Chris Davis & The Unjilted

Chris Davis Baseball

Being jilted is no fun.

Which is a shame because “jilt” is a fun word.

Let’s go a’jilting!

It’s a jiltingly beautiful day, let’s have a picnic.

But, language is fickle and being jilted, of course, is no fun at all.

(If you haven’t been jilted – by a date, a boyfriend or girlfriend, or even a fiancé  – you are a rare bird, or a bird with selective memory. You can keep reading, Unjilted One, but this won’t be as meaningful for you.)

So, what to do if you thought you were jilted … but you discover you weren’t? Not jilted. Unjilted. Ajilted. Non-jiltified.

What if you’ve already moved on only to discover that you weren’t jilted after all?

On Saturday morning, reporters learned that Baltimore Orioles first baseman (sometime right fielder and one-time winning pitcher) Chris Davis had re-signed with the club.

Embed from Getty Images

Welcome back to Baltimore, Chris Davis! 

(I’m not sure I can even welcome you back, “Crush”, because, as it turns out, you never really even left.)

Re-signed and resigned are two different things which is extremely hard for some writers to understand.

Continue reading

Messin’ With Texas

It was a long shot. You know, asking Texas teams to knock the Toronto Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals out of the post season. Knock them out for no good reason, except, really, for spite.

Spitefulness is not an attractive character trait. I know this, so you can stop with the nose-crinkling.

As an Orioles fan, I can’t root for the Royals who soundly steamrolled the O’s in last year’s ALCS and I can’t root for the Blue Jays because … if for no other reason than their fans always seem to be throwing their beer around and I can’t like an untidy country.

stop throwing things

Even the players begged fans to stop throwing beer. And, they’re a team that likes throwing bats and stuff.

I had hopes for those pesky Houston Astros. I really thought they could squeeze past the Royals.

But, they let me down.

The Texas Rangers over the Blue Jays? Hey, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. But, a girl can dream.

Now, I realize, you just can’t count on Texas.

It is a very big state with, apparently, nothing to show for it.

If you ask the Googler “What is Texas famous for?”, it will tell you … The Alamo, a battle that didn’t go particularly well for the Texans. So really, even Texas can’t come up with anything.

Look, I was only asking a couple of Texas teams to win a couple ball games. And, the Texans let me down. Just like the Alamo.

Now I’m stuck rooting for the National League, and for heaven’s sake, they let their pitchers bat! What is wrong with those people?

I know some of you hipsters are saying, “Hey, what about Janis Joplin?” Texas was horrible to Janis. They can’t be taking credit for her after they bullied her in high school. (For those who will argue for Buddy Holly … yes, you’ve got a point. But, I’m not letting your thoughtfulness mess up this post.)

I can come up with only three good things to ever come out of the state.

1) Texas Toast.

First off, my local grocery has an entire freezer case – the whole thing! – dedicated to Texas toast.

Texas Toast

Imagine that! Those Texas geniuses have saved us the trouble of buttering our own toast! They just freeze the toast with the butter right on it. It’s amazing.

I was feeling kinda bad about trash-talking the state when they’ve gone to all the trouble to freeze toast with the butter already on it.

Then I discovered this. (And, you Texas Toast fans could have told me this and saved me all this trouble.)  It’s not even toast! You still have to take your frozen butter-bread and toast the thing yourself. Which just goes to prove my point. You can’t count on Texas for anything.

New York Texas Toast

Look! Even the Texas Toast is rooting for the Mets!

So, we’re left with …

2) Chris Davis, (born in Longview and now lives in Arlington, Texas).

The (still, for the time-being) Orioles’ Chris Davis hit 47 homeruns this season. That’s more than anyone else.

crush

© The Baseball Bloggess

47 homers. This is one of them.

It wasn’t enough to get the Orioles to the post-season, but it was enough to help give the O’s a solid break-even .500 season, which, when you set the bar very low, isn’t so bad.

