Friday, December 30, 2011
Whether your swing is a little tardy or your glove is wee bit slow, if you're late at all, you can't escape this term. Immediately after the ball makes its way past you, it will echo from the dugout: BY YOU!
Intended to add insult to injury, this phrase is usually used when you've already embarrassed yourself or done something particularly unathletic - the ass-out flailing swing attempt at an outside fastball; the it's-already-rolling-to-the-Left-Field-wall-but-I'm-just-now-reacting dive attempt at a liner to third - these would both qualify as offenses that warrant this humiliating battle cry. Why? Because by the time you took action, it was too late - the ball was already "by you."
But what good is a great baseball saying if it can't be transformed into completely random spin-off terms that sound the same and thus accomplish the same demeaning affect? I can't sit at the end of the dugout and just yell By You! all day while my pitcher racks up the K's - can't let my chatter get stale, I gotta mix it up. Louisiana Bayou! ... Oksana Baiul!
And who says baseball players aren't resourceful?
DUGOUT LINGO Series
"Pick Him Up"
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Night in and night out, the world welcomes professional athletes into their homes. We watch them work, we dissect their skills, and we offer criticism and praise from the confines of our cozy couch. These athletes live their lives under a microscope - no stumble goes unnoticed, no blunder swept under the rug. For three hours every night, their lives are a public matter - when it comes to the diamond, rink, court, field, track, and ring, we know everything there is to know about these guys. But who are they really?
Sure we love watching our favorite teams play, but we want more. Every sports fan is dying for that peek behind the scenes - that all-access pass that welcomes you beyond the restrictions of regular television. What's my favorite player like? What does the team do at practice? Is the coach a good guy? Which teammates hang out together? These are the things fans want to know. We want to know the man behind the athlete. Enter 24/7.
HBO's 24/7 may be my favorite show of all time. During this series, a camera crew follows a team or athlete for a period of weeks leading up to a major sporting event. In the past they've covered the training of both boxers leading up to a prize fight, Jimmie Johnson's preparation for Daytona, and currently the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers in the weeks before their New Year's Day "Winter Classic" match up. Simply put, the show is awesome.
Whether I like or have an interest in the sport or athletes featured has become totally irrelevant. They could offer a behind the scenes looks at a Broadway Show or a TV Channel's news room and I would be glued to my seat. There's just something about knowing what goes on when the cameras aren't rolling that interests, perhaps empowers the viewer - to see everything that goes into each night's final product is amazing, your appreciation for both the game and its players can't help but grow. We start to feel a connection to those on display - they're no longer the untouchable stars we admire from a distance; they're human beings with families, friends, and personalities.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Merry Christmas to all MLU readers! As you know, the blog is officially back, and I have every intention of making 2012 its best year ever, Mayan Calendar be damned.
Over the coming months, MLU will be jam-packed with fresh material. In addition to continuing the popular MiLB Life Series, we will be sharing baseball-oriented countdowns, a wide array of dugout lingo, passionate movie rants, dissections of certain players and trends, as well as commentary on hot topics and happenings around the game. In short, if you have a special place in your heart for America's pastime, MLU aims to be your home.
But before we take the baseball world by storm, it's time to enjoy our Christmas weekend. So grab a blanket and get cozy by the fire - surround yourself with family and friends - and pop Home Alone, Elf, and Christmas Vacation into the DVD player for the hundredth time. Days like these never get old.
Thanks to everyone for the amazing support you've shown since MLU's return. Please continue to share favorite posts with your baseball friends and help spread the word as we look to make Minor League University a household name among the baseball community. Merry Christmas!
Special shoutout to Ball State Baseball for spreading the Christmas cheer:
These two were electric - stole the show.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
It's game time - and I'm not in the lineup. What to do, what to do...
What players do during their days off has become a hot topic this off-season thanks to the fried chicken, beer, and video games saga over at Fenway. Now I'm not defending those pitchers for going Animal (Club)House during games, but let's face it: baseball games are long. Really long. And oftentimes, they're boring. Could a jaw-dropping play occur at any second? You bet it could. But, for the bulk of those 3 hours, it's not the most exciting action to watch.
So what do players do in the dugout to help pass the time? We entertain ourselves. We're watching the game, we're taking it in, but what happens between the chalk is usually battling some type of dugout diversion for our full attention.
Now there are plenty of ways to amuse yourself while not in the lineup, and as long as you participate subtly, while facing the field of play and reacting to key on-field moments appropriately, you'll avoid being called a "team cancer" by your manager, or even worse, tomorrow's front page. Here's my Top 10:
10. The Movie Game
Everyone has their own "Movie Game" - there are countless variations of this dependable classic, but it's a proven fact that the version Chet Steadman and I played back in college is the most enetertaining and competitive edition to date.
