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?

"Pick Him Up"

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

SMALLS TALK: Baseball Needs a 24/7 Show

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 from MLU!

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

TOP 10: Things to Do in the Dugout During a Day Off

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.

9. People-Watch
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

MLU is Back!

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

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

MiLB LIFE: The Clubhouse Barber

Every team has one. The resident barber - the player who owns a pair of hair clippers and serves as stylist for the majority of the team. He's a staple in any clubhouse - but the talent level, well, that isn't so reliable. After witnessing far too many comically bad haircuts, I've learned there's a fine line between owning a pair of clippers, and actually knowing how to use them.

I've usually kept my distance from the clubhouse barber chair. Sure, a free haircut's a sweet deal - (although it's expected you give your teammate a little something, ya know, for the effort) - but my hair is on the longer side and I cringed just picturing what the end result may look like after a couple of razor swipes to the skull.

Most of these guys specialize in the few types of haircuts one can achieve with merely a pair of clippers - the fade, the mohawk, or the many different levels of the shaved head, or "wiffle" as I called it as a kid.

But this season, I hit the jackpot. Lacking means of transportation to go get a proper haircut, I spoke to our clubhouse barber about my options. "I could just give you a regular haircut. Trim you up with scissors, if you want." Wait, what?

Friday, April 29, 2011


Ok, it's gross. But once you get over the whole spit flying everywhere thing, you gotta admit - it's pretty cool.

It's become an on-deck ritual of mine, and it can either make or break my entire psyche as I approach my next at-bat.

The Spit Hit is simple, really - you spit into the air, and in one fluid motion, you take a full swing, hoping to square up your target and blast saliva particles in every direction. Hey, I already admitted it was gross.

In the game of baseball, confidence is everything. The Spit Hit is simply a last second confidence booster - a tangible reminder that I can hit anything. What a sharp eye! And such lightning quick hands! After barrelling up a loogy, I head to the plate feeling invincible. And as disgusted as on-lookers may be, deep down, well, they're pretty impressed.

I first saw the Spit Hit in college. The kid who brought it to my attention was our team's best hitter and an eventual top draft pick - he had to be on to something, right? I'd watch him do it before games and think to myself, "Now that's a hitter. Someone who can just pick anything out of mid air and put the fat part of the bat on it, no problem."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

SMALLS TALK: Being Friends With Pitchers

For some reason, all of my close friends are pitchers. I never noticed it until the other night. About seven of us were sitting around the kitchen table playing Poker, and I remembered a funny line our hitting coordinator had dropped during a hitters' meeting earlier that day. I broke out my best impression, delivering the line with such an uncanny precision and attention to detail that for a second, even I almost thought our coach had barged in, bought in for five bucks and was blabbering away at the end of the table. It was dead-on.

The reaction? Crickets. No one knew what the hell I was talking about, I couldn't believe it. Surely somebody present understood the reference. I looked around the table, searching for an ally - someone to back me up here. Pitcher. Pitcher. Pitcher, pitcher, pitcher. Pitcher. None of them had been at the hitters' meeting because, well, none of them were hitters. 

Wait, really? For months, I had been totally unaware that I was the token position player in our group of friends. I was baffled. Why were all my friends pitchers? 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Easter from MLU!

I hope everyone enjoyed their Easter! I'm finally settled in at my new apartment and after a week of pretending I know anything about routers and modems, my roommate finally stepped in and finalized the Internet situation.

I spent seven days without access to the World Wide Web, and as a result, MLU came to a stand still. But fear not - this week marks the triumphant return of Minor League University. Eager to bring some type of enjoyment to my empty afternoons, I hope to start pumping out blog posts at a production rate that rivals Manny in his prime.

Keep an eye out this week for upcoming posts and, as always, feel free to contact MLU with any topics in the world of baseball that you'd like to see covered. Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

MLU's HAT OF THE WEEK: Norfolk Tides

It's pretty much been established: any team sporting light blue on their cap will be featured on Hat of the Week. It's one of the best colors going, and combining it with other forms of blue - in this case, royal and navy - makes the look even better. In this case, it's simply a bonus that the Norfolk Tides happen to have one of the best logos in the game as well.

I mean, if the color scheme alone didn't have you standing and applauding, how about capping the "T" with a wave? Just sheer genius. Somewhere the designers of this logo are feeling pretty good about thesmelves.

This hat has all the criteria one could ask for looks wise - but, as the 3-13 Tides can attest to, a sharp hat doesn't win you any ball games. (Although I wouldn't be surprised if two of those wins had something to do with the hat.)