Davis is now a free agent, and most baseball smarties believe he will flee Baltimore for the bright lights of a multi-year, multi-million-million-million-dollar payday. Can’t blame him. But, if he does, he’s coming off this list … tossed right beside the unreliable Astros, Rangers, and those boxes of Texas “toast.”

3) Doak Dozier (Ft. Worth).

Doak Dozier is a freshman outfielder at the University of Virginia. With only a few “fall ball” exhibitions under his belt this month, I can’t tell you much about his abilities. But, scouts think he’s got potential.

He has, they say, “outstanding hitting ability. … Always hits.”

“[H]ighly athletic … with a pretty swing and tools to burn.”

Doak Dozier Foul Swing

© The Baseball Bloggess

Nice swing. 

At Arlington Heights High School, he was a baseball star, All-State, and named a “Perfect Game” All-American. Here’s what they were saying during this year’s draft.

I just think he has one of the best names in baseball.

Doak.

(Not as good as Mookie, of course, but better than Hunter Pence.)

That’s really all it takes to make this list today.

In case you think I haven’t done my research, trust me. I now know that silicone breast implants, Fritos, and Dell computers all come from Texas. (I’m writing this on a Dell. Which makes me think I’m really sticking it to ‘em.)

So, you can’t count on Texas. Except for Chris Davis (as an Oriole, but not playing for anyone else), Doak Dozier, maybe, I really don’t know, but he has a nice name, and Buddy Holly. But, that’s it.

Oh, and those bats in Austin. They’re awesome.

 

Well, On The Bright Side …

conan2

~ Conan O’Brien on Twitter yesterday

Last week, Baltimore Orioles first baseman, home-runny guy Chris Davis was suspended for 25 games for failing his second drug test. He used Adderall, an amphetamine that is restricted by Major League Baseball.

I wrote about the messy business of drug testing and cheating and Chris Davis here.

And, here’s the weird thing I just discovered.

I started this blog in 2012. That was the summer that Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera was suspended for using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) and failing a drug test.

And, I wrote back then about Cabrera and the messy business of drug testing and cheating. (Which you can read here.)

In my post last week about Davis, I was conflicted. I don’t like cheaters, but hey, we all make mistakes and do stupid things from time to time, right?

Right?

Was I mad at Chris Davis? Disappointed? Could I ever trust him again?

The last words of that post on Friday … “I just don’t know.”

When I wrote about Melky Cabrera in 2012, I couldn’t decide either. Was I mad at him? Disappointed? Could I ever trust him again?

The last words of that post … “I just don’t know.”

That I ended both posts exactly the same way – unknowingly – means what? That I’m hopelessly conflicted? Unable to find the black-and-white answer in a gray-area world? Utterly predictable? Or, that I’m my only plagiarist?

I just don’t know.

Just like the strike zone, balks, the ever-changing rules about blocking the plate, the phantom “almost tags” at second on double plays … baseball might seem black and white on the outside, but inside the rules can get a bit mooshy.

To ban Adderall for some players, but allow it for others? I just don’t know. It doesn’t seem so black and white after all.

Yes, Chris Davis broke the rules. He admitted that. He’s serving his suspension.

But, as CBS Sports reports, Davis may be one of the few players who isn’t “faking” his ADD diagnosis. Read here.

And, there is this.

Yesterday, with no game to go to (because of that suspension thing) Davis was on his way to the airport to pick up some friends. He came across an accident on 295 outside of Baltimore, stopped, flagged down help, and helped right an overturned truck that had pinned one of its occupants.

He really did. (And, you can read about it here.)

roch2

So, he may have done a bad thing. But, he’s also does good things.

How can I stay mad at someone who helps out like that?

How can I stay mad when the Baltimore Orioles are one win away from clinching the American League East title?

No expert predicted it (except The Baseball Bloggess). And, it hasn’t been easy.

Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters? Out since May with a season-ending elbow injury. Orioles All-Star third baseman Manny Machado? Out at the beginning of the season and out again since August with a season-ending knee injury. All-Star first baseman Chris Davis? Out (we’ve covered this).

other guys

The Orioles are about to win the AL East title with the help of a bunch of non-All-Star Other Guys. How cool is that!

