Page 1,967

© The Baseball Bloggess

On Friday, while major league ballplayers in Florida and Arizona were squeezing baseball games in between their tee times, Congress and President Trump were changing the rules of the game for minor leaguers.

You thought starting extra innings with a player on second is ridiculous?

It is. We can talk about that later.

Today’s ridiculosity (not a word; should be a word) is a rule change hidden away on Page 1,967 of the $1.3-trillion omnibus spending bill, signed into law by President Trump on Friday, which dramatically changes fair labor laws as they apply to minor leaguers.

From here on out – thanks to President Trump, Congress, and the wealthy team owners who spent more than $1 million lobbying in Washington these past two years – minor leaguers will no longer be protected by minimum wage or overtime regulations.

Continue reading


If your team is in a mid-season tumble (what, just me?) it might be wise to simply coast through these next few days … close your eyes and crawl to the All-Star Break and hope your team’s bats and fastballs warm up on the other side.

(It really is just me, isn’t it?)

While you’re busy ignoring your team’s little mini-implosion, which I’m sure is just temporary and won’t slow them from their destiny run to the World Series in October, how about helping out the minor leagues?

Plus, who doesn’t like to vote online?

(I’m looking at you Royals fans.)

Minor League baseball would like to know which minor league team – and there seem to be tens of thousands of them – has the best cap in the game.

Now, you might think the easy thing to do would be to just ask me. If people would just ask me who has the best cap*, we wouldn’t have to go to all the trouble of voting.

But, since no one did, here’s all you do …

Go here.

clash of the caps

And, vote for your favorite cap.

Once you vote, another two caps will appear and you can vote again. And,again.

There seems to be no limit to the number of caps you can view and vote on. You could, presumably, vote all day and I seriously encourage you to do that, because it’s so much better than other things you could be doing on the Internet, like watching stuff like this.

That’s 28 seconds of your life you’ll never get back, but more important, you could have voted three times in that span.

So start voting. (And, keep voting until July 21.)

* I’m still waiting for someone to ask me.

Because if they did, I would tell them the best cap in minor league baseball (possibly the best cap in the entire world) is this one.

spokane indians cap1

The Spokane Indians, a Texas Rangers affiliate, celebrate their Native American heritage by using the Salish language on their caps. (Try pronouncing it. Go ahead. I’ll wait.)

Isn’t there a Baseball Bloggess in your life who deserves that cap?

Dear Montgomery Biscuits, You came so close. So very, very close.

Montgomery Biscuits


A Trifecta of Sorts

My baseball trifecta would be to see the Baltimore Orioles, the San Francisco Giants, and the University of Virginia Cavaliers in a single game.

Today the Bowie Baysox (Orioles AA team) faced the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants AA team) in Richmond, Virginia.

Bowie’s starting pitcher was a UVa Hoo.

Close enough.

Sunday, April 12, 2015.

branden kline

Branden Kline, starting pitcher, Bowie. Ten K’s over five innings. From the University of Virginia.

branden kline 3

branden kline2


first pitch

Ceremonial first pitch.

jason esposito



Richmond Flying Squirrel Javier Herrera. Safe.

ben rowanSubmarine pitcher Ben Rowan, traded from the Dodgers organization a couple days ago, making his Orioles organization debut. (A former Virginia Tech Hokie.)

derek gibson

Bowie Baysox


on deck circle


Mike Yastrzemski, left field, Bowie.

Yes, Red Sox fans, Carl is his grandfather.

carl yastrzemski 1969


matt and sam

7th Inning Stretch.

2-1 Bowie. Bottom of the ninth. Tying run on second.

villalona two out bottom of the ninth

Angel Villalona.

(He struck out.)

bowie at richmond 4 12 15 box score

Photos: The Diamond, Richmond, Virginia. April 12, 2015. © The Baseball Bloggess

Almost every photo was taken from behind the net today. Sorry about that.

nuthin but net


Waffles, Pete Rose, & Yard Goats

With no baseball, you’d think winter was simply a waste of four otherwise perfectly good months.

You could be right. But, I spent this past off-season productively – reading stuff and learning stuff.

Now, with just two weeks until Opening Day, it’s time to share some of my newfound expertise.

