Baseball Is A Billion Times Better Than Nougat

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


Heard of it?

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

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

And, Nougat!


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


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

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“Get Up There & Bunt”

No one really likes the bunt.

Baseball players bunt because their manager tells them to or because nothing else seems to be working.

They bunt – usually as a sacrifice, giving up an out in the process – because they have to.

No one likes the bunt, do they? I mean really really likes it?

President William Taft hated the bunt. And, now he’s celebrated as one of the Racing Presidents at Washington Nationals games …

© The Baseball Bloggess, 2016

“It also came out at the game that Mr. Taft does not like the bunt.  … ‘I like to see them hit it out for all that is in them.’”  The New York Times, May 31, 1909

In 2005, then-Nationals Manager Frank Robinson told The Washington Post that even his pitchers complained when he called on them to bunt.


“They cry about it,” Robinson said. “They’ll say, ‘I’m a pretty good hitter.’ I’ll say, ‘You’re hitting .130. How is that a pretty good hitter?’ I tell them to get up there and bunt.”

And, yes, legendary Baltimore Orioles Manager Earl Weaver didn’t like the bunt either: “I’ve got nothing against the bunt – in its place. But most of the time that place is the bottom of a long-forgotten closet.”

Some experts argue that at the college level it’s more difficult to bunt with an aluminum bat. But, I see it at college games all the time.

Justin Novak Bunts UVA E Carolina Regional 6 4 16

© The Baseball Bloggess

University of Virginia third baseman Justin Novak squares to bunt in the 2016 NCAA Regional Tournament

Some fans and players might consider a bunt dull baseball. I think it’s beautiful.

Even Babe Ruth knew a well-placed bunt can make all the difference …

Babe Ruth Bunted NYTimes 10 11 1921

New York Times, October 11, 1921

Babe Ruth “near collapse” wins the game with a bunt!

A batter squares up to bunt – and with that one simple movement and change of position he has told everyone, including every infielder, exactly what he intends to do. He knows that where he drops that bunt is key. He knows he’s going to have to run like hell.

It’s sort of gutsy when you stop to think about it.

Oh, and last week’s Korean All-Star Game included a bunting competition which is sort of like if you took bunting and curling and mooshed them together.

The result is absolutely awesome.


Hit Bull Win Steak

Remember the snorting bull from the movie Bull Durham?

hit bull win steak original movie prop

It stood out in right field. And, included these words …

Hit Bull Win Steak.

Of course you remember, because Bull Durham is Kevin Costner’s best baseball movie.

That bull was a movie prop. There was no “Hit Bull Win Steak” bull in Durham until the movie dreamed it up. This was a little disappointing. I thought the Durham Bulls had long had a steak-feeding tradition. After all, minor league per diems are pretty slim, even today. A good steak could keep a fella going.

I guess it was too much prop to pack up when the movie wrapped – plus, think of all the bubble wrap you’d need – so it was left behind.

Movie props aren’t made to last, so it’s a new bull out there in Durham these days. It’s bigger and it’s out in left field now. And, whenever the Bulls homer, anywhere in the park, its eyes light up, its tail wags, and it snorts smoke.

hit bull win steak hit grass win salad

Today it says:

Hit Bull Win Steak

Hit Grass Win Salad

And, yup, a local restaurant provides a steak to players who hit a home run off of the bull. (No word on whether a ball that hits the grass actually earns a trip to the salad bar, or if anyone has ever asked.)

Last season, The News & Observer in Raleigh noted that since the new park opened in 1995, the bull has been hit only 29 times. (They also report that there is no longer a steak offered to visiting players for their homers off of the bull. Boo.)

Most of the bull-snortin’ home runs come from high fly balls that hit it on their way down. You’d have to really smoke it to line a homer off the bull. You know, smack it right between the eyes.

College baseball’s ACC Tournament is underway this week at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

And, on Thursday, Virginia shortstop Daniel Pinero did this …

“Right Between The Eyes.”

Lots of smoke-snortin’. But, alas, no steak. College amateur rules are fussy about things like that. But, Sports Channel 8 in North Carolina is providing a “steak dinner” donation to the local food bank in honor of Pinero.