*The Norfolk Tides are a Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.

In case you missed it, check out SMALLS TALK: Minor League Hats are the Way to Go

Previous Hats of the Week
Arizona State Sun Devils
Fort Wayne TinCaps
Texas Longhorns
Auburn Doubledays
Houston Astros
Lancaster Jethawks
Anaheim Angels
Charlotte Stone Crabs
Superbowl Special (Pittsburgh Pirates & Milwaukee Brewers)
Lehigh Valley Ironpigs
Chattanooga Lookouts
Corpus Christi Hooks
Montgomery Biscuits

Friday, April 15, 2011

DUGOUT LINGO: "Ugly-Finder"

No matter where you are on a baseball diamond, the ball will find you. The dugout is no exception. Line drives, ground balls, pop flys, you name it. Whether you're hanging on the top step or sitting by the Gatorade cooler playing movie trivia, you're closer to home plate than the players on the field. Might wanna keep your head up.

So there you are, sitting in the dugout, racking your brain trying to come up with a 'Y' to clinch another 'Baseball Name Game' victory - Yogi and Yadier have already been used, of course - and you hear that crack of the bat. It's not a loud blast, but it's solid wood. You look up and see the ball gaining ground on you. It takes some choppy bounces, but it's got some steam on it. You do your best to avoid the incoming projectile, but the ball's locked on to you - its target is picked. 

Plunk. It gets you - usually on the shin, or some pure boney spot offering little to no meat for protection. You express your pain with some expletives, the dugout erupts with laughter, and those around you offer up their best wise crack. And then, you hear it: "Ugly-Finder!"

Adding insult to injury - literally. It always comes from the other side of the dugout, and it always gets at least a couple genuine chuckles. And the beauty of "Ugly-Finder" is that the "Ugly" portion is, of course, interchangible with hundreds of insulting phrases. As you can imagine, "Ugly" is far more tame than some of the more popular options - some can get downright nasty.

So next time you're in the dugout, be ready. If a foul ball finds you, it will undoubtedly be deemed a "_____-Finder." Unless you're really curious as to how your teammates will choose to make fun of you, save yourself a bruise to both body and ego - just get out of the way.

"Pick Him Up"

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

MiLB LIFE: Extended Spring Training

I find myself in Baseball Purgatory. It's not Spring Training. It's not the regular season. It's not even a plane ticket back into the real world job market. Nope, it's Extended Spring Training - and both the length of my stay and my next destination are unknown.

When Spring Training ended last week and team rosters were published, my name was nowhere to be found. As teammates and friends began to pack their bags for greener pastures, I stayed put. I was a man without a team - and Spring Training was far from over.

There were about twenty of us left behind. A few days later, forty more guys who hadn't been invited to Spring Training showed up.

Suddenly, it was day one all over again - the introductions, the meetings, the drills. As my friends prepared for the start of a 140-game season, I was beginning Spring Training all over again.

As discouraging as it is to be in Extended, I do take comfort in a simple phrase that has served as consolation to millions before me: "It could be worse." It's true. I'm healthy, I didn't get released, and I'm living in a city that is far nicer than any town I'd be playing in had I made a roster. It could be worse.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

MLU's HAT OF THE WEEK: Arizona State Sun Devils

I love a good alternate cap. Over the course of a long season, it's always nice to mix things up - and that's exactly what the Arizona State Sun Devils do with their secondary logo: the pitch fork.

Lettered logos can be timeless, but they don't get me going like this kind of play on a mascot. They could have easily decided to go with the school's other logo - the mustachioed running Sun Devil - but instead, they went next level on us. The pitch fork is sharp - (couldn't resist) - and represents the Sun Devils with a certain subtlety that leaves me nodding in approval.

Mix in a classic color scheme and you've got a winner of a hat - it's no wonder they're a mainstay in Omaha.

*In case you missed it, check out MiLB LIFE: Wasted Hat Collection

Previous Hats of the Week
Fort Wayne TinCaps
Texas Longhorns
Auburn Doubledays
Houston Astros
Lancaster Jethawks
Anaheim Angels
Charlotte Stone Crabs
Superbowl Special (Pittsburgh Pirates & Milwaukee Brewers)
Lehigh Valley Ironpigs
Chattanooga Lookouts
Corpus Christi Hooks
Montgomery Biscuits

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

MiLB LIFE: Big League Picture Day

What you can't see are the mesh shorts and shower shoes that DJ's sporting underneath that stoic pose.

