I’m not sure why I care so much about Manny Machado.
Manny Machado, you may have heard, is expected to sign a $300-million, 10-year contract with the San Diego Padres.
(The San Diego Padres – the team you always forget when you’re trying to name all 30.)
This is the biggest free agent contract in sports history.
Until, I guess, Bryce Harper signs – with, maybe, the Phillies – later this week.
(The Philadelphia Phillies – the team with the name that’s not even trying. All teams should do that. The Washington Washies. The New York Yorkies – woof! The San Diego Sandies. The Baltimore Balties. Whatever.)
Having boatloads of quality free agents still unsigned when spring training is well underway is both weird and disconcerting. Continue reading →
I’m pausing from my days-long Ripken-is-better-than-Jeter email exchange with my baseball guru Jay, to share a non-Jeter moment from last night.
(I like Derek Jeter and all, but Cal Ripken was better. Jay disagrees.)
But, this isn’t about the oldsters …
I used to think that the Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, just 22, would be baseball’s next great superstar.
But, his knees are wobbly.
One knee surgery kept him out of the lineup until May. Then surgery on the other knee ended his season in August.
The Orioles could certainly use a third baseman – as in someone actually schooled in playing third and not a journeyman tucked in over there and told to just dive at anything that comes remotely close and could be a baseball and try not to break anything. (It’s rarely pretty.)
Manny should be a-ok by next Opening Day. And, maybe he will be back to superstar form. Or, maybe those knees … those wobbly, unreliable knees … oh, I can’t even say it.
Manny did not take the Orioles to the post-season this year – they got there with those journeymen and other guys, giant holes at third, and very little Manny.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California, on the other hand, owe a lot to baseball’s just 23, superstar, centerfielder Mike Trout.
That’s all. I just wanted to make sure you saw that.
The Baltimore Orioles and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California will both be in the post-season.
(I’ll be cheering the Manny-less Orioles, of course, but those Trout-full Angels are very good.)
Oh, and back to the Ripken vs. Jeter thing for just a second …
Our friend Jay argues that part of why Derek Jeter is a greater player than Cal Ripken is because he won more World Series (5 vs. 1). This, of course, means that Aubrey Huff(two World Series victories) is a greater player than Ted Williams, Willie McCovey, Ken Griffey, Jr., Harmon Killebrew, and Rod Carew, who won zero.
I argue that Cal Ripken is a greater player than Derek Jeter because he is.
They become a commodity. This one gets traded. This one gets bought. This one is left on the shelf like a sad, dusty bottle of Justin Beiber cologne just hoping someone needs a desperation gift on Christmas Eve.
It sort of makes me uncomfortable when humans are treated like products. (I know, that’s the point of business, right? I’m awful at business.)
The off-season is like a soggy wad of hairball trapped in my throat. (Editor/Husband does not believe that I can know what a hairball feels like, but I’ve seen my cats get all buggy-eyed, rear back, and start to vomit. I’m pretty sure I feel the same way right now.)
(And, yes, I’m looking forward to the “I told you so” blog post that I’ll write next season when Jim has a great year in Oakland. And, I hope Oakland will fix its sewage-in-the-dugout thing before Jim gets there. Dear Oakland, he’s used to nicer accommodations.)
The Orioles let their Left Fielder Nate McLouth go to the Washington Nationals.
photo by me, 8/25/13
Yeh, I’m kinda sore about this, too.
But, they got a new left fielder guy. A guy from the Royals. So maybe I’ll write about him next season.
The Orioles then were about to sign a new guy to be their closer.
Yay, it’s Christmas! We have a new closer under our Christmas Tree!
Grant Balfour, oddly enough, was Oakland’s closer last season. We were ready to sign him last week. Then something went wonky during his physical (which often happens when you’re a I-can-see-the-hill-but-I’m-not-quite-over-it 36-year-old pitcher with a shoulder that’s been knitted back together with pins and needles) and the Orioles pulled the deal.
And, then began the kerfuffle.
Let me share the kerfuffle highlights:
Orioles: We are not happy with the results of the physical and we are looking elsewhere.
Balfour: I am healthy.
Orioles: You are not.
Balfour: I am too.
Orioles: Are not.
Balfour: Am too.
This has been going on since Thursday.
I don’t like all the off-season shuffling and wheeling and dealing and trading and moving things around.
When I fell in love with baseball, it was when Cal Ripken was the Orioles’ shortstop. And, every day and every game and every season – year in and year out – he was the Orioles’ shortstop. I like things “just so.” I like my Cal Ripkens to be back every spring.
Now, I have nothing under my baseball Christmas tree.
(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.
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?”).
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.)
I guess my beloved Manny Machado tee-shirt had a little mojo left in it afterall.
If your baseball season has to end before October – and for 19 teams the season ended Sunday – then the best you can do is hope to win your last game.
7-6 … Orioles over Red Sox.
It’s always nice to beat the Boston Red Sox on the last day of the season.
