A Two-Headed Copperhead & A Weird Postseason

This was the summer of snakes.

And, not just the long black ones that prowl one’s property looking for mice. The harmless ones.  Well, harmless to people anyway. Mice, not so much.

Not them.

This was the summer of copperheads.

courtesy of Clinton & Charles Robertson, via CC2.0

Like this.

There was a point this summer that my Facebook page should have been brimming with pictures of homegrown red tomatoes and zucchinis as big as a strongman’s arm posted by Virginia friends with far more gardening skills than me.

But, it was a too-wet summer. And, a snaky one, too. There were copperheads hiding in gardens, amongst the tomatoes and the zucchini vines. (And, coiled up in flower beds, on front porches, and, for one of my friends, in her garage.)

It was unusually snaky. Continue reading

Fauxetry In Motion

“To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” ~ Isaac Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion

Friday, I wrote about poetry, and the poetry of a perfect play in baseball … a motion that is beautiful and effortless and just-so.

But, for every bit of perfect poetry, there must be an equal and opposite reaction.

Mustn’t there?


And so, to even things up this week, there was this.

brewers rockies

Milwaukee Brewers at Colorado Rockies. Saturday, June 21, 2014

Of course, players somewhere will try to straddle the line between poetry and fauxetry.

If you put your team in throwback 1970s-era Houston Astros jerseys, don’t be surprised when this happens.


Houston Astros at Tampa Bay Rays. Saturday, June 21, 2014

Poetry? Fauxetry?

You decide.

No, wait. I’ll decide. My blog, my decision.

Houston Astros wearing hideous, yet strangely kind of cool 1970s jerseys grooving in the dugout?

Even AL batting leader Jose Altuve (.336) can’t not dance as he walks by.

The baseball “law of motion” is this:

If it makes you dance … Poetry.

Free Baseball ~ i can haz baseball edition

Sixty-two percent of Americans today live with a pet – a cat or a dog or both or a bunch.

In short, most of us. (Goldfish and gerbils aren’t even included in this statistic … so that must account for the rest of you.)

I live with four cats (invited) and an increasing number of gangster attic mice (uninvited). (I’m hopeful the mousies haven’t brought plague into the house.)

(That old saying “quiet as a mouse”? A lie. That old saying, “When the cat’s away, the mice will play”? Also a lie. Cats today no longer care.)

Isn’t it odd that we spend so much time on the Internet looking at pictures of cats …

stevie is tired

Stevie is bored with this post already.

 … and dogs …

ruby in the snow

My friend Ginger’s new pup Ruby discovers snow!

… when we already have one or some or a bunch at home we could be looking at instead?

Here’s a video of a cat who has learned sign language for “feed me.”

My cats also know sign language for “feed me” (extend claws, swipe). While they couldn’t care less about chasing delicious mice, they will bray like billy goats when hungry. If that doesn’t work, they’ll smack you.

It snowed today.

Which means some time for me to post my first Free Baseball of 2014 … i can haz baseball edition …

(I had my first “Free Baseball” of the season when the University of Virginia went to extra innings against Boston College on Saturday afternoon. UVa won 3-2 in 12, after Nick Howard who started the game as Designated Hitter came in during the 10th and pitched 2.1 scoreless innings. He struck out the side in the top of the 12th and then singled home the winning run in the bottom of the 12th.)

Ok, back to the critters …

10th Inning ~ Rookie The Retriever

Last summer, I wrote about Chase, the golden retriever “bat dog” of the Trenton Thunder, a Yankees minor league team. Sadly, Chase, who was 13, died of cancer last year.

But, Chase was good with the lady dogs and left a number of puppies as his legacy.  A Chase grandpuppy, five-month-old “Rookie,” will take over his grandpa’s bat-retrieving work for the Thunder.


Apparently, there are trainers who will teach dogs to fetch bats. So, Rookie will get some schooling before he takes over the job full-time in 2015.

11th Inning ~ Hank the Brewer

While Rookie figures out the finer points of bat fetching, baseball has already begun for Hank, a stray pup who turned up last month in Phoenix, Arizona at the Milwaukee Brewers’ spring training camp.