It's the picture you want everyone to see. Family, friends, thousands of screaming fans - if they see it, you've made it.

Yesterday was picture day at the ballpark for all Minor League players. After finishing breakfast, we were instructed to make our way to the media room where a photographer had set up shop. Once we arrived, we were each given a jersey and a hat - a Major League jersey and hat. This was no ordinary mugshot - this was the picture that would be shown on stadium scoreboards if you were to play in a Big League game at any point during the season.

It seemed ridiculous to me. Over the course of the morning, over 100 players lined up to get their mandatory headshots taken. With each player I saw in line, I estimated their odds of making the Bigs by year's end. Most players received an insensative, yet realistic 0.00% - yet there we were, in a line that rivaled the wait at the DMV.

In reality, maybe a handful of players in that line will get to experience a call to The Show this year. Their pictures will be shared with the world - the rest will likely be deleted and forgotten.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

SMALLS TALK: The Yankee Core

For the last seventeen years, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera have worn pinstripes for the New York Yankees.

Seventeen years - longer than any other threesome in the history of sports. That's a whole lot of backhand jump throws, barehanded at-bats, and Enter Sandman's. That's also a whole lot of wins.

Since 1994, these three have been teammates. Colleagues. Coworkers. Friends? Maybe. Or maybe they can't stand each other. Maybe they wake up every morning and dread walking into that clubhouse and seeing the faces of the other two. It's possible.

Posada may resent Jeter for being so publicly named team captain. And maybe Jeter is jealous of Rivera for serving as the focal point of nearly every nail-biting Yankee victory. Or perhaps Rivera gets irritated by Posada's pitch calling - cutter, cutter, cutter... We get it, Jorge - let's mix it up.

Friday, April 1, 2011


"Pick him up!" Depending on how a game's going, you'll hear variations of this saying anywhere between six and fifty times per nine innings of baseball.

Picking a guy up can mean one of two things.

1) To give a guy a high-five at the entrance of the dugout. 

This can happen after any number of occurrences: he scores a run, bunts a runner over, hits a sac fly, knocks a homer, pitches a shutout inning, or does anything else to help the ball club - you pick him up. 

Or it can also be used when things aren't going as well.

2) To bail a teammate out.

A pitcher may come in after blowing a lead, and it's now up to his hitters to "pick him up" - help him out, right his wrong, make people forget about his blunder. A guy strikes out in a key spot with the bases loaded? He's hoping the next batter picks him up.

You pick a guy up after he does something to help the team win, and you hope to pick him up when he lets the team down.

Good teams are picking guys up all day long.


SMALLS TALK: Opening Day

Today, everyone is undefeated. Each team is in first place. Thirty ball clubs are in the driver's seat, all in control of their own destiny. 

The annual rebirth of baseball season brings hope to sports fans all over the country. Whether you're from Kansas City, New York, San Francisco, or even Cleveland - they still have a team, right? - the glass is always half full as your squad approaches game number one. "This is the year" is a sentiment that echoes throughout stadiums from coast to coast. Is there anyting better than Opening Day? The correct answer is No. There is not.

Spring Training games are fun and relaxed, but they're merely a warm up - meaningless in the grand scheme of it all. Today, every pitch matters as each team sets out on this year's quest toward a World Championship.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

SMALLS TALK: You Play Right Field?

Whenever someone asks me what position I play, I always try to gauge their Baseball IQ before issuing a response. If the person seems to have a grasp on the game - or better yet, some playing experience at a competitive level - it's a no-brainer: "Right Field."

But if the inquirer strikes me as the type of fan who's surprised to discover baseball spikes are actually metal - or someone who would pronounce the first name of Chone Figgins as it is spelled - well, that's when it gets tricky. When fielding the question from this lesser-informed type of baseball fan, my reply becomes decidedly more vague: "Outfield."

The second response is less specific, but it's no lie. Whether you're a corner guy or a center fielder, outfielders are often times labeled by the all-encompassing 'OF' tag.

But while I've played hundreds of games at all three outfield positions, during the last few seasons, I've found myself in Right Field night after night. It's become my everyday spot, and the definite answer to which position I play - so why not just say so? 

Monday, March 28, 2011

MLU's HAT OF THE WEEK: Fort Wayne TinCaps

This logo makes me laugh. An apple wearing a kitchen pot on its head - or is it a pan? Either way - only in Minor League Baseball.