Sometimes that single win can change everything, like in 2011. This year, it didn’t mean as much, except that the Good Guys won and Jim Johnson got the save and notched his second consecutive 50-save season.
(Not exactly pretty, but watch the recap as the O’s come from down 5-0 to win, here.)
Quick, flip the channel!
7-6 … Giants over Padres.
Another exciting comeback … a walk-off win! Apparently the Manny Machado tee-shirt is also soft on the Giants.
Have you ever been invited to a party that you didn’t want to go to? You don’t really know the people, they seem a little strange … you’re not going to know anyone there … they live in a weird part of town … they’re not as much fun as your friends … and all you really want to do is stay home and watch TV?
But, you go anyway, because … because …
Because oh, I don’t know, maybe there will be snacks?
I’ve been looking for a post-season team to follow. Just a temporary, meaningless fling. Someone to pass the time with for the next few weeks. I asked for suggestions.
I have a lot of Red Sox friends. I thought they might put in a good word for their fuzzy-faced team. But, silence.
Over waffles Sunday morning, one baseball observer (who asked to remain anonymous because he has friends who love the Red Sox) said, “There’s no conceivable way I could root for the Red Sox in the post season, unless somehow North Korea managed to field a team. Actually, though, North Korea’s never really done anything to me, so I don’t know.”
(This riveting “Has North Korea really ever done anything to me?” conversation continued until it was interrupted when he went to chase the cow out of the yard.)
But, just when I thought no one wanted this lonely Oriole fan’s support, I got a couple posts from Oakland A’s fans.
OK, that’s possible. Just going from the O’s to the A’s is simple vowel-hopping.
I’ve actually been to Oakland Coliseum, though many years ago (pre-sewage).
In August, I took photos of A’s outfielder Coco Crisp before a game at Camden Yards.
A’s Outfielder Coco Crisp on the left.
(In my Yoga classes, we call this Giraffe Pose.)
I have this tee-shirt.
Alright, I’ll wear it. (But, I’m still gonna wear my Orioles cap.)
Let’s do this.
(Dear Orioles, please rest up. Dear Chris Davis and Manny Machado, please rest your injured parts. We have a World Series to win next year. Thank you for a great season! Amen.)
Manny Machado. August 20, 2013 vs. the Oakland A’s. Photo Credit: me!
Two years ago I tore up the tendons in my left elbow. Giving too many massages, going a little too deep, doing a little too much. (Trust me, massage may be peaceful on the outside, but it’s brutal on the inside.)
Each time I did a massage, my arm ached. The discomfort was one thing, but the emotional toll was, in many ways, much worse. What if I am doing permanent damage? What if I can’t do massage anymore? What if it hurts forever?
When a doctor diagnosed it as “pitcher’s elbow” I thought, well, that’s pretty cool – if I’m going to have a stupid injury it might as well be a baseball one.
It took more than a year, but today that elbow is nearly good as new (thanks mostly to Yoga, laser therapy, and patience). Nearly. But, now the right elbow is torn up … same thing, different arm.
So the cycle begins again.
Which brings me to my broken heart.
As the post-season hopes for the Baltimore Orioles grew dimmer and dimmer this weekend, their third-baseman Manny Machado was badly injured on Monday in a freakish knee twist that came as he was running to first base. His season is over.
He looked stricken far beyond the physical pain. (I think he started to cry.) And, I wonder if the physical pain was as bad as the emotional pain? What about next season? How bad is it? How long will it take? What if it doesn’t get better? To go from Superstar to disabled list on a stupid, routine play.
I’ve been an Orioles fan for nearly 30 years. And, in all that time, I have only one Orioles shirt with a number on it, with a name. I never even got a Cal Ripken jersey (although I’d be proud to wear one). I celebrate the team. I don’t like getting bogged down in picking a favorite player.
Nowadays, when my elbow feels good, everything is good. But, when my elbow feels bad, which is still a lot of the time, I get frustrated. I worry about the quality of the massage I am giving. I worry about the long-term damage I might be causing.
I love what I do. What will I do, if I can’t do this?
My office is in a small rural community. I keep my massage prices low so people can afford me. So I see a lot of clients from all walks – many dealing with chronic pain from repetitive stress and work-related damage. Pain much worse than my crabby elbow tendons.
Construction workers, butchers, ranchers and farmers, plumbers, nurses, truck drivers, carpenters, mail carriers, police officers, piece workers.
All I can hope to do is try to take the edge off for them, to work out the sticky places, loosen things up, and maybe give them some brief relief.
One client, who deals with daily pain from her job, said to me recently, “There’s no other jobs out there. I can’t afford to lose this one.” She worries every night that she won’t be able to “hold together” enough to work.
I suppose Manny thought some of those same sorts of things. From invincible to injured in a blink.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter whether you make a million dollars or just scrape by. Injury is the great equalizer.
It can take away your job and your paycheck. It can take away something you love. Just like that.
But, there’s some good news.
