It’s About A Toothbrush (Except It Isn’t)

Let me tell you a story. It won’t take long.

This is Mookie.

Mookie is one of three feral cats who now live with us. He’s adorable, isn’t he?

Sweet as can be. Especially considering he was born in a barn a couple years ago to a very wild, slightly nuts feral cat, and wasn’t touched by a human until he was nearly six months old.

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The Week In Review … (kinda, sorta)

This week has not been the best for The Baseball Bloggess.

A flat tire on Tuesday resulted in four new tires on Wednesday. (Followed by a brand new flat in one of the brand new tires just a few hours ago. That’s not the way these things are supposed to work, you know.)

Tuesday morning.

Sunday morning.

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Stevie. BFF.

It’s really no surprise that the first national recognition I ever received on this blog was for a post that also included the first photo of our cat Stevie.

Stevie Dew

 Stevie, in 2012, illustrating how Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) can come in different forms.

She was a stray, not-quite-feral cat who turned up in our barn five years ago and quickly moved in.

stevie votes

The second time my blog received national recognition, there was Stevie again. This time, in 2013, showing how cheaters have manipulated All-Star Game balloting. 

I had not only a friend, but an excellent Baseball Bloggess co-pilot.

She came along as I read War & Peace a few off-seasons ago …

Stevie Reads War And Peace

She wrongly picked the Atlanta Braves to win the 2015 World Series …

stevie says 2015

She complained about the very few cats featured in the annual Baltimore Orioles “Pet” calendar … Stevie & Jim Johnson

And, sometimes she was plunked into a post for no reason, other than she was just so damn cute …

stevie relaxing

She was one of the sweetest, friendliest, purringest cats I’ve ever known. (And, I’ve known a lot of cats.)

She was my BFF.

She got along with the other cats in the house. She was a “no drama” kitty.

She didn’t mind people and wasn’t one of those run-and-hide-in-the-box-springs cats when strangers walked in.

She got sick a couple days ago, although it was hard to tell because she kept purring and carrying on with her regular routine. She slept every night right next to my head. Just like always. She purred.

But, her favorite thing in the world was a meal (she was pretty starved when she turned up at our house those years ago, so it was no wonder that she delighted in a bowl of food more than anything else).  And, when she stopped eating we knew that something was wrong.

It was. And, yesterday we had to say goodbye.

Someone once commented on one of my posts that I should change the name of my blog from The Baseball Bloggess to something more general, so I could write about other things.

They didn’t understand. The Baseball Bloggess can write about whatever she wants.

And, today she wants to write about Stevie.

BFF.

stevie-in-the-box

 

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The Wrong Day for New Years, Fire Monkeys, & The Most Amazing Thing On The Internet

New Year’s Day is a fraud.

What’s so new about December 32? It’s wintertime and I can look outside and there’s nothing new growing out in our yard. (With the exception of the confused – and kinda-sorta blooming – forsythia which is saying in its own yellow-flowered way, “Why the hell is it 50 degrees out?”)

forsythia

The forsythia, blooming inappropriately, blows my theory that there’s nothing new about this New Year’s Day. But, for lots of us in the Northern Hemisphere, January 1 is really just looking out at empty trees and the remnants of last summer lying in the yard. Pretty barren.

tree

(This is especially obvious here in our yard where we don’t rake up leaves. We will tell you that we do this as an environmentally conscious effort to re-compost the leaves’ nutrients to the earth. Really, we’re just lazy.)

(Next time you think you ought to spend your weekend doing yard work or household chores that require power tools or overalls, just kick back and don’t bother. You can think, “Sure, I’m a layabout, but The Baseball Bloggess is way lazier than me.” You’re welcome.)

New Year’s Resolutions are as stupid as this made-up holiday.

Why can’t you make a resolution on November 17? Or, if your plan is to exercise more or lose weight, why not in summer, when opportunities for working out outside and eating more leanly and cleanly are easier to find?

