Springtime for Pitcher(s)

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This weekend I traveled to Sarasota to visit a friend and his family. On a pretty beautiful Friday we attended a spring training game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Let’s start with the important part, shall we? Who comes up with the names of these teams? So the story is that the Philadelphia team was originally named the Philadelphias as in the Philadelphia Philadelphias. Really. Not Philadelphians. Philadelphias, as if every member of the team is a large city unto himself. Odd.

The Philadelphias proved too long for Victorian newspapers so it became the Phillies. That makes sense. However, that is also a word–filly. You would think that at some point in the history of the franchise some marketing wiz would have come up with a horse logo or mascot. No, they have chosen their mascot to be of the terrifying abomination variety, Phanatic.

Photograph taken by Googie Man
Photograph taken by Googie Man

That things like this do not give nightmares to children just shows the obvious desensitization caused by video games, cartoons and the modern American’s diet. Doomed.

Anyway, my friend is knowledgeable about the vagaries of the game and so I asked him a million questions about how the systems of the game work in comparison to the only two games I know, cricket and hockey. The strategies of the game are intriguing as the pitcher is so terribly important; he controls the ball and the batter’s time for action is an incredibly small number of balls.

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In test cricket the bowler shares the bowling with at least one other bowler and the batter need not play the balls he is given. In effect the batter can wait out the hot bowler and look for opportunities to change to his advantage. In hockey no matter how incredible a goalie is playing, the people in front of him still must play or a bombarding team will overpower the netminder.

So baseball is a pitcher’s game. And the particular game we were watching showed that to be the case as it was a nightmare for the Phillies’ A.J. Burnett was shelled for six runs on seven hits in just three innings. Other pitchers attempted to stem the bleeding but it was only downhill from there.

Photographing the event was a tremendous amount of fun. I have some more research to do about the shots and locations but I am going to try to catch a few games this summer.

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