The Only Broken Hip In Baseball

On August 11, 2013, Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Cody Ross fell while running to first. It was a routine ground out, but his spike caught in the dirt at a weird angle and he stumbled. Awkwardly. Then, he tumbled. He had dislocated and broken his hip.

It’s believed that Ross was the first – and only – major league player to ever break a hip while running the bases.

 

It was, they said, a freak injury.

Editor/Husband’s doctors and nurses assured him last week that he is the first – and only – person to ever break a hip while meditating. (They all got quite a chuckle out of that.)

It was, they said, a freak injury.

Continue reading

Two “Inglorious Defeats” & A Somber 4th of July

Twice Beaten Buffalo Morning Express July 5 1881

Buffalo Morning Express, July 5, 1881

There’s a lot of baseball on the 4th of July.  Playing baseball on Independence Day is a tradition that goes back more than a century – pretty much as long as baseball has been baseball.

All 30 big league teams will play today (weather permitting). There will be hundreds more playing in the minors, college summer leagues, kids’ leagues, and pick-up games. There will be a lot of baseball.

This is not about any of today’s games. (Except to say, “Good luck, Orioles. Don’t screw this road trip up any worse than you already have.”)

1881 was as good a 4th of July as any for baseball, I figured.

Because there were two games in Buffalo that day, along with two in Detroit, that marked the first-ever major league doubleheaders specifically created to take advantage of a holiday.

Mickey Welch

Public Domain

Troy Trojans Pitcher Mickey Welch

Because future Hall of Fame pitcher Mickey Welch of the Troy Trojans pitched both of those games against the Buffalo Bisons – complete games, winning both, including a three-hit shut-out in the afternoon.

Because, that 4th of July also was Welch’s 22nd birthday.

Game One: Troy Trojans – 8  Buffalo Bisons – 3

Game Two: Troy Trojans – 12 Buffalo Bisons – 0

There are no box scores from that game.

Well, that’s not exactly right. There are box scores. I just can’t read them …

Troy at Buffalo Game 1 July 4 1881

Game 1 Box Score. Buffalo Morning Express, July 5, 1881

Pitching was different in 1881. Complete games – and two-man pitching rotations – were as normal then as worn-out bullpens and six-inning “quality starts” from your ace are today.

Troy Trojans unknown date

Public Domain

Troy Trojans, early 1880s. Welch may be the player seated at the far left.

Troy was a pretty lousy team with few hometown fans. So, the owners agreed to move a July 5 home game to fill out the Buffalo doubleheader. The teams would make more at the gate in Buffalo on a holiday then they could ever make in Troy on a Tuesday.

The story should end there:

The 4th of July. A Monday, just like today’s.

Mickey Welch – “Smiling Mickey,” the future Hall of Famer with the friendly demeanor and an assortment of quirky underhand curves – pitches 18 innings and wins two complete games in baseball’s first holiday doubleheader.

On his birthday. On America’s birthday.

Smiling Mickey Welch Baseball Card

I love that story.

Except for this.

As in all things, baseball doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

NYTimes July 3 1881 Garfield Shot

New York Times, July 3 1881

Two days earlier, President James A. Garfield was shot at a train station in Washington, DC.

President James Garfield

Public Domain

President Garfield

If you know your high school history, this will all sound vaguely familiar. Just three months into his Administration, a deranged office-seeker shot Garfield twice – once in the arm and once in the belly. And, if you remember your medical science classes, you might recall that Garfield died two months later, not from the actual gunshot wounds, but from infection caused by the virtually nonexistent sanitation practices of the time and all the unwashed, dirty fingers that doctors used to probe the belly wound.

This lets a lot of the air out of an otherwise sweet 4th of July story.

The country was in shock. Citizens clogged city streets near newspaper and telegraph offices to get the latest news on the condition of the President.

His “condition” depended on the newspaper …

Washington Evening Critic July 4 1881 Garfield Critical But Not Hopeless

NY Times July 4 1881 Every Hope of Recovery Garfield Improving

Buffalo Evening News July 4 1881 Hope Is Dead

Washington Evening Critic, New York Times, and Buffalo Evening NewsJuly 4, 1881

Many cities cancelled their Independence Day fireworks and events out of respect.