It’s been a long time, too. The last time the Orioles won their division was 1997.

In 1997, there were no blogs. No iPods, iPhones, or iPads. Chris Davis was 11. Manny Machado was 5. And, we all thought this song was great …

 

It IS great.

“Merry Clinchmas” Everyone!

 

“We Are All Adults Here.”

“The weather may be tricky or a bat may slip or a ball may bounce in some unexpected way; now and then the best man may go stale or lose his nerve; the professional honor of the player, however, has been taken for granted. We do not trust cashiers, diplomats, policemen, or physicians as we trust an outfielder or shortstop. … The man at the bat, cheer him or hoot at him as we may, is supposed to be doing his best.” ~ The Nation magazine, October 13, 1920

Baltimore Orioles first baseman (and home-run slugger) Chris Davis was suspended today for 25 games for testing positive for Adderall, an amphetamine, which is restricted by Major League Baseball.

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Chris Davis

His suspension means he will miss the rest of the regular season and the first eight games of the post-season – should the Orioles get that far.

Davis was having a weirdly unsuccessful (.196), successful (26 home runs) sort of season.

So, sure, it’s a weirdly insurmountable (who will hit home runs now?), surmountable (Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones, Steve Pearce, and all those other guys) problem for the Orioles as they make a run toward the post-season (something they’ve done only one other time this century).

I am mad at Chris Davis. Because I trusted him not to be stupid.

(Trusting guys in their 20s to not be stupid, I realize, is stupid. I have just put my head down on the keyboard in shame.)

I am mad at Chris Davis because he cheated and now he is screwing up everything. He has let down his team and fans. (If we don’t win the World Series this year – no matter what happens – I will blame him.)

But, I’m also mad at Orioles fans who have been whining since the news broke this morning, “He wasn’t really cheating. Adderall isn’t a performance-enhancing drug (PED). It’s not that bad. Oh, why does everyone gang up on the Orioles?”

Let me clear something up, you whining tweeters.

Yes, yes, he was cheating. Yes, it is that bad. And, no one was ganging up on the Orioles. Chris Davis broke the rules.

Davis used a drug he did not have permission to use. (He had a “therapeutic use exemption” for Adderall in previous seasons. He does not have it now.) This is his second offense – hence the 25-game suspension which begins today.

Adderall, used for Attention Deficit Disorders in children and adolescents, is one of those sneaky gray-area drugs. Its benefits to athletes aren’t physically obvious – with steroids you can see the effects in the beefy muscles and resulting power. Adderall acts more like a super dose of caffeine, enhancing concentration, focus, and reaction time.

Dr. Gary Wadler, a former chair of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Prohibited List Committee, told The Seattle Times in 2012 that Adderall is “one of the quintessential performance-enhancing drugs.”

Adderall, he said, “masks fatigue, masks pain, increases arousal — like being in The Zone. … It increases alertness, aggressiveness, attention, and concentration. It improves reaction time, especially when fatigued. Some think it enhances hand-eye coordination. Some believe it increases the mental aspects of performance.”

(Apparently, it does not enhance the “mental aspects” of making good decisions.)

Since Adderall has very little therapeutic value in adults, it’s curious that baseball offers exemptions to players. Nearly 10 percent of current major league players have an exemption.

And, Jayson Stark of ESPN pointed out: “Athletes who have taken it have told me that once you’re used to playing your sport when you’re taking Adderall, it’s incredibly difficult to play without it.”

Oh, sure, you wisenheimers can argue that Adderall was doing a lousy job of enhancing Chris Davis’ .196 batting average this year. But, you’re just being cheeky.

Davis had permission to take Adderall in the past, perhaps even during last year’s monster 53 home run season. If something gives you an edge or a boost or helps you achieve amazing things it can’t be easy to just up and quit. And, Adderall is highly addictive.

But, rules are rules and the rules say this – you cannot take Adderall without an exemption. Pretty simple.

I hate writing posts like this. (I’ve written this blog for two years and every season I’ve had to sigh and try to make sense of some cheater or other – relive previous cheatery here.)