They named him Hank in honor of Hank Aaron.

The  Brewers announced last week that Hank’s now officially part of the team and he has already arrived in Milwaukee where he’s been adopted by a local family.

Watch Hank run in the Brewers’ Sausage Race.


(I mean it. Watch this video.)

12th Inning ~ Big O

Big Orange the cat showed up one day at Phoenix Municipal (Muni) Stadium, spring home of the Oakland A’s, and never left.

big orange

Unlike Rookie and Hank the dogs, cats cannot be bothered with retrieving bats (stupid) or running with men dressed as bratwurst (demeaning).  (Cats are funny that way.)

One of the stadium employees takes care of “Big O.”

“The stadium manager kind of cut me some slack with running her off because she was kind of taking care of the rat population and the squirrels,” Jim Folk told Sports On Earth last spring.

“She’s definitely got a little attitude,” he said. “Like in the morning, when I quit petting her, she’ll swat me and then chase me down and grab onto my leg.”

The Oakland A’s are leaving the Muni for Hohokam Park next spring, and stadium employees are working to find a good new home for Big O.

*    *    *    *

smokey jo

This post is in memory of Smokey Jo (1998-2014).

A tough little missy who showed how diabetic cats can live long, normal, and happy lives with just a little bit of human help.

“Cheesy Garlic All Stars”

Here’s what I can tell you about American voters.

We’re the country that brought you Warren G. Harding and Taylor Hicks. We’re the country that decided that Cheesy Garlic Bread is a better potato chip flavor than Sriracha. I kid you not, Sriracha lost. What is wrong with people?

cheesy garlic

So, voting aptitude is probably not our strongest suit as a nation.

(Really, America, you chose BREAD as a potato chip flavor!)

On Friday I posted my belief that a baseball All-Star should be based on something more than just numbers and on-field statistics.

Because, you can lead every single offensive category … every single one … you can be on pace to hit 200 home runs, steal 100 bases and, when necessary, play all nine positions in a single game, while nursing a stress fracture in your leg … but if you failed baseball’s drug test, publicly talk smack about your teammates, or for some strange reason believe that bread is an acceptable potato chip flavor … there is no way … NO WAY … you will ever earn my All-Star vote.

stevie votes

Has there been a year when someone didn’t complain about the All-Star roster?

No. Every single year someone, somewhere complains.

I have no basis for that statement.

But, I stand by it anyway, because … well, hey, prove me wrong.

Fans began voting for the starting lineups of the All-Star game in 1947. It didn’t take long for energetic fans to get to stuffing. It came to a head in 1957 when Cincinnatians – with the help of their local newspapers, Kroger Grocery stores, and neighborhood taverns – accounted for half of all the votes cast that year.

The result – Reds won seven of the eight starting positions for the National League. Only the Cardinals’ Stan Musial squeaked through the “Red Curtain.” Commissioner Ford Frick ultimately pushed two Reds starters aside to make way for Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. (The American League won 6-5, despite a valiant 9th-inning rally that began with an RBI triple by Mays, who then scored on a wild pitch.)

57 all star program

And, Frick took away the fan vote.

Fans elbowed their way back into voting in 1970. And, back to stuffing.

** In 1975, the Milwaukee Brewers (owned at the time by current Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig) were said to have encouraged a single fan who was determined to vote Robin Yount and/or George Scott into the starting lineup. The fan was aided, he said, by the Brewers front office which provided him with some 30,000 paper ballots. The fan used a power drill to punch his ballots at a rate of 4,000 an hour. (All that drilling led to naught, although Scott went as a reserve and the American League won 6-3.)

** In 1999, in the early years of online voting, Boston Red Sox fan Chris Nandor cooked up a computer program that allowed him to vote nearly 40,000 times for his favorite Red Sox, including Shortstop Nomar Garciaparra. His stuffing worked and Garciaparra started. (Derek Jeter went as a Reserve, but probably hasn’t lost much sleep over it.)