Buffalo called off its military parade. The city’s annual boating regatta went on as planned because, organizers agreed, the President seemed to be doing better by Sunday, and the weather was supposed to be perfect.

BuffEveNews 7 5 1881 how Independence Day was Celebrated in Buffalo

Buffalo Evening News, July 5, 1881

The Regatta, a Pigeon Shoot, and the Independence Day revelry of people shooting at each other went on as scheduled in Buffalo.

Despite the somberness of the weekend, people tried to get back to normal.

Baseball went on as planned and more than 4,000 fans attended the games against the Trojans at Buffalo’s Riverside Park.

“In the afternoon the stands were filled to sardine compactness and the assemblage was very enthusiastic,” according to the next day’s Buffalo Morning Express.

Troy surprised the Bisons. “It does seem ridiculous that such a motley combination of base-ball talent should be able, when they play in this city, to do such good work as the Troys,” The Express reported.  “The [12-0 afternoon game] was a disgrace to the name of the Buffalos. … Welch was too much for the home club.”

The 4th of July wins were rare ones for the Troy Trojans. They finished the season in fifth place in the National League, with a 39-45 record. Twenty-one of those wins belonged to Welch.

President Garfield never recovered. He died on September 19.

The Troy Trojans folded the following season and Welch went on to become a star with the New York Gothams, whom you may know today by the nickname which ultimately stuck with them – the Giants.

Mickey Welch with NY Giants

Public Domain

After finishing his playing career – amassing 307 wins and a career 2.71 ERA — Welch went on to run a hotel and saloon and then a dairy business, before returning to baseball as a gatekeeper and attendant at both the Polo Grounds and Yankee Stadium.

Mickey Welch died of heart failure, at age 82, on July 30, 1941. On his death certificate his “Usual Occupation” was listed as this: “Baseball player.”

Death Certificate July 1941 Mickey Welch

ancestry.com, New Hampshire Death Records

Sitting Here Thinking About Willie Mays

Warning: Editor/Husband has been sick and in bed since Christmas Eve. This means that I am a) most likely highly contagious, and b) posting without an editor. If you cut out now, I’ll understand. (I’ll be deeply hurt, but I’ll understand.) (Sort of. I’ll sort of understand.)

Someone found this blog by searching for this:

shoeless drunk

Shoeless drunk?

First of all, I’m very disappointed in you, Internet. Second of all, I wonder what that person was looking for?

I searched for “shoeless drunk” on the Googler and I didn’t find me. (What I did find was disgusting, with the exception of a few movie stills from 1967’s “Barefoot in the Park,” starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda.)

barefoot in the park

In writing about baseball, there is always Shoeless Joe Jackson and quite a number of drunks, so maybe it wasn’t such a stretch after all that someone landed here.

Shoeless Joe Jackson, 1919.

Shoeless Joe may have never really been shoeless, as he occasionally denied the story of ever playing in his stocking feet in the minor leagues.  But, he also occasionally said the story was true, so who’s to know?

Also, no distraught kid ever tugged his sleeve outside a Chicago courthouse and said, “Say it ain’t so,” when the White Sox were found to have tossed the 1919 World Series.

But, Damon Runyon did say this: “Even when he’s trying to throw a Series, Shoeless Joe Jackson can still hit .375.”

This led me to wonder when Joe Jackson died.

December 5, 1951. He was 64 and several hundred people attended his funeral in Greenville, South Carolina.

This led me to wonder, in a tangent I can’t explain, when Willie Mays hit his first home run.

And, it was 1951, too. May 28.

As most baseball fans know, Mays’ first home run was also his first hit as a big leaguer. He had gone 0-for-12 in his first three games. This was his first home at-bat at the New York Giant’s Polo Grounds.

The home run was, The New York Times said, “a towering poke that landed atop the left-field roof.”

The homer, off the Boston Braves’ Warren Spahn, wasn’t enough. The Braves defeated the Giants that night, 4-1.

