Catching up and vowing to
blog more regularly. Yeah, right. I wish I had a dollar for every time I have
read that in a blog.
Still, nothing wrong with
good intentions. Actually, I should do better in the next few days. There will be plenty to write about as I head to San Francisco for the Cardinals-Giants Series. To say I am excited would be a huge understatement.
In the meantime, in no particular order,
here are some snippets from the past couple of weeks.
No matter the sport, when
the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Oklahoma Sooners face off, it is
Bedlam. The two universities met on the
neutral ground of the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City for the annual Bedlam Baseball
Series. And, as an OSU alum, you know I
Let it be said that I hate
the Sooners as only a Cowboy (or Cowgirl) can.
As only a Yankees fan can hate the Red Sox. As only a Giants fan can hate the Dodgers. Or, more appropriately, as only a Cardinals
fan can hate the cubs.
Why do we hate our rivals
so? Are their fans more obnoxious than
ours? Seems so. Are their players more arrogant than ours? Possibly.
Do they play dirty? Are they
degenerates? Do they kick dogs? Pinch sleeping babies? Beat their wives? Sass their mothers? Have excessive carbon footprints? Use plastic bags? Steal cable?
Are they really a fundamentally evil empire? Well, obviously.
Realistically though, we
hate them because at some time or other, they beat us in a game we needed to
Game one of the Bedlam
Series held all the intensity one would expect from a rivalry. Very close game. Often the runs, hits and errors of both teams
were identical. Lots of controversial
calls. Both managers got tossed. With the game in knots at 5-5, the Cowboys
went to their bullpen and brought in the star freshman closer, Randy McCurry,
who ironically graduated from a rival high school just down the highway from my
It’s amazing how soon the autographs start. Freshman in collage and signing balls for little boys.
McCurry throws pretty good
heat…94ish. He has been outstanding for
the Cowboys this season. However, this
would not be his day. He was not
particularly sharp, but he got no help from his catcher, who gave four…count
’em….four passed balls in the inning, which allowed two runs to score. Sooners win.
Watching catching that bad, especially from my team, made me want to
puke my peanuts…oops I mean, made my stomach a tad queasy.
Maybe, the catcher’s problem is that he was having some sinus difficulties that prevented him from seeing the ball:
Or, maybe he broke a nail, and oh darn, his manicurist was all the way up in Stillwater:
It’s funny the pictures you find on your camera.
In game two, a fine mist
that fell through most of the game seemed to put a damper on the intensity we
had witnessed the previous day. No calls
argued. No managers tossed. The Cowboys strung together some runs while
keeping the Sooners off the bases, but their catching was still shoddy.
Early in the game, a pitch
missed by the Cowboy catcher (actually, a different one) dinged the umpire in the leg. He was in some serious pain. Later, another pitch narrowly missed him. The pitcher had come to the plate as the
catcher scampered off to find the ball.
The umpire put his arm around the pitcher and they had a little
conversation that I could only imagine went something like this:
“Son, your catcher
stinks. I already have a welt. I don’t need another. So, I’m going to need you to throw
strikes. In fact, anything your backstop
can actually catch, I will call a strike.
But, if you hit me again, I’m going to run you both.”
Whatever was said
worked. No more passed balls. Cowboys win!
Cardinals Bounce Back
Maybe my being unable to
write for a couple weeks was related to the Cardinal slump that seemed to
coincide with the arrival of May. With a
sweep of the cubs, taking two of three from the Royals, taking two of three
from the Brewers and the amazing round of performances by the entire pitching
staff, it is hard to remember how we struggled against the Pirates and were
swept by the Brewers.
The Cardinals are back on
top of the NL Central and all is well with the world. I like, like, like most
of what I have observed so far from the Cardinals. I think the offense dry spell will end once
Ryan Ludwick is back in the lineup. And,
the pitching, both starting and the bullpen, has been such a joy to watch.
I gave up trying to be
cool a long, long time ago because no matter how I might try to package myself,
my natural nerdiness will prevail.
