The Pole Dancers of Sports Journalism

Blogging is “the pole dancing of sports journalism.” ~ Frank Deford

So …

 

… ((thinking … thinking)) ….

 

… ((still thinking)) …

 

Oh, for crap’s sake.

I’m not even sure what to say.

Am I supposed to stand up for bloggers? Pole dancers? Both?

How am I supposed to respond to that?

Continue reading

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.)

 

The Mendoza Line of Posts

This is my 200th post.

It is of interest only because people like milestones and milestones come in round numbers.

Two-hundred blog posts is no big thing. I follow people who have twittered 48,000 times. (As Truman Capote once said, “That’s not writing, that’s typing.”)

For Mario Mendoza, whose lifetime .215 batting average led to calling a woeful .200 or under average “The Mendoza Line,” .200 was just a lousy break, because statistics will tell you that plenty of guys never cracked .200, but Mendoza was the poor shmoo who got singled out.  (Thanks, George Brett. I’m blaming you for this.)

Mario Mendoza

For me, 200 posts is a nice milestone and with milestones come the responsibility of writing something worthwhile or memorable … or, really, just something.

There are wonderfully talented people with much to say who can post on their blogs with daily, sometimes twice- and thrice-daily regularity. If you are one of them, please know that I find you admirable, role-model worthy, and, to be honest, a little annoying.

Most of what I write never gets posted. It is too weird, fractured, stupid, unfunny, baffling, or confusing (even to me and I wrote it).

Here are a few scraps that I tinkered with over the years that never became post-worthy. Well-intentioned, sure. But, like Mario Mendoza, not quite good enough to get on base:

“Minnesota Twins: You play outside now. Good for you.” (2012. From an abandoned effort to say one nice thing about every major league team.)

“Do you think a guinea pig is jealous of a rabbit’s ears?” (2013)

“Try throwing a basketball 100 miles per hour.” (2014)

“It has been brought to my attention that my blog is frivolous. This came from someone who is of the belief that Supreme Court rulings are important and baseball is not.” (2013)

“Giraffes have the biggest hearts of all land mammals.” (2015)

“I’m so glad that there is something that Bill Ripken does better than Cal.” (2012, Playoffs. Following Cal’s atrocious time in the broadcast booth.)

“While living in Paris, Hemingway would bring mandarins to his writing garret each day. Eating mandarins as you write will not turn you into Hemingway. Trust me.” (2012)

“Craptastic. That should be a word.” (2013)

“I was hopeful that the Montgomery Biscuits’ mascot would be someone dressed as a warm, buttery biscuit. But, this is not a perfect world.  And, baseball, for all its perfection, often disappoints. (2015)

big mo not a biscuit

Big Mo. Not a biscuit.

“Dear Gentlemen: One day you will thank the Bloggess for this advice – never suggest to your wife that the smell coming from the hard-to-reach dead mouse under the fridge will go away ‘in a few days.’ Here’s a tip, use a vacuum cleaner and stick the hose right under there and suck that stinker out. Don’t make your wife do it. She will only be annoyed and write about it in an effort to shame you.” (2013)

“Oh my god, I’m getting soft on A-Rod.” (2015, World Series)

“Dear Tampa Bay Rays, Great idea for 2013: make the roof girders light up when balls hit them and turn the entire stadium into a giant pinball machine. Moving girders become flippers, bumpers throughout the outfield, flashing lights, a whirling disco ball, and a “tilt” that will shake the stadium at random times. I’m just trying to help.” (2012)

“We wandered through exhibits in and around the ‘Downtown Mall,’ Charlottesville’s hipster outdoor space where much of this Photography Festival thing was going on. Photographers were shooting like they were Annie Liebovitz in Tiananmen Square on revolution day. I’m pretty sure I ended up part of  someone’s Street Art Portfolio.” (2015)

“Does that Brewer guy still slide into a pool after home runs? I hope so.” (2012)

“I’m not an expert on baseball, but I feel like I’m not destroying a thoughtful national conversation by weighing in on it from time to time.” (2013)

“I have been cold since I was 12.” (2014)

“I saw that Cincinnati just signed Jair Jurrgens. My take on that … if your team is signing the Orioles’ pitching castoffs, you probably have a bigger problem than you realize.”  (2014)

“I’ll write what she’s writing.” (2015. The headline from a discarded draft in praise of Nora Ephron.)

“I’ve bet on baseball and I don’t belong in the Hall of Fame either.” (2015)

“Jim Palmer wrote to me!” (2015)

palmer tweet

Actually, he typed.

 

 

July 24, 2012

On July 24, 2012, the Baltimore Orioles faced the Tampa Rays at Camden Yards. The O’s lost, 3-1.