Willie Mays.

Historian Charles Einstein shared these quotes from that game:

“You know, if that’s the only home run he ever hits, they’ll still talk about it.” ~ Russ Hodges, who called the game on radio that night. (And, look … he’s right!)

“For the first 60 feet it was a hell of a pitch.” ~ Spahn, who said he threw a fastball as his first pitch to Mays because he was sure Giants’ manager Leo Durocher had told Mays to lay off the first pitch. (Durocher hadn’t.) Or, maybe it was a curve ball, which scouts said Mays couldn’t hit, as Spahn remembered it in 1973.

“The ball came down in Utica. I know. I was managing there at the time.” ~ Lefty Gomez (This would be an even better quote if Gomez actually had been managing in Utica at the time. He hadn’t. But, it’s still pretty good.)

“I never saw a f*ing ball get out of a f*ing ball park so f*ing fast in my f*ing life.” ~ Leo Durocher

I can’t show you that home run, of course, because the Internet and MLB.TV hadn’t been invented yet.

Warren Spahn.

Mays would hit 17 more home runs off of Spahn including one in the 16th inning of a game on July 2, 1963.

By 1963, the Giants were in San Francisco and the Braves were in Milwaukee.

Mays’ walk-off home run off Spahn in the 16th ended one of baseball’s most awesome pitching performances: 42-year-old Spahn, for the Braves, and 25-year-old Juan Marichal, for the Giants, threw a combined 428 pitches through those 16 innings.

The Giants won 1-0. 

“It was a screwball,” Mays said following the game, “But I guess Warren was getting kind of tired.”

“Yes, I was tired,” Spahn said, “But, I wish Willie had been tired, too.”

I can’t show you that home run either. But, I can show you Marichal and Mays talking about it …

“Ok, let me see what I can do about it.”

(Giants fans of a certain age will insist that Willie McCovey’s foul ball in the bottom of the 9th was actually inside the foul pole and should have been the home run that ended the game. McCovey will tell you that, too. But, like the Internet, batting helmets, and wild card teams, instant replay hadn’t been invented yet.)

And, so here it is Boxing Day and Editor/Husband is still feeling crummy and is fast asleep in the room next door. He will dislike this post when he sees it, because it just wanders around pointless.

Just sitting here thinking about Willie Mays.

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?

No.

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.

Giants

(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.

War.

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.

And?

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.”

See?

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:

pee

No.

(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.

Adam

© 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.

 

 

Baseball Free!

One of my Yoga students came to class this week and asked, “What are you going to do now that there’s no baseball?”

Apparently, some people believe that I am small, uninspired, and one-dimensional in my interests.

There is plenty to do in the off season, I’m told, and I am ready to do all of it.

I won’t bore you with ALL the things I will be doing. But, I assure you there will be lots of them.

Here are just five.

1) Sort Photos. 

I took hundreds of photos at baseball games this season.  (Actually probably more like a thousand, but “thousand” makes me sound weirdo-y, so let’s say, hundreds and leave it at that.)

It’s time to paw through them and see who’s in there …

Like …

??????????

© The Baseball Bloggess

 San Francisco Giants reliever, and one-time University of Virginia pitcher, Javier Lopez who just won his 4th World Series ring on Wednesday night.

And …

??????????

© The Baseball Bloggess

Former Richmond Flying Squirrel and rookie Giant Joe Panik, who just won his first.

Congratulations, Giants!

This project trumps my other photo project – sorting through my grandfather’s slides from the 1950s and ‘60s of people and places I don’t know or can’t recognize. Boxes and boxes of slide carousels fill an entire closet in our guest room. I suppose I could go through them. Or, I could put it off another year and continue to pile all the things that should be stored in the closet on the floor in our bedroom.

2)  Bake.

It’s free-agent time in baseball, which means the Baltimore Orioles will cut loose many players who have multimillion-dollar paydays coming.

Yes, it’s the cruel financial reality of being a small-market team … we can no longer afford many of our best players.

