Baseball Toaster Humbug Journal
My Final Take-It-Or-Leave-It Offer
2009-02-02 20:45
by Score Bard

Because I'm retaining Scott Boras
I'll hold out, and not join the chorus
With new homes online.
If you want me to sign,
Bid a mil and a golden thesaurus.


Offseason Clerihews
2008-12-23 11:52
by Ember Nickel

A. J. Burnett
Cannot yet
Rescue the Yankees from third-place finishes, emulating the "Carpathia",
So they also signed CC Sabathia.

Mark Teixeira
May or may not know where the
Next season will see him play,
But at any rate won't say.

Rafael Furcal
Didn't know at all
Before signing with the Dodgers board
In a manner which was entirely above-the-board.

Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh
Will attempt to bring
Strength to the Pittsburgh rotation
Which could probably have been upgraded with people from just about any nation.

Eri Yoshida
Makes me need a
Better rhyme scheme.

Kerry Wood Moves On
2008-11-15 05:22
by Ember Nickel

Once I began, there was no turning back.
Each day, I'd leave the school and walk outside
To a "portable", a classroom-sized shack
Where the fourth graders learned to long divide.

That summer, I saw numbers every day
In the newspaper. My love for them led
Me to the game that made them through its play.
And I became a fan, each update read.

There were falls when I rose before the sun.
Stargazing, I would catch the high school's bus
To go to math class in its hour one
Then descend to the middling, like "us".

"We" placed our trust within the phenom of
That season, and the phenom of the year
That I met baseball and gave it my love.
It wasn't enough, though we made it near.

I ran out of math classes as I should
Have known. Drive to a college? Stay and take
A less challenging course? At times, it would
Be frustrating. It was for the sake

Of who I used to be, however. Does
That child's chance at being challenged count
More than my ease today? I think it was
The right choice, by some undefined amount.

When the dust cleared, I never felt remorse
Though I avoided, say, applied ballistics.
I didn't sign up for the hardest course,
But I think of home runs hearing "statistics".

To love and lose, or not? I'll never know.
But leave loss to those old enough for truth.
And let love go to whom it needs to go-
The complex-minded prodigies of youth.

2008-11-05 17:12
by Ember Nickel

How would it feel to fall if you could fit
Within a raindrop? It's a long way down
On such a scale. But when at last you hit
The street, you just explode into the town.

Another season came and went. They stop
And go each year, but never quite this way.
Another champion comes out on top
When we return to the last field of play.

The rain will soon give way to winter's snow.
Reality will storm, our bubble will
Be distant. But what comes and stops will go
And go again. The seasons rotate still

Each bringing some dramatics no one knew
Would happen, every year with something new.

'Rays in Seven'
2008-10-20 17:14
by Ember Nickel

All teams know comebacks. Some know comebacks well.
Those that know them best know it's hard to tell
What kind of comeback any game is till
Its series ends, as every series will.

Because not every comeback is the same,
A miracle game is merely one day's
Compilation of improbable plays.
Some games stand alone, set against defeat
Where bitter and sweet connect and produce
Forgotten innings, just there to reduce
To the final moments-a mob, a scream
And a star-crossed team, a desperate wave
Halfway between. The walk-off heroes stave
Elimination off a game or four.
Their feats make us roar, but make us forget
The championship's not decided yet.
Of course, sometimes reality's unreal.
The rallies that feel too strange to be true
Take place game by game. Not often. They do
Just enough, however. We don't discount
Even an amount of games that seems high.
Not when old records so frequently fly
Out of the park. Not with this team. To see
What one game will be, a week down the line,
Isn't a skill I think of as mine.
So of game five, I had nothing to say.
Not until today. But in game six, though,
I made my prediction how it would all go.

Humbug TV programming note
2008-10-07 07:33
by dianagramr

A friend of mine from my tournament Scrabble scene, Zack Hample, also happens to be the fellow who caught homerun balls at Yankee Stadium on consecutive days last month, as well as the last Mets homer at Shea Stadium.

Zack has "snagged" 3,816 baseballs at 44 different ballparks, and is now getting a lot of national attention. His "highlights" have been shown on SportsCenter, and tomorrow night, he's scheduled to appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

He's a pretty cool guy .... so check him out.

Playoff preview ... of the grass at each stadium
2008-10-01 19:05
by dianagramr

Yes, even the mowing patterns of the grass at each stadium gets examined prior to the playoffs, as detailed in this New York Times article.

