Life In The Time Of Pandemic

A historian at one of the nearby universities wrote an article this week suggesting that we all keep diaries of this unprecedented time.

Write it all down.

Life In The Time Of Pandemic, I guess.

Where has he been? Pandemic 2020 is going to be the most documented event in the history of mankind. (Peoplekind.)

Where were you when the wash-your-hands edict came? When the don’t-touch-your-face came? When the toilet-paper-hysteria came? When the ban on gatherings of 1,000 … 500 … 50 … 10 came? When today came? I know. Twitter and Facebook and Instagram told me.

There seems to be an ever-increasing number of cat photos on my feeds. Just to break up the latest round of bad news, I guess. So, doing my part, here’s Zuzu …

(I am not gloating because extroverts are freaking out about this stay-at-home thing. But, I admit, there is a smug-but-not-gloating satisfaction. Now you know how it is for an introvert like me when I’m feeling pressured to go to one of your big parties. Different thing. Same gnawing discomfort.)

“Hey! What’s Going On? Where’d Everybody Go?”

I had a dream last night that I went online and this site was gone. WordPress was gone. The Baseball Bloggess was gone.

Just like baseball. Gone.

A week ago, that would have been just a weird dream. Last night it woke me up. Week ago, weird dream. Last night, nightmare.

A Week Ago, This Was My Happy Place.

Yesterday was a beautiful day in Central Virginia – sunshine’y, in the 60s. We should have been at the University of Virginia baseball game. Instead, I was learning how to order “to-go” groceries – including a lifetime supply of jalapeño peppers – from an app.

Lifetime supply? Is that a pandemic’s lifetime? Or, a real lifetime? Or, is that now the same thing?

The woman who brought the groceries to our car – keeping an appropriate distance – told us that a couple drove down from Baltimore because they heard that our grocery store – 125 miles away – had toilet paper. By the time they arrived, it was gone.

A five-hour round trip for … nothing.

We unloaded our groceries, including the lifetime supply of jalapeños, on the porch and disinfected things with a wipe before we brought them into the house.

Because that’s what we have been told to do.

(Do you think those people from Baltimore stopped at the Rest Area on I-66 and emptied all the toilet paper dispensers as they drove back home? Or, do you think someone else got there first?)

Even This Little Tree That’s Blooming Along Our Pasture Fence Line Looks Sad And Alone. 

Mark Shields and David Brooks were on PBS NewsHour last Friday discussing leadership in the time of crisis. It’s worth a watch, although much has changed since then. Every day feels like a month … a year.

 

Here’s the thing that stayed with me …

David Brooks said he tried to find out more about how people coped with the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918, but very little was available:

“It left no trace on the national culture.”

He determined that little is available because people didn’t document it.

Because they were ashamed of how they behaved. Especially once the fear set in.

Leaving no trace is not an option today. We’re writing it all down. We’re filming it. We’re documenting every single second of it.

A hundred years from now, what are people going to think of us?

Seven Years And A Birth’a’Versary

On July 24, 1919, the Chicago White – not yet “Black” – Sox led the American League. Their 54-29 record put them a full six games up on Cleveland. The New York – not yet San Francisco – Giants led the National League. Their 50-23 record would soon be overtaken by the still-in-Cincinnati Reds.

July 24, 1919 wasn’t particularly special. The Red Sox beat the Yankees that day, 4-3, thanks to a home run from still-Red Sox Babe Ruth. The New York – not yet San Francisco – Giants beat the Boston – not yet Milwaukee, not yet Atlanta – Braves, 7-6. Walter Johnson and the Washington – not yet Minnesota Twins – Senators beat the Philadelphia – not yet Kansas City, not yet Oakland – A’s 1-0.

Rock Island (IL) Argus 7/25/1919

And, the Chicago White Sox beat the St. Louis Browns 1-0 in 10 innings. The White Sox, in cahoots with some gamblers, would throw the World Series in October. The Browns would become the Baltimore Orioles in 1954.

Some things change. But, really, when you think about it. Not so much.

On July 24, 1919, Washington, DC was reeling from a violent four-day race riot. The rioting, fanned by the media, killed some 40 people. Congress was squabbling over the League of Nations. Henry Ford was taking heat for revealing that he intentionally sought to keep his son Edsel out of World War I, and that then-President Wilson may have been involved in approving Edsel’s deferment, thereby protecting the son of one of the nation’s most powerful businessmen. A fire in a poor Polish neighborhood in South Chicago, started by some kids who had built a bonfire, destroyed 16 homes, displaced 40 families, injured several, and led to the death of the city’s fire chief.