Am I happy to say “goodbye” to Andrew Miller and his 94 mph fastball and spaghetti legs?  No. Do I understand why the Orioles probably won’t pay $10 million+ a year to resign a one-inning reliever? No.

I mean, yes.

But, really, no.

andrew miller

© The Baseball Bloggess

Andrew Miller & his spaghetti legs

Also in the free-agent pool is longtime Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis. The Orioles have declined his option for 2015, but still remain hopeful they can re-sign him.  Will they? Maybe. Will someone else swoop in with a better offer? Maybe.

But, not if I can help it.

I want to do my part to help collect the millions that the Orioles will need to keep Nick Markakis.

I’m thinking, bake sale.

I can’t bake enough to keep Andrew Miller, Nelson Cruz, and Nick.

I stick with Nick.

Anyway, cupcakes.

??????????

Thousand dollar cupcakes.

I encourage you to bake some cupcakes for Nick, too.

Just remember, take all the money you raise and send it to:

Baltimore Orioles

Let’s Pay Nick Fund

Camden Yards

Baltimore, Maryland

3) Care for Munchie.

Among the unusual birthday gifts Editor/Husband gave me this year was this …

??????????

Munchie.

Editor/Husband thought a venus flytrap would solve a long-standing  kitchen problem.

When the compost pail gets kinda full-ish, it attracts fruit flies. Now, sure, you might take a moment to comment below with your good ideas of how to stop attracting fruit flies in our kitchen.  “Take out the compost more regularly,” you might suggest, or “Get rid of the stupid compost pail.”

Your suggestions, while interesting, would be wrong.

The best and only way to deal with fruit flies is to get a venus flytrap and hope he has a taste for them.

We have had Munchie for a couple days now, I’m not sure he’s caught any flies yet.

harper

My first question to Editor/Husband after “You got me a venus flytrap? Really?” was “Do we have to find food for him? Do we feed him meat?”

Apparently, no.  You do not feed them meat.

??????????

Except all the “flytrappists” online insist you must. They say you have to buy flies and bloodworms and feed them to your plant. They do suggest you be careful, though, since many people are highly allergic to bloodworms and just touching one could kill you.

If the venus flytrap doesn’t get you first.

I’ll let you know if one of the cats goes missing.

Stevie

4) Read War & Peace.

I am not kidding.

Tolstoy’s War & Peace is almost always listed as one of the greatest novels ever written. Which is funny because I know only one person who has actually read it.

None of my friends – even the fussy ones – has read it.

So, I’m reading it. Because they won’t. And, you probably won’t either.

I’m doing it for you.

??????????

Look, I’m already a quarter of the way through!

It’s actually very good.

Although, you have to wade through an awful lot of war to get to the peace parts.

lajoie

Public Domain, 1903.

Napoleon Lajoie, the “Little Frenchman” and namesake of the Cleveland Naps (today, the Cleveland Indians), is not in War & Peace.

napoleon bonaparte

Public Domain

Napoleon Bonaparte, also a “Little Frenchman”, is.

Fun Fact: The original title for War and Peace was War – What Is It Good For?  Tolstoy’s mistress didn’t like the title and insisted that he change it to War and Peace.

See …

 

I think I will need to read 15 pages a day to be done by Spring Training.

5) I’ll keep you posted.

Just 111 110 days until pitchers and catchers report.

Photos: San Francisco Giants vs. Washington Nationals, Nationals Park. August 24, 2014

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Baltimore Orioles, Camden Yards, Baltimore. August 10, 2014

 

At least there was ice cream

It rained in Virginia this week. That kind of overflowing, cold, pouring rain that makes you stop saying, “Well, we need the rain,” because, not like this. And, now there’s mud on my pants and I have to change. That sort of rain.

So, when I grabbed the basket of massage linens and began to tote them into our basement early Wednesday morning, where the washer and dryer and friendly skinks, lizards, and wolf spiders live, I was especially careful.

Because our basement is a cellar that you enter from outside, pulling up wooden dormer doors, and going down cement steps.

basement

If it’s raining, the steps get wet.

Did I mention that I was very careful?

Sometimes you fall anyway.