As an example, here's the lowdown on Fenway Park and their "director of grounds", David Mellor:

"Mellor planned a relatively sedate backdrop to start the playoffs, with large squares and triangles, and none of his well-known hose-drawn flourishes like a capital “B” or the two-socks Red Sox logo. But if Boston advances, stay tuned."

Here is a highlight from another article featuring Mellor.

Such designs adorn and distinguish nearly every major league ballpark these days, but no one takes as keen an interest in mowing patterns as Mellor. He has written a book on the subject (“Picture Perfect: Mowing Techniques for Lawns, Landscapes, and Sports”), and is generally considered the top grass-cutting artist in the game. High-school geometry classes visit him at Fenway Park to study ways that an odd-shaped field can be divided and subdivided by straight lines and sharp angles.

“I’m not looking for more work,” Mellor said on a recent afternoon at Fenway Park. “But the grass has to be mowed anyway. So why not do it well, with straight lines, or checkerboards, or something more festive?”

Mellor, 45, gets most of the credit from his groundskeeping cohorts for kick-starting the trend, and forcing countless fans arriving at parks and tuning in to television to wonder: How do they do that?



Twins-White Sox Playoff
2008-09-30 23:23
by Ember Nickel

Again the season stretches into this:
The gap between the summer and the fall
Narrows at last. The space between the wall
Our backs were up against was an abyss.
Now, desperation blurs to hit-or-miss.
The days and weeks and months we fought are all
Being wiped out by one flight of the ball.
Some fates can be sealed only by death's kiss.

The season didn't want to go away
Either. And when the game was tied, it seemed
It might well do so. However, last stands
Will come to all of those who come to play
Just like the game itself. But we too dreamed,
And, diving, held the season in our hands.

What is it about the Orioles and the latter portion of the season?
2008-09-29 13:06
by dianagramr

You may recall a post from last year which detailed the seemingly annual migration of the Orioles to the bottom rungs of the American League East.

Well, they did it again this year. On the morning of August 18th, the Orioles sat at 60-63, in last place, but only 3.5 games behind the Blue Jays and 15 games out of first. From that point forward, they went 7-30 (and won a game that had been suspended from earlier in the year). This year's collapse rivaled the historic 4-32 finish of 2002.

  Collapse Before After
Year Date W L Pct. W L Pct.
2008 8/18/2008 60 63 .488 7 30 .189
2007 7/28/2007 49 54 .476 20 39 .339
2006 7/17/2006 44 51 .463 26 41 .388
2005 6/22/2005 42 28 .600 29 58 .333
2004 6/1/2004 24 23 .511 54 61 .470
2003 6/2/2003 28 27 .509 43 64 .402
2002 8/24/2002 63 63 .500 4 32 .111
2001 5/28/2001 24 24 .500 39 74 .345
  totals 334 333 .501 222 399 .357


And it was a total team effort too ....


Before 61 63 124 34 1104.2 1155 628 588 512 711 138 4.79 .271 .353 .419 .772 99 30 9.4 5.8 4.2
After 7 30 37 1 317.1 383 241 222 175 211 46 6.30 .298 .386 .487 .873 31 3 10.9 6.0 5.0



Before 124 61 63 4325 635 1176 259 27 143 608 420 762 89 62 33 .272 .339 .443 .782 5.12
After 37 7 30 1234 147 310 63 3 29 142 113 228 22 19 4 .251 .315 .378 .693 3.97
Pennant Race
2008-09-27 14:28
by Ember Nickel

It's one thing to hear forty thousand boo:
Magnifying their sound at someone who
Left the team, and as a traitor comes here
Again. It's another to hear them cheer.

Sound overlaps sound, no two yells the same
But such is the game: it's big enough for
All of the players we want to adore.
The cacophony is more glorious
Than boos. Each of us gives a different roar
When a ball that I can't see tied the score.
Then I do see it, deep down the line in
Right. Yes. Can they win? I try to clap
But it's hard with a scoreboard on your lap.
I write down the triple, and then I stand
Noticing a hand outstretched down the row.
To get together with your friends and go
To the game is normal for them. Not for me.
And yet, tonight we let our high-fives blend
Into the maelstrom of noise, friend and friend.

Sean Rodriguez strikes out on a 4-2 pitch
2008-09-05 09:59
by Ember Nickel

A strikeout can put you on base
And yet, this still seems out of place:
To go down for the count
After such an amount
Of pitches is a minor disgrace.