The MiLB team in Fort Wayne, Indiana went from the "Wizards" to the "TinCaps" in 2008, and I must say, I'm a fan of the name change. As whimsical and fun as the idea of a wizard may be, it leaves a little something to be desired as a mascot. Instead of thinking magic and Merlin, I think Gilbert Arenas - or even worse, MJ version 3.0. The word has lost its magic - not to mention, the whole Harry Potter craze has made wizardry more mainstream than Justin Beiber. I'm just thankful they didn't become the Fort Wayne 'Vampires'.

The upgraded name brought a new and improved look along with it. The new logo is both simple and unique, while evoking a certain Dennis the Menace type innocence. Throw this trouble-making apple on a nice green hat, and the fans in Fort Wayne have got themselves a nice new lid to wear to the ball park.

The TinCaps. Who comes up with this stuff?

*The Fort Wayne TinCaps are a single-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres.

In case you missed it, check out SMALLS TALK: Minor League Hats Are the Way to Go

Previous Hats of the Week
Texas Longhorns
Auburn Doubledays
Houston Astros
Lancaster Jethawks
Anaheim Angels
Charlotte Stone Crabs
Superbowl Special (Pittsburgh Pirates & Milwaukee Brewers)
Lehigh Valley Ironpigs
Chattanooga Lookouts
Corpus Christi Hooks
Montgomery Biscuits

Thursday, March 24, 2011

MiLB LIFE: "The Manager Wants to See You"

"The manager wants to see you." These words mark the beginning of the end.

The second this sentence is aimed at you, you're a dead man - and everyone knows it. As you make your way toward the manager's office, you creep closer to the end of your baseball career with each step.

The phrase casts a hush over the clubhouse. For that moment, everyone feels vulnerable. You could be a first-rounder in the middle of an all-star season, but in that instant, you can't help but fear you will be next.

Regardless of your relationship with the player in question, you feel awful. He may be your direct competition for a starting job or a promotion - his release may ultimately translate into more opportunities for you - but for the moment, that's not important. This is a kid who has spent his whole life playing baseball, just like everyone in that clubhouse - and today, the game he loves is being taken away from him.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

SMALLS TALK: It's Not Always Sunny in Arizona

After almost two weeks of perfect baseball weather, the Arizona skies finally showed their mortality today. Dark clouds, violent winds, heavy rain- all that was missing was a dog named Toto. The result? A much needed day off. But it wasn't a guarantee. Nope, we had to sweat this one out.

After looking at the forecast last night, we all walked into the clubhouse this morning prepared for a rain-out. Kids who had visitors in town told them not to bother coming to the field; other guys were looking up early matinee movie times, and some even looked as though they hadn't even bothered fully waking up- perhaps prepared to go back to bed immediately after notice of a wash out. We were ready for the rain-out. Mother Nature, on the other hand, was not.

We sat around the locker room in our street clothes waiting for rain that just would not come. After a good half hour, we looked around at each other with uncertainty- the time had finally come for us to get ready to head out to the field. We all tentatively threw on our uniforms, most of us wearing long sleeves for the first time since arriving. This was just a formality, we thought. The second we go outside, it's gonna start pouring. It's almost funny that we're even bothering to put our uniforms on. It was so dark and windy, all signs pointed to torrential downpour. No way would we play baseball today. Right?

MLU's HAT OF THE WEEK: Texas Longhorns

Hat of the Week has finally made its way into the college ranks, and Austin, Texas is the perfect place to start.

Despite winning six national championships and launching a small army of ballplayers into the Big Leagues, it's the Texas Longhorns' uniforms that have baseball fans intrigued.

No other school in the country has been able to completely monopolize a color like the 'Horns have done with Burnt Orange. The color is crisp, and has become synonymous with both the school and the state- not to mention it can really pack a punch when mixed with one of the most recognizable logos in all of sports.

Athough the team is usually seen sporting its trademark white hat with the Capital 'T' emblem, their all-orange cap partnered with the classic Longhorn logo gets the edge in my book.

Ladies and gentlemen, MLU's first NCAA selection for Hat of the Week. Congratulations to Bevo- what a pioneer!

Previous Hats of the Week
Auburn Doubledays
Houston Astros
Lancaster Jethawks
Anaheim Angels
Charlotte Stone Crabs
Superbowl Special (Pittsburgh Pirates & Milwaukee Brewers)
Lehigh Valley Ironpigs
Chattanooga Lookouts
Corpus Christi Hooks
Montgomery Biscuits

Friday, March 18, 2011


It's just sitting there. It's stationary atop the tee, just waiting to be clobbered. It's not moving 95 MPH. It's not curving, cutting, tailing, or dropping. The baseball is just there - helpless.

