It’s Baseball O’Clock

Old scoreboard, Porterfield Park. Orange, Virginia.

On second thought, maybe I owe the Florida Georgia Line a thank you.

(Florida Georgia Line is a country duo. And, I’ll admit I haven’t heard a single thing they’ve ever done. You might think less of me for it, but that’s where we are.)

Last night, the duo I don’t know, the Florida Alabama Line, played in Charlottesville. I’m sure they sold out the place, because apparently I’m the only one who doesn’t know a thing about them.

This would be meaningless except for this …

When bands like the Tennessee Kentucky Line play in Charlottesville, all the accessible parking for University of Virginia baseball games is taken away.

This would be meaningless except for this …

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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.

seven-up-bar-label

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!

Nougat.

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

tom-hanks-big

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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“No Baseball Beyond This Point”

no-baseball-beyond-this-point

© The Baseball Bloggess

Baseball is over.

The World Series went seven exciting games, which is as much baseball as one can have. A World Series only promises you four games, so to have the Series go the full seven – and an extra inning last night to boot! – is like taking two brownies from the buffet table. Sure, you know you were only supposed to take one, but the second one was so delicious.

Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs who won their first World Series since 1908. It took a rain delay and an extra inning, but Cubs fans, no more sad-faces from you, you’re winners now.

And, chin up, Cleveland. You gave it your best.

(The Orioles haven’t been to a World Series in 33 years.)

your-stats-are-booming

And, thank you, Mother Nature for raining on Cleveland at midnight slowing down Game 7 even more. Baseball fans were exhausted, but a bunch of them were also reading my post from earlier this season that explained how long baseball rain delays last. (Short answer: Until it stops raining.)

So, now what? The brownies are gone and what are you going to do with yourself until baseball comes around again?

(Oh, I know, you freakish baseball nerds … the off-season calendar is loaded with stuff. Free agency and qualifying offers and the Rule 5 Draft and GM Meetings and the Winter Meetings and the awards, from Gold Gloves to Cy Youngs to MVPs. But, you know that’s not baseball. That’s just stuff.)

It’s only been a few hours. I miss baseball already.

(And, brownies. I could really use a brownie right now.)

(And, a good strong cup of coffee.)

Photo: 2016. © The Baseball Bloggess

All Baseball Is Local.

Most of the world doesn’t have a team playing so late into baseball’s hallowed October post-season.

Los Angeles and Chicago do. Cleveland, too.

And, Toronto. (Even though we all know that no one likes baseball in Canada. And, yes, I’m still steamed about the fan who threw his beer at Orioles outfielder Hyun Soo Kim earlier this month … and the other fan who threw his beer at Orioles outfielder Nate McLouth in 2013. Dear Canada, I don’t forget.)

But, that’s it. Dodgers, Cubs, Indians, Blue Jays.

The rest of us must find the local in our October baseball elsewhere.

Each fall, college baseball teams around the country hold “Fall Ball” seasons or “World Series” intra-squad competitions. It keeps veteran players sharp and gives freshmen a chance to show that they can play at the college level.  And, it gives the rest of us something to do until Spring Training rolls around.

The University of Virginia (UVA) Cavaliers are holding their seven-game Orange vs. Blue World Series this month.

mccarthy-novak-fall-ball-2016

UVA’s Jake McCarthy, Team Orange, considering a steal. UVA’s Justin Novak, Team Blue, waits at short. Or, as Editor/Husband describes the Orange vs. Blue series: “Brother against Brother.”

The games are free and while the stands aren’t packed, you’ll find baseball fans, assorted scouts with radar guns, and the player’s parents, who often sit together and watch with the deep and seasoned concentration of loving moms and dads who have been watching from the sidelines since their sons were in tee-ball.

The games can be surreal. It’s hard to cobble together two full squads from just one team, so one team here plays without a DH or a 9th batter. There’s a “Designated Runner” who’s been sent in to run for a batter who can hit, but because of injury hasn’t been cleared to run. Games can go seven innings or eight … or less or more … depending on the time, the day, or the whims of the coaches. Games can end in a tie.

It is a game. But, the rules of the games get blurry sometimes.

haseley-first-pitch-of-fall-season-uva-2016

Outfielder/Pitcher Adam Haseley swings at the first pitch of the 2016 UVA Fall Ball Season. The 4 p.m. shadows creep over the infield and batter’s box much earlier, quicker, and thicker than in the spring.

orange-blue-uva-weiller-on-2nd-bettinger-on-the-mound

Team Orange’s Jack Weiller waits on second while Team Blue talks strategy on the mound.