Baseball, better than any other sport, lends itself to nerdiness. There are endless numbers to crunch. Statistics, probabilities, matrices,
algorhythms, physics, lions, tigers and bears…oh my!
Then, there is all the
technology that brings baseball to the tech-nerd. Gameday, Gameday Audio, Gameday mobile, XM
Radio, At Bat for iPhone, MLB.tv and all the great baseball reference
websites. I am all about the technology.
But, even before
technology existed that would instantly calculate the speed, location and break
of a pitch, there was another low-tech tool employed by baseball nerds
everywhere: the scorecard.
Keeping score. The art and science of using a piece of paper
and a pencil to create an accurate reflection of a game of baseball. It is a science because there are rules. It is an art because everyone does it a
I am a score keeper. It is the essence of my baseball
nerdiness. I have an Excel template that
stole borrowed from baseballscorecard.com (they said
it was okay) and tweaked to my liking. I
print them out, attach them to a clipboard and take them to games. I have a particular Cardinal red pencil that
I like to use. Although the blue one
just like it will do in a pinch. I would
like to be superstitious and think I NEED the red one…the Cardinals NEED the
red one, but I just do not have it in me.
I have enough OCD enough to keep score, but not to keep up
I know I can go to Gameday
or At Bat and see a play by play game summary that tells me “Albert Pujols
singles sharply to left fielder David DeJesus”.
I know that every time a batter comes to the plate either the TV or the
scoreboard will tell me what that batter has done today. But, it is not the same as being able to see
an entire game at one time.
Scorekeeping keeps me
sharp. Keeps my head in the game. Although those sitting around me may look at
me like I am crazy when I pull out my scoresheet, before the game is over they
always end up asking me a question that is easily answered by my score
sheet. Say what you want about nerds but
we are darn useful.
In Keith Olbermann’s first
blog, he talked about how he liked to keep score. He also described the joy of recording his
first ever triple play in a spring training game. He described how the triple play is
scored. The numbers of the positions
touching the ball are surrounded by two circles. A double play would be one circle. A triple play is two. This was not something I knew. But, now that I knew, I wanted the chance to
use it. However, I knew might be years,
even decades, before I saw one outside of a highlight reel.
So, I am sitting in Oklahoma City on May 15,
2009 watching the Portland Beavers play the Oklahoma City Redhawks. In the bottom of the third inning, the center
fielder Boggs leads off the inning with a single. The catcher, Ramirez draws a walk. I know these facts because my scorecard says
so. The weather was also cloudy and the
start time was 7:05.
With Boggs and Ramirez taking
appropriate leads at first and second, Vallejo,
the second baseman, lines out to his counterpart at second, who throws to the
shortstop covering second, who then throws to first. Triple play.
4-6-3 with a double circle.
I always thought a triple play
would be this exciting thing where it goes boom-boom-boom and the crowd goes
crazy because they have just witnessed something amazing. However, mostly everyone sits there stunned
trying to be sure that they saw what they just saw. Were there really no out before the
play? Did they get all three? Even Boggs stood back on second for a while,
not entirely sure that he had been got.
But, he had. As had Ramirez and
A fellow scorekeeper from
a few rows back hollers down, “How do you even score that?”
“Two circles” I yelled back as I took my time printing the
numbers and drawing my two circles. The
crowd may have missed the thrill, but I didn’t
The Parents and a Local Boy Makes Good
As I have said before, my
dad is a football guy. My mom likes to follow
sports by checking the scores, not actually watching the games. So, when I asked them if they wanted to go to
an Oklahoma City Redhawks game sometime, I really was not sure I would get a
“Yes”, but I did. I suggested a Sunday
game might be the best. 4:05 start. Home before bed time.
The Sunday we picked could
not have been a better one. The weather
was absolutely, positively perfect.
The Redhawks were
scheduled to play the Tacoma Rainers. If
I get a chance, I like to take a peek at the roster of the opposing team
because you never know who you might find.