(My New Year’s Resolution – to not eat crickets. And, don’t try to hide cricket powder in cookies.)

cricket cookies

I’m keeping my resolution.

Why isn’t New Year’s Day your birthday? After all, it’s the start of YOUR new year.

Jarrett Parker

© The Baseball Bloggess

Happy New Year, Jarrett Parker, one-time Richmond Squirrel and current San Francisco Giant, who turns 27 today!

Why isn’t New Year’s Day on Opening Day? That’s my new year. And, it’s just 92 days away.

(There’s nothing new in Baltimore, by the way. Catchers and pitchers report February 18 and the Orioles still don’t have a full starting pitching rotation. Do not joke with me and say, “You didn’t really have one last season either.” I don’t need your lip.)

(I’m not even sure the Orioles could cobble together a full outfield if they had to – unless you can play right field. Can you? Really, I’m serious, because if you can, I bet we can work something out. You play cheap, right?).

Smart people will tell you that, with the winter solstice a few weeks ago, the days are getting longer so we really are in a growing period.

But, back around 2000 BC, the Mesopotamians would celebrate their new year in the springtime, so see, I’m just old school.

New Years in Tibet will come on February 8. The date of Tibet’s New Year, Losar, changes from year to year as it roams around with the moons, but at least it tries to be close to spring.

February 8 marks the start of the Tibetan year of the Fire Monkey.

There really ought to be a minor league team called the Fire Monkeys.

I wanted to show you a video of a monkey to illustrate this.

But, then I found this. This is why the Internet is amazing. I’m going to stop now so you can watch it. Happy December 32.

 

UPDATE: Wait … There’s more! Here’s my “New” Year’s Day followup: What’s New, Pussycat? Nothing on January 1, That’s For Sure. 

 

I Wonder What Mike Trout Is Doing Right Now?

“The world’s series turned over and gave its last gasp yesterday. …This morning will see all the players except home-breds on their way back home or headed for the great open spaces where the streams abound with fish and woods are full of game.” The New York Times, October 18, 1923

I wonder what Mike Trout is doing right now?

How strange to have your free days all bundled together into a handful of weeks in the chill of fall and winter. I spend my free time following baseball. Mike Trout doesn’t.

It’s been one week without baseball.

It’s estimated that 800,000 people turned out in Kansas City on Tuesday to greet the World Series champion Royals along the parade route – that’s nearly half the city’s population. Businesses and schools closed, while bars along the parade route opened at 8:30 a.m.

That’s righteous support, Royals fans! You have made baseball feel magical and important again. Take that, Super Bowl.

That’s one mess of blue.

So, how to spend these winter-ish days? They are, to the casual observer, baseball-less, but, to those who know better, they are filled with games in Arizona and the Caribbean and Australia.

There’s the intrigue of the “hot stove” where owners toss money and players around like Secret Santa gifts, and where I, as is tradition, wonder how I ended up loving cheapskates like the Orioles. There’s a candy cane stuck in my stocking, while everyone else gets coffee gift cards, imported chocolates, and Zack Greinke.

For most players the off-season is already a month old, and these first weeks are spent hunting and fishing, getting married, and having surgeries to knit up season-old injuries.

Cy Young 1908 public domain

Public Domain via Library of Congress

Cy Young

In 1904, Cy Young advised: “Take things comparatively easy during the off season. … Light farm work in the off season has helped me. It is healthier than life in the big city.”

I’m all for taking things comparatively easy, but, any farmer will tell you, “light” farm work is always more strenuous, complicated, and exhausting than you planned on. And, I’m pretty sure that “light farm work” in 1904 meant 14 hours of labor, a hunk of bread for lunch, and trying not to lose your hand in the thresher.

In 1909, the “Old Fox” Clark Griffith, managing the Cincinnati Reds at the time, stopped his players from playing baseball in the off-season. “Playing ball in the winter ruins a man for his best work in the good old summer time,” he told The Washington Post. “Baseball is a sport which taxes the nerves as well as the muscles, and a man is sure to go stale unless he has plenty of time to recuperate.”

clark griffith 1920 public domain

Public Domain via Library of Congress

Clark Griffith Reminds You To Take It Easy … Get Some Rest.