Manny’s MRI showed a tear to a ligament that helps stabilize and protect the kneecap. A painful injury, but one that generally heals on its own after six to eight weeks of rest and rehab. It could have been much worse.
I’m not 21 anymore. Healing is much better, much faster, when you’re 21, like Manny.
And, Manny has access to resources that many of us don’t. He has a team of doctors and therapists who will help him recover. (Hopefully, he has an awesome massage therapist. And, yoga therapist. And, if not … well, I hope the Orioles finally look me up.)
So, no worries, Manny … my heart is broken for you today. But, I know you’ll heal. You have to. Baseball’s no fun without you.
And, for those of us who hurt a little – or a lot – doing what we love, we want you to get better. We need you to get better. So you can inspire us to heal, too.
Sadly, in a moment of weakness, I started to compile my own list.
It was stupid. And, so I stopped.
If you love baseball, then you already know why it will always be far superior to football.
In the same way that cats and dogs are far superior to Sea Monkeys. Which is to say VERY, VERY Super Superior.
Sea Monkeys: Bitter Disappointment
If you’re still wavering, I don’t know what I can say to convince you. Maybe you watch football the same way many NASCAR fans watch auto racing — just waiting to see someone get smooshed, flattened, tackled, or sacked.
Baseball avoids carnage and bloodshed whenever possible. When it does happen, no one cheers. This, bottom line, is why it will always be superior to football in my book.
Hey, I know football. I was a San Francisco 49ers fan for many, many years. But, I boycott it now, because it is increasingly grisly, unnecessarily violent, and has destroyed the quality of life for many former athletes (from NFL-level players to the unfortunate high school and college players who are reminded about rough hits when the arthritis starts to set in around age 30). I yammered on about my boycott last season here.
Oh, sure you can Google “football is better than baseball” and some links will come up.
I found a list of 25 reasons – shared by CBS Sports. Why is football better than baseball? I kid you not, this was reason three.
#3. Football statistics are simple and involve little mathematics to compute.
If the lack of math is really the thing that makes football superior, I’m still marveling that this guy was able to coherently count to 25 for his list.
OK, let’s try a little football math:
2 Touchdowns + 1 Touchdown – 1 Missed Point After + 2 Field Goals + 1 Safety = How Many Points? *
OK, how about this:
1 3-Run Homer = How Many Runs? **
Oh, goodie, there’s more.
#17. Coaches spend more time coaching in football. Baseball managers only manage.
This doesn’t even make sense. It’s gibberish.
#23. Football rivalries are bitter and plentiful.
You’re joking, right?
Dodgers vs. Giants? Yankees vs. Red Sox?
Yankees vs. everyone else?
Baseball teams play 162 games a season – even more if you make it to the playoffs and World Series. 162 games is a lot of games and a lot of time to brew some historic rivalries.
Heck, baseball rivalries are so hot, even the managers get in fights – as the Orioles’ Buck Showalter and Yankees’ Joe Girardi proved just a few nights ago. Click here. (Go Buck!)
If you’re a football team and you’re playing another team just once a season, if that, I’m not sure how a lasting rivalry can even start. “Hi, you must be the Jacksonville Jaguars. I guess we’re playing you today. Gosh, I didn’t even know there was a team here. What state is this?”
His number one reason why football is better?
#1. Football is the ultimate team sport. All 11 players are involved on every play.
Does he even realize that an entirely DIFFERENT football team plays offense than the one that plays defense? Add in special teams – and it’s a THREE-TEAM “team sport”. As I’m sure you know, a baseball player is expected to play both offense and defense (except for those pitcher/DH guys in the American League.)
What to take away from this thoughtful list?
When dining out with football fans, be a pal and offer to calculate the tip for them. It will save them from math-phobic paralysis.
Now, back to baseball.
Here’s one George Carlin missed.
Baseball is better than football, because in baseball you, the fan, can catch a ball. If you catch it, you get to keep it.
You can even bring your glove to help you out.
If you make a clean catch, the fans around you will cheer.
It happens at every game in every ballpark every night.
And, on Tuesday night, a grandmother celebrated her birthday at the Giants’ game. Took her glove. And, snagged a souvenir.
Our old barn served us well. It had been a good old barn for many decades before we turned up. The previous owners probably used it as an actual barn. We used it as extra storage for items that didn’t mind that it listed a bit to the north, the wood was worn thin, the walls were porous, and it rained as hard inside as out.
It’s hard to say goodbye to a good old barn. In the same way, it’s hard to say goodbye to baseball players as their better days, their greatest games, fade.
And, the World Series will come. And, the Orioles will be there. And, the barn will be awesome.
I’m sure of it.
My amazing Barn Dude – the Player-Manager of the Barn Building – will tell you that the barn is well beyond halfway. It’s well into the playoffs. This is good for us since it means the barn will be a real barn before October. (Barn Dude’s not a baseball fan, but he remembers seeing the Red Sox at Fenway. What is it with all these Red Sox fans in my world?)
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.
(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