Free Baseball: “O, How I’ve Missed You” Edition

Once an Oriole, always an Oriole.

Here are some former Baltimore Orioles playing the game. Only their uniforms have changed.

(What, you thought I’d never mention Nick Markakis again just because he’s a Brave now? And, not share last night’s baby video with you? What do you think I am, some kind of monster?)

10th Inning ~ Nelson Cruz

Sure, Nelson Cruz was only an Oriole for a season, but his league-leading 40 home runs last year helped the Orioles go deep into October. Thank you, Nelly!

Cruz took those home runs and parlayed them into a juicy, rich contract from the Seattle Mariners in the off season.

He returned to Camden Yards this week.

His reception? A warm standing ovation from Orioles fans. (The smattering of “boos” you hear are actually fans yelling “Cruuuuzzz,” just like they did all last season.)

nelson cruz

Watch here.

O’s fans didn’t begrudge Cruz his single. They weren’t quite as happy about his home run in his next at-bat, but they probably weren’t all that surprised.

11th Inning ~ Nick Markakis

I’m still sad about longtime Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis leaving for the Atlanta Braves this season.

I wouldn’t say he’s irreplaceable in right, but so far the O’s have tucked Delmon Young, Travis Snider, Steve Pearce, and Alejandro De Aza over there, and it’s just not the same.

Markakis is doing a-ok over in Atlanta. And, last night, after chasing a foul ball, he stopped to greet a young Braves fan. Watch here.

nick markakis

I still miss you, Nick.

Look close and you’ll see a bonus Oriole! That’s former Oriole closer Jim Johnson on the mound handily getting through a clean 8th inning in the Braves win last night.

12th Inning ~ Jake Arrieta

Jake Arrieta had a challenging few seasons in Baltimore. Everyone insisted he had the talent, but he just couldn’t get it together when it came time to pitch.

Arrieta is the perfect example of how a change of scenery – and a burst of facial hair – can make all the difference. Traded to the Chicago Cubs in 2013, he’s thrived as a go-to starter.

On May 12 he shut down the Mets with 10 strikeouts in a 6-1 victory. Watch here.

(Fun Fact: Earlier this month, the Orioles tried twice and couldn’t beat the Mets.)


If solid starting pitching isn’t your bag, try these cubs instead …


Six bear cubs at the Wildlife Center of Virginia goofing off on the live Critter Cam. Watch here.

They are adorable. Almost as adorable as that Nick Markakis video from last night.



Free Baseball refers to the extra innings that come after a nine-inning game ends in a tie. Here “Free Baseball” are the extra things that don’t quite fit into my regular-sized posts.

Free Baseball: “How Did Everything Go So Bad, So Fast?” Edition

Free Baseball refers to extra innings in a game.

You know the ones.Your team has a cozy, comfortable lead going into the late innings, and then the bullpen comes out, but things somehow start to go badly, the pitchers go sour and give up runs, lots of runs, homeruns, all sorts of runs, and the comfortable lead vanishes and suddenly the game is tied, and so the game continues for a few more innings, but your bats are cold, no one can hit, and you run out of relievers, and then you give up the game-winning run to the other team, and then the game is over, and you lost.  Then you go out and do the very same thing the next day.

Just hypothetical, of course.  Unless you’re a Baltimore Orioles fan, in which case, this is suddenly reality.


So, for your extra innings today … a few things to help settle the bullpen down, and to kill some time because it hurts just a little too much to talk about baseball today.

10th INNING ~ Get Smarter

Maybe our bullpen pitchers need to sharpen up the old coconuts. Get a little smarter, sharper, quicker.

A friend of mine recently turned me on to, which offers you a few minutes of games and puzzles each day as a means to keep your mind sharp and your brain supple. My friend is pretty smart, so I thought I would give it a go. I’ve been at it for a month or so. I still don’t understand physics, but maybe I am a bit quicker at finding my car keys in the morning. So, progress.


There’s a free version and a subscription version, which offers a few extra games each day. Try it out and let me know how you do feeding all those bloody confusing fish in that stupid koi pond.

11th INNING ~ Get Peaceful

Science has shown that meditation can soothe the mind and quiet the brain. Maybe it’s time to get your OM on. I heard a story this morning that reported on how meditation can help repair damage to the brain in soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). You can find it here.

But, everyone can benefit from a bit of stillness. And, even if you’ve only got a minute … good enough. Try a one-minute meditation, here.

Maybe the bullpen pitchers can try a bit of quiet reflection, rather than flirting with the girls nearby, or throwing sunflower seeds at each other.

12th INNING ~ Get Bears!

So, if your team just got swept, your batters and your bullpen let you down (and no, my blog post about bullpens this week did not jinx them … it couldn’t of, could it?), then the only thing left are bear cubs.

The Wildlife Center of Virginia has 16 of them … and they’re all on the Critter Cam. You really do need to watch them. You’ll forget all about how your favorite team let you down this week.  Watch here (try Cam 1 … that’s where they’re usually hanging out.)


photo courtesy of the Wildlife Center of Virginia

Oh God, they’re so cute.