So, Sunday morning, I click on roster.
Unbelievably, the first game was familiar. The name could be common, so I thought,
“Coincidence. Probably not him.”
I click on the name to get
more information. Hometown: Holdenville,
Oklahoma. Well, there might be hundreds of Daren Browns
in the world, but there is only one baseball Daren Brown from Holdenville, Oklahoma.
Daren Brown was a star
athlete at a very, very tiny school called Moss. Moss is a country school. Although his address might have been
Holdenville, that town was ten miles away.
My very best girlfriend graduated from Moss High School. She was Valedictorian of a class of five,
although most classes averaged around twenty.
My ex-husband also
graduated from Moss the same year as Brown.
They played baseball together from little league to seven state
championship tournaments (they play spring and fall ball). Brown was a pitcher. The son of a former big leaguer, Paul
Brown. The nephew of minor leaguer
Jackie Brown. Baseball was in his blood.
After a couple years of
college ball, he was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays and fell off my
radar. Since I had not really seen him
in the Bigs, I assumed he had settled down somewhere in middle
America, selling cars like his dad or coaching high school
Instead, he has been
working his way up the coaching chain.
Starting with a player/coach role in an independent league and working
his way up to being the manager of the AAA minor league affiliate of the
Seattle Mariners. Pretty sweet to see a
hometown boy make good.
This made the game much
more interesting for my parents, who had purchased a truck from Brown’s dad
once upon a time. Although I did not
really know Brown, I knew his sisters, who are very talented in their own
right. Singers. Athletes.
One held the state high school basketball scoring record in her class
and played for Oklahoma
State. One sang at my wedding to the aforementioned
ex-husband. He voice is one of the
reasons that I still have my wedding video.
Brown’s family was at the
game. I caught up with another sister, while
my parents chatted with his dad. This
hometown connection made the game much more interesting for my parents as
Brown’s Tacoma Rainiers shut out the Redhalks.
If Heaven Exists…
While I did not convert my
parents into baseball fanatics, they did enjoy the game. My mom, the daughter
of a great baseball fan, had never been to a professional game. Although she did not mention it, I know she
was thinking about how much her dad would have enjoyed the day. I know this because I never enter a ballpark
that I do not think of my grandpa and wish he was in the seat beside me.
Oddly enough, my grandpa
only attended one professional game in his life, even though he lived much of
his life within an hour of Kaufman Stadium.
He followed baseball every night through the TV and Radio and had a head
full of baseball stats, but he was a simple, contented type of man. A farmer that had provided well for his family
during the Great Depression. Going to a
game would be an extravagance.
In the early 70’s, my dad
and brother were working road construction in the Kansas City area. The company they worked for had Royals
tickets that they sometimes doled out to employees. My dad and brother scored tickets.
My dad asked my grandpa to
go, knowing he was a baseball fan, but not really knowing if he would say
“Yes.” But, of course, he said “Yes”. My dad talks about Grandpa being like a kid
in a candy store. I can only imagine his
excitement of finally being in the place where the legends played on his radio
every night. The thing that struck him
the most was how high the pop-ups soared.
Baseball may be the game you can see on the radio, but that was
something he could not have imagined.
Over Memorial weekend, I
visited my grandparents’ grave. Their
lives were long, both living into their nineties. A marriage of 70 years. Kids, grandkids, great-grandkids. The whole she-bang.
I left some uniquely
colored orange and red roses that I knew my grandma would appreciate. I told grandpa that I could not stay long
because the Cardinals were playing the Royals in just a few minutes. I know he understood.
I wish. I wish.
I wish. If heaven does exist and
it is a place where we are, in fact, reunited with our loved ones, and we
really can look down upon the earth. The
thing that will make heaven perfect for me is to be able to sit next to my
grandpa, watch a ballgame, keep score and pepper him with hundreds of
questions. That’s what would happen in
my “Field of Dreams”