I hate when stupid and ugly things get in the way of the game that I love.

Orioles rightfielder Nick Markakis has been outspoken regarding PED use in baseball.

nick in bw

 Nick Markakis

In an interview with The Baltimore Sun last season, Markakis said of players who fail drug tests, “These guys are big boys; they can make decisions. If I go out there and rob a convenience store, I know the consequences that are coming with it. We are all adults here.”

He continued: “These guys that are doing performance-enhancing drugs are taking away from a lot of other people that are doing it the right way. They are taking opportunities away and they are basically stealing.”

“I’m sorry” goes a long way with me. I forgave Nelson Cruz. (Cruz served a 50-game suspension for failing a drug test last season. He apologized.)

I’ll forgive you, too, Chris.

But, trust?

I still trust Nick Markakis.

Everyone else? I just don’t know.

 

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

Free Baseball: All About The O

I know, I know, there’s still a bit of baseball left … a World Series (yawn). With some teams … playing somewhere. Oh, I don’t know.

I guess I’ll watch. But, secretly, I’ll be counting down the days until Opening Day 2014.

163.

But, before we close the book on 2013, here are some extra innings to honor my sweet Baltimore Orioles and their second consecutive winning season.

(Hey, did you know that the Orioles broke a major league record this year, by committing the fewest errors – 54 – ever in a single season? I just love a tough and graceful defense!)

Free Baseball: All About the O(rioles): Offense, Defense, Pitching & Pumpkins!

10th Inning: “Crush” Davis, Home Run King.

Orioles First Baseman Chris Davis hit 53 home runs this season. The most anyone hit this year and an Orioles’ record.

Wanna see the first 50? Of course you do. And, it will only take a minute.

crush6

Click here.

(Chris Davis also led all of baseball with 138 runs batted in and tied for third in the American League with 42 doubles. And, in the field he led baseball with 153 double plays turned.)

11th Inning: Hakuna Machado!

The Orioles’ Manny Machado makes beautiful baseball over on third.

Magical.

Manny is one of the best defensive players in the game today. Gold Glove worthy. (Oh, and he led the AL with 51 doubles, too.)

“Hakuna Machado” – a takeoff on The Lion King song – is a Birdland cheer for Manny. Here’s a great song and video some folks over at MLB.com put together for Manny this season.

Just 90 seconds. Plus, Orioles’ reliever Tommy Hunter sings. Worth it just for that.

hakuna5

Click here.

(Manny had surgery on his knee earlier this week. He’ll be on the mend for six months or so. May Hakuna Magic heal Manny up and bring him back to Birdland in the Spring!)

12th Inning: Jim Palmer, Pitcher. Jim Palmer, Pitchman.

Jim Palmer is not only the greatest pitcher in Orioles’ history … he is one of the greatest pitchers. Period. (Please do not argue with me. This is neither the time nor the place.)

Here are some career numbers over Palmer’s 19 seasons (1965-1984):

20-Game Winner: 8 Times

Cy Young Awards: 3

Gold Gloves: 4

Win Percentage: .638

Win Percentage in Post-Season Games: .727

Grand Slams hit off of him: 0

Today, Jim Palmer does color for Orioles’ television broadcasts. He’s quite good – interesting, informative, entertaining, without being arrogant or a windbag. (Although he will happily remind you about that grand slam stat from time to time.)

He taught me one of the most important rules of baseball: “Never be the first or third out at third.”

In addition to pitching, Jim Palmer sold a lot of Brylcreem and Jockey shorts back in the day. A few of his commercials were gathered by the cool blog “30-Year Old Cardboard” to recognize Palmer’s 68th birthday earlier this week. Click here.

brylcreem2

13th Inning: Pumpkins!

One of the most popular posts on this blog is from last October when I wrote about the Oriole pumpkin I carved. The pumpkin is pretty miserable (in a “you let a 3-year-old hold a knife and slash up your pumpkin?” sort of way) and the photo is blurry (“and he took the photo, too?”).

