I Have Been Awake Since 4 a.m.

© The Baseball Bloggess

I have been awake since 4 a.m.

It is Opening Day.

For this one brief moment, I can see summer spread out before me like outfield grass. Outfield grass that’s been so meticulously tended, sculpted, fed … loved … that it makes you squint hard for a second as you adjust to its blinding greenness.

Summer is a mile long, a mile wide. It reaches as far as the eye can see.

There is only baseball.

It is all I can see.

I have been awake since 4 a.m.

Thinking of twirlers with arms of smoked steel.

Bats overflowing with bingles, loopers, and skitterers, and lusty home run wallops.

And, bunts. Don’t forget the bunts.

Thinking of stolen bases. And, the 4-6-3.

And, late-in-the-game outfielders floating at the wall and stretching and lifting higher and higher – and gravity is beyond my understanding and I guess beyond theirs too, because they float much higher than any other human possibly can – and with one final reach, one last elastic, impossible stretch, their glove barely, just barely, just just just …

… barely corrals that demon ball that saves the run that gives your team one more chance.

I have been awake since 4 a.m.

It is Opening Day.

The day when you don’t think of the World Series, because the World Series signals the end … when baseball disappears again. It is a million-million miles away.

It doesn’t matter. Summer lasts forever.

I have been awake since 4 a.m.

It is Opening Day.

To prove just how over-the-top giddy I am right now and because all teams are wonderful on Opening Day … tell me who your team is in the comments below and I will tell you why your team is wonderful. And, I will mean it.

______

9 a.m. Update — It is Opening Day, except when it’s not. Rain has postponed the Orioles/Red Sox game. But, summer lasts forever … and there’s always tomorrow.

Re-Opening Day

What did we talk about before covid became all we talked about?

If there were no vaccine waiting lists to talk about … or rumors of covid outbreaks in the next town over … or side-eye mentions of unmasked neighbors … or whining about all the things that are still closed … what, exactly, did we talk about?

I don’t remember.

Even when we’re not talking about covid, we’re talking about covid.

Which brings me to baseball.

On March 13, 2021, Editor/Husband and I – double-masked and with a fresh bottle of hand-sanitizer in my bag – carefully inched our way back to baseball.

368 days.

It had been 368 days since we had last sat outside … scorecard open … game unfolding.

But, then … yesterday happened.

Things are not normal yet. But there is just a glimmer of a kinda-sorta-almost normal’ish life out there.

I don’t suppose you’re all that interested in how the Virginia Cavaliers were trounced 12-4 by Notre Dame yesterday.

Good. Because, I have more important things to cover.

1) Socially Distanced And Masked Means … Socially Distanced And Masked, People.

The University of Virginia is slowly, slowly letting people dribble back in to baseball. And, yesterday, we got to be part of the dribble. Where you sit is assigned and clearly marked (and if one should sit outside their approved “safe seats” an usher will politely assist in proper re-seating). Masks, always. Hand sanitizer stations everywhere.

We had an entire row to ourselves … no one directly in front, no one directly behind. No one nearby. It was luxurious. Continue reading

Patience, Time (… And Baseball)

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” ~ Leo Tolstoy, War And Peace

It’s game day. Today, at 3 p.m., Virginia plays George Washington at nearby Disharoon Park in Charlottesville.

The Cavaliers are off to a wobbly 4-3 start. But, I’m not worried. They are a stacked team. They will be fine.

Today, at 7 a.m., I am having my coffee. I should be scouring the weather report, calculating temperature and wind speed to determine how many layers I will need to sit through an early March baseball game.

I should be scanning the rosters, recharging my camera, making sure the scorecard is ready to go.

These are little nothing chores. Things I rarely think about as I’m doing them. The routine of a baseball fan.

I should be doing all these things.

I am not.

Only a few fans can attend and they must be spread widely through the park.

Where I Am Not.

Instead, I’m sitting here wondering where the past year went.