Like this.

caleb5

Really, that’s exactly what I did.

(Except, I wasn’t wearing catcher’s gear and there was no foul ball. So not exactly “exactly”.)

I could still be lying there in a puddle of my own carefulness. Instead, I’m just banged up.

But, unbroken.

(Caleb was fine, too, by the way.)

When you fall, it plays out in slow motion. So, in those milliseconds of disaster I saw my career crumbling into a heap of broken bones.

Actually, this is what I saw when I fell.

i fell

Wait, no … THIS is what I saw when I fell.

I really fell

I’m told I could have killed myself, but really, I was just trying not to break my arm.

Once I landed on the cement – my left elbow and low back took the worst of it, for those of you who are injury-curious – and determined I was not dead, I wrote a poem.

You might remember this poem from earlier this season when the Orioles were having a bad spell.

Suckity-suck-suck-suck.

It’s a pretty good poem.

It’s also versatile. Just change the “s” to an “f” and you have a brand new poem which celebrates rain and cement steps and nearly, but not quite, killing oneself.

Please feel free to use it whenever you need it.

I took photos of my bruises for you. They are ugly, but not quite ugly enough. I’m looking for pity here, not another lecture about how one needs to be careful when cement steps are covered in rain. The photos are more like, “Really? I thought it would have been a lot worse than that.” You’d be disappointed. They don’t help my case at all. So, nevermind.

I’m lucky.

But, my very bad, but unbroken, morning, got very, very badder as the Baltimore Orioles were swept out of the playoffs that afternoon by the pesky Kansas City Royals.

The cement steps couldn’t break my bones.

But, baseball broke my heart.

(I’ve been waiting all week to write that for you.)

Let’s cover a few post-season and World Series topics …

#1) The Kansas City Royals won, fair and square. Congratulations! You swept two of the best teams in baseball to make your way to your first World Series since 1985. That’s pretty awesome.

Whining by Orioles fans who think it’s unfair that there’s a wild card team even in the mix, because wild cards often reflect currently “hot” teams, rather than “consistently consistent” teams, were unusually quiet when the Orioles were the wild card team in 2012.

The Royals will be tough to beat … but …

#2) Go Giants.

Because, they’re almost a home team for Virginia and Orioles fans.

Big Hero of Game 5 Michael Morse? Former Oriole (and former National).

morse3

Bigger Hero of Game 5, Travis Ishikawa? Former Oriole (by way of the AAA Norfolk, Virginia Tides).

ishikawa2

(That home run call? That’s Giants radio broadcaster, Jon Miller – beloved, former Orioles broadcaster.)

Giants reliable, reliever Javier Lopez? Grew up in Fairfax, Virginia; played for the University of Virginia.

The Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants AA team), and just an hour down the road from here, has included Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Matt Duffy, Joe Panik, and Ryan Vogelsong (rehab, 2013).

And, Giants Manager Bruce Bochy? He played for the AAA Tides when they were in Tidewater, Virginia (and a Mets farm club) back in 1981-1982.

It’s not my preferred orange and black, but it will have to do.

#3) And, anyway, those ill-mannered Royals are dead to me.

guthrie1

KC Pitcher (& former Oriole) Jeremy Guthrie & his stupid tee-shirt, following Game 3.

Oh, one last thing …

After the Orioles loss, Casey Karp – Mariners fan, cat person, and author of the especially fine Koi Scribblings blog (really, check it out) – arranged for me to drown my baseball sorrows in ice cream.

I had plenty to choose from.

ben and jerrys

But, who can choose just one?

ice cream

When one deserves two?

I’m feeling better already.

Thank you, Casey.

The Orioles will win the World Series in 2015.

 

Cotton Candy & The Win Streak Ends

The Baltimore Orioles had a four-game win streak through Sunday.

They lost today, 6-4, to the Minnesota Twins.

A new win streak starts tomorrow.

In the meantime, here’s a kid eating cotton candy.

??????????

Getting all sticky.

??????????

Eating the entire thing.

??????????

And, then looking both wistful and a tiny bit barfy at the end.