I’m here to answer questions with that declarative I-am-right-and-you-are-wrong decisiveness that comes when you’ve learned stuff (or think you know stuff, or can talk faster and louder than your friends at dinner).

Some of these questions came from real readers of this blog.

I made the rest up. Which is the prerogative of an expert.

Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?


animal house

But, is Animal House still the greatest movie of all time? Sadly, probably not.

For years I’ve said that Animal House is the greatest movie ever made. And, I meant it. Trust me, I’ve watched it a lot.

That the San Francisco Giants remade its greatest scene in 2013 only made it greater.


(None of those Giants  – not even Hunter Pence – had ever seen Animal House. Sad, really.)

I watched Animal House again last week and, in light of the horrible fraternity news that’s been spewing out lately like vomit at a college kegger, it sort of ruined it for me.

(This? Still funny.)

But, drinking too much, degrading women, sadistic hazing, racism? Not funny.

Leave it to the frats to ruin this movie for me. Losers.

When are you going to finish War & Peace?

I started Tolstoy’s War & Peace as the off-season began.

war and peace

I read it because I wanted to know if it was really the greatest book ever written, as literary experts say … and if it’s so great, why haven’t any of my friends read it?

My goal? Finish the 1,200-page book by Opening Day.

I’m often a last-minute slacker … but, guess what?

I finished it last Tuesday.

the end

The whole thing.

The booky part.


And, Peace.

Both Epilogues. The Appendix. And, all the footnotes. Hundreds of them, from two different translations.

I don’t think I can be much done-er than that.


It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read.

You should read it. Then, whenever someone asks you a tough question – about anything – you can pause thoughtfully, then say, “Well, as Tolstoy reminds us in War & Peace …” and then just answer the question however the hell you want. Who’s going to know?

Let’s try it.

Is Animal House the greatest movie of all time?

“Well, as Tolstoy says in War & Peace’s second epilogue, the present can color our view of the past. So, despite all the dreadful recent news from fraternities, it should not color Animal House’s overall cinematic greatness. After all, 1978 was a very different time.”


You can make up all the crap you want. Chances are the person you’re talking to hasn’t read War & Peace, so you’re in the clear. They’re going to think you’re really smart. (And, a little annoying. They’re probably right about that.)

(Tolstoy would agree with me about Animal House, by the way.)

Waffles or Pancakes?

Waffles. Those little squares are absolute perfection … each one waiting to be turned into a delicious little syrup pond.

waffle squares

By Dvortygirl, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Waffles perfected the one fatal pancake flaw … “syrup slide,” where your syrup slides off the pancake and onto the plate, making it useless.

When we start eating ice cream out of “pancake cones” you can argue with me.

waffle cone

By MarkBuckawicki, CC0 via Wikimedia Commons

Until then, waffles.

This next question comes from WebMD – the popular health website – which really sent me this question by email:



(See how easy this experting thing is?)

This post is just pretext to get us to ask about that tweet you sent last month, isn’t it?

I’m so glad you asked!

Here it is …

my tweet

Orioles All-Star outfielder, and crossword puzzle clue, Adam Jones saw my tweet, proclaimed my puzzle “coo” (baseball, hip, twitter-speak for “cool”) and retweeted it to his 168,000 followers.

aj retweet

I was viral in a very small, but satisfying, way, for nearly an hour.


© The Baseball Bloggess

When not tweeting, Adam Jones plays center field for the Baltimore Orioles.

Yes, I ultimately finished the puzzle, but I needed brainiac Editor/Husband’s help to do it …

crossword done

Finally, two baseball questions.

Should Pete Rose’s lifetime ban from baseball be lifted?

Of course not.

Rules are rules.

In 1989, Pete Rose accepted a lifetime ban from baseball because of his gambling.

In 2007, he admitted publicly that he bet on the Reds “every single night” when he was manager of the team.

Here’s baseball’s Rule 21(d) that is posted prominently in every major and minor league clubhouse:

“Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.”

I think we’re done here.

Pete Rose Banned

What will Hartford’s Minor League team be called?

Earlier this month, we got to vote on a new name for the Rockies’ AA affiliate. I came around on Yard Goats, because it refers to the little engine that shuffles cars around in a rail yard.

Yard Goats won!

yard goat train

By Lexcie, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

 Just think, a steam whistle can blow for every Hartford home run!