Despite the bullish homer, the ‘Hoos lost yesterday’s game against Clemson (and lost to Wake Forest again today).

But, Pinero hit the bull. So, there is that.

A Call To Arms

No matter who you are – your gender, ethnicity, country of origin, or age – if you win something big, you will raise your arms in victory.

Doesn’t matter who you are … your arms go up. It’s hardwired in you.

(The scientists who study this would want me to tell you that the arm-raise often comes with a chest puff and a shout. They call this behavior the “dominance threat display.”)

Researchers studying the activities of blind Para-Olympians discovered the very same thing. They raise their arms, too.

Even though most of these blind people had never seen anyone else do it, they instinctively raised their arms with joy upon winning a competition.

The feeling of winning, it seems, is uniformly uniform.

In other experiences, we’re individuals. The foods we like, the people we’re drawn to, what makes us laugh. We’re all a little different.

Except when we win.

When we win, we throw our arms in the air.

So, on June 24, when University of Virginia pitcher Nathan Kirby soundly struck out Kyle Smith of Vanderbilt looking, ending the College World Series and bringing UVa their first-ever national baseball championship, Kirby did exactly what evolution told him to do.

Allow Nathan Kirby, now a member of the Milwaukee Brewers organization, to demonstrate the “dominance threat display.”

But, here’s the funny thing.

I was sitting a thousand miles away from Omaha, watching on television. And, I raised my arms, too.

(I may have also whoo’d. Can’t remember. Sometimes I skip the whoos because I don’t want to annoy the cats.)

You may wonder why it has taken me more than a month to tell you that UVa won the College World Series.

I’m not sure I know the answer.

I’ve never really had a team I follow win anything like this before, so I’m not sure how to throw my arms up in the air on a blog without sounding gloaty or pompous or just annoying.

I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

(Dear Vanderbilt fans, I’m very sorry the Hoos beat you.)

(Dear Everybody Else, I’m not really, but I just don’t know what else to say to them.)

UVa wasn’t expected to win. Heck, they weren’t even expected to go to the post-season. They barely made it to their own ACC tournament and, frankly, they were awfully stinky once they got there.

But, baseball is a funny game and on any given day a team can suddenly find the rhythm they’ve been missing all season.

If you still don’t believe how improbable this was, just take a look at the tee-shirt that the NCAA had to hastily doctor to celebrate Virginia’s win.

ncaa teeshirt

Thanks, Ron! :)

Yes, the UVa championship tee-shirt … features Vanderbilt gold.

vandy logo

UVa logo

Thanks, NCAA.

I know it was a month ago, but I still want to share three special moments from UVa’s post-season.

Because, like throwing your arms in the air, these three moments are universally wonderful, regardless of whether you’re a UVa fan, or a college baseball fan, or any baseball fan (except, maybe, Vanderbilt’s).

1) That Smack Down.

In Game 2 of the Super Regionals in Charlottesville on June 5, the Hoos entered the bottom of the 9th down 4-2 to the University of Maryland. It was must-win for Maryland. The Terps starting pitcher, who had pretty much shut down the Hoos all day, loads the bases. No outs. Maryland brings in their can’t-fail closer Kevin Mooney.  He walks in a run. 4-3.  And then, UVa freshman Ernie Clement does this …

ernie clement supers

Check out Clement after the hit (at 1:41). 

Former UVa Hoo and current Oakland A reliever Sean Doolittle helpfully provides the part I’d like you to watch again.

An exceptional display of victory arms, don’t you think?  The smack-down? That’s junior Kevin Doherty.

I believe this is a lesson for all of us. Throwing your arms in the air can feel really good if you’ve just won a trip to the College World Series. But, it puts you in a tough spot should a jubilant teammate wish to make you the flaky crust of a dogpile pie.

2) That Play.

UVa senior Kenny Towns has been “Old Reliable” down at third throughout his college career.

When the Angels picked him late in the 20th round of the MLB draft this year, I thought, wow, they just got themselves a player that’s much, much better than any scout realizes.

(When you see Towns and Trout in the same lineup someday, you’ll think back and say, “That Baseball Bloggess sure was right. I bet she’s cute, too.”)