The rules are simple: ask a neutral third party to name a famous actor or actress. Once the movie star is set, you alternate back and forth naming the movies that person has appeared in. It's a fierce rapid fire, head-to-head battle of movie memory - last man standing wins. Obscure titles and cameo appearances are usually keys to victory here, so get rid of Anchorman early and keep Stranger than Fiction in the back pocket for later rounds.
There are few places where people-watching is more enjoyable. Aside from the red carpet at the Grammy's and a Harry Potter premiere, I'd argue baseball stadiums as the best spot to observe and enjoy the many species of human walking God's green earth.
Baseball appeals to people from all walks of life - it unites different cultures and crosses boundaries, bonding fans who wouldn't otherwise have anything in common. There is no setereotypical baseball fan, but there is a common denominator: passion. A fan will do anything for their team, regardless of how it affects their wardrobe, voice, or sleep schedule. The energy of the ballpark is provided by those in attendance, and while they watch the game, it's fun to sit back and watch them - it's usually some pretty good theater.
8. Stopwatch Baseball
Quick, easy, straight forward. Stopwatch Baseball is a favorite, and is great for tournament style competition, complete with pressure-packed precision and nail-bitingly close matchups.
Here's how you play: Each time you start and stop the watch, it's an at-bat. If you're able to stop the watch on 0.97 seconds, it's a single; 0.98 is a double, 0.99 is a triple, and 1.00 is a home run. Everything else is an out, and some even play 1.01 seconds is a double-play, but that depends on personal preference. Standard baseball rules apply, with the runners on base only advancing the number of bases the hitter does (i.e., a double moves the runners two bases).
This game is gut-wrenching. Kenny and I had some heated grudge matches last year - I'll admit he got the best of me in our season series, but only because he initiates games after fiddling with the stopwatch for a few minutes already - or "taking BP" as we call it.
A bonus feature of this game is that you can disguise your stopwatch use as being productive and recording the pitcher's first-to-home time out of the stretch. What a team guy you are - coaches eat that up.
Monday, December 19, 2011
|With the mix of headlines floating around this off-season, I couldn't possibly sit back in silence.|
I have truly missed MLU. I've missed writing, I've yearned for the Twitter banter, and for months I've longed for someone to call me Smalls.
In an effort to stay connected to the game over the winter, I spent last year's entire off-season sharing daily insights and commentaries on all aspects of the baseball world. Preparing each blog post quickly became the highlight of my morning, and before I knew it, MLU had taken on a life of its own. But some time back in May - around the time I was stuck in Extended Spring Training and questioning my existence on this baseball-diamond-filled Earth - I lost it.
There were a number of factors that played a role in the sudden freeze of MLU - spotty internet service, an ever-changing home address, and an exhausting daily schedule, to name a few - but mainly, it became tougher to uphold a blog about baseball and the game I loved while, at the same time, that very sport seemed to be showing my career a giant middle finger. Things were not going as planned, and whether it was pride, or resentment toward a game that had once been my sweetheart, I shut it down.
It was no more than a month into my stay in baseball Purgatory when that phone rang and I was called to greener pastures. I packed my bags, said my goodbyes, and flew off to join my new team. A feeling of purpose was restored in my life - baseball was great again.
Over the course of the next five months, I experienced my share of ups and downs. My play was inconsistent, but my peaks evened out my valleys and I was able to put up respectable numbers and even earn a promotion before season's end. Baseball was once again enjoyable, but somehow there still didn't seem to be enough time to carefully revive MLU back to what it once was. It would be a shell of its former self, and for a project that I unapologetically obsessed over for an entire off-season, restoring it to a level inconsistent with previous posts was out of the question.
So instead, I spent the season observing, making notes, and jotting down any experiences and interactions I deemed worthy of sharing with the world. I kept my eyes and ears open and stocked up on material, not knowing exactly when I would revive MLU, but fullly aware that the return of Scotty Smalls was imminent.
And finally, that day has come. I have taken it upon myself to restore order to an Internet consumed by faux Kardashian weddings, aimless Occupying of every street corner, and coverage of the NBA Lockout that I've miraculously found even more boring than their actual games.
And so, after a monumental hiatus rivaled only by those of Dave Chappelle and Ricky Williams, Scotty Smalls is dusting off the old long-billed cap and once again getting back behind the keyboard. A fresh crop of posts starts up tomorrow!
Thank you to everyone who has been emailing or reaching out over the past few months - it is so exciting to hear that there are people aside from my parents enjoying this blog.
Please continue to stay connected to MLU via Twitter (@MinorLeagueU) and the Minor League University Facebook Page. And, as always, if there is a topic you'd like to see covered or if you have any questions, don't hesitate to send an email to MinorLeagueUniversity@gmail.com.