Tolstoy coined the term “Yard Goat” in War & Peace, you know. Crazy isn’t it?

But, he did.

I mean, hey, prove me wrong.



Snow Day Checklist: Read. Vote.

There are all sorts of things to do on a Snow Day.

(Even a “Snow Day” that, so far, has no snow in it. Still, all my clients have cancelled, so, unlike postmen who are rarely slowed by sleet and snow — or the promise of sleet and snow — I’m not working.)

Do not suggest that I shovel snow on a Snow Day.

Shoveling is work. I am not working on my Snow Day.

The first acceptable thing one can do on a Snow Day is read.

Like what you’re doing right now.

Congratulations. You may check “Read” off of your Snow Day to-do list.

Today, March 5, happens to be World Book Day. (Happy World Book Day, Blog Reader!)

In 1803 (or so), John Moore wrote that reading is preferable to “horses, hounds, the theatres, cards, and the bottle.”

(Pity about the bottle thing, but, oh well.)

utility of books

Note that Moore specifically did not say that books are preferable to baseball. That baseball did not exist, under the name “baseball” anyway, in 1803 is a smug formality. And, I’m having none of your smugness on my Snow Day.

Reading, Moore tells us, “preserves us from bad company.” This is the polite way of saying that reading protects you from dolts.

Congratulations. We are not dolts.

When Billy [Martin] was a high school junior a teacher asked him to read a book for a report. He admitted that he had never read a book and suggested he never intended to change.

“What will you do with your life?” the teacher asked.

“I’m going to be a baseball player,” he said. “Baseball players don’t have to read books.”

The teacher reached into a shelf and pulled out a book. “Here,” she said, “Read this.”

The book was Lou Gehrig: Quiet Hero by Frank Graham.

“I read it from cover to cover in one sitting,” Martin said years later. “It had a strong influence on my life.”

~ All Roads Lead To October, by Maury Allen, 2010


Billy Martin, Yankee. 1952 World Series. Baseball Digest. Public Domain

See. Even Yankees know the value of reading.

Books, Moore writes, “can be enjoyed in the worst weather.”

So, should the snow actually arrive, I’m set.

read war and peace

Another thing one can do on a Snow Day …


Once again, I trot out my rusty political science degree to promote our democracy’s voting tradition. A proud tradition that allows and encourages anyone to vote, except children, felons, and people who disagree with the party in power. Women and people of color will note that our voting tradition has not been a particularly long one.

Let’s vote!

Voting for Presidents and Members of Congress and marijuana and county bonds is fun, but voting for baseball team names is even funner. (“Funner” is not a word, no matter what an 8-year-old says, but it should be.)

Hartford, Connecticut is seeking a name for its Double A minor league team – a Colorado Rockies affiliate – which is moving from New Britain this season.

They need our help. They want us to vote.

top 10 team names

Sure the Hartford Praying Mantis is hipster-cute. But, what can you do with a name like that? The Praying Manti? Mantises? Mantes?

That’s a mess.

Honey Badger is stupid.

So are Whirlybirds (let’s go, Turbine Ventilators!), Choppers (popular with dentists), and River Hogs (which are native to Africa, not Hartford).

whirlybird turbine ventilator

 Helicopters are not as fun as turbine ventilators.


By Jason Pratt, permission: CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

 River hogs, no stick. (Might be ok fielding bunts.)

I like Screech Owls.

pignoliPignoli, Screech Owl at the Wildlife Center of Virginia 

They are adorable in a Pharrell-in-a-big-hat-singing-“Happy”-before-it-got-played-out-and-people-started-posting-annoying-singalongs-on-YouTube sort of way.

(The Milwaukee Brewers version will always be sweet because … Hank the Dog!)

Editor/Husband likes the Hartford Yard Goats.

Which I thought was stupid, because who knew that people in Hartford had goats in their yard and that it was a thing?

I clearly do not read enough, because had I read a book about trains I would know that a Yard Goat is a squat, little locomotive that lives in a rail yard and shuffles the cars around.

yard goat train

By Lexcie, permission: CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

 Yard Goat. Never runs out of the base paths.

Now that’s adorable.

Editor/Husband wins.

Vote Yard Goats. Vote here.

(Or Screech Owls.)

(Just not Honey Badgers. For the love of God, no.)

Postscript: This conversation just happened.