This blurry photo is from October 2011. To give the Baltimore Orioles' bird something to do in October, I attempted to carve my very first pumpkin. If the Orioles go into the post-season this year, I will carve a much finer bird. Oscar the cat, by the way, is 20. He was 5 when the Orioles last made it into the post-season.

Oriole Pumpkin. Oscar.

It was a sloppy Oriole pumpkin honoring a team that, in 2011, was pretty sloppy, too – they lost nearly 100 games. In all of baseball, only Seattle, Minnesota, and Houston played worse.

But, the photo includes Oscar – who lived to be nearly 20 and was a mighty good cat. He always smelled like sunshine. He’s gone now, but I always smile when I see this picture.

For the post, Oriole pumpkin stencils, and all things pumpkiny, click here.

(Psst! Giants fans, I’ve got you covered, too … click here.)

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.

In Praise Of The Bullpen

“The two most important things in life are good friends and a strong bullpen.” ~ Bob Lemon (Cleveland Indians Pitcher, 1941-1958. Manager of the Royals, White Sox, & Yankees.)

What’s the difference between my good friends and the Orioles’ bullpen?

None of my friends melted down on Monday night. (Also, not as much spitting. Thank you for that.)

The Baltimore Orioles’ bullpen fell apart Monday night in Arizona. (It’s was a pitchfork-hot 108 in Phoenix yesterday, but that was nothing compared to the meltdown inside Chase Field.)

One by one the Oriole relievers came out to the mound. One by one, they gave up runs. Tying runs, go ahead runs, tying runs, go ahead runs.

Finally, with the game tied in the ninth, Darren O’Day, the trusty sidearmer, came out, threw one ball – just one lousy pitch. Emphasis on lousy. Homerun. Game over.

Oh sure, we all have bad days. But, I’m grateful that I don’t have thousands of people peering over my shoulder, second-guessing, and jeering when I have mine. It’s a gift, I think, to endure a bad day in the shadows … where no one can see you sulk.

The Orioles weren’t the only team with a leaky bullpen last night. By the end of the night, there were three blown saves recorded in that game. THREE. And, only one belonged to the Orioles. The Diamondbacks won, despite two blown saves from their relievers.

So, a bad night to be a reliever.

Baseball fans say that a lot.

But, instead of jeering and heckling and second-guessing, I’m here to praise the bullpen. The Orioles bullpen. Every bullpen.

Next to Umpires, the most thankless job in baseball.

It’s where starting pitchers are punished. A few bad outings, a few hinky pitches, and a starting pitcher is banished to the ‘pen. One is seldom “promoted” to the bullpen.

(And, how about the use of “hinky” in a sentence? I should stop right now.)

It’s where mascots are crammed together, squeezed in tight with the relievers, as they await a race around the warning track.

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If you look carefully, you can make out the AA New Hampshire Fisher Cat relievers in the bullpen trying to ignore all the mascots.

It’s where Minnesota Twins’ relievers spend a year patiently waiting for that one brief perfect moment to prank the cameras. Oh, come on I know you want to watch … here.

Twins punchout

It’s where pitchers catch homeruns in their caps.

It’s where rookies carry backpacks filled with candy and snacks. (What else is there to do while you wait for your starting pitcher to fall apart?)

sean doolittle

MLB.com @Cut4 via Twitter

A’s Reliever Sean Doolittle’s Twitter Bio says this: I get to play baseball with my friends for a living and sometimes they even let me be pitcher for an inning!

It’s where no one ever gets to be hero and everyone is the goat eventually.

When you come in from the bullpen and fail, most likely you’ve cost your team the game. Even the greatest bullpen pitchers will fail from time to time. (Yes, even Mariano Rivera.)

They will be booed and heckled. Mercilessly. By the time they come into the game, your nastiest hecklers are already well into their cups … many, many beers to the wind. The more beer, the louder and stupider the heckle. It’s a fact.

When bullpen pitchers succeed, when they hold the lead, you won’t hear a word. The batters will be rewarded for scoring plenty of runs. The starting pitcher will be lauded for not letting a game get away. The bullpen? Hey, they were just doing their job.