??????????

(Hey, why does cotton candy only come in pink and blue?)

Also from our recent trip to a game at Nats Park in Washington, DC, here are the Racing Presidents.

racing presidents

(George always seems a little embarrassed about the whole running-around thing or maybe he just ate too much cotton candy and is feeling a tiny bit barfy himself.)

Photos: San Francisco Giants vs. Washington Nationals, Nationals Park, Washington, DC.  August 23 and August 24, 2014

(The Giants lost both games, including getting pounded by the Nats on Sunday, 14-6. This may help explain why I spent an entire inning watching a child cover himself in cotton candy. The Giants are currently on a seven-game win streak … and I hope this doesn’t jinx them.)

 

Don’t Skip The Commercials

“I used to play sports. Then I realized you can buy trophies. Now I’m good at everything.” ~ Demetri Martin

The Baltimore Orioles look like the guys who might deliver a truckload of mulch to your house.

(Did you know that people have truckloads of mulch delivered to their houses? Truckloads. I didn’t know someone would need that much mulch, but apparently there are mulch-mad people out there. I have no idea what you do with mulch. Seriously, I know nothing about mulch.)

The O’s look like the guys who will change the oil in your car, put the gravel on your driveway and push the snow off of it. Ordinary guys.

No crazy, mountain-man beards. (Not allowed.)

No dreadlocks. (Also, not allowed, which was, I’m sure, shear sadness for Jemile Weeks who joined the club fully dreaded in December, but is now the undread.)

No mustaches. (Unless they are “neat.” Yes, that’s the Orioles’ rule. Neatness counts, fellas.)

snidely whiplash

Neat? Not Neat? Close call.

So, no wacky allowed in Birdland. No wacky at all.

I like a little wacky and I know you do, too. (I’ve gotten to know my readers – both of you – and I’ve checked your Facebook pages. I know how you appreciate a healthy dose of irreverence, bad puns, and third-grade potty humor:  What’s the difference between mashed potatoes and pea soup? Anyone can mash potatoes. Really?  Really?)

But, back to the Orioles.

I appreciate Baltimore’s working guy thing. I like that the sports world gives the Orioles no chance … no chance … to do anything in the AL East this season.

As the Orioles will tell you (when they’re not tidying up their mustaches and memorizing the dress code), they like this fly-under-the-radar thing.

No expectations in April will, of course, make their almost-assured World Series championship in October that much sweeter.

Closer Grant Balfour was nearly-almost-thisridiculouslyclose to signing with the Orioles in December. Then, he failed his physical and the deal was off.  But really, I think the deal was off when the Orioles discovered he drove this …

balfour truck

That is not a workingman truck. (And, good luck parking that in Tampa.)

But, back to the Orioles.

They are allowed neatly groomed mustaches, they have a ping-pong table, and on super hot days they get to wear shorts for batting practice.

Other than that, they keep the crazy locked down tight in the clubhouse.

You won’t see any goofy television commercials from Birdland.

(Let’s not blame the team. Let’s blame the team’s PR firm.)

So, check out some new sweet, sassy ads from other teams.

Here’s Minnesota Twins’ legend Kent Hrbek giving playing tips to Joe Mauer.

hrbek1

This Twins’ commercial has a back story. Click here. (Gant was safe, by the way.)

Here are two from the Oakland A’s

The Home Run Tunnel

homerun tunnel

(That’s University of Virginia alum Sean Doolittle with the beard.)

Josh Donaldson’s “Tarp Therapy”

tarp therapy

From the Seattle Mariners

Kyle Seager is Old School

kyle seager

And, Felix Hernandez is King.

king felix

And, from the San Francisco Giants

Mi Amor from Sergio Romo and Buster Posey

buster sergio

The Two Brandons (Belt and Crawford)

brandon2

“New Guy” Michael Morse

mike morse

The Giants, overachievers that they are, have a bunch more and you can see them all here.

But, back to the Orioles.

They picked up a lot of talent in the off-season. Acting chops, too. Who knew?