Stupid Humbug Stat Tricks: Your basic 13-hit shutout Edition
2008-08-25 20:00
by dianagramr

The Phillies completed a four-game sweep of the Dodgers tonight with a 5-0 shutout. What made the shutout special was Philly pitchers gave up 13 hits. Its not often you see a linescore of "0-13-0".

In fact, this is only the ninth time since 1956 that a team has pitched a 13-hit shutout. Its the most hits allowed in a nine-inning shutout.

Date Tm Opp Score H BB SO 2B 3B IBB HBP
8/31/2005 KCR MIN 1-0 13 2 5 2 0 0 1
8/13/2005 WSN COL 8-0 13 5 7 1 0 0 0
7/18/1993 ATL PIT 2-0 13 0 4 1 0 0 0
6/7/1991 PIT SDP 1-0 13 1 7 0 0 0 0
8/15/1989 SEA TEX 2-0 13 2 7 1 0 0 0
9/9/1973 NYM MON 3-0 13 1 3 0 0 0 0
7/25/1968 CIN PIT 2-0 13 3 3 0 0 0 0
7/15/1964 MIN WSA 6-0 13 1 6 0 0 2 0

(In case you were curious, since 1956 the most hits allowed in a 9-inning game while giving up only 1 run is 15.)

Time Trials
2008-08-20 11:46
by Ember Nickel

London calling: "Ni hao, it's Beijing."
"Why don't you answer the phone when we ring?
I've been trying to call you for a day."
"Oh? Did you factor in the time delay?"

Soccer clocks count down, football clocks count up.
The path to a cup is truly a race
If the end is not a time but a place.
Each field stretching out to a distant wall
Hosts another ball. No two are the same.
Such is the nature of the endless game.
We play outside of time. Work's not so kind.
We suddenly find ourselves rushed along
Unable to verbalize what feels wrong
And fearful to impose our rules upon
This stage. We'll be gone from it in "good time"
-Whatever that means. In arrogance, I'm
Imagining an unbounded cocoon
That may open soon, or remain until
Some distant date. Perhaps it never will.

Midnight, Cleveland
2008-08-04 07:22
by Ember Nickel

I do get a scorecard, eventually,
But the shock on his face was plain to see.
"A scorecard." Writing's mimed. "For keeping score."
At last, I'm directed to the team store.
Perhaps it's then that I start tempting fate:
Detroit-Cleveland, 7/30/08
I do what many do, and few admit:
Wait for each team's first baserunner, first hit.
As always, I'm chastised by inner shame.
"What are the odds you'll see a perfect game?
You can't sustain the belief you will need
To witness that requires too much greed."
But I cannot give up, and will not yield
To the unknown players above the field.
I can, however, compromise, and my
Request's "a game worth loving". They comply.
After one and a half, neighbor fans mention
The perfect game. Of course, verbal attention
Ends that. Hit follows hit, run follows run.
"Hey, they can't start an inning after one,"
I laugh and point out as I'm idly reading.
To joke about extras when you are leading
By seven runs seems safe enough. And yet,
In baseball, it never feels safe to bet.
Hubris is part of fandom. Which is worse?
The dread determinism of a curse?
Unknowable randomness of those who
Watch from beyond the stadium? Or you-
Driven by some delusion, in control?
Of course, other fans mean you're not the sole
Influence. But after the Cleveland crowd
Goes home, and it's Tiger fans who are loud
As finals from the West Coast trickle in
And finally, Detroit pulls out the win-
Well, I won't take the blame for the defeat.
I got to witness an unsurpassed feat
2B-no: 1B/E7-no, what?
It was, indeed, a game worth loving, but
I wanted Cleveland to win. They did not.
Does the lack of the victory I sought
Mean that I'm off the hook, and that I can
Relax? Or didn't wish enough? A fan
Is rarely only that. So I'll go on,
But my delusions never will be gone.
Though I will laugh at them, they will not leave.
Part of me dreams of power-and I believe.

Notes on a Three-Way
2008-07-31 15:08
by Score Bard

The Red Sox had to overpay
To make their problem go away.
The good news is that Jason Bay
Is in Boston, not a Ray.

Manny's act is in L.A.
What will Torre have to say
To keep the clubhouse in array
When Pierre and Jones don't get to play?

Pittsburgh shouts, "Callooh! Callay!
Two LaRoches in the fray!"
The team's no longer gone astray.
The Pirates' future starts today.


Score Bard's blog: now verse than ever!
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