Little devils no more

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gentlemen, your 2008 Tampa Bay Rays. (Hopefully, that image will continue to work.)

Edited: Ugh, okay, apparently the link to the image won’t work if it doesn’t come from a

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specific originating site. That would be this forum thread, where you can also read about all the other MLB uniform changes for ’08.

Trains and baseball, together again

From Newsday: Mr. Met reminds you to watch the gap (or “mind the gap,” as

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they say in Levi’s beloved England).

His giant head means it would be impossible for him to fall all the way down if he were caught between a train and the platform — but that could just make the injury more gruesome, and things might end with his legs on the tracks and the rest of him on the way to Hicksville.

Every time I go to a Dodgers game, they win by 3 runs

Jason called at about 3:30 to see if I wanted to see the Dodgers play the Diamondbacks. I know from experience that last-minute invitations to baseball games should be accepted if at all possible. Plus, they were giving out Tommy Lasorda bobbleheads to commemorate his 80th birthday (which is actually on September 22nd, but the Dodgers are going to be out of town).

However, I didn’t have a camera with me, so you’re going to have to deal with a lack of photos. Also, since we weren’t in the all-you-can-eat section, I had to deal with a lack of free hot dogs.

All I can eat

I went to Dodger Stadium tonight with a big group from my office. Our seats were in the right field pavilion, which happens to be the all-you-can-eat section. What that means is that some of the food is free — hot dogs, nachos, peanuts, popcorn, and Coke, as served by concession stands that have no lines unless someone is attempting to pay for the free food — and then there are some other concession stands selling beer, ice cream, and candy.

(You may notice that the ticket stub above shows the group name; unfortunately, it was too late to get it changed from “Yahoo! Content Solutions” to “Smellosaurus Rex.” Actually, if there was a point at which they showed the names of all the groups in attendance on the scoreboard, I missed it.)

The view from right field is pretty good…

It’s a fine place to get some studying done…

Not particularly baseball related, but I notice that although Spanish for “high definition” is “alta definition,” they’re still abbreviating it “HD”…

In conclusion, it turns out that three Dodger Dogs, two Cokes, and an order of nachos is all I can eat.

Oh, yeah, Dodgers 6, Padres 3. The starting pitchers were Greg Maddux for

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the Padres and David Wells for the Dodgers, so I believe the total age of the starters was something like 119.

Ring Lardner shows up at Brewers game

With all the necessary apologies to Ring Lardner fans: I couldn’t help myself after reading this story about last night’s Brewers-Reds game.

Friend Al,
Don’t it always seem like when you make a mistake the manager is right there to bawl you out, but when he makes a mistake your the one out there on the field catching the boos? Well you wont believe it but last night thats what happened, only I didnt catch the boos, but only cause we were in Cincinati. But even if wed been home I think the rotten boobirds woulda been so confused they wouldnt know what to think. And it happened in the first inning, and all the other innings was worse, and I got to think its cause of that rotten Ned Yost’s mistake; we just kinda give up.

We was in Cinncinati, and I come up to hit with one out and the bases empty. Arroyo’s pitching for the Reds, that skinny longhaired goofball who kicks up that foot like he’s gonna ballerina the ball in there instead of throwin the dam thing. He tries me out with one of them slowwww pitches he’s got, probably calls it a curveball but it aint got no more curve than my tits. I dont even look at it, just step back out the box and wiggle the bat, loose up my shoulders while Blue stands there behind the plate and dont say nothing. Next pitch, he tries the same blamed thing–and the umps gotta be wondering the same thing I am: does he think I’m dumb? That from the ballerina-toe-kick guy. Well now Ive kinda got him where I want him, cause he has to throw me something, maybe that fastball of his that aint no faster bout than the ball used to come bouncing back off the barn door when you and me’d take turns throwin when we was kids. An thats what he goes and throws me, a grade-A meatball, and next thing you know that big lummox of a left fielder’s out there waving his arms around like hes drowning and I’m dusting myself off at second base.

Now it aint no secret that we been having some hard times lately, and I’m standing there at second thinking maybe things is starting to turn around, this the first inning an all. Ryan Brauns up next, and after him the big guy, so somebody’s gonna chase me around them bases, right?

So the first pitch he throws to Braun’s the same blamed pitch he tossed me that I dented that left field wall with. Ryan pops bout four buttons off’n his jersey and durn near turns hisself crosseyed but all he does is bust it foul. I try to wave to him tell him to calm down–hes only twenty-four, don’t hardly have to shave yet, and he aint got the veteran cool I got. But the second pitch he does the same thing, only this time that dope Arroyo’s got smart, and its up around his eyes. Aint nobody ever hit that pitch and aint nobody ever will, cepting maybe Vlad. But Ryan aint one to play wait and see, and maybe he’s right–next pitch is another meatball, pretty for hittin as any you’ll ever see. But all the kid can do is knock it right back to the screen, and I’m still standing down there at second base, starting to get tuckered out from jumpin every which way every time.

And heres where it gets weird and where that cussed manager of our started in to losing us the game. You know me, Al: I aint no baserunner. I know what order to run ’em in, and I do a mean jog around ’em when I park one but I don’t do much else’n that. So when I’m on second and looking down at Leyva down there in the coaching box, I mostly just look make sure he’s there. He aint gonna give me no sign that matters none.