Adam Jones homered, the Oriole’s only run. Nick Markakis was in right and hit a double. Wilson Betemit played third. Manny Machado was still a shortstop in the minors taking grounders at third “in secret.”

In Los Angeles, the Royals beat the Angels. Mike Trout went 0-for-3.

In St. Louis, the Cards roughed up the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw for eight earned runs. The Mets’ R.A. Dickey gave up five to the Nats, ending his 11-game win streak. And, the Giants squeaked past the Padres with a walk-off single from Brandon Crawford.

Just another day in baseball.

And, I started this blog.

Don’t go looking for those first posts from 2012. I didn’t tell anyone about my blog at first, and now, looking at the early stuff, well, it’s cringe-worthy.

I’ve summed up my early blogging career here.

Today, 178 posts later, I have a patient Editor/Husband and the decency to share photos of cats.

stevie

Stevie!

Happy 3rd birthday, blog.

(You’ve outlived the average blog by two years and 11 months. Congratulations!)

And, happy 51st birthday, Barry Bonds. (People still don’t like you, do they?)

Third anniversaries require gifts of leather so, to celebrate, here’s a flash of leather for you …

flash2

Watch this.

A few things have changed for me since 2012. But, really, I still like the same stuff.

I like to win in the post-season.

(And, I’ve finally been to my first post-season games. The Orioles lost ‘em both.)

I like the College World Series as much as the big league one.

(The University of Virginia Cavaliers won the College World Series last month – their first national baseball championship since they started playing at UVa in 1889. Go Hoos!)

I like a quiet-eyed Starter and a Bullpen that plays with matches.

I like the Astros’ ‘70s-era uniforms, but not the Padres’.

I like baseball on grass, walk-up music, and night games under lights.

I like bobbleheads and minor league mascots and The Baseball Project.

otey the swamp possum

Otey the Swamp Possum, awesome official mascot of the Arkansas Travelers

(Editor/Husband: “You can’t go wrong with a swamp possum.”)

(Dear Little Rock fans, Pay attention. Otey’s a possum, not a rat.)

I like the edamame dumplings at Camden Yards and the “lucky” sodas from Mark’s stand at UVa’s Davenport Field. (They really are lucky.)

I like the Curse of the Andino and I especially like posting this a few times a year:

andinocurse

Watch me.

I like a neat scorecard, the Designated Hitter rule, and Jon Miller calling a Giants game late into the night.

I like a 4-6-3 double play slightly more than a 6-4-3 double play, but I can’t tell you exactly why.

I like Jonathan Schoop …

schoopy

… and, Willie Mays …

 

And, I’ll never like the Yankees.

So, whatever happened to those guys from three years ago?

Mike Trout, and his 10.8 WAR, was Rookie of the Year in 2012 and is Most Valuable Everything today.

R.A. Dickey went on to win the Cy Young, and, even on an off day, Clayton Kershaw continues to be better than most pitchers and leads the league this season with 185 strikeouts.

The Giants won the World Series.

The Orioles?

Following the debut of my blog in July, the Orioles went on to win the 2012 Wild Card play-off and lost to the Yankees in the ALDS. It was the O’s first postseason appearance in 15 years which can’t possibly be a coincidence.

In August, shortstop Manny Machado made his big league debut for the O’s at third. He’s still there and well on his way to being the Orioles MVP.

Wilson Betemit ended up in Tampa’s minor league system and is currently a free agent.

Nick Markakis is a Brave. (I still miss you, Nick.)

It’s July 24, 2015 and the Orioles are 4th — and seven long, difficult, frustrating, but not impossible, games back — in the AL East.

Sherman Hemsley

February 1, 1938 – July 24, 2012

 

Jamie the Yankees Fan.

Most animals find numbers and basic math uninteresting (Cat: “Who sent you here? Go away.”) or irrelevant (Dog: “I either had one treat or 50 treats out of the bag there on the floor, it’s hard to say for sure. I have to go barf on your shoes now.”)

But, not baseball fans. We love numbers and statistics. Wins, losses, batting averages are just a start. ERA.  RBI. WAR, WHIP, WPA.  Yeh, I know, it’s annoying.

Chris Davis’ batting average when wearing an orange jersey? .407 (through June anyway)

orange jersey

A Word Press editor recently suggested that bloggers check their page view numbers no more than once a week.

How can I twist my page views into obscure, meaningless statistics about my self-worth and popularity, if you won’t even let me look at them?

I check my statistics daily. Sometimes every couple hours. (I just checked them.) I don’t want to miss a single page view.

page view 2

Hey look, it’s you and me!

So, it didn’t get past me when my “Followers/Subscribers” number hit 999 earlier this week.

999

If you blog, you know how sketchy this number is.

Barry Bonds hit 762 home runs in his career. I have 999 followers.

(Here’s a stat: I have more followers than Barry Bonds has home runs.)

