before you go any further, that I had a migraine. He thinks this is the headache – and the headache sleep – talking. (Maybe. Maybe he’s right.)

A line of trees curved around the outfield. Trees where the fence would be. Should be. But, this outfield was lined only with trees.

And, in the trees, high up, with their legs splayed over the thicker branches like they were riding ponies, were men. Fans. All sorts of men, at different heights among the tree branches. Different ages, but none too young, and none too old. And, every one, with legs splayed over the branches. Tree riders.

And, some were smoking. And, some hadn’t shaved. And, each one held a rolled-up newspaper that he beat in rhythm – along with the others – against the branches, rattling the leaves. They all seemed angry. Or, maybe they were just irritated that nothing had happened yet in a game that had yet to start.

And, there was an umpire explaining the ground rules. Explaining them to me, perhaps, but mostly to the players.

Explaining why the third base line that ran in from left field, was not a line but a crick of running water. But, not quite a crick, exactly, but something narrower than that. What would you call it? Would you call it a rill? OK, that’s what it was. A rill. And, the water in the rill bubbled and ran from the left field line, cut through third base, and flowed to home, and continued past home, extending into a wide field well behind where the game would be played and out of sight.

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“The Sum Total Of Our Historic Life.”

On April 7, 1889, American poet Walt Whitman and his friend Horace Traubel had this conversation.

Whitman said to his friend, “Did you see the baseball boys are home from their tour around the world? How I’d like to meet them — talk with them: maybe ask them some questions.” Traubel replied, “Baseball is the hurrah game of the republic!”

Whitman responded, “That’s beautiful: the hurrah game! Well — it’s our game: that’s the chief fact in connection with it: America’s game: has the snap, go, fling, of the American atmosphere — belongs as much to our institutions, fits into them as significantly as our constitutions, laws: is just as important in the sum total of our historic life.”

“Is just as important in the sum total of our historic life.”

That’s what makes baseball beautiful. Not today’s games – of which there will be many – not yesterday’s – and not, especially, the one last night that the Orioles let get away (again).

Not any one, but the sum total of them.

The hurrah game. It’s who we are, isn’t it? Or, who we wish to be.

Dorthea Lange, the famed photographer who, better than anyone, documented the Great Depression, took this photo in Cedar Grove, North Carolina (about 20 miles north of Chapel Hill).

Public Domain, Library of Congress #LC-USF34-020008-E

The photograph’s title at the Library Congress, and the title that I am going to believe Lange gave this photo herself, reads:

“Rural filling station becomes community center and general grounds for loafing. The men in baseball suits are on a local team which will play a game nearby. The team is called the Cedargrove Team.”

The community center and men in baseball suits photo was taken by Lange on July 4, 1939.

May your Fourth of July be hopeful. May there be a Hurrah Game for you. And, may your team, dressed in their best baseball suits, win.

 

The Cleanup Hitter

The 4th batter in a baseball lineup is the Cleanup Hitter.

(In a perfect world, the Cleanup Hitter’s job is to clean up the bases with a home run or a double. You know, something awesome, exciting, and powerful.)

Today, the Baseball Bloggess celebrates its (her? my?) 4th birthday. And, to celebrate, a bit of cleanup is in order.

I take a lot of photos at ballgames. But, I’m trying to watch and score the game, too – so I don’t capture much of the action … no exciting steals of second, no miracle catches at the wall.

There’s not a lot of dust kicking up in my photos.

Most of the photos I take just sit quietly on my computer, in their folders, like the utility guy on the bench patiently waiting for a chance to play.

So, here’s some cleanup – four recent photos that I’m sweet on, but don’t quite fit anywhere.

Orioles Outfielder Joey Rickard … 

Joey Rickard Orioles vs Angels 7 9 2016

© The Baseball Bloggess

“Bats, they are sick. I cannot hit curveball. Straightball I hit it very much. Curveball, bats are afraid. [C]ome, take fear from bats.” ~ Pedro Ceranno in the movie Major League (1988)

The Baltimore Orioles bats went cold this month.