Remember Jay? My new favorite thing to do is bounce ideas off of him. So, Jay, what do you have to say about relievers?

It is the nature of the role that relief pitchers make you nervous. The term “relief” implies you aren’t the real thing — you are on standby in case something happens – i.e., a relief valve. That is why relief pitchers got no respect at all until they invented euphemisms to class them up — thus, the “closer” – sounds important; “set-up guy” – sounds tricky; “long man” – actually sounds superfluous, but you get the idea.

There are a lot of things that can go wrong in a game. My Editor/Husband will moan like a cat with a hairball whenever a bad play unfolds. But, when the bullpen gets lit up, that’s when he gets really animated. (“Animated” is sort of like heckling but without all the beer.)

A position player can strike out once or twice in a game. But, as soon as he does this … all is forgiven.

crush landing

A starting pitcher can have a tough first inning, but somewhere tonight in America a broadcaster will say, “He’s settled down from a shaky first.”

Bullpen pitchers don’t have the luxury of a shaky first.

So, the Orioles bullpen had a bad night. But, they’ve had plenty more good nights.

So, yay, for the bullpen.

And, relievers everywhere.

For Moe Drabowsky, the wacky prankster. For Mike Marshall, who in 1974 became the first reliever to win the Cy Young (and in true quirky reliever fashion actually became a big league pitcher simply because he wanted to study pitching arm injuries for his PhD.)

And, for every reliever who has had a bad game … or blown a save (or two or seven). Rest up, guys, because we’ll need you to be ready to try again for us tomorrow.

It’s Still Early. Unless It’s Too Late.

May 2013A couple days ago, a local baseball broadcaster said, “In April we say, ‘it’s early’. But now it’s May.”

This is poetic because it references baseball, but it could apply to anything. Or nothing. It could be incredibly deep and thought-provoking.  Or it could be stupid. For all I know it’s just meaningless gibberish.

So, it’s May and it’s no longer early (unless you’re a basil plant in which case … ok, you there, basil, it’s early. Pipe down and stay inside a few more days.)

Since it’s no longer early, I should be able to tell you who’s going to the playoffs.

But, I can’t. Because it’s still early. Unless, it’s already way too late.

Who knows?

(The Orioles are going to the playoffs by the way, but it’s too early to be saying that. Except parenthetically, of course.)

If you’re the Angels of Anaheim, it is early. You may be doing poorly (which leads to much mocking at your expense), but you’re one of baseball’s big spenders, one or two of those millions of dollars must surely pay off eventually. (You might want to have a little get-together with the Dodgers and talk all this “money well spent” thing out.)

If you’re the Red Sox … you are doing very well. You are doing better than anyone, and better than anyone expected. You’re off to a fast start.

(There, Red Sox fans, are you happy now? I said something nice. It’s not like I am always sitting here reminding you of the Curse of the Andino every time I mention Boston.)

But here’s the thing. The Red Sox are like the couple who shows up an hour before the party starts. (And, they’re usually the people you didn’t really want to invite, but felt you had to, because they would eventually find out they weren’t invited, because everyone else was, and it’s going to lead to some awkward moments on Monday. So, just to make things easy you invite them and hope they have other plans  … and then, dammit, they show up an hour early. But, they do bring spinach dip, so that’s nice.)

Anyway, the Red Sox often get off to very fast starts. They love early.

The Yankees just lean against the wall, fold their arms, tap their feet, whistle tunelessly, and wait. Eventually, the Red Sox’ early runs out. Then the Yankees slowly step over the smoldering wreckage and into first. I hate that.

The Yankees know it’s still early because most of their stars are on the disabled list. So, it’s too early to know how good or how bad their season will be, because they’re not even playing yet.

And, the Dodgers keep getting hurt, so it’s impossible to know how early or late it is for them.

If your team is off to a shaky – but not horrific – start (hi, Baltimore!) then it’s still early. Sure, the Red Sox are smokin’ hot, but you’re only 3.5 games back.