After the Series I had more people email, text, and mention this play to me than any other. And, they’re right. I love amazing plays in the hot corner. And, this one was nasty, hot, and sweet like when you tell the waiter you want your vindaloo “Indian hot” and he believes you.

3) That Dogpile.

Baseball Prospectus determined that the first World Series dogpile – run, jump, fall into a heap – was done by the 1982 St. Louis Cardinals. 

Take a look … victory arms, dogpiling, fans swarming the field. Wait? Fans swarming the field? What kind of savages were we? Watch here.

Prior to ’82, there was a lot of running, hugging, and weird, awkward jumping around. But, no dogpiles. Prior to 1962, most winning teams didn’t even stick around to hoot and holler. The game ended and they simply ran off the field to party in the clubhouse.

So, celebratory dogpiles are younger than my little Metropolitan dumpling Bartolo Colon (look, I’ve mentioned him again!).

I’m not sure that this is the most perfect, wonderful dogpile in baseball history.

Wait. I’ve watched it again.


It is.


If …

If you graduate from the University of Virginia with a degree in mechanical engineering and a 3.7 GPA … you’ve earned a place on my blog.

If you persevere in the sport you love … walking on as a freshman and working hard day-in and day-out even though the odds are long against you that you will ever get a chance to play and your last at-bats were in the middle of May … you’ve earned a place on my blog.

And, if you go 3-for-4 and hit a decisive 2 RBI single in a do-or-die game of the College World Series, sending your underdog University of Virginia Cavaliers to Game 3 against heavily favored Vanderbilt … you know, you’ve earned a place on my blog.

Here’s to you Thomas Woodruff … 

Thomas Woodruff UVA

© The Baseball Bloggess

“[T]his guy has been as unselfish a team player as you could possibly be for four years. And I really believe that at the most important time you get rewarded for that, and certainly it showed true today. And it worked. We just did enough.” ~ UVa Coach Brian O’Connor

That Thomas Woodruff and the entire team of “Cardiac Cavs” left the Vandy-happy ESPN broadcasters stunned and speechless as the Hoos went on to win 3-0 against “this-team-can’t-lose” Vanderbilt Commodores is simply a bonus.

A tip of the cap to all the Hoos.

I’m hoping for another night of stunned confusion from ESPN.

Because, it’s so nice when ESPN is left with nothing to say.

Game 3. Tonight. 8 p.m. ESPN.

Photo: Davenport Field, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia. 2015 season. © The Baseball Bloggess

OmaHoos 2015

Why do we sing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” when we’re already there?

The answer to this corny old joke is simple. Because we do, and not everything in baseball has to make sense.

The University of Virginia’s very strange season has somehow taken them to the championship of the College World Series this week and that doesn’t really make sense either.

I’ve been calling it improbable. But, then so has everyone else.

(And, by improbable, I don’t mean that they don’t deserve to be in Omaha, only that, had you asked me four weeks ago … well, fortunately, no one did.)

The post-game announcers on ESPN on Saturday night were so unprepared for Virginia’s win over Florida that they had nearly no statistics or background info on UVa ready to air after the Hoo’s win. The best they could come up with was to joke that Vanderbilt is such a prohibitive favorite and the odds are so long against UVa in this week’s championship, that Las Vegas oddsmakers have probably closed the book on the series.

Dear ESPN, If you’re going to tell a baseball joke to fill airtime, why not make it a good one? Like this …

Which takes longer: to run from 1st to 2nd base or to run from 2nd to 3rd base? It takes longer to run from 2nd to 3rd base because there’s a “short stop” in the middle.

Fun Fact: Since the post-season began on May 29, the Hoos are 8-1. They have scored 49 runs over those nine games; 25 of them have been scored in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings.

Funner Fact: The Hoos have scored the go-ahead runs in the 6th inning or later in all eight wins.

Here’s to the Hoos! They play Game 1 against Vanderbilt tonight in a best-of-three series.  8:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN

Daniel Pinero Ernie Clement

Daniel Pinero, Shortstop & Ernie Clement, 2nd Base

As ESPN was about to cut away following Virginia’s win over Florida on Saturday, their cameras took one last sweep over the Virginia players, huddled around their Coach Brian O’Connor. Just before they cut to commercial you could hear Coach O’Connor tell his team:

“Continue to have fun and enjoy it.”