Power bats slump from time to time, and teams often slump together.

I think Rickard’s putting a spell on his bat here as he comes to the plate.

Poor Joey went on the DL this week and is out for the next four to six weeks with a thumb injury.  Heal up, Joey, the team needs you!

But, I think his spell worked, because the team bats are finding their mojo again … and, hey, look at this …

al east standings

Photo: Los Angeles Angels at Baltimore Orioles. Camden Yards, Baltimore. July 9, 2016.

Another Bunt! … 

© The Baseball Bloggess

University of Virginia third baseman Justin Novak lays down a bunt.

A few days ago I wrote about bunts and how much I love them. And, you all agreed!

I think we love bunts because we are thoughtful and cerebral and strategic. (And, because, at some point in Little League or junior high gym class, we bunted. Sure, we couldn’t hit one out, but, by golly, we could bunt.)

Photo: Georgia Tech at University of Virginia. Davenport Field, Charlottesville, VA. May 14, 2016.

Jubilation …

© The Baseball Bloggess

University of Virginia celebrating a run.

In a pivotal series against the University of North Carolina in April it looked like the University of Virginia had turned their season around.

The turnaround got the Cavaliers to the NCAA Regional Tournament in June, but that’s where their season ended.

Still, this photo is one of my favorites. Because … happy. That’s all. Just happy.

Photo: University of North Carolina at University of Virginia. Davenport Field, Charlottesville, VA. April 17, 2016.

Racing Mascots … 

© The Baseball Bloggess

There’s more to baseball than baseball.

The Washington Nationals Racing President Thomas Jefferson visits Charlottesville from time to time and is here racing – or being chased by, depending on how you look at things – Cosmo, a sheepdog, and “Prairiewether Lewis,” a prairie dog, at a recent Tom Sox game.

(A question you may have: Why does a prairie dog – a species that doesn’t even live in Virginia — represent the Charlottesville Tom Sox? Editor/Husband responds: “In 1805, the explorers Lewis and Clark sent a live prairie dog to President Jefferson at the White House.” Yes, he really knows this stuff.)

Photo: Covington Lumberjacks at Charlottesville Tom Sox. (Valley League) Cville Weekly Ballpark, Charlottesville, VA. July 7, 2016.

Last month, a Facebook exec predicted that in the next five years Facebook would “probably be all video.”

According to Cisco Systems: “It would take an individual five-million years to watch the amount of video that will cross global IP networks each month in 2020.”

Words are, sadly, obsolete.

But, on the bright side, I’ve still got five years to figure out how to use the video camera on my six-year-old Droid phone.

Happy Birthday, Baseball Bloggess … here’s to four – and, apparently, only four – more years.

Also, cleaning up today? Those pesky ads that sometimes appear at the bottom of these posts. I keep worrying that some political ad will find its way on here and ruin your day. You can’t buy me, you angry political meanies! Get off my blog!  Which is to say, those little ads that pop-up at the bottom of posts should now be gone. (But, if you see one, let me know so I can stamp my feet and complain to someone.)

 

Your Rain Delay Companion

Nationals Giants Rain Delay 8 23 2014

© The Baseball Bloggess

Three things you should know about rain:

1. One billion tons of rain falls on the earth every minute. One billion.  (Fortunately, an equal amount evaporates somewhere else, so things even out and the earth doesn’t explode like a water balloon.)

2. Falling rain can reach speeds of up to 22 miles per hour. (So can Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton.)

3. I don’t know when your game’s rain delay is going to end.

In October 2012, I sat through a cold, 2-hour-41-minute rain delay in Baltimore. The Orioles were playing the Yankees in the playoffs – it marked the O’s first post-season appearance in 15 years.

