Baseball Is A Billion Times Better Than Nougat

When I was a kid there was this amazing “Seven Up” candy bar, made by a company in Minneapolis.

seven-up-bar-label

Heard of it?

They stopped making it in 1979, I’m afraid, so you’ll have to wonder about its wonderfulness. A single chocolate candy bar with seven – SEVEN! – little pockets carved into it, and each one was filled with a different flavor.

Mint!  Coconut!  Butterscotch!  Fudge!  Caramel!  Butter Cream!

And, Nougat!

Nougat.

First of all, nougat is not a flavor. Second of all, nougat is horrible.

tom-hanks-big

I don’t think anyone has ever intentionally eaten nougat. And, I’ll bet it was nougat that did in the Seven Up bar. Well, that and a pretty clear trademark infringement with 7-Up soda.

Continue reading

The Face Behind The Mask

 

Thaiss 2015

“You have to have a catcher because if you don’t you’re likely to have a lot of passed balls.” ~ Casey Stengel

In 1876, Fred Thayer, the team manager of Harvard’s baseball team, took a fencing mask, tinkered with it, and turned it into baseball’s first catcher’s mask. It didn’t take long for other catchers to catch on.

Thayer patent

Thayer’s original catcher’s mask patent.

Fans, according to The New York Times, hated the innovation, considering a protective mask a sign of weakness. They jeered at catchers who wore them.  (Batting helmets? Shin guards? Thumb protectors? Today’s game would drive our great-great-great grandparents nutty.)

The mask annoyed fans, but it changed the game. It allowed catchers to be much closer to the batter. It allowed pitchers to amp up their pitches without worrying about killing their catcher with an errant throw.

By 1878, Spalding had added it to their sporting goods’ catalog.

spalding

Goat hair and dog skin. $3.

Today’s best masks can run to more than $100. (Which, if you ask me, is a pretty small price to pay to keep your nose, cheekbone, and brain intact.) No more dog skin either. Progress.

It’s hard to know what’s going on behind those “tools of ignorance.” It’s hard to see a catcher’s face, especially way out in the bleachers.

Thaiss 2016

Matt Thaiss, gritty catcher for the University of Virginia, is tough as nails.

“He won’t give up,” UVA pitcher Alec Bettinger told The Daily Progress last week. “He could have his legs chopped off and he’d still go out there and catch. He’s just the toughest guy on the team.”

But, sometimes, when you look inside the mask …

Matt Thaiss March 2016

… he seems almost angelic.

Which just goes to show …

I don’t really know what it goes to show.  But, sometimes the face you find behind a mask isn’t always the face you expected to find.

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

Photos: University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia. 2015-2016 © The Baseball Bloggess

 

10 Hours of Baseball

dry seats 3 19 2016

“This would be the ideal town for weather bureau headquarters. It would take an army of clerks to keep account of the rise and fall in the temperature alone. … No one would be surprised upon awakening tomorrow to find that the north pole had suddenly located here or that we had moved during the night to the tropical zone. Most anything can be accomplished overnight in the town of Charlottesville.” ~ The Washington Post, March 6, 1915

College baseball fans know the deal. There is little room in a tight collegiate season for rain delays. And, there is no room at all for cancelled games.

While big leaguers unroll the tarps at the first rain shower, college players soldier on.

Matt Thaiss 3 19 2016

Matt Thaiss, Catcher.

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons came to Charlottesville this weekend to play a Friday/Saturday/Sunday series against the University of Virginia Cavaliers.

But, with the promise of rain and snow and wind and cold, things required a bit of shuffling. Keep up with me here.

Ernie Clement 3 19 2016

Ernie Clement, Second Base.

Friday evenings’s game was moved to Friday afternoon. Sunday’s game was moved to Friday night. Saturday afternoon’s game was moved to Saturday morning.

Got it?

(This is why I can already tell you that UVA won tomorrow’s game. Blows your mind, doesn’t it?)

Continue reading

Free Hot Chocolate. Free Baseball.