The UVA Orange team has won two games and one game ended in a tie for those of you who keep track of those sorts of things. They play again on Friday.

At a time when the world – and our nation – seems so divided, angry, and divisive isn’t it nice to be able to root for everyone?

Because when your home team is playing your home team, all you can do is cheer.

And, you can’t get more local than that.

Photos: University of Virginia Orange vs. Blue “World Series”, Davenport Field. Charlottesville, Virginia. October 2016. © The Baseball Bloggess

In response to WordPress’s Weekly Photo Challenge “Local”. See lots more photos from this challenge here.

 

The Cleanup Hitter

The 4th batter in a baseball lineup is the Cleanup Hitter.

(In a perfect world, the Cleanup Hitter’s job is to clean up the bases with a home run or a double. You know, something awesome, exciting, and powerful.)

Today, the Baseball Bloggess celebrates its (her? my?) 4th birthday. And, to celebrate, a bit of cleanup is in order.

I take a lot of photos at ballgames. But, I’m trying to watch and score the game, too – so I don’t capture much of the action … no exciting steals of second, no miracle catches at the wall.

There’s not a lot of dust kicking up in my photos.

Most of the photos I take just sit quietly on my computer, in their folders, like the utility guy on the bench patiently waiting for a chance to play.

So, here’s some cleanup – four recent photos that I’m sweet on, but don’t quite fit anywhere.

Orioles Outfielder Joey Rickard … 

Joey Rickard Orioles vs Angels 7 9 2016

© The Baseball Bloggess

“Bats, they are sick. I cannot hit curveball. Straightball I hit it very much. Curveball, bats are afraid. [C]ome, take fear from bats.” ~ Pedro Ceranno in the movie Major League (1988)

The Baltimore Orioles bats went cold this month.

Power bats slump from time to time, and teams often slump together.

I think Rickard’s putting a spell on his bat here as he comes to the plate.

Poor Joey went on the DL this week and is out for the next four to six weeks with a thumb injury.  Heal up, Joey, the team needs you!

But, I think his spell worked, because the team bats are finding their mojo again … and, hey, look at this …

al east standings

Photo: Los Angeles Angels at Baltimore Orioles. Camden Yards, Baltimore. July 9, 2016.

Another Bunt! … 

© The Baseball Bloggess

University of Virginia third baseman Justin Novak lays down a bunt.

A few days ago I wrote about bunts and how much I love them. And, you all agreed!

I think we love bunts because we are thoughtful and cerebral and strategic. (And, because, at some point in Little League or junior high gym class, we bunted. Sure, we couldn’t hit one out, but, by golly, we could bunt.)

Photo: Georgia Tech at University of Virginia. Davenport Field, Charlottesville, VA. May 14, 2016.

Jubilation …

© The Baseball Bloggess

University of Virginia celebrating a run.

In a pivotal series against the University of North Carolina in April it looked like the University of Virginia had turned their season around.

The turnaround got the Cavaliers to the NCAA Regional Tournament in June, but that’s where their season ended.

Still, this photo is one of my favorites. Because … happy. That’s all. Just happy.

Photo: University of North Carolina at University of Virginia. Davenport Field, Charlottesville, VA. April 17, 2016.

Racing Mascots … 

© The Baseball Bloggess

There’s more to baseball than baseball.

The Washington Nationals Racing President Thomas Jefferson visits Charlottesville from time to time and is here racing – or being chased by, depending on how you look at things – Cosmo, a sheepdog, and “Prairiewether Lewis,” a prairie dog, at a recent Tom Sox game.

(A question you may have: Why does a prairie dog – a species that doesn’t even live in Virginia — represent the Charlottesville Tom Sox? Editor/Husband responds: “In 1805, the explorers Lewis and Clark sent a live prairie dog to President Jefferson at the White House.” Yes, he really knows this stuff.)

Photo: Covington Lumberjacks at Charlottesville Tom Sox. (Valley League) Cville Weekly Ballpark, Charlottesville, VA. July 7, 2016.

Last month, a Facebook exec predicted that in the next five years Facebook would “probably be all video.”

According to Cisco Systems: “It would take an individual five-million years to watch the amount of video that will cross global IP networks each month in 2020.”

Words are, sadly, obsolete.

But, on the bright side, I’ve still got five years to figure out how to use the video camera on my six-year-old Droid phone.

Happy Birthday, Baseball Bloggess … here’s to four – and, apparently, only four – more years.