Baseball Bloggess: My headline is boring. Can you fix it?

Editor/Husband: Do you want to put a colon in?

BB: Yup. That sexy-ed it up.


Where In The World … ?

In 1903, the Boston Americans won baseball’s very first World Series.

I know, I know – the “Americans” won America’s “World” Series. How not-very-worldly of us.

(The Boston Americans, by the way, included Cy Young, the winningest pitcher in the history of baseball. They would occasionally take spring training in Charlottesville, Virginia – just down the road from me. In 1908, they started calling themselves the Red Sox and are known today for their generous facial hair.)


The Boston Americans (front row) defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates (back row) in the nine-game 1903 World Series. ~ public domain image

My Canadian friend Susie (hi Susie!) always reminds me that Canada “invented” baseball. And, while that’s not exactly true, it is not exactly untrue either, and it’s quite a bit truer than Abner Doubleday’s claim, which isn’t true at all.

But, what is true is that Jackie Robinson’s first professional integrated regular season games were played with the Montreal Royals, the Brooklyn Dodgers’ farm club. And, what is also true is that Robinson called Montreal one of his favorite places because the people there were “warm and wonderful” and treated the Robinson family with respect.

So maybe “World” Series is a bit of a stretch. But, at least the world plays baseball.

You want to talk about a stretch, how about calling the Winter Olympics the world’s games, when nearly half of the world’s population lives in countries that are snow free?

Baseball is nearly everywhere today.

And, while there is no baseball in Antarctica, there are penguins and you can click here to play baseball with them.

Every other continent, not covered by an ice sheet, will have a baseball game going on in some field, or village, or town, or city, somewhere. And, the best of those players might get a chance in the big leagues.

Just look at the free-agent multi-multi-million-dollar signings in recent months – Robinson Cano (Dominican Republic), Masahiro Tanaka (Japan), Shin-Soo Choo (South Korea).

Spoiler Alert: The Baltimore Orioles will win the World Series this season thanks to their off-season pick ups of pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez (Dominican Republic) and Suk-min Yoon (South Korea), and veteran power hitter Nelson Cruz (Dominican Republic, again). They will win despite the fact that they nearly signed, and then quickly unsigned, Grant Balfour, a seasoned, but moody, reliever from Australia.

The 2014 baseball season began this weekend in Australia when the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks kicked off their first game at 4 a.m. EDT on Saturday.

I am an insanely passionate baseball fan. But, I did not get up to watch. The Orioles will play 162 regular season games in 2014, and I will try to watch them all (except when they’re on the West Coast playing and I’m on the East Coast sleeping).

There will be plenty of baseball that doesn’t require a 4 a.m. pot of coffee.

That said, boy oh boy, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw looked sharp.

Embed from Getty Images

Clayton Kershaw, sometime around 4 a.m. EDT on Saturday.

Here’s legendary Dodgers’ broadcaster Vin Scully with a koala bear.

vin koala

The two games this weekend were held at the Sydney Cricket Ground that was reconfigured for baseball. The New York Giants and Chicago White Sox played an exhibition game there way back in 1914.

The Giants won that game.

The Dodgers swept the Diamondbacks this weekend.

Embed from Getty Images

One of the fellas at the MLB channel called the Cricket Ground a mix of World Cup and Wimbledon.

I love baseball’s international spirit.  I love that players come from all over, and a team may have two or three translators hanging around the dugout to help everyone communicate.

Players from Japan and the Dominican Republic and Cuba are some of the best players in major league ball today.

But, baseball also thrives closer to home in Indian Nation.

I just discovered that Jacoby Ellsbury and Joba Chamberlain are Native American.

National Public Radio’s Only A Game had a wonderful story this weekend about baseball and Navajo Nation.  Click here.

This season, the Class A Spokane Indians will honor the tribes of the Pacific Northwest by wearing the Native American Salish language on their jerseys.

Spokane, in Salish, looks a bit like a cat just ran over the keyboard, or something like this:


spokane jersey

(I must have one!)

(I think Sp’q’n’i is about to make my spell-checker explode.)

Baseball season is finally here. You know what to do.

Root for your “home” team … whether it’s the Baltimore Orioles (whoo!) or the Toronto Blue Jays (hi again Susie!), or an outfielder from Cienfuegos, Cuba or an infielder from Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, or  a pitcher from Habikino, Osaka, Japan.