See? We haven’t cornered the market on bad news.

There’s always been bad news.

So, why waste time with baseball? Continue reading

My Favorite Sports-Writing Words Of 2018

The world is on fire.

I mean that figuratively, of course. Or, maybe I don’t. I’m not even sure any more.

I’m just saying there’s just a lot of suck out there.

If only the Baltimore Orioles’ 115-loss season was the worst thing that happened this year. If only.

Can you find the worst team in baseball?

Maybe that’s why sports – and excellent sports writing – is such a joy and refuge when times are tough and the world seems unbearably ugly and mean, because it actually is unbearably ugly and mean.

Sure, you could just binge on cooking shows until spring training. That’s not a bad plan.

But, sometimes it feels good to read something sporty. A little balm for the soul. A little de-suck-ification of life.

When your favorite team wins just a lousy 47 games, poring over box scores doesn’t take much time.

So, here are some of my favorite sports-writing words of 2018. Continue reading

My Day In “The Sun”

Pop Quiz, Baseball Fans!

Which is more unbelievable …

a) The Orioles won last night!

It’s a win!

b) I found these snow booties in my size. On sale!

Adorable and On Sale!

c) I’m on the front page of today’s Baltimore Sun sports page.

Trick Question … Continue reading

Stupid Word-Hating Internet

Oh for crap’s sake.

The New York Times just decided that reading words is passé. The future of the internet is audio and video. Even for a simple little blog like mine.

That means … well, that means, oh hell, you’re already gone, aren’t you?

I’m just sitting in this blog all by myself, tapping out worthless words on a worthless keyboard counting …

The days ’til pitchers and catchers report.  Three.

The number of starting pitchers that the Orioles have on their roster. Two.

And, the number of people reading these words. One.

Just you, I’m afraid.

Qwerty, not so purty. (Poetry – even bad poetry — is screwed now, too, I guess.)

Sure, it’s ironic that The New York Times had to inform me that reading is dead using … actual written words.

Oh, for crap’s sake.

Or, as you wordless people say …

What can I do to make you love reading again?

Or, just letters.

Like the letter K.

K is one of the alphabet’s resident hoodlums. Look at it slouched there lazy against its own wall – a street tough – sticking its leg out, just waiting to trip a non-suspecting sweet p, flipping it over into a d.

K is both letter, word, and complete sentence.

Continue reading

Benji, The Runner. #4,000

Back in May, the New York Yankees beat the Chicago Cubs 5-4. It took 18 innings and 6 hours and 5 minutes. The game started on May 7 and ended on May 8.

The game ran so long they ran out of baseballs.

Also on May 7, elite long-distance runner Benji Durden ran the Colorado Marathon — 26 miles — in 3:48:25, finishing second in his 65-69 age group.

Courtesy Benji Durden

I hate math, but by my inexpert calculations, Benji could have run a marathon-and-a-half in the time it took the Yankees to win that single game.

Benji ranked among the top 10 U.S. marathoners for six straight years in the 1980s. He was ranked seventh in the world in 1982.

He has trophies, awards, and ribbons galore celebrating his still-running running.

(I have one award, in case you were wondering, from the time I won a Jell-O contest where I built an amazingly lifelike Washington DC Metro car out of Jell-O, clogged with unsmiling peanut passengers and stuck in a snow drift made out of stale miniature marshmallows. This was a long time ago, and it’s still one of my proudest moments. I won a sash cut out of butcher paper with “Miss Congealiality” written on it in Sharpie. I still have it. The sash, I mean. I still have the sash.)

Please note the period. Jell-O is a complete sentence.

Back to Benji. To add to his still-growing list of accolades is this – Benji Durden is the 4,000th follower of The Baseball Bloggess.

(I know. This accomplishment falls a little flat, especially now that you know about the Jell-O award.)

Real bloggers know that, like my Jell-O Metro car, blog follower lists can get clogged with a lot of spam, weird bots, and people whose names resemble passwords. (Hi, 5nML$234HN00C!) No one is quite sure why this happens or what’s in it for the bots that follow. So, while 4,000 is a real number, it is also an unreal number, and I can say that my real live readership – of non-bots who speak English and like to read about baseball – is smaller. Much smaller. Much, much smaller.

But, fake number or not, when I hit 3,999 earlier this summer, I put out the call to my friends to push me to 4K.

Meet my friend Benji Durden. #4,000.

Continue reading

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