“Baseball is the most perfect of games, solid, true, pure, and precious as diamonds. If only life were so simple. Within the baselines anything can happen. Tides can reverse; oceans can open. That’s why they say, ‘the game is never over until the last man is out.’ … Anything is possible in this gentle, flawless, loving game.” ― W.P. Kinsella, Shoeless Joe

First, let’s get to the important things. The temperature during the last two games at Davenport Field, home of the University of Virginia Cavaliers (or, the NCAA National Champion UVA Cavaliers if you go for things like that) has been below 45.

And, you know what that means …

hot chocolate2

Free hot chocolate!

The NCAA champions are playing the Monmouth Hawks this weekend.

I vaguely know where Monmouth is (somewhere New Jersey-ish).

If you visit Monmouth’s Wikipedia page … which you can do here … it will kindly request that you fill in the blanks and tell it something – anything – about this team.

I can tell you only that they seem to have a good time when they play – they’re a joyful bunch – and that goes a long way with me.

UVA won on Friday night, 4-2, in unspectacular fashion. The highlight of the game was that it took my feet, which were double-socked, nearly one full hour to thaw out. They were completely numb.

It was brutally cold – it had snowed that morning – and my main take-away from the game is that I’m certain I wouldn’t last a week in a world without central heat.

snowcat

Friday morning. Snow on the cat.

Let’s skip to Saturday. Still cold.

hot chocolate1

More hot chocolate!

Daniel Lynch Starting Pitcher

Daniel Lynch, Saturday Starter.

Behind string-beany, first-year pitcher Daniel Lynch, the Hoos jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the 2nd in one of those they-batted-around innings – six singles, one double, two sacrifice bunts – that messes up your scorecard in a totally-worth-it sort of way.

They love to bunt, these fellas.

Matt Thaiss

Matt Thaiss, Third Year, Catcher/1B/DH. 2-for-5 on Saturday, 1 Run, 1 RBI

“Our small ball is what makes us an offense,” Thaiss, who homered on Friday night, told The Daily Progress. “We always talk about not having a good hitting team, but having a great offense. That’s what we preach here. We practice bunting just as much as we do hitting.”

Continue reading

The First Bleacher of Spring

The high temperature in Charlottesville, Virginia yesterday was 47.2 degrees.

Just 2.2 degrees colder and there would have been “free hot chocolate for everyone” at Davenport Field where the University of Virginia Cavaliers — the Hoos — play ball and where the free hot chocolate flows at 45 degrees.

There was no hot chocolate. There was no win for the Hoos.

It was cold.

But, it was my first game of the spring. Even though it’s still winter.

And, even though it’s still cold.

(Why do we play baseball in February anyway?)

But, there was the first photo of spring …

Justin Novak First Photo of Spring

© The Baseball Bloggess

The 2016 honor of “First Photo” goes to UVa utility infielder and backup catcher Justin Novak.

The first bleachers of spring …

my first bleacher of spring 2016

© The Baseball Bloggess

Continue reading

Happy Place: There’s No Place Like It

When The Daily Post asked bloggers to show their “Happy Place” on their blogs this week I wasn’t going to play along. After all, what do you expect me to say?

Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,

Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home;

A charm from the skies seems to hallow us there,

Which seek thro’ the world, is ne’er met elsewhere.

Home! Home! Sweet, sweet home!

There’s no place like home! There’s no place like home!

~ From the 1823 opera “Clari, or the Maid of Milan.”

happy place

© The Baseball Bloggess

Funny thing. 1823 is also the year that we can find the first known references to the game of “base ball”:

“I was last Saturday much pleased in witnessing a company of active young men playing the manly and athletic game of ‘base ball’ at the Retreat in Broadway.” ~ The National Advocate, April 23, 1823.

Coincidence? Of course not.

There’s no place like home.

