Wednesday, December 22, 2010
SMALLS TALK: The Magic of the Rally
Baseball players will do just about anything for a timely run- and a laugh. And when you're able to combine the two, well that's just rally magic. When in need of a big inning, today's generation has rejuvenated the rally. Now this is not your father's "rally cap," where a Little League team turns their hats inside out. No sir. I'm not even talking about today's modernization of the original: wearing hats backwards and flipping sunglasses upside down. I'm talking about the over-the-top antics that are struck up in dugouts at what seem like the game's most stressful moments. Some of these displays actually challenge the action on the field for the crowd's attention, and in many instances they win.
Sure, these rallies are childish and at times obnoxious- but they are even more clever and fun. Rallies bring teams together and keep everybody loose in situations that are usually daunting- and there's a trickle-down effect: How can a Clemson fan panic about being down two runs in the 9th inning when there's a kid in the Tigers' dugout wearing 29 hats on his head?
These dugout shenanigans epitomize the camaraderie and fun atmosphere that go hand-in-hand with college baseball. In summer leagues, exhibitions can grow even more outlandish- perhaps a trial run before players bring the new idea back to their respective campuses. It doesn't always produce a run, but a clever and well executed rally can almost always produce a smile or two.
Now all teams have their go-to moves, and I'm sure there are tons out there that I don't even know about, but here is a sample of some of the most memorable "Rallies" I have witnessed firsthand. (I made up the majority, if not all, of these names.)
Rally Dr. Seuss Hat: As made famous by Clemson in the 2010 College World Series, everybody in the dugout takes their hat off and stacks it on top of one player's head.
Rally Quarantine: A player is secretly announced as "quarantined" without that person knowing. This means that no one in the dugout can go near him- the fun starts when he starts walking around or heads to the other end of the dugout for a drink.
Rally Doctor: Players fold up their hat as if it were on the rack at a store, shove the brim into the tops of their jerseys and cover their chin, mouth, and nose with the remaining bowl that is left, looking like a surgeon's mask.
Rally Shark: Players fold their hats like they did for "Rally Doctor" but now place them on their heads and cover one half of their head with the bill running along the top like a mohawk, or shark fin.
Rally Cluster: All players stand in a bunch in the dugout, getting as close together as possible. Some teams say you must be touching at least three people to be a part of the cluster. Looks hilarious in big dugouts.
Rally Accent: An accent is decided upon at the beginning of the inning- often of the thick Southern variety- and all the ensuing chatter for that inning must be voiced using that accent.
Rally Team Picture: Rarely used, a team will spend a half inning separated into two rows- tall guys in the back, small guys in the front- holding the pose of a Little League team picture and smiling toward the on-field action. Bonus: player in front holding two crossing bats.
Rally Militia: Players in the dugout hold their bats like rifles for an entire inning. I have even seen marching on one occasion.
Rally First Name: You simply call everyone by their first name for an inning, chatter included. You have no idea how many guys on the team you don't ever call by their first names until you do this- hell, there are some whose first name you won't even know.
Rally Tweeners: Everyone pulls the bottoms of their pants up to a few inches above the ankle, creating one of the most classic, yet ridiculously bad, looks in baseball: the tweener.
Rally Old-Timer: In addition to "Rally Tweeners", everyone then pulls their pants up at the top so that their belt is well above their belly button, looking like an old-time manager.
Rally Song: It differs from team to team, but there is usually some choreographed dugout dance that is triggered by a certain time in the game or by the playing of a certain song, such as Miami's "Love is Gone" a few years ago.
Teams are always doing things to bring each other together, whether it's dying their hair, growing mustaches, whatever. These "rallies" are another example of just that: teams unifying and having some fun. Hey, brainstorming good rally ideas could possibly be the most important thing some bench players do all year.
Shoutout: Rally Monkey
*Late Editions thanks to the Harwich Mariners' bullpen- nice to see things are still loose down the Cape: Rally Campfire, Rally Snipers, Rally Jazzercise, and, my personal favorite, Crossing the Delaware for Runs.
SMALLS TALK Series
Jeter and A-Rod, How Times Have Changed
Summer Leagues - Cape Still Cream of the Crop?
SportsCenter Commercials are Better Than Most Shows
Schilling's Bloody Sock
Red Sox Nation Goes Crazy, JD Drew Can't Be Bothered
Minor League Hats are the Way to Go
Who Has the Best Uniforms in College Baseball?