But, both numbers are juiced. Barry Bonds used steroids. I get followed mostly by spammers and a baffling number of non-English speakers. Welcome, “callgirlsdubai”!

But, still … a milestone IS a milestone, even if it is meaningless.

So, I put out the word to my friends – follow my blog and help me reach 1,000. And, almost immediately Jamie did.

I love Jamie. She is wonderful.

She is follower 1,000.

I decided then and there that I would write a blog post in her honor. Here we go.

Jamie has two dogs, two cats, and one husband.

And, here’s what she told me about baseball:

We have a big baseball conflict in our house. I’m a hardcore Yankees girl, and Jaremy lives, eats and breathes the Red Sox. Our compromise is the Nationals.

I have always said that 100 percent (look, more numbers!) of Nationals fans are default “fans”. They’re really fans of other teams, but since they’re near Washington, DC, oh hell, they might as well root for the Nats since they’ve got nothing better to do. Jamie has proven me 100 percent correct. (I told you, she is wonderful.)

Jamie

Yankees fans.

Red Sox Fan. Tigers fan.

Red Sox Fan. Tigers fan.

So to honor Jamie, I will write five nice things about her Yankees. (If you’ve come looking for my post on Yankees jokes … please click here.)

OK, sigh, here we go.*

Five nice things about the Yankees

1)

Public Domain

Babe Ruth. Public Domain Image

Babe Ruth.

He was born in Baltimore. Played briefly for an early incarnation of the Orioles … and bestowed one of the very best curses on the Red Sox that you’ll ever see. (Once the Curse of the Bambino ran out – and by god it had a good run – the Red Sox started winning, getting all uppity, and growing facial hair. Still, it’s not too late for the Babe to re-wallop them with another good Bambino-sized curse from the great beyond. Come on, it’ll be fun.)

2) Yogi Berra.

yogi berra

Yogi Berra. Public Domain Image

The Yankees catcher was the inspiration for Yogi Bear. And, who doesn’t love Yogi Bear?

Yogi_Bear_don't_feed_the_bears

1961, Courtesy of the National Archives ID #286013

I once had a cat named Yogi, who was named after Yogi Bear. He was a darn good cat.

Yogi. Cat.

Yogi. Cat.

3) If you follow the family tree, the New York Yankees were originally the Baltimore Orioles.

That New York stole the original Orioles from Baltimore (for a paltry $18,000 in 1903) is not surprising. In 2000, the Yankees stole pitcher Mike Mussina from the Orioles (he cost the Yanks $88.5 million).  (I’m still pretty upset about this.)

mike mussina

4) The Yankees have won 27 World Series titles. (The Orioles have won three.)

5) George Costanza used to work there.

I know I don’t really have 1,000 readers, but maybe I have a few. Quality over quantity is my motto. I’m glad you’re one of them.

* Please don’t think I’ve gone soft on the Yankees, people. Jeffrey Maier will never be forgotten.

This Post Didn’t Cost You A Penny.

This word didn’t cost you a penny.

Neither did THIS one.

Just free words. On a free blog.

I like stringing words together. Some people can spend hours in their gardens, tending, and weeding, and pruning, and picking.

I can’t imagine.

Maybe this is my gardening. I love to fuss with words on a page. Move them around like a game of three-card monte. Watch the nouns and verbs grow into sentences – or into quippy fragments. Occasionally even into coherent thoughts.

When someone comments here or tells me that they read a post, it really means a lot. Millions upon millions of words crowd into the internet each day. (Sorry for the “millions and millions” estimate, I just didn’t have time to count them all.)

That you took a minute or two out of your day to read my string of words is very kind. I really mean that.

So, I sort of cocked my head sideways (yes, like a puzzled puppy seeing a turtle for the first time) when I read something recently by one of my favorite writers. He said that if someone gives away words for free online, they make it hard for the writers trying to make a living at it.

(I’m not even going to tell you who he is … but if you’re a fan of Baltimore and groundbreaking television, then you can figure it out.)

This initially upset me.

First, I didn’t realize I was making it hard for other writers because no one paid me to hit the “publish” button on this post.

Second, and perhaps more important, I don’t like people being mad at me.

(To that point: I’m still concerned that I angered some of my friends by disparaging their Red Sox in recent posts. Like here … and here. It’s not like I keep mentioning the Curse of the Andino in every post … but maybe it did accidentally slip in once or twice. I believe I have more friends who are Red Sox fans than support any other team. I’m not sure why that is, but they are all wonderful people who don’t need to be reminded every day about woeful past seasons. Really. It’s not like they lost 90 games last year. And, anyway, as they would be quick to tell me … there’s lots of room at the bottom of the AL East … and their team didn’t just drop five games straight.)

(No charge, by the way, for the bonus baseball tangent.)

