Go Fling … and …

“America’s game: has the snap, go fling, of the American atmosphere — belongs as much to our institutions, fits into them as significantly, as our constitutions, laws, [and] is just as important in the sum total of our historic life.” ~ Walt Whitman on baseball, 1889

October. Baseball. Go fling.

Jonathan Schoop

© The Baseball Bloggess

Jonathan Schoop, Second Base. Baltimore Orioles.

Every day is a good day for baseball, right? But, there’s something special about baseball in October. Go fling … and …

Cheeri-O'sAn ad placed by Cheerio’s in today’s Baltimore Sun.

Photo: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland. August 10, 2014.

Game 162.

“You don’t know how to slow it down. It just goes by so fast.” ~ Duane Kuiper, SF Giants broadcaster (and former second baseman) on baseball careers

strike

© The Baseball Bloggess

Even if your team will go to the post-season next week, there’s something kind of sad about Game 162, the last game of the regular season.

Six months. Done.

It went so fast.

Sure, 10 teams still play next week.

(Go Orioles!)

But, with 20 teams gone, the box scores thin out day by day, until there’s just one. Then, none.

Not to jump ahead to 2015, when there’s a World Series in Baltimore still to play for …

Oh, let’s jump ahead to 2015 …

Today’s University of Virginia vs. Towson “Fall Ball” game counts toward their 2015 NCAA season.

So, even though Game 162 is a little sad. Somewhere else, it’s just Game 1.

University of Virginia vs. Towson

The Veteran …

Nathan Kirby

Junior Nathan Kirby, Pitcher

The Freshman …

Ernie Clement

Ernie Clement, Second Base

The Sophomore …

thaiss

Matt Thaiss, First Base

The Rookie …

Justin Novak

 Justin Novak, Shortstop

The fans … 

girls

Photos: University of Virginia, Davenport Field. Charlottesville, Virginia. September 28, 2014. © The Baseball Bloggess

“Ain’t The Beer Cold!”

Seventeen years ago, when the Baltimore Orioles last won the American League East title, I was single, worked in still Nationals-less Washington DC, and colored my hair every three months because I wanted to, not because I had to (damn you, gray hair!)

R.E.M. was still a band. Cal Ripken was still playing (every single day). My gold suede Hush Puppy oxfords were kitschy and cool.

(I wish I had those shoes back. I had forgotten all about them until just now. They were awesome.)

When you have to wait 17 years for something, it seems a bit sweeter maybe. I sniffled last night. (I’m getting a little teary-eyed just writing this.)

Even if you don’t love baseball. Even if you only read this because I asked you to. Let me have this moment, ok?

al east champs

 

Here’s the moment …

 

 

Here’s the celebration that followed the moment …

the moment

 “It’s one of those things you can’t describe.” ~ Orioles Rightfielder Nick Markakis

(I’m sure several Orioles are awaking today to mind-bending hangovers. I hope they rounded up all their children before they left the park.)

There will be baseball in October.

By the way, “Ain’t The Beer Cold!” was the “We Just Won” catch phrase of long-time Orioles radio announcer Chuck Thompson (1921-2005).

 

OmaHoos!

Before today, I knew just three things about Nebraska:

1) They have the only unicameral legislature in the country.

2) Carhenge is there(and I once forced Editor/Husband to go there and he got me a tee-shirt).

carhenge

3) The College World Series is played every year in Omaha.

I’m sure Nebraska’s a very nice place, and despite a strong argument that inventing Kool Aid is pretty awesome, I think my Top Three list hits the high points.

(Editor/Husband would like me to point out that Bob Gibson, Rex Barney, Gregg Olson, and Sloppy Thurston are all from Nebraska, and I shouldn’t be so fast to close the door on interesting facts.)

But, this post isn’t about Carhenge (which means many of you will just stop reading now).

It’s about this: the University of Virginia Cavaliers will be playing in this year’s College World Series which kicks off this weekend.

To join the seven other teams in Omaha, UVa first had to emerge from a weekend regional tournament (where they beat Bucknell once and Arkansas twice) and last weekend’s Super Regional best of three against the University of Maryland Terrapins.

Editor/Husband and I went to every game.

wahoowa2

Look, it’s us!

It came down to Game 3 on Monday night against Maryland. And, at the risk of burying the lead, which I’m afraid I’ve already done, this happened at 10:17 p.m.

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Followed by this …

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Followed closely by this …

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You can see the dogpile ballet in slow motion here.

You can see the team climbing into the bleachers with us here.

