“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.

Embed from Getty Images


“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.


An Umpire’s Valentine

knickerbocker rules

Before baseball even got to the bases, innings, or outs, there was an umpire:

Rule #2 of baseball’s “Knickerbocker Rules” (1845):

When assembled for exercise, the President, or in his absence, the Vice-President, shall appoint an Umpire, who shall keep the game in a book provided for that purpose, and note all violations of the By-Laws and Rules during the time of exercise.”

The only thing more important than an umpire? Rule #1 which reminds players to “strictly observe the time agreed upon for exercise, and be punctual in their attendance.”

So, let’s give umpires some love on Valentine’s Day …

First, don’t call it a clicker.

“[A] ball and strike indicator … figured in my very first lesson in how to be a professional umpire: Never call it a clicker. (Why? Nobody ever said, but, I guess it’s like an opera singer’s not referring to an aria as a song.)”  ~ Bruce Weber, As They See ‘Em: A Fan’s Travels In The Land of Umpires

ball strike indicator

Not a clicker.

Don’t call the Umpire “Blue.”  It’s just rude as it was once a heckle and it was spelled “Blew” – as in “Hey, Blew, you blew the call!”

Embed from Getty Images


Don’t slug the umpire, even in the name of poetry.

Mother, may I slug the umpire
May I slug him right away?
So he cannot be here, Mother
When the clubs begin to play?

Let me clasp his throat, dear mother,
In a dear delightful grip
With one hand and with the other
Bat him several in the lip.

~ Anonymous, Chicago Tribune, 1886

Continue reading

Remembering Earl Weaver … & Thinking About My Dad

Many years ago, long before I came along, my dad ran a string of gas stations in Los Angeles. He was very good at his job. He ran a tight ship.

That laser-like attention to detail and exacting perfection didn’t change over the years. He demanded a lot of himself, and, by turn, everyone else.

One day during those gas station years, late ’50s or so, Mickey Rooney – yes, that Mickey Rooney – came to my dad’s station. And, apparently, Mickey Rooney didn’t adhere to the “good customer” rules that my dad expected.

A “Do you know who I am?” led to a “I don’t care who you are.” Rooney, the story goes, expected free service on his car, simply because he was famous.

A scrap of some kind ensued. (I’m biased, but I’m gonna go with my dad on this one. Because really … a Hollywood star kicks up a stink with a gas station guy? I’m just going to assume the Average Joe was the good guy.)

From then on, Mickey Rooney was not spoken of in our home.

So, it was with a bit of sadness – no, sadness isn’t right; let’s call it You MUST be kidding eye-rolling – when I read a tribute to the legendary Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver, who passed away on January 19 at age 82, that described him as “Mickey Rooney in a uniform.”

You’re comparing a baseball legend to this guy who picked a fight with my dad because he was expected to pay for service like everyone else?

The Earl of Baltimore was a baseball genius.

But, he was also a scrappy, crabby, cranky, irascible, chain-smoking, argumentative firecracker, who might be best known for all the times he tangled with umpires, kicking dirt and getting ejected from 98 games.

He was a tough-as-nails perfectionist who demanded a lot of himself, and, by turn, everyone else. Kinda like my dad.

Earl Weaver is, on the one hand, a big ball of everything I usually find unpleasant about the game.

Crabby, loud, vulgar. Extremely vulgar. Did I mention the chain-smoking? (He was ejected at least once for smoking in the dugout.)

But, he is also a lot of what I find wonderful about baseball.

Continue reading

You Can Make It Simple … Or Not

There’s this thing amongst many Yoga students … that a challenging, pretzel-twisting pose is somehow more valuable and more beneficial than something plain and simple.

They’re wrong, of course. And, I spend a lot of class time trying to convince them that a beautiful, simple pose, done well, can be powerful and transformational.

A massive, powerful swing of the bat can turn into a glorious homerun. But, a nicely placed and well-timed double can be just as effective. Earl Weaver says the best play in baseball is the three-run homer.  A “simple” double, with three men on base, can do the very same thing. You just won’t get the fireworks.  But, you still get the runs. (And, oh yes, Orioles win.  Yay!)

And, here it is … simple. Effortless. And, did I mention that three runs score?

Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis off of the White Sox last night:

(right click on the video above.  Click “open in new tab.”  That oughta take you to the clip without taking you away from this post.  Because there’s another clip coming up that you also need to watch.)

Oh, all right. You talked me into it. Yes, the fancy-pants plays have their place in baseball too.  (And, the fancy-pants Yoga poses are, I admit it, rather fun.)

So, here you go.

Also from last night.

The Giants’ 3B Pablo “Panda Bear” Sandoval and SS Brandon Crawford combine, somehow, some way, for an out.

Not so effortless. But, a joy to watch none the less.

A little circus music might be a nice touch.

So, in baseball, as in Yoga, your ice cream can come in delicious vanilla (and I do love vanilla), or you can go load it up with cookie dough and sprinkles and chocolate.  And, that’s delicious, too.

The Easiest Way Around The Bases …

Legendary Baltimore Orioles Manager Earl Weaver was clear … the best play in baseball is the three-run homer.  (Not sure why a “four-run” Grand Slam wouldn’t be even better, but he’s Earl, so he should know.)

Anyway, last night against Toronto, Orioles Designated Hitter Chris Davis — oh, he of the beefy forearms — hit three home runs.  A total of four RBI.

I appreciate the long ball.  Honest, I do.  In fact, relive the moment with me right here, right now  …

But, here’s what I don’t get. Chris won the game for the Orioles (with some help from everyone else on the team, including pitcher Zach Britton, who had a better game than anyone ever could have imagined — except perhaps his mother.)  And, in the end, we remember this: Chris Davis hit three home runs.

The baseball world gets very excited about a three-homer game. But, Chris Davis could have racked up four RBI with just one grand-slam swing of the bat. This to me would have been more efficient and a much finer accomplishment. Because it would have meant men were on base … a good omen to be sure and a sign that the entire team is doing well.

Still, Orioles win. And, that’s the most important thing to me.

And, here’s Earl on home runs:

“Praised be the three-run homer! In my mind, the home run is paramount, because it means instant runs.  The minute you hit a homer you have a run, no questions asked.  … On a home run, nothing can go wrong.”