Saturday, July 12, 2003

Here's a little history lesson. I received a response from Albert Onello to my ephemeral but very sincere baseball questions of a few days ago. He writes:

In a very idiosyncratic and labyrinthine journey through blog-land I washed ashore 'Harlequin Knights' and was pleased to spend a few moments 'there'. Noticing a few questions in a recent post, and presuming you're asking these questions sincerely and would like some semblance of an 'answer' to them, I'll offer some response....
I think the shortest 9-inning major league game is 51 or 52 minutes, if my memory serves me correctly, in a game that took place I think back around 1920. It was probably the last game of the year and everybody just wanted to go home, so I'd guess things moved along rather briskly.

Why is the bullpen so distant from the dugout? 'Cause pitchers have to warm up during a game, and they can't be too close to the action, both for their safety and the safety of those playing the game. Some 'bullpens' are in fact 'on' the 'field of play', between the foul lines and the stands --- see Wrigley Field, for instance.

Shouldn't pitchers sit with their teammates? Well, in some precincts pitchers are not considered 'ballplayers', they're 'pitchers', and this is maintained only half-kiddingly.

Some relief pitchers do sit in the dugout early in the game, the presumption being that the starting pitcher will do his job and last at least a few innings, meaning that the relief pitcher won't have to be available to warm-up and thus doesn't need to be in the bullpen. Some pitchers would rather be 'out' in the bullpen, however, 'cause things are a little 'looser' out there and there's a chance to relax a bit more (than in the dugout, which is closer to the action and the watchful eyes of manager and coaches). This falls under the same principle as why certain students sit in the back of the class --- their actions are more easily camouflaged from authority figures.... So there's a little more freedom out in the bullpen. Former New York Yankees great Whitey Ford was known to set up a nice brunch buffet out in the bullpen, complete with table and checkered tablecloth --- you can't do that in the dugout. Also, there are *only pitchers in the bullpen, save for a bullpen coach, who was probably a pitcher in his playing days, and a bullpen catcher, who often isn't a playing member of the team, and, on the assumption that like kinds cleave to like kinds, the bullpen is a pitcher's domain.

Nosebleed seats? Well, this has to do with altitude and lack of oxygen, leading to 'nosebleed' with the 'higher up' seats in the stands. A little overstatement there, but you get the idea I'm sure.
As for 'road movies', what about 'The Last Detail'? That comes immediately to mind.

Anyway, good luck with your blog. I'll be watching....
Albert Onello

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