Here’s the Orioles’ newest starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez when he was with the Colorado Rockies in 2011.

ubaldo

And, here’s the Orioles’ newest home run smoosher Nelson Cruz when he was with the Texas Rangers in an ad for a video game in 2010.

nelson cruz

Just two days ’til Opening Day …

 

Skizzle, Sweet Skizzle.

The bases in baseball might have been imagined in the 19th century, but their beginnings were probably much earlier than that. Historians often reach back to the 18th or even 17th centuries to find something undeniably baseball-ish about the games children played.

(Historian David Block can take it all the way back to 1450.)

(There are a lot of very good baseball historians in the world today. You could probably fill Wrigley Field’s bleachers with them and have to pour the overflow historians into Fenway. Football historians, on the other hand, can easily be transported in a minivan.)

Bases are the grail for many historians. If a game had you run to a specified point or “base,” you were probably playing some form of baseball.

But I think if they were inventing baseball today, there would be no “Home.”

Oh, the base would be there … the plate, the dish, it has a few different names. The umpire might still ceremoniously dust it off with a whisk broom from time to time, and it would still be 60 feet 6 inches from the pitcher. But, I don’t think we would call it “home.”

We might call it a Blast Pad, a Stamping Stone, or the Swat Zone. Those all sound cool, right?

Or, more likely, we’d just make up a word. The Skizzle! The Bagzooka! The Scoreatorium!

(God, I’m bad at this.)

Two minutes of Blast Pad Bliss!

But, surely not “home” … which conjures up images of the kindness of mom and cookies and soup and underwear hanging on the line.

And, unlike baseball, the place in life where you start and then you end isn’t always the same “home.”

I’m not even sure I know what a hometown is. Is that where I was born? Where I grew up? Or, where I’m living now? Because I can call each of them “home.”  And, they are all quite different places. (The ocean is on the other side now.)

I don’t really remember much about where I was born.  We moved when I was still mini-sized. (I was born in the same hospital as Robin Ventura, by the way. So I’ll always have a little hometown kinship with him. And, I never liked Nolan Ryan.)

Then we moved to another part of California. And, when I was old enough, my dad taught me about “home teams.” And, since we lived near the Bay Area, I became a Giants-A’s-49ers-Raiders fan.

(It really stinks being on a football boycott when the 49ers are doing so well. Or, leastways, that’s what I’ve been told.)

My dad schooled me in football. My little-girl baseball knowledge pretty much boiled down to ranking the players on my baseball cards on a highly precise and carefully researched Cutie Pie Scale. (Oakland A’s? Very cutie pie.)

I showed flashes of home team spirit, as seen here when I firmly and sadly crossed “GIANTS” off of my Willie Mays’ card when he went to the Mets.

willie mays card

Even then, I was conflicted by what home means. If Willie Mays was no longer a Giant, what was the point? What good is having a home, if no one is going to stay there?

Then we moved.

(Please enjoy this brief interlude as I spend nearly 10 home-team-less years in North Dakota.)

The East Coast, above-zero temperatures, and my very first real live baseball game couldn’t come fast enough.

I tell this story a lot, and it is true. When I stepped out of the cement walkway and into the upper deck of Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium for the very first time, I saw the green grass and the diamond spread out before me.

And, I looked, and I said to myself, “I’m home.”

So, maybe the Orioles aren’t technically my “home” team, since they’re 126 miles – and lots of traffic – away. Does it matter anymore where you actually live? Or, do we define home differently now?

Baseball players, themselves, are nomads. They are shuttled around from team to team, town to town. There are few Cal Ripkens left out there who get to play every day for their own hometown team.

Home plate may be the only “home” a player can count on during his career.

(And, woe to the American League pitcher who only gets a look at “home” and never gets to actually go there.)

Fans have cable and the internet and can watch any game from practically anywhere in the world. Live.

I can listen to Vin Scully call a Dodgers game thousands of miles away. Jon Miller, who I missed for so many years, now comes through loud and clear calling Giants games on my Sirius Radio.

Anywhere can be home. And, if anywhere is home, maybe home isn’t the same thing that it once was.