Photo: The University of Virginia vs. the Ontario Blue Jays. Davenport Field, Charlottesville, Virginia. October 13, 2015. (Taken behind the netting. Sorry about that.) © The Baseball Bloggess

UVa defeated the Canadian squad (an 18-and-under team featuring some of the best young players in the country) 12-5 last night in a strange 14-inning “exhibition” game that was a more a showcase for scouts, I think, than an actual game. Players batting out of order. Pinch runners pinch running and then disappearing. Really odd.

But, still … even really odd baseball is Happy Place worthy.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Happy Place.”

Strike Three

Quote

strike three

© The Baseball Bloggess

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Motion.”

It’s ironic that the first Word Press blog challenge that I choose to do is one that asks me to share a photo about “Motion.”

Because, the people who wish to speed up baseball – shaving off a few seconds here or there to make the game a few minutes speedier – are also, I think, the same people who gulp their food, chug their wine, push aside slow pokes on escalators, and angrily honk their horns at me on the highway when I’m just trying to get into the left lane because, you idiot, there is a left turn there that I need to slow down to get into because my house is over there, okay???!!

So, when I’m taking photos at a ballgame it’s not because I’m trying to catch the action – although there is plenty there, with home runs, and 100 mph pitches, and diving outfield catches, slides into home, and, be still my heart, those beautiful, beautiful around-the-horn double plays.

I’m more about capturing the stillness.

This photo is about stillness … and yet, I don’t think you need to know much about baseball to see the motion in it.

Strike three.

Photo: University of Virginia, Davenport Field, Charlottesville, Virginia.  Orange vs. Blue Series, Fall 2014. © The Baseball Bloggess

“It’s All Concentration.”

Justin Novak April 18 2015

Justin Novak, 2B, University of Virginia © The Baseball Bloggess

“The real key to fielding is anticipation and concentration. … Expect the bad hop and be ready for the worst. It’s all concentration.” ~ Legendary Orioles Manager Earl Weaver

Photo: University of Virginia freshman Justin Novak, after scoring a run as a pinch runner in the 8th inning, playing second in the 9th. University of Miami at University of Virginia, April 18, 2015. Davenport Field, Charlottesville, Virginia. © The Baseball Bloggess

uva miami box score

 

 

A Trifecta of Sorts

My baseball trifecta would be to see the Baltimore Orioles, the San Francisco Giants, and the University of Virginia Cavaliers in a single game.

Today the Bowie Baysox (Orioles AA team) faced the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants AA team) in Richmond, Virginia.

Bowie’s starting pitcher was a UVa Hoo.

Close enough.

Sunday, April 12, 2015.

branden kline

Branden Kline, starting pitcher, Bowie. Ten K’s over five innings. From the University of Virginia.

branden kline 3

branden kline2

 

first pitch

Ceremonial first pitch.

jason esposito

 

safe

Richmond Flying Squirrel Javier Herrera. Safe.

ben rowanSubmarine pitcher Ben Rowan, traded from the Dodgers organization a couple days ago, making his Orioles organization debut. (A former Virginia Tech Hokie.)

derek gibson

Bowie Baysox

family

on deck circle

yaz

Mike Yastrzemski, left field, Bowie.

Yes, Red Sox fans, Carl is his grandfather.

carl yastrzemski 1969

peanuts

matt and sam

7th Inning Stretch.

2-1 Bowie. Bottom of the ninth. Tying run on second.

villalona two out bottom of the ninth

Angel Villalona.

(He struck out.)

bowie at richmond 4 12 15 box score

Photos: The Diamond, Richmond, Virginia. April 12, 2015. © The Baseball Bloggess

Almost every photo was taken from behind the net today. Sorry about that.

nuthin but net

 

Go Fling … and …

“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, [and] is just as important in the sum total of our historic life.” ~ Walt Whitman on baseball, 1889

October. Baseball. Go fling.

Jonathan Schoop

© The Baseball Bloggess

Jonathan Schoop, Second Base. Baltimore Orioles.

Every day is a good day for baseball, right? But, there’s something special about baseball in October. Go fling … and …

Cheeri-O'sAn ad placed by Cheerio’s in today’s Baltimore Sun.

Photo: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland. August 10, 2014.