Matt Thaiss

“We just go out there and do what we have to do. … We know nobody looks at us like a team that should win it all or can win it all. But everyone in our locker room thinks we can.” ~ Matt Thaiss, Catcher


ernie clement 2015

Ernie Clement

From Sunday’s Roanoke Times:

Clement was asked what comes to mind when he hears the word ‘Vanderbilt.’ He looked quizzically at the reporter.

‘Are we playing Vanderbilt?’ he said.

The reporter paused to give Clement a chance to reveal he was joking. The lack of words suggested the freshman was not. Why, yes, Ernie, your opponent in the College World Series finals would be Vanderbilt. You know, the team that’s been all over SportsCenter the past few nights? The defending national champions? The baseball powerhouse that UVa met at this same stage last year?

‘Oh, I didn’t even know that,’ he said. ‘I just know we’re there. I can’t wait to play.’


Ernie Tweet

Photos: Davenport Field, the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. 2015 Season. © The Baseball Bloggess


“Some How. Some Way. Josh Comes In.”

Here are some things The Baseball Bloggess can no longer do.

  • Read the small print on vitamin bottles.
  • This.
  • Stay up past midnight.

One can be remedied with cheap drugstore reading glasses and I have 11 pairs lying around the house in case of a vitamin emergency. Two, I never could do that. (But, I’m touched that for five seconds you thought I could.) Three, well, if your team plays the late game in the College World Series, bedtime can be an inconvenience.

But, that doesn’t mean I can’t get up at 5 a.m. to watch the post-midnight DVR’d parts of last night/this morning’s University of Virginia vs. Florida game.

sleepy kid

I wasn’t the only sleepy one.

Let’s get to it. UVa won, continuing its miracle run of playing much better (much, much, much better) than it did through the regular season.

Since you might not have made it to 2 a.m. either, watch the recap here.

“Some how. Some way.”

Now, rewind to 3:12 and re-watch the 8th inning highlights and the come-backer to UVa closer Josh Sborz. The one that ricocheted off his glove and sent the glove flying. The one that came with no outs and the tying run on third, the go-ahead run on first, and the go-ahead-even-more run at bat.

No outs.

He gets the out. But, still … it’s break-a-sweat time. Because even with that out, the tying run is still on third, the go-ahead run is still on first, and the go-ahead-ahead run is at bat. One out.

Times like these call for a visit to the mound. To settle down your pitcher. To position your infield. To make sure everything is just so. It’s late and every pitch is potentially a “game changer.”

The recap didn’t share the mound visit that followed that Sborz play. But, I will …

Willie Stargell once said, “They don’t say, ‘Work Ball.’ They say ‘Play Ball.’” And, when you’re in the College World Series, it’s a good idea to savor every moment, even when the game’s on the line.


“Hey, that pitch could have killed you, Josh.”


“Hey, do you think we’ll have time for a swim when we get back to the hotel?”


“Hey, have you seen Vanderbilt’s uniforms? It’s like a nine-man prison break.”


“Hey, can you believe we’re playing in the College World Series?”

Now, that’s playing baseball.

(Spoiler Alert: Sborz gets the next two outs. And, then three more, one-two-three, in the 9th. Hoos win, 1-0.)

Which brings us to this classic scene from Bull Durham. I know you know the one. But, watch it again. I know you want to.


Hey, might as well watch the whole movie. You’ve got time. UVa doesn’t play again until Friday.

box score



“Soon No Off Season”

off season 1

© The Baseball Bloggess

“Pretty soon the ball player will not have rest enough between seasons to get acquainted with his folks.” ~ The Sporting News, November 7, 1912

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Off-Season.”

They call it “The Grind.” That long baseball season. That life ballplayers choose.

For the pros, it begins in February at spring training and, if you’re lucky, it will extend to the far reaches of October.

College ball starts in February and stretches through four months, then summer league teams, and a “bonus” fall season tucked in before the snow falls.

Whatever’s left, that’s your “off-season.”