Or, the Sp’q’n’i … yeh, especially Sp’q’n’i.

(Road trip, anyone?)

“Oh, to be 22 …”

“Oh, to be 22 and a Dodger.” ~ Vin Scully

(Describing Dodger Rookie Yasiel Puig after a magnificent throw from right to get the runner at home and end the inning. August 31, 2013. You can see it all here.)

Oh, to be 85 and to see baseball as Vin Scully does.

I’m not a Los Angeles Dodgers fan (though my dad was, in a “I don’t like baseball, but I do like the Dodgers” sort of way).

But, I always like to listen to Vin, the voice of the Dodgers for the past 64 years. (And, soon to be 65 years, as he’s just signed on for 2014.)

He is, quite simply, the voice of baseball. Scully is in the Baseball Hall of Fame, is regularly chosen as the best broadcaster in baseball, and has been calling Dodgers games – on radio and, today, on television — since 1950. Since they were the Brooklyn Dodgers.

When I listen to Vin Scully doing a game today I imagine my dad, out in the backyard in California on a long-ago Saturday, beer in hand in his beloved green hammock, listening to a game on the radio. Vin Scully calling a Dodgers game, same as today. Only the names have changed.

And, long ago doesn’t seem all that long ago.

Whether describing a baby wearing a hat, marveling over a cloud formation, or his regular nightly depictions of the sun setting over Dodger Stadium, baseball becomes richer when Vin Scully is sharing it with you.

The world becomes sweet and timeless and precious.

So, I went to a game on Sunday. And, I took my camera (which is new and foreign and intimidating). I tried to see the things that Vin Scully would see, if he were at the park with me.

Harrisburg Senators (AA Washington Nationals team) vs. Richmond Flying Squirrels (AA San Francisco Giants team). September 1, 2013

(Second to the last game of the AA season. Harrisburg will go to the playoffs. The Squirrels’ season will end on Labor Day.)

Squirrel Autograph Day

It was Flying Squirrels autograph day at the park. Oh, to be 22 …

more autographs

Jarrett Parker

The Squirrels’ Jarrett Parker (UVA alum) … dreaming of the AAA Fresno Grizzlies?

Having A Catch

Having a catch before the game.

upper deck


Every team deserves a mascot (hear that Chicago Cubs?). The Flying Squirrels have two. This is Zinger. He is a giant acorn.



This is not a homerun swing.

Lollis homerun

This is. (The Squirrels’ Ryan Lollis, leading off the first inning.)

cotton candy

Hey, snacks!

pitchers mound

Not a good day to be a Harrisburg pitcher.

man on first

right field

Right field can seem awfully far away sometimes.


The relievers in their bullpen. (Even minor league teams have their candy backpack … it’s over there on the ground on the left.)

old stadium

All you have to do is turn a camera button and your 21st-century game looks like 1964.

older stadium

Or, 1934. (That’s Editor/Husband on the left keeping track of the pitching changes in his program.)


When you get cocky, your camera will change all your settings.


Some clouds for Vin.


And, just as quickly as it started, the minor league season is over. Wasn’t it just Opening Day? Where did the summer go? And, how many days until spring?

(And, Vin Scully would be disappointed if I neglected to give you the final score.  Richmond Flying Squirrels 7. Harrisburg Senators 3.)

628 Hours & 30 Minutes

A lot of people complain that baseball is long, slow, and boring.

They are wrong on all counts.

Baseball isn’t really very long at all … a game takes something like three hours.

(In fact, NFL football games take, on average, longer than MLB baseball games. And, only 11 minutes of that is actually football. Tons of movies drag on past three hours. I can watch a double header in less time than a stupid Downton Abbey marathon. So there.)

You know what takes a long time? Building a barn. That takes a long time.


Oooh, I see walls! (Actually, I don’t.)

Some baseball games go into extra innings, sure.

I was at a baseball game once that went 15 innings and was nearly five hours long.  It was the 4th of July. And, the game was inside. Inside. In the Minnesota Metrodome, the gloomiest place on earth (and smelling vaguely of a high school gym shower and mothballs). Thankfully, the Twins left there in 2009 and now play outside in the fresh air, which is where God intended baseball to be played.

What’s worse … the Orioles lost that game.