Also, cleaning up today? Those pesky ads that sometimes appear at the bottom of these posts. I keep worrying that some political ad will find its way on here and ruin your day. You can’t buy me, you angry political meanies! Get off my blog!  Which is to say, those little ads that pop-up at the bottom of posts should now be gone. (But, if you see one, let me know so I can stamp my feet and complain to someone.)

 

A Thursday Without Baseball

I’m a little disappointed to learn that Pokémon Go has nothing to do with Gumby’s faithful sidekick.

Do not bring your Pokémon to my world. The only Pokey-anything I recognize is an orange horse that is adorable, made of clay, and bends. My world includes Gumby, dammit.

gumby and pokey

(Don’t even try to explain Pokémon to me. Just don’t.)

It is Thursday. There is no baseball tonight.

Here are three things you can do until baseball returns.

ONE: Now that I’ve watched this old episode where Gumby meets Pokey for the first time, I wonder if I have ever even seen a Gumby cartoon. Because it’s strange and trippy, wonderful and terrifying. There are more than a few childhood nightmares lurking in GumbyWorld. It would have scared the hell out of me. I learned from this 1956 episode that Pokey is not orange as I always thought – he is red – and he talks. Gumby has an incredibly unsafe relationship with firearms, but Pokey seems all right.

Pokey The Red Bendy Horse – 1  Pokemon Go – 0.

 

TWO:  I may not Pokémon, but I can waste hours online as well as anyone. Look what I found … a photo messer-upper!  (Don’t tell me about Instagram. I don’t care.) I like this simple and satisfying way to take a photo and make it look like someone spray painted it on a brick wall.  There is no reason to do this, but I’m pleased to discover I can.

Joey Rickard Bunting On The Wall

© The Baseball Bloggess

That’s Orioles Rule 5 Draft Pick Joey Rickard and his big league sacrifice bunt splattered up there on the wall.

You can waste hours messing up your own photos in all kinds of ways here:

Picture to PeopleTHREE: There is no three. There is only killing time with Gumby, Pokey, photo messer-uppers … and this

gumby dammit

Baseball is back tomorrow.

Photo: Los Angeles Angels at Baltimore Orioles. Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore. July 9, 2016. Orioles outfielder Joey Rickard, sacrifice bunt. Orioles win 3-2.   © The Baseball Bloggess

A Wednesday Without Baseball

“There are two ways of learning to play base ball: the one is to learn it for the objects of recreation and exercise, and the other in order to become a skillful and noted player.”

Chris Davis Johnny Giavotella

© The Baseball Bloggess

 “To learn the game, therefore, for the simple purpose of a few hours of recreation of a summer’s afternoon, is an easy task; but to go into a regular course of training, in order to become a professional player … involves steady and persevering application, fatiguing exertion, plenty of pluck and nerve, thorough control of the temper, great powers of endurance, and, withal, the physical aptitude to excel. …” The Game of Base Ball. How to Learn it, How to Play it, and How to Teach it. By Henry Chadwick, 1868

It is Wednesday. There is no baseball tonight.

It’s the annual All-Star break and there will be no major league games until Friday. It’s a civilized break that all those players with plenty of pluck and nerve have earned.

I fell asleep during last night’s All-Star Game, which I’m a little ashamed about. It makes me sound old, which I suppose I am. Pluckless, I guess. Maybe I just needed a civilized break, too.

I have nothing to do on this night without baseball.

Except wonder how the Orioles will do when they play again on Friday.

Photo: Los Angeles Angels at Baltimore Orioles. Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore. July 9, 2016. Orioles first baseman Chris Davis has the ball; the Angels’ Johnny Giavotella is out on the play. Orioles win 3-2.   © The Baseball Bloggess

The Numbers That Mattered

It was during my junior year in high school that the school math team – the “mathletes” – were one player short. There were four mathletes ready to go, but they needed a five.

I’m not sure why my geometry teacher invited me to join the team. I wasn’t particularly good in his class and I was pretty clear that I hated two things in school – gym and numbers. But, I would always laugh at his jokes. So, I was his choice. Your take away from this: a good chuckle might take you far in this world.

He convinced me to join the team, which was about to go to the state tournament in Minot, by promising we would stop for banana splits on the two-hour drive back home.  Yes, if there was a banana split in it for me, I could spend the day with four geeky mathletes and a teacher who told corny jokes.

I have no memory of the meet except for sitting at a long table, writing problems on pieces of paper, and being forbidden from using a calculator. We didn’t win, but I don’t think I was too terrible.