You can almost see me.

here we are

A recap of the Virginia/Maryland weekend:

UVa lost Game 1 on Saturday.

game 1 box

It was during that especially hot and humid day game that I nearly succumbed to heat exhaustion. I’m not kidding. I almost passed out.  It took two bottles of Gatorade before the field stopped spinning. My face was covered in a thin layer of grit which I later discovered to be salt that my body had leached completely out.

Editor/Husband was impressed that despite my weakened state, I was still scoring the game on my scorecard.

This conversation really happened:

ME: If I die you’ll need to write something on my blog to let people know I’m dead.

E/H: OK. Amanda* can help me with that.

ME: Tell them I died at a baseball game, it will make a better post.

E/H: OK.

amanda* Amanda knows raptors and, apparently, Word Press.

Rehydrated, I rallied for Game 2.  So did UVa. 

??????????

game 2 box

And, it came down to Monday night’s Game 3.

game 3 box

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Happy Hoo.  Unhappy Terps.

FUN FACT: The University of Virginia Cavaliers are known informally as the Hoos, which is short for Wahoos.  Back in the 1890s, baseball fans at Washington & Lee University called UVa’s baseball fans a “rowdy bunch of Wahoos.”  The name stuck.  (UVa didn’t become the Cavaliers until the 1920s.)

You can see University of Virginia take on Ole Miss in the first round of the College World Series this Sunday, June 15, on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. EDT.

If you do, you’ll likely see this guy …

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All-American Pitcher Nathan Kirby

And, these guys …

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Shortstop Daniel Pinero and First Baseman Mike Papi

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Pitcher Nick Howard

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 Third Baseman Kenny Towns

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Third Baseman/Designated Hitter John LaPrise

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Right Fielder Joe McCarthy

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Left Fielder Derek Fisher

“Fish” threw a lot of foul balls into the stands this weekend.  I nearly caught one.

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She caught it instead.

And, this is Wyatt.

Wyatt

He goes to almost all the UVa home games and sits just a few rows down from us.

Wyatt’s either happy the Hoo’s are winning or happy that his mom just bought him some ice cream.

Probably both.

Go Hoos!

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Photos: University of Maryland vs. University of Virginia, June 7, 8, and 9, 2014, Davenport Field, Charlottesville, Virginia

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I Got Nowhere To Be …

I guess my beloved Manny Machado tee-shirt had a little mojo left in it afterall.

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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.

(Recap, here.)

Yay!!

But, now, I got nowhere to be until next season.

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?

Hello, post-season.

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.

A’s Outfielder Coco Crisp on the left.

(In my Yoga classes, we call this Giraffe Pose.)

I have this tee-shirt.

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Alright, I’ll wear it. (But, I’m still gonna wear my Orioles cap.)

Let’s do this.

Go A’s.

Whoo.

(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.)

Just 183 days until Opening Day.

Octoberitis

jjhardy

Amazing Orioles’ Shortstop J.J. Hardy.

On Tuesday, the Baltimore Orioles lost and were eliminated from the playoffs. Their season ends Sunday. Time for huntin’, fishin’, or whatever it is that these fellas do when they’re not swinging at bad pitches. (See, Orioles’ Pitchers … it’s not always your fault.)

After last season, I discovered that baseball in October is more fun than I ever could have imagined.

october baseball

October in Baltimore (2012 edition).

It’s amazing.

Sigh.

But, instead, the Orioles are done. (Although Manny Machado is going to be ok. Hakuna Machado!)

So, here’s how I spent my first day out of the playoffs.

1) One of my cats pooped. On the kitchen counter. I came home and there it was. Poop. On the kitchen counter. I spent my first day of meaningless baseball super-bleach-sanitizing the kitchen. I may just have to burn it down. (I can forgive certain cat things. She’s old and sort of frail. But, the boxes were clean. This is a felony.)

smokeyjo

Smokey Jo. Felon.

2) At my Yoga studio, I have beautiful windows overlooking a courtyard that is used by the nearby restaurant. It lets in lovely light. As I was teaching yesterday, my students were practicing and I look up to see a guy – all tattoos, beers, and facial hair – coming up to my window, making eye contact with me, and then vomiting. Profusely. All over. It seemed to last forever. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. I worried he might try to come into the class and vomit some more. He heaved up about a gallon of his insides, wiped his mouth on his sleeve, and staggered away. I’m still traumatized.

3) I broke the space bar on my laptop. Doyouknowhowimportantspacesbetweenwordsare? Veryveryimportant.

And, here’s what I learned.

1) Cats really don’t care about you.

2) You can become hypnotized watching someone vomit.

3) Ineedaspacebar!!!!!!

I love my Orioles. I’m proud of all they did this season. I’m proud of the homeruns. The amazing defense. The pitchers. I’m proud of each and every Oriole. (I may tease ’em, sure, but I love ’em.)