The Red Sox are going to fold like a massage therapist on laundry day. (Inside joke there for my fellow therapists.)

So, Orioles fans, lots of time left. It’s still early. It’s also never too late to find a fifth starting pitcher, so you just keep looking, ok?

If you’re woefully dreadful, because your owners have sold off all your stars, pocketed the profits, and still think they can stick you for an $8 hotdog and 25 players you’ve never heard of, then yes, for you Miami Marlins fan, it probably is too late. But, you still have the Bobblehead Museum, so there is that.

(Observation: why do the Red Sox and the Yankees get to feast on poor Houston’s bones all through April? Don’t they have to play anyone else?  And, you just know Houston’s going to have a magical little mini-surge in there somewhere, and it better not be when they’re playing the Orioles.)

So here’s where we are as May kicks off.

Every division has two or three teams playing better than .500 ball. They’re doing well. They had good early.

And, every division has two or three teams playing sub-.500 ball. But, never count a late bloomer out. (See, Astros … I got your back.)

Maybe it’s not too early or too late. Every day brings new possibilities.

A pitcher down in some Triple A town last night might have finally figured out how to pitch, rather than throw. He may be ready for a June promotion.  He may save a team’s season.

Or one night, a star’s knee buckles on a routine play and suddenly everything changes.

So what’s the Yoga lesson?

For those who say it’s still early. They’re wrong.

For those who say it’s no longer early. They’re wrong, too.

For those who say it’s not too late. You might be right.

And, for those who say it’s too late. Just you wait.

It’s just right now.

Or, as baseball legend Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

My husband/editor would like to add that of the teams that led their divisions on April 30, 2012, only one (the Nationals) went on to win their division. So put him down as a vote for “it’s still early.”

In other baseball news, Orioles first baseman Chris Davis is, sadly, no longer on pace to hit 162 homeruns this season. He also hurt himself during last night’s game. One wonky knee can spoil things for everybody.  (Get well soon, Mr. Davis!)

As for me, I cracked my head against the wall in the bathroom this morning. I’m not sure how or why this happened, short of the wall reaching out and just smacking me for no good reason. While I’m probably going to be ok, if you never see another post here from me, you’ll know why.

Groovin’

I always assumed that being “in a groove” came from the days of vinyl record albums when your needle needed to stay in the groove in order to get the music out. (This will date me, but I did tape pennies to the needle arm in order to keep it from skipping.)

Now, I find out – because I love Google – that “groove” is from Middle English and has evolved from “grove” or “groeve” which means a deep pit. (See, and you thought you weren’t going to learn anything from me today.)

So, being in the groove would seem to be a very bad thing.

A groove is also what baseball calls the juicy middle of the strike zone.  Groove one in there, Mr. Hanrahan. Just watch … click here.

That kind of groove is great for a hitter.  For a pitcher? Not so great.

Lots of ballplayers complained last week that they weren’t “in the groove.”  The ups-and-downs of Opening (Day) Week … day game/off day/night game/day game/night game … threw players out of their rhythm.

The first week of the season is sort of the weirdo week of a very long baseball season anyway.

It seems to be so important, and yet no one seems to be in the groove.  The games played in April are important, but aren’t really any more important than the games that will come next week, next month, or the month after that, or the month … oh, you get the idea.

Opening Day games sell out in the middle of the week.  Everyone wants to go, even when the weather is brisk.  An insanely chilly 38 degrees in Chicago for instance.  

(One of many things that makes baseball far superior to football is its devotion to being a warm-weather sport.  There is no place for snow on a baseball diamond. Well, now that J.T. Snow is retired anyway.)

Casual fans go for the hotdogs and beer, the ambience, and to say they’re going to Opening Day, which never seems to lose its nostalgia and luster.

Many just like an excuse to take a half-day at work, and really, who can blame them? Celebrities throw out the first pitches. The best pitchers in the game face off.

And, all the team Mascots are freshly laundered and smell like clean fluffy muppets, weeks away from the grimey, sweaty, mustard stained fuzz balls of mid-summer.