This didn’t stop other players from making a buck by joining barnstorming teams that traveled the country or headed to Cuba or played in indoor leagues.

During the 1980s, the Royals’ wall-climbing outfielder Bo Jackson would spend his off-season as a running-back with the LA Raiders. He called football his “hobby.”

Bo Knows … 

Cy Young pitched for 21 seasons; won 511 games, the most in baseball history; and threw three no-hitters, including one perfect game.

So, maybe he’s right. About the taking it easy part, not the light farm work.

Maybe fans need time to recuperate, too.

The only light farm work I will be doing is taking the garden gnomes in for the winter.

gnome

But, there are books to read, cats that need feeding, and rooms that need dusting. I’m sure there is other stuff as well. And, if you give me a couple days, I will surely come up with something.

mookie the unroller

To Do: Hang The Toilet Paper Back On The Roller.

And, I saved a couple games on the DVR, too … … … because I lied about dusting.

Oh … and what about Mike Trout? Come to find out, he wants to be a weatherman and he’s angling to join The Weather Channel this off-season. “We’re planning on me doing a story when there’s a big storm in Jersey,” he said. “Hopefully, we get a big snowstorm.”

Angels at Orioles June 27, 2012

Angels at Orioles June 27, 2012. Photo by Keith Allison from Owings Mills, MD [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Mike Trout is a) robbing a “sure” home run from Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, or b) checking to see which way the wind blows.

The all-knowing Twitter was able to tell me exactly what Mike Trout was doing “right now” as I wrote this post:

Huntin’ and fishin’. That’s all they do isn’t it?

Three Mookies

There are lots of good baseball names.

Where else can you find a Yogi and Chipper and Moose and Boog?

(Spaceman and Satchel. And, Catfish and Goose. Campy and Crush. Oil Can and Babe.)

And, Mookie.

Mookie is beyond a good baseball name.  It’s a great baseball name. There are no Mookies in football. (If there are, there shouldn’t be.)

Mookie’s a good name for the kid who mows your lawn, the wiry old jazz musician who never caught a break, the mysterious water-witcher with no fixed address, and the guy who stops when your car breaks down, digs around in the back of his truck for a piece of cable, ties something up under your hood, makes your car start, and then disappears before you can say thank you.

Mostly, Mookie’s perfect for baseball.

Like Mookie Wilson of the New York Mets.

In the 10th inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, outfielder Mookie Wilson hit the ball that dribbled between Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner’s legs, allowing the winning run to score, tying up the Series, and leading to the Mets’ “destiny” win in Game 7.

To one Curse of the Bambino, add one dash Mookie. Stir and serve.

Watch 

mookie wilson buckner

“We shoulda lost that game.”

Oh, that Mookie Wilson.

You may think I’m sharing this simply to stick it to the pesky Red Sox who beat the Orioles Friday night 7-0, and then again last night 8-0.

I’m not. If I were sticking it to the Red Sox, I would share this video instead.

(But, I’m not. So don’t watch that second video. Really, I’m serious. Don’t.)

Mookie is known for his heart and his hustle, especially on the base paths.

Here he is with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show last year. Watch 

mookie on the daily show

“You were the one guy everybody loved and nobody ever worried about.” 

But, there’s another Mookie now: 22-year-old Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts.

How can you not like a Mookie who does this on Opening Day? Watch

mookie bases

He’s safe! And … he’s safe again!

A Mookie who does amazing things in the outfield. Watch

mookie at the wall2

Yes, he stole a “certain” two-run homer from the Orioles’ Chris Davis on Friday night. But, it was so awesome, how can I be mad?

(For pete’s sake, Crush, you couldn’t hit it a little higher?)

Mookie excelled at baseball and basketball in high school. He’s 5’9” and can dunk.