In any event, the Dairy Queen in Rugby was out of bananas by the time we got there. This is my only clear memory of my one day as a mathlete. Even the worst mathlete knows that zero bananas means zero banana splits.

So, funny that I’ve come to love baseball which is all numbery and statisticfied.

The Baseball Project even wrote a song that is only numbers – comforting and familiar baseball stats. Here are the lyrics in their entirety:

Starting
383
56
715
511
262
61
1.12
191
363
20
49
7
2
632
59
130
4256
5714

Sing along …

I’ve prepared a cheat sheet for you, in case any of these baseball numbers need explaining. It’s here: Baseball Project “Stats” Broken Down

When WordPress announced that their weekly photo challenge for this week was “Numbers,” I thought, this is too easy.

Because, in baseball, players have numbers …

UVA Pregame June 4 2016

Fans have numbers …

my first bleacher of spring 2016

This is me

Look, it’s me! My season ticket bleacher seat … Sweet 16.

Even the walls have numbers …

404 to center field

Straightaway center at Davenport Field, 404 feet.

There are so many numbers, I didn’t know where to start.

But, really, on this hot and humid, three-Gatorade weekend there were only these numbers that mattered …

The numbers that went Virginia’s way …

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Virginia defeats William & Mary in the NCAA Regionals Tournament on Friday, 17-4.

And, the numbers that didn’t …

UVA ECU Final Score June 4 2016

East Carolina stuns Virginia on Saturday night with a bottom-of-the-9th, three-run homer.  

(Virginia lost again today, ending their season.)

See more of Word Press’s “Numbers” challenge here.

Photos: Davenport Field, University of Virginia. Charlottesville, Virginia. 2016 © The Baseball Bloggess

Jubilation. And, Now The Post-Season

This seemed jubilant.

2 run homer

A two-run homer. University of Virginia defeats Georgia Tech, May 13, 2016. 

But, jubilation probably deserves a little more.

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How about a bases-loaded walk-off walk win? University of Virginia defeats Virginia Tech, May 20, 2016.

walk off part 2

Baseball jubilation often includes a Gatorade shower – a couple cups tossed in the air will do in a pinch.

The NCAA college baseball post-season, and the road to the College World Series in Omaha, begins tomorrow.

There will be plenty of dog piles over the next five weeks.

UVa Hoos dogpile 2014

University of Virginia over University of Maryland. Super Regionals, 2014.

Jubilation, too.

Jubilant Wyatt

In response to the Word Press Daily Post Photo Challenge: Jubilant. See more challenge photos here.

Photos: Davenport Field, University of Virginia. Charlottesville, Virginia. 2016 and 2014 © The Baseball Bloggess

The Face Behind The Mask

 

Thaiss 2015

“You have to have a catcher because if you don’t you’re likely to have a lot of passed balls.” ~ Casey Stengel

In 1876, Fred Thayer, the team manager of Harvard’s baseball team, took a fencing mask, tinkered with it, and turned it into baseball’s first catcher’s mask. It didn’t take long for other catchers to catch on.

Thayer patent

Thayer’s original catcher’s mask patent.

Fans, according to The New York Times, hated the innovation, considering a protective mask a sign of weakness. They jeered at catchers who wore them.  (Batting helmets? Shin guards? Thumb protectors? Today’s game would drive our great-great-great grandparents nutty.)

The mask annoyed fans, but it changed the game. It allowed catchers to be much closer to the batter. It allowed pitchers to amp up their pitches without worrying about killing their catcher with an errant throw.

By 1878, Spalding had added it to their sporting goods’ catalog.

spalding

Goat hair and dog skin. $3.

Today’s best masks can run to more than $100. (Which, if you ask me, is a pretty small price to pay to keep your nose, cheekbone, and brain intact.) No more dog skin either. Progress.

It’s hard to know what’s going on behind those “tools of ignorance.” It’s hard to see a catcher’s face, especially way out in the bleachers.

Thaiss 2016

Matt Thaiss, gritty catcher for the University of Virginia, is tough as nails.

“He won’t give up,” UVA pitcher Alec Bettinger told The Daily Progress last week. “He could have his legs chopped off and he’d still go out there and catch. He’s just the toughest guy on the team.”

But, sometimes, when you look inside the mask …

Matt Thaiss March 2016

… he seems almost angelic.

Which just goes to show …

I don’t really know what it goes to show.  But, sometimes the face you find behind a mask isn’t always the face you expected to find.

In response to the Word Press Daily Post Photo Challenge: Face. See more challenge photos here.

Photos: University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia. 2015-2016 © The Baseball Bloggess