I thought “off-season” was a baseball term that had worked its way into the rest of the language. But, “off-season” is a business term that was first used in the 1840s.

soon no off season 1912 headline november 7 1912

The Sporting News, November 7, 1912

In 1912, The Sporting News complained that Charles Comiskey, President and Owner of the Chicago White Sox, was running his players ragged by shortening the off-season and putting his team on a train to California in the middle of February to begin spring training, forcing his players into exhibition games along the way, stopping at any place where a pick-up game might put extra “coin” into the owner’s pocket.

We don’t lay fallow much. There’s not much off-season for anybody these days. Apparently, there never was.

off season 2

© The Baseball Bloggess

Photo: Davenport Field, The University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia. The end of the “Fall Ball” season. © The Baseball Bloggess


The Friday Night Guy

I’m not sure when college baseball coined the term “Friday Night Guy.”

ESPN suggests it came about in the mid-1990s when the SEC (the always power-packed Southeastern Conference) changed its weekend schedule, moving one of its traditional double-header Saturday games to Friday night.

On that night, in the SEC and in ballparks around the country, the best college pitchers – the aces – pitch.

To be a Friday Night Guy is to be the best pitcher on your team. Facing the other guy’s Friday Night Guy.

When the University of Virginia takes the field in the first game of this year’s College World Series on Saturday afternoon, their Friday Night Guy will take the mound – Sophomore Connor Jones.

Connor Jones UVa 10 18 14

© The Baseball Bloggess

(I know. It’s Saturday. Friday Night Guys get juggled around some once the post-season arrives.)

Jones didn’t start the season as the Friday Night Guy. He was, uh, I guess you’d call him the Saturday Dude for much of this season. The #2 guy.

Saturday Night Guy

Not this Saturday Night Guy.

When UVa’s ace Nathan Kirby went down with a shoulder muscle strain in April, Jones stepped up.

Connor Jones UVa Fall Ball 10 18 14

© The Baseball Bloggess

We call him CoJo.

(And, by “we,” I mean, really just me. But, it’s a good nickname, don’t you think? I spend a lot of time thinking up nicknames for the players and shouting them out, hoping they catch on. They usually don’t. This one, though, is a shame, because it’s pretty good.)

The Hoos will wear their “Connor Camo” jerseys, which they’ve worn whenever CoJo pitches, ever since wearing them for a dominating 5-2 win over heavily favored Miami on April 18. That afternoon Jones went 7 2/3, struck out 11, and gave up two runs, just one earned.

Connor Jones Camo 4 18 15 UVa vs Miami

© The Baseball Bloggess

Camo-Clad Connor Jones pitching in that April 18 win over Miami.

Why the camouflage jerseys? “I thought they looked really cool,” Jones said this week.

(Fun Fact: The camouflage jerseys don’t really camouflage the guys. You can still see them.)

cojo interview

In this short interview, CoJo admits that 1) sometimes he doesn’t know who he is pitching to, he just throws, and 2) he’s a Red Sox fan. A Red Sox fan. How did that happen? The Red Sox could use a CoJo.

Since becoming the Friday Night “Connor Camo” Guy, Jones has started seven games and is 3-0 with a 2.09 ERA. The team is 6-1 in those games.

The University of Virginia Cavaliers face the Arkansas Razorbacks in the College World Series today, Saturday, June 13, at 3:00 p.m. Eastern.

What? You mean you’re not in Omaha? You won’t be at the game?

(Yeh, me neither.)

The game airs on ESPN.

uva game day cws

Photos: Davenport Field, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia © The Baseball Bloggess




It’s All About The Grass

brandon waddell

© The Baseball Bloggess

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

The very first time I went to a baseball game — a real game, with a real diamond and a manicured field — the grass made me blink.

I don’t think I’d ever seen grass so green, so bright, so lush, so … vivid … as the outfield grass around a baseball diamond.

When Little League fields and ad hoc diamonds in public parks start to brown in the heat of summer it always makes me a little sad. Because every player deserves some lush vivid green grass under their cleats.

Photo: University of Virginia Starting Pitcher Brandon Waddell, warming up in left field before his start on Saturday in the NCAA Super Regionals. Virginia defeated the University of Maryland and will advance to the College World Series this weekend.