One year. March to March. One big blurry uncomfortable inconsiderate wasted lost year. Continue reading

Four For Your “Darkest Winter Days” Reading List

Here are some things you can do while locked down in a pandemic …

a) write a novel.

b) write something that isn’t a novel, but is long and meaningful and kinda-sorta like a novel.

c) spend way too much time trying to pry the space bar off your laptop’s keyboard to get the gunk out from underit because itisn’tworkingright and it’sveryfrustrating.

d) sit and look at your computer screen and wonder where the words went.

On the off chance you answered c) … pleasesendinstructions. (I’m serious.)

And, to those who answered d) … I’m with you. And, in truth, I’m a little jealous of those super-ambitious people who have found their muse in the midst of crisis.

There is one thing you can do when the words in your head disappear. Read other people’s.

Brief baseball aside … because this is a baseball blog, after all …

In the spring of 2018, a college baseball pitcher – a walk-on who didn’t see a lot of playing time – quit his team. Balancing academics with the demands of playing college ball, even when you’re hardly playing, got to be too much. So he quit baseball. I asked him what he was studying, and he said he thought he wanted to write.

I gave him the only advice I know, “Write every day, and read more than you write.”

I have a folder on my computer called “Write Every Day.” Aside from an inspiring amount of words back in March, it’s been pretty quiet lately.  I’m a lousy counselor.

But, reading … that I can still do.

“Reading is throwing shade … a brutal insult wrapped inside a glorious wordplay.”

Here are four books for your “darkest days ahead” reading list. And, while two of these are not baseball books, they are baseball’ish … in that the game hovers in the background, just as it should in a “normal” world. Continue reading

True Stuff …

Five things you don’t need to know about me, but I’m telling you anyway.

One. I Really Dislike Baseball Statistics.

Babe Ruth and Willie Mays didn’t need WAR stats to know they were the best in the game. Similarly, I don’t need WAR to tell me that Mookie Betts is one of baseball’s best players today and [insert name of someone who really annoyed you last season] isn’t.

If a sportswriter includes more numbers than actual words in their story, I’m out. Out.

Sure, I’ll take the basics … batting averages, home runs, ERAs, stolen bases, errors.

But, beyond that? You can call them “advanced metrics” but really they’re just a mess of numbers hiding behind a mess of letters …

OPS, OPS+, P/GS, IR-A%, BQR, LIPS, wRC+

Who needs all that?

This …

3/11/2020, UMass-Lowell at Virginia.

This Is All I Need. 

Baseball is a team sport. Individual statistics are like artificial preservatives, unnecessary and probably not good for you.

Two. Fantasy Sports Are Stupid.

I like making declarative sentences like this, because people who play fantasy sports get all agitated and blustery whenever someone tells them their pretend sport is stupid.

Agitated and Blustery.

If you spend a week deciding who’s going to “play” in your pretend football game, you probably need to find another sport to watch.

Three. I Can’t Stream The Internet, But Even If I Could … Continue reading

An Embarrassment Of Abandoned Words

Every few days, I sit down to write something blogg’ish.

And, every few days of late, I abandon the task.

It seems that every time I sit down to write, the news overtakes whatever it is I’m thinking about. Baseball musings take a back seat to the pandemic, to wildfires, to hurricanes, to floods, to racial injustice, to politics, to despair.

What I’m left with is a discarded pile of unfinished thoughts that I don’t have the heart to recycle.

Here are a random few of my most recent abandoned words. It’s all I have for you …

Embed from Getty Images

 

Baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson Day every year. Players of every color wear his number 42. We are unabashedly proud of this. We act like we single-handedly destroyed racial inequality on April 15, 1947.

Hardly.

Abandoned, September 13, 2020.

If this baseball season is so efficiently compact and the games nipped into shortness – seven-inning double headers, super-speedy extra innings – why am I so tired?

Abandoned, September 6, 2020 Continue reading

Chapter Two: Pete The Girl

This may be the slowest serial ever. If you don’t remember Chapter One – which was months ago – you’ll find it here.

Photo by Michael Morse on Pexels.com

There is no such thing as an uncomplicated ballplayer.

He wasn’t sure how long it’d been. How long since his brain would flicker as he tried to recall a word, a name, a something else.