Enjoy this free baseball … the Orioles’ amazing comeback begins tomorrow!

Free Baseball: Chilly Spring Edition

Today, a sweet Dodger, some Giants recreate a historic Delta House moment, nine cubs (the real kind, not a Chicago lineup), and the latest on the Squirrel Uprising.

“Free Baseball” refers to games that go to extra innings. You only paid to see nine innings … so, the extra ones are free. On here, it refers to the videos, stories, and online stuff I stumble upon and love, but that don’t quite merit a post of their own. Hence, they’re extra.


10th Inning  Matt Kemp is a LA Dodgers superstar.  I will, on occasion, make snarky wisecracks about him.  But, that ends today.  Because, I just saw this sweet video of Kemp visiting with a young fan.  It’s a short clip, genuine, and it made me cry.  It wasn’t overwrought.  It was just Matt Kemp doing something amazingly kind and precious.  I will never utter a bad word about him again. Ever.  Click here.

matt kemp

11th Inning Have you ever wondered what a squirrel would do if he had to go out and get a real job? Well, I hadn’t, until today.

Apparently squirrels in Arizona have been scamming humans and passing themselves off as “service animals.” You know, seeing eye dogs … so, seeing eye squirrels? I have no idea what exactly the squirrels are up to (except they are clearly planning to use this to their advantage in a Squirrel-Human war).

The squirrels became such a threat that Arizona found it necessary to pass a law forbidding them from ever again being hired as “service animals”. If they gotta pass a law, you know those squirrels were up to something. Squirrels may be wily, but they can’t make laws.  So, count this as a win for humans.

Click here for the story.

What’s next? Will the squirrels try to take over our baseball games too? What? They already did? Watch this squirrel infiltrate a college baseball game just last week. Click here.

squirrel chase

Prepare yourself for the Squirrel Uprising. It’s begun.

12th Inning Two things you should know …

1) The World Series Champion SF Giants came back from the brink of defeat in the National League playoffs last season. They attributed part of their amazing comeback to the inspiring cheerleading of their right fielder Hunter Pence.  (He’s been on this blog before with his special brand of crazy … click here).

2) Animal House is the greatest movie ever made. Really. I’m not just saying that so you can roll your eyes and beg to differ. I can offer up great chunks of that movie line-by-line (movie-quoting is usually a trait reserved for men, but on this count I can quote up against the best of them).

Here’s what happens when you put a bunch of Giants in a room and ask them to recreate the greatest scene from the greatest movie ever made.  (Interesting side note, these Giants are so young not one of them had ever even seen Animal House. Which is a tragedy.)

Click here.


And, here are the two scenes side-by-side.  Click here.

side by side giants

13th Inning And, finally, bear cubs … lots of bear cubs … courtesy of the Wildlife Center of Virginia (where my husband works). They are currently caring for nine cubs – the same number as a Chicago Cubs lineup, but, with apologies to Chicago, these fellas are much cuter.

Feeding Time, click here.

feeding time

Medicine Time, click here.

medicine time

P.S.  Good healing vibrations are going out today to Toronto Blue Jays Pitcher J.A. Happ who was badly injured last night by a line drive that hit him in the head. It’s a reminder that even a simple game can change everything with just one pitch. He remains in the hospital as of this writing.  Wishing you a quick and full recovery, Mr. Happ!

And, thank you to the Toronto Blue Jays broadcasters who were incredibly respectful during last night’s incident. They did not replay the injury over and over, did not become animated or overwrought. They simply described the unfolding situation quietly, and with respect and concern.

Bears Don’t Hibernate. Neither Does Baseball.

My husband informs me that bears in Virginia do not hibernate in Winter.  He works at the Wildlife Center of Virginia, so he oughta know. 

It’s a sad day when bears let you down.

I have relied on the wisdom of hibernating bears when encouraging my Yoga students to quiet their practice in winter and in honoring my own circadian life rhythms. 

Bears hibernate in winter, I figured, because they are smarter than we are.  They know the value of rest.  They know that cold, dark winter days demand that they slow down and refuel.  These resting bears became a powerful role model for how we all should care for ourselves in winter … carbo-pack and hibernate.

Now, I find out that this hibernation thing is a big bear hoax.

This bear cub was in the Wildlife Center of Virginia's care. Wide awake ... no hibernating for him.

This bear cub was in the Wildlife Center of Virginia’s care in 2012.  Wide awake. Thanks to WCV for this photo.

As long as Virginia bears find the weather comfortable and ample trash cans to paw through, they’ll just amble through their winter like the rest of us.  Still, they hunker down in ugly weather.  So, while they may not hibernate, they do know the value of slowing down. So, hibernation aside, I guess they’re still smarter than we humans.

I was looking forward to a bit of baseball hibernation this winter. 

162 games is a long regular season.  It’s a reliable, irrefutable fact.  Eighty-two basketball games in an NBA season.  Sixteen NFL games a season.  These are, apparently, games for the short-winded and the short-attention spanned.   

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