Plus, he was named Tennessee Boys Bowler of the Year in 2010.

He bowls!

And, if all that weren’t enough, he does Yoga to warm up before games.

OK, sure, almost all of them do nowadays, but this photo of mine from last season is one of my favorites.

Mookie Betts Yoga

© The Baseball Bloggess

How can you not love a guy named Mookie who is so happy to be warming up? How can you not forgive him for being a Red Sox?

But, today there’s another Mookie.

When you live in the country, feral cats show up in your barn. Ten percent of the ferals are old tom cats, with crooked faces and matted fur. The tips of their ears are often missing and their tails take funny turns in weird directions. These toms are stealthy and you’ll usually only catch glimpses of their back ends in the mornings as they slink from your barn and disappear into the grass of the nearby pasture. They know they are squatters and they do their best to stay unseen.

But, 90 percent of the ferals that show up in your barn are pregnant females. They will have kittens in your barn and then dare you to kick them out.

You can’t. You just can’t.

And, when you finally start to catch the ferals, for fixin’ and re-homing, you wonder if one – just one – will be able to make that challenging jump from wild thing to indoor cat.

And, when one does … with purrs so loud that they rumble through the room like the freight trains that pass through the edge of town at midnight …

Mookie2

© The Baseball Bloggess

You name him Mookie.

Because, he seems so happy.

Just like Mookie.

11 Minutes. No Football.

How will you spend your Sunday?

Yeh, I know. There’s a “super” bowl on.

I know all about your Patriots and your Seahawks. And, your Marshawn Lynch. And, your “Deflategate.” I learned all about it on Saturday Night Live last night. I know about these things.

Today’s Super Bowl will take up hours and hours and hours of airtime. Yet, if you add up the actual football action? Eleven minutes.

Between the Budweiser commercials, the broadcasters jabbering, and Katy Perry, there will be 11 minutes of actual football … 67 minutes of football players just standing around … 17 minutes of replays … and more than an hour of beer and truck commercials. (And, probably a concussion or two.)

SportsGrid broke it down in this easy-to-follow pie chart:

pie chart

Fun Fact: The average baseball game? 18 minutes of action. That’s 67 percent MORE baseball, people.

I gave up on football a few years back with the ugly revelations of the game’s concussion crisis and the National Football League’s irresponsible inaction.

So, I won’t be spending my 11 minutes watching football tonight.

And, just maybe, you won’t be either. So, here are some things we can do with the 11 minutes we just freed up!

** Make Chocolate Chip Cookies for the nice fella who fixed the coat rack in your Yoga studio. (Or, for any nice person you know.)

cookie1

cookie2

cookie3

Bake for just 11 minutes in a 350 oven.

** Do Yoga.

If you’re in the groove, you’ll squeeze 11 rounds of Sun Salutations into your 11 minutes. (Cat preferred, but always optional.)

 

** Listen to Bob Dylan’s Desolation Row”.

highway 61 revisited

Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood
With his memories in a trunk
Passed this way an hour ago
With his friend, a jealous monk 

What?

When you’re done, you can tell me what the hell he’s singing about for 11 minutes. But, it’s a good song, even if I don’t get it.

** Read War & Peace.

** Read a CHAPTER of War & Peace.

read war and peace

Just 300 pages left.

** Break in your new baseball glove before heading to Spring Training.

But, if you’re going to microwave it, heed the advice of former Twin-Angel-Tiger and current Twin (again) Torii Hunter who warns you that if you nuke it for more than a minute it will start to cook. He also recommends softening it up in your hot tub first. After nuking, give it some good smacks with your baseball bat.

Just 18 days ‘til Pitchers and Catchers report. So let’s get those gloves in the hot tub, Birdland!

Thankful For This Moment …

 

stevie on the porch

© The Baseball Bloggess

The Baseball Bloggess: “Stevie wants you to know that the camera adds five pounds.”‘

Editor/Husband: “How many did she eat?”