Back to topic.

I don’t want to make any real writers angry. I certainly don’t want to devalue their work.

I’m conflicted.

Am I cheapening words by just typing and posting willy-nilly on here?

Or, is this blog like zucchini? (Note the clever continuation of the gardening logic.) Every summer I have gardening friends who grow way too much zucchini. (Why is it always zucchini? Why can’t they grow too much chocolate? Or, coffee?) They give their bounty away. Some of it to me.

Did they cheapen the work of farmers by growing some vegetables and giving it away?

I could go on, but let me just say this …

I’m a massage therapist. People rub each other’s shoulders for free all the time — it doesn’t devalue what I do. I just have to do it better than they do.

If you’re a professional writer and you’re worried about bloggers cheapening your writing and taking your livelihood away … write better than we do.

A sportswriter (who gets paid to write) said this weekend (on a program where he was paid to give his opinion) that baseball bloggers can say whatever they want, without worrying about anyone calling them on factual errors. Unlike professional sportswriters, baseball bloggers also can complain about a team’s performance or decisions without compromising their relationship with the team or enduring any repercussions.

Here’s what I heard:

1) I, the lowly blogger, am fortunate to be able to speak my truth because I don’t have to worry about Oriole Manager Buck Showalter ever … ever … returning my call, (wow, lucky me), and

2) When push comes to shove, apparently, this sportswriter’s going to tow the party line when it comes to covering the Orioles or Nationals (his main beats). For him, writing something negative – even if true – would compromise his relationships and sources on the team. If that’s his worry, can we actually depend on him to write the cold, hard truth when the truth is unkind?

I think he meant to say … Twitter and Facebook and blogs are unfiltered mediums.

But, fans with opinions have been yelling at umpires, smart-mouthing players, and rudely second-guessing managers since the game began. Now, there are new ways to send those rants out to the world – by just hitting the “send” button.

And, in the same way fans ignore the drunk, noisy shouters at games, we also tune out annoying, know-it-all online ranters.

To be fair, he did allow that there are “some” good baseball bloggers out there. (Please, pick me, pick me!)

And, that thing about making mistakes? I try to fact-check everything I post, but I make mistakes. I recently posted a factual error that was kindly corrected by a reader within just a couple hours of posting. So, I think the thoughtful blog world does police itself.

Some writers get paid to put their thoughts, ideas, and stories into words. I will never begrudge them a penny. Writing good, not easy. Writing well, even harder.

For the rest of us – who struggle to make sense of the world through words – we must find our compensation in other ways.

As long as I can make my Editor/Husband chuckle from time to time … and as long as I can help ensure future generations know about the Red Sox Curse of the Andino … I guess I’m gonna be good with that.

The Wisdom of Mr. Spammy

I have a blog.

You already knew that because you’re reading it right now.

(Stating the obvious is something I’m pretty good at.)

I try to write well. I write on this blog as a way to find my voice again. Because in 5th grade I decided I would be a writer. Because I eventually got a journalism degree (back when journalism was something that was mainly done on newsprint). And, because I keep thinking I ought to write more.

It was too lonely to do it alone. So I badgered a lot of you into reading this. (You guys are great!)

In recent weeks though, for no good reason, this blog has picked up bunches of new followers. All sorts of random followers. Many don’t speak English; many deactivate their blog accounts just as soon as they follow. I try not to take any of this personally.

Maybe they really do care about baseball and Yoga. Maybe I can turn them into Orioles fans. (Go O’s!) Maybe my thoughtful posts have warmed their hearts.  Maybe they really ARE reading me. (Are you?? Are you really there???)

I’ve also gotten a good amount of odd comments on my posts recently. All sorts of weird spam that the kindly Word Press Spam Checker grabs and holds for me to go in and tick-tick-tick-tick-tick “delete all.”

For the most part, spammers don’t really try. I’m pretty sure I could be a better spammer than these guys. Their spelling and grammar is atrocious. Many don’t even bother to spoof a comment, they just run their spam URL a couple dozen times. Lazy.

It’s insulting actually. If you want to spam me, at least put some effort into it.

But, then a classic emerges from the spam heap. A brilliant spam that might not be perfect, but comes pretty close.

I showed it to a friend and she said, “Wow, you got a comment from James Joyce!”

And, she is right. And, so I share Mr. Spammy’s comment with you, because he tried. He really did. And, no one’s ever compared ME to James Joyce.

“I often tried this device as soon as we left for your Enhanc. I have been making my foot or so using the drink station of your bar stool I have been sitting on and also had no idea about I have been flexing a number of the sequins, I have been upset on me. If only were being knee levels.”

I’m not quite sure I completely understand, but I’m sure there’s a message here for all of us. Thank you for your wisdom, Mr. Spammy!