And, I’m soaking in these last few games. They may be playoff meaningless, but they’re never meaningless to me. They won last night! They had a winning season!

But, this October is going to be awful – just endless poop and vomit – if I don’t find a backup team soon.

So, there you go.

In a comment on one of my earlier posts, Don Of All Trades put in his pitch for me to root for the St. Louis Cardinals.

don

So, just by virtue of his promptness (and flattery), the Cardinals are off to a quick start.

The Oakland A’s could be ok … after all, to go from O’s to A’s is just gentle vowel shifting. It could be quite easy for me.

But, the door is wide open.

Is your team still in it? Add a comment. Give me your best pitch.

Since only you and three other people actually read this thing, chances are good I’ll go with your team if you take the time to ask me. Think of it as a baseball date. Sure, we’ll break up in November, but we could have some fun in October, right?

Andthisspacebarismakingmecrazy.

This Isn’t Baseball. This Is September.

Baseball is a wonderful game. Win or lose, it makes me happy. But, it can be especially stressful this time of year. Losing stinks in September.

I admitted to my friend Jay that a game earlier this week stressed me out so much I started to cry (just a little bit). He reminded me, “There is no crying in baseball.” My response: “This isn’t baseball. This is September.”

Just a few games left to go in the regular season. The Baltimore Orioles are hanging on … still in the running for the post-season. Just barely.

But, they need to win their next few games or their season will be over just as October begins.

If my team is going to lose a game, I ask just four things of them …

1) Don’t get no-hit.

2) Don’t get shut out.

3) Don’t get hurt.

4) Don’t take all night to lose.

They violated Rule #4 last night/this morning – taking 18 innings and nearly seven hours to lose to the Tampa Bay Rays. It was the longest game in Orioles’ history. Sigh.

After long games, Orioles Manager Buck Showalter will always say, “Sleep fast.”

Because there’s another game today. Another chance to win.

esta miguel2

Orioles Pitcher Miguel Gonzalez — starts today against Tampa Bay. Go Miguel!
photo credit: me!

It’s not over yet. Gotta find a new lucky shirt to wear (I’ve squeezed all the luck out of my few trusty favorites.)

And, I’ll sleep in November.

Yoga vs. Zumba … Baseball vs. Football

I’ve had a few Yoga students leave me for Zumba, the Salsa-Aerobic workout.

I admit it. It hurt my feelings.

What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with Yoga? Why go? Stay. Stay.

I think that Yoga vs. Zumba is similar to my feelings about Baseball vs. Football.

Yoga is … Serene … Mindful … Toned … Disciplined … Careful … Graceful … Strong. Yoga is bathed in a long, rich, and often-quirky history.

Zumba is a nice work-out to some sassy music, but that’s it as far as I can tell.

(But, then I’m biased. You’ll have to check out the Zumba Girl’s blog — Football, Zumba, Life … (and she)? —  to get the other side.)

Baseball … Football … same thing.

I see baseball as this graceful game of strategy, and mindfulness, and strength, and focus. A game that treasures its own long, rich, and often-quirky history.

Football has some strategy yes, but isn’t the point really to just smoosh the other guy a little harder than he just smooshed you? (And, history is often lost, except for the occasional throwback uniform like this cute little Steelers number last Sunday … click here.)

As a massage therapist, I can tell you that I’ve had to work my way through a good number of Zumba injuries in my clients over the years. Yoga, a few, yes, not many. Likewise, I’ve got a few clients who still suffer from aches and pains from long-ago (sometimes decades-old) football collisions. Again, baseball? Ok, a few.

In an earlier post, I explained why I boycotted baseball (and even my beloved Orioles) for several seasons … disillusioned by the widespread use of PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs). I’m back now, although I know that, sadly, the drugs are still there.

Now, I am boycotting football and have been for the past couple seasons. (Sorry, beloved 49ers.) The distressing violence of the game, the ignorance over the long-term damage of head-to-head collisions and concussions, finally made it unbearable to watch.

But, I know I’m the minority.

The World Series hit a televised record low this year.

Really? You all missed Sergio Romo … Barry Zito … Pablo Sandoval! It was good (unless you’re a Detroit fan, then, not so much). And, you missed the free Taco Bell tacos for America … awarded when the Giants’ Angel Pagan stole a base. (I also missed it, because there’s no Taco Bell nearby).

Today on National Public Radio, Frank Deford discussed the decline of Baseball, the rise of Football. (Sadly, no discussion of Yoga vs. Zumba.)

Here it is. He’s much more eloquent than me. Hope you listen!

NPR: The American Pastime Fades In Popularity

What’s wrong with Baseball? Why go? Stay. Stay. Just 111 days until pitchers & catchers report.