“Normal aging,” the doc said. “Nothing to worry about.” But that was years ago – 10, maybe more. It was just annoying then. A lost name here or there. It was more than that now.

He would be talking to someone he knew. Someone he knew he knew and suddenly his mind would go numb – the person would keep talking but he wouldn’t catch a word. Instead, he’d be consumed by the realization that he no longer knew the person’s name.

The name he knew he knew.

He would start through the alphabet, like thumbing the pages of an old phone book.

Allan. Bill. Cameron. Danny.

Danny? Is it Danny?

The name would usually come to him. But, not always. It made him wonder – is this how it ends, everything just goes blank?

His hands trembled a little now, too. And, when they did he would lace and squeeze his fingers together or hold his wrist tight with his other hand, or rub his palms as though washing them with air. Little things that no one would notice and that would slow the tremors that came more often now.

She noticed.

Pam. Patti. Polly. Penny.

Peach.

Maybe it was because Peach was a little girl, so when she stood next to her grandfather her eyes were closer to his hands than to his eyes. Or, maybe it was because she wasn’t trying not to notice, which was what her mother and the others would do.

They’d pretend not to see, but Peach didn’t.

“Grampa, why’s your hand shaking?”

Dammit.

He paused for a moment just to make sure. Pam, Patti, Polly, Penny …

“I don’t know, Peach.”

She smiled, turned, and ran up the stairs. She clattered around and quickly ran back down. She was holding her grandfather’s baseball glove – now her glove – with a ball shoved into its worn pocket. Continue reading

The #8. The Cal Ripken, Jr. Anniversary Of Blogging.

Eight years ago today, the Orioles lost.

And, I started this blog.

Eight is not a particularly momentous, landmark’ish anniversary. But, should you insist, gifts of pottery are appropriate.

In the baseball world, eight would be the “centerfielder anniversary” … so I give you this Orioles’ish clip: Adam Jones, playing centerfield for Team USA, robbing Manny Machado, playing for the Dominican Republic, in the World Baseball Classic in 2017:

In the baseball world, this would also be the #8 Cal Ripken, Jr. anniversary … so I give you this from 1996:

“… a career high eight runs, matching his uniform number.”

Continue reading

Nothing Is Real.

Photo: Rachel Xiao via Pexels.com

Just a few hours ago, the Baltimore Orioles announced on Twitter that tonight they will be playing real life baseball.

I sometimes slam on my brain brakes when I stumble over an especially egregious typo as I’m reading stuff online. What happened here wasn’t a typo exactly, but I slammed on my brain brakes anyway, and I I reread it to make sure that I read what I thought I read. And, what I read was, indeed, what I thought I read.

Real life baseball.

Real life.

Real.

This, today in 2020, transcended typo.

To quote John Lennon – who said a lot of things better than people like me – describing Strawberry Fields, the park of his youth … “nothing is real.”

Because, nothing is real … or right … or normal these days and certainly not baseball, which is kicking off a 66-day season this week and pretending it will somehow, someway equal a real six-month season. Continue reading

One Inning.

© The Baseball Bloggess

Is this what baseball will be, just hanging on to the memory of one last game?

The one game that you thought would go on forever?

The game where you sat, somewhere up in the stands. Tight up against those other fans.

Seeing what you always see and not wondering if you’d ever see the likes of that again.

Was that you?

A fan in the stands.

July 11, 1910

The not-so-good Cardinals are playing the not-so-good Doves on a partly cloudy Monday in St. Louis.

Game time 3:45 at old League Park. You know the place. The one with the beer garden.

The one with the fans. Those St. Louis fans. Those cranks. Those bugs.

They got so crazied up one day back in June that they threw their pop bottles onto left field. So many empty bottles rained down on Pittsburgh’s outfielder that the umpire had to stop the game. He asked a cop to stop the fans.

But, it was awfully hot. And, the cop would not.

And, just a few days ago, a fight broke out in the bleachers. Even the players stopped to watch.

But, things are quiet on July 11. Continue reading