** In 2012, the San Francisco Giants took heat for encouraging their fans to vote and vote and vote. Angry non-Giant fans suggested the computer geniuses of Silicon Valley were all Giants fans and were shamelessly hijacking the online voting system. Others pointed out that Giants’ AT&T Park offers free Wi-Fi, making online voting at the game way too easy.

And, who was the unfit All-Star starter in 2012? Giants Third Baseman Pablo “Panda Bear” Sandoval.  How’d it work out? Panda Bear was one of the stars of the game that night; his three-RBI triple helped lead the National League to an 8-0 victory.

No, I don’t like cheaters. But, I don’t see why teams shouldn’t encourage their fans to support their favorite players.

I’m confident that the All-Star game will include the best that baseball has to offer – based on statistical achievement, as well as intangible “nice guy” criteria that I think is the difference between a great player and an All-Star.

Because, really, I mean, what’s worse? Buster Posey starting at Catcher for the National League next month or the fact that only 57 percent of eligible voters voted in last year’s presidential election?

Can’t decide? Let me help you out. The presidential voting thing is worse.

But, the Cheesy Garlic Bread potato chip vote is pretty bad, too.


UPDATE!! The potato chip debate is not over. In August, I got the chips … and here’s my post on the taste test. Click here.

And, here’s more from me on All Star Game voting: From “Half Star to All Star”

Wondering what to do during your All-Star break? I’ve got you covered: Free Baseball: “I Hate The All Star Game” Edition


Help The Milwaukee Brewers Get Dressed!

Three things you should know about me …

1) I’m not really a Milwaukee Brewers fan.  About all I know about the Brewers is that they were, at one time, an American League team, and that at some point in the late 1990s, Orioles non-legend Ben McDonald pitched out the end of his career there.  I also know that they began their life as the Seattle Pilots (which in the late 1960s enjoyed its one season as a major league team, but is forever remembered thanks to Jim Bouton’s bawdy book Ball Four, which my dad finally let me read when I was 30).

2) I have a degree in political science.  This shows itself whenever there is an opportunity to vote.  Voting is my democratic right.  I will vote for anything.  Primary.  General Election. I will vote for American Idol.  If I’m sitting in a meeting and someone says, “It’s time for lunch, let’s take a vote, pizza or sandwiches?” I get very excited.  I take my duty seriously.  If there is an opportunity to vote, I will vote.

3) I think baseball uniforms are oddly, weirdly cool. I think the Seinfeld episode about changing the Yankees’ uniforms from polyester to cotton (and featuring Zen Master Buck Showalter) is Gold, Jerry,  Gold!  Watch the moment here.

Zen Master Buck Showalter wasn't always the Orioles Manager ... once, long ago, he was on Seinfeld and he also  some other teams ... including the Yankee- something-or-others.

Zen Master Buck Showalter wasn’t always the Orioles Manager … once, long ago, he was on Seinfeld, and, oh yes, he managed a little-known team called the Yankees.

So, if you give me the chance to vote on which fan-designed Milwaukee Brewers uniform will be worn by the team this season …

Oh sweet heaven, this is the best January ever!  So, the deal is this …

Three fans designed uniforms …

Brewers Ron from Maryland

Ron from Maryland’s Design

Nicholas from Wisconsin's Design

Nicholas from Wisconsin’s Design

Ben from Minnesota's Design

Ben from Minnesota’s Design

I’m ready to vote.  I’m going with Ron from Maryland.  I’m so glad you asked why.  I like that throwback Milwaukee Brewers logo.  I like that bright blue.  I like that Ron included socks. And, I like that Ron is from Maryland — maybe he’s really an Orioles fan just killing time until Spring Training.  Good enough for me … Vote Ron!

(Ben from Minnesota? You were a close second. But you lost me with the Texas Rangers cowboy font on the back. Plus, the cap.  Is that a toaster?)

To vote, just visit the Major League Baseball website, which you can do by clicking here.  You have until January 22.

After you’ve voted, go ahead and read Jim Bouton’s Ball Four about a crazy, raunchy season in baseball. (Unless you’re a 12-year-old … in which case, please wait until you’re 30.)

ball four