Hurricanes & Yankees

They should have named the Hurricane A-Rod.  Then it wouldn’t have hit anything.  ~ “Hurricane Sandy” joke making the rounds on Twitter yesterday.

Sandy Alomar, by the way, batted .273 during his 19 years in the major leagues. (Alex Rodriguez – A-Rod – of the Yankees is at .295 for his career, despite his icy-cold bat, and benching, this post-season.)

I’d hate to be a New York Yankee. No one likes you. Not even your own fans. I’ve never heard fans so quick to boo, heckle, and denounce their own players. They heckle better than anyone. And, they do it without throwing garbage and beer bottles out into the field (hear that, Atlanta?).

Did you know that the Yankees tagline is “Heroes Remembered. Legends Born”?

Yankees fans are sort of funny about their team. When they win, they’re still not happy; it should have been bigger, it should have been better. Their record 27 World Series victories? Too few.

When they lose (and they do lose from time to time), it’s as though they rival the Cubs in futility. It’s as though they will never win again. Every loss is a hollow cry of despair.

And, really, they have no idea.  NO idea.

When the Orioles lost Game #5 of the American League Division Series in early October, it was well past midnight before they got back to Baltimore. They were met at the stadium by hundreds – hundreds – of loyal fans (layered up against unseasonably cold weather) who showed up to say “Thanks” “Good Job” and “We love you.”

It’s a wonderful moment. You can watch it here.

I wonder if the Yankees came back after losing the pennant to Detroit to find their cars torched, their apartments ransacked, and their supermodel girlfriends gone?

Continue reading

Swing Like You Mean It

Hitting a ball just once is not enough for Hunter Pence. How about hitting a single pitch three times?

San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence comes from a world I don’t understand.

No, not the National League.

When he was traded to the Giants this summer, I quickly realized that Hunter Pence is from another planet … where the energy is so plentiful and so intense that its inhabitants need no Starbucks or Monster drinks to thrive. In fact, a double espresso or a Red Bull would likely cause spontaneous combustion.

Hunter Pence is like a pinball in a machine gone crazy.

When Hunter Pence swings at a baseball he doesn’t really swing. He slashes, chops, sweeps, hacks, oh hell, just make up a word … ok, he scaswables at the baseball. Over and over and over.

He swings like he’s been covered in cobwebs. He swings and swings and swings. He drops to one knee as he swings. He spins himself around. He swings at the air as though the air has done something to irritate him. He is crazy mad at the air.

Just go over to YouTube and search “Hunter Pence warm up swing” and you’ll see things like this.

So was it any surprise that Hunter Pence hit a single pitch not once, not twice, but three times with a single swing of the bat last night?  No, not crazy by Hunter Pence standards.

But, what was crazy is that the bat broke as it hit-hit-hit the ball, and the ball still went fair. It was a hit. A hit that drove in three runs.

If the St. Louis Cardinals had a sinking feeling about last night’s Game 7 last chance, it had to come with that single improbable, impossible, insane swing of the bat.

It’s pretty cool to watch. Here it is in super slo-mo. Click here

But, you probably ought to see the entire thing unfold in real time. And, you can do that here.

But, was it fair?

Well, thanks to my Husband/Editor who — as a joke, I think — got me a baseball rule book, I can tell you that there is, in fact, a rule for just this sort of Hunter Pence insanity.

I turn your attention to Rule 6.05 (h) in the “comment” section.

(The comment section isn’t even really part of the official rules. It’s where the rulemakers explain what they meant in the official rules. See, Hunter Pence has his own world going on here that the rulemakers have to explain separately from the rules that apply to everyone else.)

Anyway, back to explanation: “If a bat breaks and part of it is in fair territory and is hit by a batted ball … play shall continue and no interference called.”

So, yeh, hit the ball as many times as you like, Hunter. In fact, the rulemakers also allow you to hit the ball with your bat and then with your batting helmet and still be fair. So you see, the rulemakers were trying to come up with every potential Hunter Pence at bat that they could in formulating this comment section.

With an at-bat like that, which resulted in 3 runs, well, you know the Giants were going to win.

And so, 9-0 later, they did.  And, the Giants go to the World Series.

By the way, I bleed Orange & Black … and that is for the Baltimore Orioles … the team that taught me what baseball is all about. The Orioles are MY team.

But, there’s a little orange and black that I save on the side for the Giants. My dad was really more into basketball and football.  But, he enjoyed some good times in L.A. and so, if baseball was his only option, then a Dodgers fan he was. It seemed only fair, to us anyway, that I cheer for the Dodgers’ rival.  A little Giants fan was born.

And, so I guess I have some World Series games to watch.