But, that was nothing.

I can now say that I attended a LONG baseball game. An 11-inning game that took 628 hours and 30 minutes.

That’s more than 26 days, for you kids trying to find the calculator on your iPhone.

Let me ‘splain.

On July 21, Editor/Husband and I went to Richmond, Virginia for a game between the AA Richmond Flying Squirrels (note: not regular squirrels, but FLYING squirrels, which are something entirely different), and the AA Bowie Baysox (I do not know what a baysox is).

An actual flying squirrel

An actual flying squirrel. Photo courtesy Laszlo-Photos, via the Creative Commons License Agreement

I was especially excited because these are the AA affiliates of, respectively, the current world champion San Francisco Giants and the supposed-to-win-the-World-Series-this-year-but-aren’t-looking-so-good-right-now Baltimore Orioles.

Here you can see me enjoying the game (and my new shoes) with 5,524 other fans.

its me

(It was in the 90s. It was hot.)

Here’s Nathaniel, who was at the game with his awesome “Go Squirrels” sign.

Nathaniel Go Squirrels

(I wrote about Nathaniel and his sign, here.)

Here you can see Nutzy the Flying Squirrel in a Santa cap and beard.


(Did I mention that it was in the 90s and very, very hot?)

I think the Wall-Nut won the Mix Nut Race, although I neglected to note that on my scorecard. Don’t let the current standings fool you, I think Peanut is lazy. You can watch them race around here at another game and you tell me that Peanut isn’t dogging it a bit.

mix nut race

Here you can see my scorecard.


Notice how it abruptly ends with the score tied and two outs in the bottom of the 10th?

That’s when it started to rain. Really rain.

And, it was getting late and, you know, people have things to do on Sunday nights, like go home and shower because it was beastly hot out and my clothes were soaked with sweat (and, maybe a little French Fry grease … the Squirrel Fries are dee-licious.)

So the game was suspended.

Yes, for the first time ever, I was at a professional game that ended in a tie. Since I am an Orioles fan, who has a little warm spot in my heart for my childhood sweetheart Giants, this seemed appropriate. I cheered for both, and everyone’s a winner, or a not-winner. Whatever.

But, it just didn’t feel right. My scorecard needed closure.

For 26 days, we waited. The teams moved on to win and lose to other teams. I even got to Richmond for another game.

Someone had to win.

And, so the next time the two teams met, on Friday night, August 16, at 6:05 p.m. the game resumed right where it left off … in Bowie, Maryland, which is 126.16 miles away from Richmond where the game began. It’s about a two-hour and 11-minute drive for you Mapquest Geeks.

Yes, for one brief micromillisecond moment in the 10th inning of this game, the distance from home plate when the game was suspended and the pitching mound when the game resumed was 126 miles.

Let’s see Clayton Kershaw wing one over that!

It took about 30 minutes to finish up. I wasn’t there, but Jon Laaser, the Richmond Flying Squirrels broadcaster was, and he’s a very prompt Twitter Responder.  (Thank you, Jon!)

twitter answer

And, in the bottom of the 11th with the score tied 5-5, the Squirrels knit together three singles … and the winning run came home at about 6:35 p.m. on August 16.

628 hours and 30 minutes after the game started.


Scorecard, done.

(Later that night, in much quicker fashion, the Squirrels beat the BaySox again.)

final box score

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.


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 @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.

Go Squirrels.

Nathaniel Go Squirrels“I like to play happy. Baseball is a fun game, and I love it.” ~ Willie Mays

Willie Mays is my favorite SF Giant.  Because … because, of course he is … I don’t have to explain that to you, do I?

Play happy.

I love that.

I saw the Richmond Flying Squirrels play on Sunday (they’re the Giants’ AA team).

And, that’s where I saw Nathaniel and his sign.

Baseball isn’t about cheaters and liars and those who dirty up a pure game with bad behavior and boorishness.

Baseball is about playing happy. And, Nathaniel. And, his sign. (And, possibly his brother too, over there on the right, who reminds you that sometimes you’re not that happy about a baseball game.)

The Richmond Squirrels and the Bowie Baysox, the Orioles’ AA team, played to a 5-5 stalemate Sunday, when the skies opened up in the 10th and the game was suspended. They’ll finish it another day.

Play Happy. Go Squirrels.