Dedicated fans and sports pundits wrestle with a scant handful of stats from a scant handful of games, but are still ready to make Playoff and World Series predictions, even though there are 156 games left to play.

Some players start off crazy-hot.  Homerun shmoosher Chris Davis, I’m looking at you.  And, you know it can’t last – won’t last – but you try to envision it anyway.  At one point last week, the Orioles’ Chris Davis was on pace to hit 162 homeruns this season.

(The only point to this blog post, really, was getting to say “the Orioles’ Chris Davis was on pace to hit 162 home runs this season.”  You can stop reading now if you want.)

Some players have very, very bad days that skew statistics in most awful ways.

When you’ve played a week and still are batting .000, or are a pitcher with an earned run average of 20+ runs a game, you know you’re definitely not in your groove. (Yet.)

We all have grooves.  We get in them.  We lose them.  We revel in them while we have them, pine for them when they’re gone.  Sometimes we don’t even know we are in a groove until we’ve fallen out and things start going wrong.

Every time I step on my Yoga mat, I know, probably within 30 seconds, whether I’m in my groove or not.   It’s easy to practice Yoga when you’re in your groove.  It is infinitely more important to push through your Yoga when you are not.

I guess that’s good advice for all grooves.

Grooves are fleeting.

Which is why it’s too early to give the Orioles’ Chris Davis the MVP trophy and the Giants’ Barry Zito (2-0, ERA 0.00 in 14 innings) the Cy Young Award (even though I’m a-ok with either).

And, it’s also too early to give up on your team just because they haven’t found a groove yet.  (Unless you’re a Miami Marlins fan, in which case the team owners owe you an apology.)

This is the FOURTH complete blog post that I’ve drafted in the past week and the only one that will see the light of day (true confession: I’ve written that on all the discarded drafts too, so there’s no telling if this one will even make it to the Editor/Husband “here, have a look” stage).

So, clearly, I’m not in my blog groove.  But, I’m still happy that baseball season is here.  And, I’m happy to keep unrolling my Yoga mat because I know there’s a groove hiding in there somewhere.

Not in your groove today?

Here, try this … it’s a guilty pleasure.  “Let the Groove Get In” … Justin Timberlake … definitely worth a spin.  Click here

Justin Timberlake

“That Ball’s Gone, By The Way”

Baseball doesn’t change much. The rules you learn in Little League are pretty much the ones that will get you to – and keep you in – the Big Leagues. And, one of the most important rules is this: Keep Your Eyes On The Ball.

Whether you’re batting, or fielding, or even if you’re just watching a game.  In Yoga, this concentrated, focused gaze is called Drishti.

So, the Orioles won last night, 1-0, over the Tampa Bay Rays, thanks to a Homeric homer by RF Chris Davis.  (He’s homered in six straight games, an O’s record.)

Use your Drishti … Watch it here.

Post-game attention quickly shifted to New York where the Red Sox led the Yankees going into the 9th. A Red Sox win would be good news for the O’s who still don’t know where their post-season game will be or whom they will play.

But, the comfy Red Sox lead evaporated as the Yankees rallied in the bottom of the 9th.

The Oriole fans on Twitter would have been hand-wringing, if they weren’t madly tweeting their anguish. (What I learned reading Twitter last night: You can fit a lot of creative curse words into 140 characters.)

Meanwhile, back at The Trop in Tampa … Orioles’ hero Chris Davis was being interviewed by MASN broadcaster Jim Hunter, while the Yankees game played on a TV in the background.

Chris took his Little League training to heart – he kept his eyes on the ball over at Yankee Stadium, all the while giving a nice, chatty interview. The best part – and why I love it and am sharing it – comes when, not missing a beat, he quickly and nonchalantly calls the homerun that ties the game for the Yankees, and then goes right back to the interview.

It’s around the 1:48 mark. Watch it here.

No anguish from Chris. Instead, he reminds us that that there’s no hand-wringing required when an exciting play is unfolding.

The Yankees won, by the way. Making tonight’s games even more important for the O’s. Keep your eyes on the ball.