When you think of professional baseball players hitting off of a tee it's almost laughable. These guys are some of the best hitters in the world, and they're performing an activity that has 6-year olds everywhere smirking with confidence.

As I stand over the tee about to take my hack, I can't help but think of Happy Gilmore practicing his short game at the Putt Putt Mini-Golf Course: "This is embarrassing, I'm a professional golfer for God's sake." Amen.

The ball isn't even moving - where's the challenge?

Turns out, it's not that simple. Go into any college or professional hitting facility and you will find between one and three tees for every batting cage. It's an essential item - a mainstay in any hitting routine. Regardless of your talent level, there's always something to work on - you can never outgrow the tee. Even Big Leaguers are fans of the seemingly elementary tool - Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. was rumored to take over 200 swings off a tee everyday during his lengthy career.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

MiLB LIFE: First Day of Spring Training [Part Two]

After an early wake-up, an extensive physical, and a hearty breakfast, it's time to do what we all traveled thousands of miles to do- play some ball.

8:30 AM - Cages Open
After hanging around the clubhouse, catching up with forgotten faces, and digesting my heaping pile of eggs, it's finally time to swing a bat. I head outside amongst a crowd of clones- all outfitted with the same new gear head to toe, bat in hand- as we make our way to the cages for "optional" early work.

Once outside, we are greeted by a row of eight batting cages, all set up to serve a different purpose. For the next half hour we work out the off-season kinks in our swings through tee work, flips, and soft toss- elementary cage drills focused on perfecting your bat's path to the ball.

There's some definite rust on the old swing, but for the moment I'm just thrilled to be outside. Baseball is a game that rewards repetitive practice, so although I may not feel great right now, I have no doubt everything will start clicking again soon after consecutive days of countless swings and hard work.

I look at this half hour as a chance to simply get back into baseball mode, put the bat on the ball a little bit, and really just get excited about the start of Spring Training. After months of swinging indoors, this Arizona sun is feeling mighty nice. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

MLU's HAT OF THE WEEK: Auburn Doubledays

I have not exactly been subtle about my appreciation for red hats. They're my favorite. They stand out without being too obnoxious, and in my opinion, the loud color evokes a certain air of confidence. Partner it with a solid logo and you've got yourself a pretty sharp lid, my friend.

That's what we have here with the Auburn Doubledays. This is a hat that could only be found in the Minor League ranks. While Big League emblems appear more simple and professional, the Minors have a little more fun with their logos. And what better way to pay tribute to the alleged creator of our favorite sport than by throwing a ball cap and an oversized mustache onto a Capital 'A'?

This one's for Abner!

*The Auburn Doubledays are a single-A short-season affiliate of the Washington Nationals.

In case you missed it, check out SMALLS TALK: Minor League Hats Are the Way to Go

Previous Hats of the Week
Houston Astros
Lancaster Jethawks
Anaheim Angels
Charlotte Stone Crabs
Superbowl Special (Pittsburgh Pirates & Milwaukee Brewers)
Lehigh Valley Ironpigs
Chattanooga Lookouts
Corpus Christi Hooks
Montgomery Biscuits

Friday, March 11, 2011

MiLB LIFE: First Day of Spring Training [Part One]

After six months of waiting, the day had finally come.

I arrived at the Arizona hotel at 9:00 PM on Tuesday night experiencing a rare combination of exhaustion and excitement. I had spent the bulk of my day in airports, planes, and shuttles and had finally reached my much anticipated destination.

I lugged my bags upstairs and was eager to do nothing more than immediately test the sleepability of my hotel bed. But as desperate as I was to get some rest, I was even more anxious to awake from that slumber and begin the opening stages of my season. Spring Training was just a night's sleep away- actually, it was even closer than I expected.


I found this team-issued memo sitting on my night stand, accompanied by the aforementioned "cup," of course. Day one was coming, and it was gonna be a long one.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

MiLB LIFE: Packing for Spring Training

Joltin' Joe was known to pack a mean suitcase.

I hate packing. Hate it. To me, the whole process is far more strenuous than it should be. It ought to be simple, right? Bats, gloves, cleats, clothes- what else is there?

It’s that last question that drives me crazy. After more travel experiences than I can remember, I have never departed with a clear mind, focused solely on the excitement of the trip ahead. There is always that irritating worry in the back of my mind that I forgot something. Something essential, no doubt.