Fun Fact: Rain Delays don't last forever. Fun Fact #2: Rally Towels are very absorbent.

© The Baseball Bloggess

Rally Towels. Very Absorbent.

After all the rain delaying, it was nearly midnight when the two teams, knotted at 2, entered the 9th. And then, Orioles closer Jim Johnson gave up five runs. Five.

Including this one …

Embed from Getty Images

Ack.

The Orioles lose 7-2 and go on to lose the division series. It still hurts.

I wrote about that night here: How To Enjoy Your Next Rain Delay. 

Ever since, this blog gets a spike in visitors whenever rain stops a big game. Earlier this month, the Orioles’ three-hour double-delay during their home opener on April 4, and the Washington Nationals’ 85-minute delay during their home opener on April 7, led to a downpour of impatient wet fans turning to the googler to tell them when the stoppages would finally stop.

Over the past few years, all kinds of questions and queries have led people to my rain delay post.  I’m going to go ahead and clear those questions up now.

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“Seeing Home” on Only A Game

I have to be at my office by 8 on some Saturday mornings. Those are Saturday mornings that might otherwise be filled with sleeping in and lazy breakfasts and reading the box score from Friday night where my team wins …

Orioles final

Nope. 

uva over miami

Look! Virginia beat #1 ranked Miami last night. How about that!

But, when I’m up and out early on Saturday, I get to listen to the sports program Only A Game on National Public Radio during my drive to the studio.

Almost every week I hear a story and think, “I really wish you could hear this.” And, by “you,” I really do mean you – whoever you are. I mean “you” … everybody.

Today’s show deserves your ears.

Ed Lucas has interviewed ballplayers since the 1950s.  And, as Only A Game explains: “Ed has been completely blind since October 3, 1951. He lost his sight after taking a line drive to the head on the same day his beloved New York Giants won the pennant.”

Ed Lucas and Willie Mays

Only A Game

Ed Lucas Interviewing Willie Mays in 1957.

“Friendships between writers and ballplayers aren’t common,” Only A Game notes, “but in baseball broadcaster Ed Lucas, players saw someone who had struggled as hard as they had — if not harder — to get to where he was.”

Ed Lucas’ story is a story of … how, as a small boy and newly blind, he met Yankee Phil Rizzuto, who took him under his wing … how Leo Durocher opened the Giants’ clubhouse doors to him, as a favor to Ed’s mom who thought a visit with baseball players would cheer him up … and of how his life blossomed despite blindness. It is a story of baseball and of family.  It is beautiful.

You can listen to, or download, the story here.

only a game

 

The Future Of Baseball

“You could be a kid for as long as you want when you play baseball.” ~ Cal Ripken, Jr.

Seeing kids play baseball is like reliving your own life when you were a kid. You look at them out there in the grass and it reminds you of something you did during a game a long time ago. (Like dropping the easy fly ball to right. Yup, sometimes the memories are harsh ones.)

But, sometimes you can look at a kid out there in the grass, playing a kid’s game, and you can see the future. Their future.

You can watch a four-year-old kid on the diamond and you can see the game Babe Ruth played nearly 100 years ago. You can see the first game you ever went to. You can see the first ball you ever held in your hand and you can remember exactly how it felt, exactly how it smelled.

Embed from Getty Images

Babe Ruth, 1932

You can watch that same four-year-old kid on the mound and you can wonder where his future will take him.

Or, you can invent his future. And, it’s always a good one. And, he never drops the ball.

It was Grant’s birthday when I found him and his dad playing baseball. It was, his dad told me, the only thing he wanted to do on his birthday … play ball. That was a couple years ago. The original post is here.

Grant didn’t know me and he didn’t pay any attention to me. He didn’t pose. He just played.

I haven’t seen him since.

To see a four-year-old love the game is also to see our future. And, there’s still baseball in it. Whew.

ballplayer

In response to the Word Press Daily Post Photo Challenge: Future. See more challenge photos here.