May you have much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. I’m grateful for all the people who swing by this blog from time to time … who pepper my posts with witty comments … and who love baseball (and cats) as much as me.

shtinky thankful moment

muttscomics.com

… And, this moment. And, you.

 

Now There Are Only Three

Eleven cats and one dog have lived with us here over the past 15 years or so.

They just keep showing up.

Living on a farm – even if it is a farm in name only – attracts all sorts of creatures.

I have loved each of the 11 cats and the one dog who showed up, moved in, and stayed.

(Sure, there have been others who have stopped by for a day or a week or a month and just moved on. I don’t count them.)

I do not like the groundhogs who dig bowling ball-sized burrows in our yard and waddle all smug and nasty and fearless when I yell at them to stop eating the tomatoes.  (You can call them woodchucks or whistle pigs and I still will not like them.)

Over time the numbers of animals who live with us has dwindled.  The cats and the dog came, grew old or ill, and then passed on.

I hate that part.

Because it breaks my heart every time I have to say “goodbye.”

Now there are only three.

This week the “goodbye” was for Lamar. He was only eight or so.

lamar porch

He was the most feral of the feral cats we’ve taken in. And, because there was so much wild in him to begin with, it was easy to grow very attached to the sweetness that seeped out around the feral edges.

I like that a cat’s love for a person is not unconditional. I like that there’s some wild independence in there. I like that we humans are always on probation with cats, and they can and will withdraw their affection at any moment.

I’ve always had an issue with dogs.  I don’t like the unconditional love thing with dogs.  I want to earn your friendship.

Bingo and Groucho

Groucho and Bingo. (1999-2000-ish)

Bingo, the Border Collie, loved me, but she also loved Tim, the UPS driver, and our neighbors, and the vet, and complete strangers, and anyone with food.

I’m also not a big fan of that dog-breath slobbery thing and I don’t understand why, if they’re so much smarter than cats, they can’t learn to use the litter box and cover up after themselves. Using the cat’s litter box like a salad bar really doesn’t make the case for “We’re smarter than cats.”

(I loved Bingo and she would want me to add that she never bothered the litter boxes.)

I’m pretty much a cat person.

When Lamar showed up seven years ago, he was so feral that it took me many months of sweet talk and food to soften him up enough just to touch him, and a few months more before he would let me lift him off the ground.

He was tough and built of muscle, but one day when he came out on the wrong side of a cat fight, his front paw was injured and he was hobbling just enough that we were able to catch him and get him into a pet carrier. Antibiotics and neutering followed.

Lamar became our farm protector. He protected Oscar, a very old cat that had left our neighbor’s house to live in our barn.

??????????

Oscar

Oscar was too old to fight or protect himself, but refused to come inside. It seems odd to say Lamar tended to him, but that’s what he did.

In the same way that cats will sometimes bring their people mice and moles and other “gifts”, Lamar brought a cat to us a couple years ago and let her eat out of his food bowl.

??????????

“Look. I brought you a cat.”

She followed him like a shadow.

??????????

She became Stevie and, when she discovered the warmth and creature comforts of being inside, she moved in.

Not long after, Lamar started losing more cat scuffles than he won, and then, much to his initial dismay, we decided that, feral or not, it was time for him to come in the house.  And, feral or not, he quickly settled in, and he was the one cat in the house that every other cat in the house got along with.

s and l

We enclosed our front porch this year just so Lamar could enjoy the outdoors safely.

Lamar was fine on Thursday morning, he slept with us on the bed the night before. (He always slept wideways on the bed, taking up a lot of space and forcing me to curl my legs up tight so he could stretch out.) He was fine when we left for work.

His heart gave out that day – as cat hearts often do, quickly and without warning.  And, that night we said goodbye.

He was a good cat. Handsome, wild, and sweet.

I can’t believe he’s gone.

I’ll miss him. I miss every one of them.

s and l porch

Photos: © The Baseball Bloggess