In baseball, home is where you start and where you hope you end up. You’ll run around for awhile, but, if all goes well you’ll end up again at home, right where you started.

In baseball, that’ll earn you a run.

In life, I’m not sure what that gets you anymore. Sometimes, if you end up back at home – to sleep, perhaps, in your parents’ basement – it’s because things haven’t quite worked out so well in life.

I think my home is right here, right now. With my Editor/Husband, the bushel of cats, and the brand-new barn (and unfinished porch). I like coming home. To here.

Skizzle, Sweet Skizzle.

good morning barn2

Baseball Free …

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Things I’ve learned in the past three baseball-less weeks.

Did you know it only takes four seconds to put the toilet paper roll on the hanger in the bathroom?  I had forgotten that that’s what that little wall bracket thingy is for. Did you know that you can do that every time you start a new roll?

Now, with no baseball to watch, I suddenly have all sorts of time to do the things that I haven’t done for awhile.

Like catch up on my People magazines.

??????????

Have you heard the news? Kim and Kanye are getting married! Ahhh, precious young love. So sweet and pure and true.

(Dear San Francisco Giants, you should be ashamed … whoring out AT&T Park like that. But, don’t worry, Hunter Pence, I still love you.)

Hunter Baseball Camp2

“If you wanna be a Hunter’s Hitter, you’re gonna have a lot of movement. Like a hungry man chasing a taco.”

(Really, you must watch this. Now. I’ll wait.)

And, tidy up the workplace.

These linens don’t wash themselves.

??????????

(Warning To Future Massage Therapists: This is three days’ worth of laundry. They don’t tell you about this in Massage School, do they?  Yeh, happy folding, Sucker.)

And, look what happened while I was watching baseball … the barn is finished!

good morning barn2

And, in fairness to Barn Dude, he did finish it before the World Series, just as he promised. (Hey, Barn Dude, are you reading this? I still need a shelf in there!)

Cold, heavy rain all last night. It’s clearly not baseball season anymore. So, I was just about to count the days until Pitchers and Catchers report (78) when this Tweet from Jaye popped up.

jaye tweet

I only have a few Twitter followers, and most of them are obscure overseas marketers trying to sell me something – like saris. Apparently, I’m the only Yoga teacher who doesn’t wear a Sari.

(But, I’ll wear a Sari before I’ll ever wear Lululemon.)

Jaye is a blogger, too. And, a really good one … read her, ok?

Her Tweet reminded me that I hadn’t written in awhile. Mainly because what is there to say on a baseball blog when there is no baseball?

The bulk of off-season baseball stories are about players seeking tens of millions of dollars.

(Which is better than stories about players being bullies. So, there is that.)

Or, the Washington Nationals asking the D.C. government to give them $300 million for a retractable roof.

Which leads me to these points.

Point #1. If you can’t play baseball outside, then maybe you shouldn’t be playing baseball. (Florida and Arizona, you have Spring Training … ALL the teams are there every spring.  And, you have the Fall League! Isn’t that enough for you?) And, Houston Astros, if the Texas Rangers can play outside, why can’t you? (And, Toronto, Seattle, Milwaukee? Oh, never mind …)

Point #2. Really, Nationals? A retractable roof is going to put you in the playoffs? Why not spend $300 million on Robinson Cano? Or, two Carlos Beltrans?

Editor/Husband says that $300 million for a retractable roof seems reasonable to him. (This conversation really happened: Me: “Hey, you can have 30 Jim Johnsons for that.” He: “If only he were retractable.” “I don’t know what that means.” “I don’t either.”)

Point #3. The Mayor laughed at the Nats’ request. Laughed. And, someone in his office said the roof would be “butt ugly.” So, uh, I guess that means no roof?

Point #4. Editor/Husband says my stubbornness about indoor baseball is similar to the outcry over lights at baseball parks and the first night games. The first major league night game was in 1935. (He remembers this? Editor/Husband is much older than I thought.)

??????????

Lights. Clouds. Sky.

Things I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving? Just 78 days ’til Pitchers & Catchers report.  Happy Thanksgiving!