But this time I look over and I tell you, what I saw made my eyes hurt. Leyva’s a-slapping and swiping and tugging at his cap, and I aint no baserunner but I know the sign for a steal when I see it and thats what hes giving me. The goon is tellin me to steal third! I got three steals all year, Al–I aint no base stealer. I aint gonna make third if they let me start out in the third baseman’s pocket. So I look over at coach with a kinda hunkered-down look, squint my eyes at him make sure he knows I know what hes doin. And I’ll be darned if he don’t go through that whole slap swipe tug thing again. Even as I get my lead I know its the dumbest idea in the world, but there it is. Im stealin third.

Like I said, that Arroyo’s got a ballerina leg kick, but he dont use that when there’s guys on, so I got to watch his feet more close, and when he starts to moving I scoot for third base, hoping and prayin that Braun’s gonna park this one so what I know’s going happen aint going happen. I didn’t see where the pitch was–I was too busy watching that damned Encarnacion waiting for me like the ol’ Grim Reaper down third base–but I hear tell it was about a mile outside, and Ryan bout threw his bat into the crowd trying to get it, ’cause he seen me streaking down there like a moron, but he cant get it and the next thing I know I’m as out as out can be and thats the third out.

I get back to the dugout and Leyva and Yost are there jawing at each other. Yost is asking Leyva why he sent me, Leyva’s asking Yost why he told him to send me, and I’m standing there cussing and slapping at the dirt on my uniform. Yost says he wasnt telling Leyva to send me–and here’s where I almost just bout give up and went home, cause this team’s snakebit–he was just scratching away at a mosquito bite, that’s all, didn’t mean nothing by it.

Just scratching away at a mosquito bite, didn’t mean nothing by it. Oh, did I do some cussing then. That blamed mosquito sent me to my certain doom, and I think that’s kinda what finished us of for that game. We went out there an right quick gave up about a hundred runs or so and we were done for the day.

Like I said, Al, I think this teams snakebit. Or mosquito bit. All I knows I’m killing every one of those rotten things I can find in that dugout tomorrow.

Yours truly,

Throwing like a girl

I came across this fun article by James Fallows about throwing like a girl, from the archives of the Atlantic, at Baseball Primer today.

He opens the article by contrasting Hillary Clinton’s and Bill Clinton’s Opening Day pitches in 1994. Hillary’s was thrown at Wrigley Field at this game, which Jim and I remember not for Hillary’s toss, but for Tuffy Rhodes’s three homers.

Fallows addresses all the elements of a successful throw, one of which is the hip/torso turn. I have no problem with that; throwing is as natural to me anything. But–in what I think is a sign of how much more time I spent throwing than hitting as a kid–I never picked up the proper hip turn for hitting. I still hit with my arms rather than my whole body unless I really, really focus. Which means I’m not a very good hitter.

Baseball writing you shouldn’t miss

Back around the All-Star break, I learned that Twins relief pitcher Pat Neshek has a blog, in which he reveals that, well, he’s a baseball nerd. As he put it in his pitch to fans to vote him into the last spot on the All-Star squad, if he weren’t playing baseball, he’d be watching and reading and writing about it, like all of us. On top of that, he’s obsessed with baseball cards.

Speaking of baseball cards, I know I’ve pointed out Josh Wilker’s Cardboard Gods blog before, but it’s been particularly good lately and seemed worth noting again. It’s less about baseball per se than about how the way that baseball provides landmarks and highlights that help us to remember, preserve, and even sometimes to understand our lives–and it’s really good.

Finally, a link at Baseball Primer today introduced me to Dirk Hayhurst, a minor-league pitcher who writes the Diary of a Non-Prospect for Baseball America. The column that drew my attention was a thoughtful, well-written piece about signing autographs, but his columns on early-morning bus rides and manning the ball bucket are also well worth your time. Hayhurst has a good eye and a surprisingly nuanced perspective on his profession, and while he’s just a beginning writer, he clearly understands how to tell a story.

I wrote to him to tell him how much I enjoyed his column, and I got the following response:


I had no Idea my little story was out there in so many places. Its very
flattering to see because I honestly don’t consider myself a very
talented writer. I have never done it before- no previous experience
etc… I just wanted to capture as many sides of the life of a real
person playing a surreal job. I didn’t loose my humanity when I put this
uniform on, in fact, I’d say it became more real to me. What I used to
think about baseball before I signed is not the same as what I think
about it now. I guess I used to think this job, this high profile title
of pro-athlete would answer all my questions about life. IT just gave me
more. Why are so many of us pro anythings so distant? Why are we so
beloved for such a trivial job? Why do kids want my autograph when their parents make 8 times as much as I do!? Why am I more revered then a Doctor? I don’t know, but I’ll do my best to make the most of, because whether it makes sense of not, I have the opportunity to help- I’m going to take it.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to post this on any site you wish.

The indexing at Baseball America is poor, but if you search on Hayhurst’s name, you’ll find quite a few columns. Here’s wishing him luck in pitching and writing.