Then there’s the laundry list of questions that contribute to the anxiety of the packing experience. How many bags can I bring? Do I have a bag that can fit a bat inside of it? What about seven bats? What’s the weather going to be like? What do I want to wear for the next six months? It’s a draining process- it’s no wonder I always leave it for the last second.

Last year, I grossly over-packed. I went through every possible scenario that could have occurred during the summer months, and made sure to pack the appropriate attire. Whether it was poker with the boys or a last second invitation to an 80’s theme party, chances are I was equally prepared wardrobe-wise.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

SMALLS TALK: Helmet for Pitchers?

(Read Full Article)
Say it ain't so, Baseball! A helmet for pitchers? This cannot happen. Nope, no way. I'll fight it for as long as I live.

Come to think of it, that's probably how traditionalists reacted when the first face mask was worn by a catcher, or when hitters started wearing helmets at the plate. Imagine if those changes didn't happen? It'd sure be a lot easier to tell if a guy was a catcher in his playing days, walking down the street looking like the UFC career record-holder for losses.

But still, it can't happen. I know there have been several scary incidents over the past few years, but the truth is, those injuries are freak accidents. Sure, they're a possibility on every single pitch of any game, but by no means do they happen regularly.

The pitcher is a fielder. As insensative as it may sound, he's responsible for fielding his position just like any other player behind him. Yes, he has less reaction time, and his delivery may put him in a vulnerable position, but once the ball is thrown, he is simply one of nine guys playing defense.

Monday, March 7, 2011

SMALLS TALK: Approaching Spring Training

(This article was written for my friends at

One more day. After months of being asked when I would head to Spring Training, I had developed a signature response: "Not til early March." The expression was in the holster at all times, cocked and loaded, ready to be fired back at anyone who asked the popular question.

I said it so many times that the phrase had lost all meaning. It was a concept that always seemed so distant and irrelevant at the moment. Although I was training on a daily basis, I had grown accustomed to my off-season life- baseball was on the back burner.

But today, as I began cleaning out my apartment and saying goodbye to friends, it hit me. It had quickly become "Early March," and I was a mere twenty-four hours away from the beginning stages of the 2011 season. Baseball was near. One more day.

With that realization, my mind naturally began to wander: Am I ready? Did I do enough during the off-season? What level will I start at? What team will my friends start on?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

MLU's HAT OF THE WEEK: Houston Astros

In a world where orange hats are really hit or miss, this classic Astros lid would qualify as a hit. It's loud color is offset by the simplicity of the logo, and even though I don't own one article of orange clothing, I can't help but think I would look pretty sharp sporting this timeless cap- who wouldn't?

I gotta give it to the Astros- in the 9 week history of MLU's Hat of the Week, they've been associated with one-third of the lids featured. They've got some style down there in Houston- although, don't look for their current Big League hat to be our Sunday feature anytime soon.

Why do so many teams ditch such classic looks? 

*In case you missed it, check out MiLB LIFE: Wasted Hat Collection

Previous Hats of the Week
Lancaster Jethawks
Anaheim Angels
Charlotte Stone Crabs
Superbowl Special (Pittsburgh Pirates & Milwaukee Brewers)
Lehigh Valley Ironpigs
Chattanooga Lookouts
Corpus Christi Hooks
Montgomery Biscuits

Thursday, March 3, 2011

TOP 5: Things I Won't Miss About My Local Gym

I love going to my home gym. I work out when I'm ready, do the exercises that I pick, and the music blasting in my ears? That's my music. I always get a better workout at home, and it's even more fun now that my roommate has become my lifting partner.

We've been on a great routine, mixing up our exercises and growing noticeably stronger along the way.

I even love the overload of testosterone filling the local gym. Every guy in there appears to hate you. Why? Because you're another guy at the gym, that's all. It's like Animal Planet. The second you go near someone, or even a machine they're using, you're a threat- they need to mark their territory.

Everyone walks around pissed off- judging, criticizing, evaluating. It's as if they're all competing to be the gym's "Top Dog" - it's pretty entertaining, actually.

While this setting may be uncomfortable for some, I find myself feeding off of it. I love the fact that I'm on display- that I'm being sized up by an audience during every rep. It pushes me- makes me work harder. I test my limits when I'm under the microscope- come to think of it, I ought to thank my gym's resident muscle-heads for such a productive off-season.

There are plenty of things I will NOT miss about the local gym, however. Here are my Top 5.