Charlie Montoyo goes to The Show

Friday, December 19, 2014

Charlie Montoyo. Photo courtesy of the Durham Bulls.

Just a quick note here while the news is fresh. Word came today that Charlie Montoyo, who has been the Durham Bulls’ manager since 2007 and is the all-time franchise leader in wins, has been promoted to the major leagues. He’ll be the third base coach for the Tampa Bay Rays, who have moved field staff around in the wake of manager Joe Maddon’s departure for the Chicago Cubs.

Read More

Dan Johnson in the margins

Friday, July 11, 2014

I flipped on the television at lunchtime and the Tampa Bay Rays were playing the Toronto Blue Jays in a spring training game. In March, the MLB Network showed two or three of these exhibitions a day, an Observer Effect hazard that over time may very well change the nature of spring training, and baseball itself. When will the last mid-career starting pitcher abandon the time-honored, disciplined practice of throwing nothing but fastballs for four straight innings, taking his lumps from hitters purely in order to regain his arm strength and command, because he knows fans will be watching on television when he gives up a two-run double to some unknown minor-league scrub wearing no.

Read More

Bull City Winter: Christmas Shopping, or The Law of the Instrument

Monday, December 16, 2013
Shelley Duncan

Shelley Duncan. Photo by Kate Joyce.

Why put anything on this website at this late date? Bull City Summer is long over. All that remains is the book and the exhibition: the memorial.

As George Mallory said of another mostly unvisited site, “because it’s there.”

Also, some days you feel bereft of all your tools but the most basic, which calls to mind another old maxim: When your only tool is  a hammer… (everything looks like an essay about Triple-A).

Read More

Friction & Discipline: An Epilogue, Part Six (the Last)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Two weeks ago today, the Durham Bulls lost the Triple-A National Championship game to Omaha in Allentown. Immediately afterward, the perfectly healthy Brandon Guyer was informed that he was being transferred to the 60-day major-league disabled list with a “back injury”; and Tim Beckham and Jake Odorizzi were told that they’d be going up to the major leagues the next morning. The following night, Guyer’s replacement, Freddy Guzman, pinch ran in the eleventh inning and scored the game-tying run.

Read More

Monday, Monday

Monday, September 30, 2013

Photo by Kate Joyce.

The final piece of my epilogue is coming tomorrow, instead of today. What follows explains in slightly roundabout fashion why I’m waiting another day to publish it.

My editor and I were in Greenville, South Carolina over the weekend. On Saturday, I visited the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum. The museum is in Jackson’s old house (he lived in Greenville for most of his adulthood), and it’s open only four hours per week.

Read More

Friction & Discipline: An Epilogue, Part Five

Friday, September 27, 2013

Photo by Frank Hunter.


An interesting word, disappointed. It doesn’t mean the opposite of appointed, which is something you say of cabinet members or hotel rooms. Does disappointed even have a direct opposite? It seems to stand alone, an isolated feeling, which suits it.

J. D. Martin had what they call a career year, winning a well-deserved honor as the International League’s Most Valuable Pitcher. He didn’t have a single really bad start all season, although the uncharacteristic run he allowed against Omaha last Tuesday ultimately cost the Bulls the Triple-A National Championship game.

Read More

Friction & Discipline: An Epilogue, Part Four

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Leslie Anderson. Photo by Revill Photographic.

The Orphan

Here is an example of the wide, uncrossable gap that separates Triple-A baseball teams from their parent clubs. The Durham Bulls named Leslie Anderson their team MVP this year (and last year, as well). The Tampa Bay Rays also named a team MVP for the Bulls, as they do every year for all of their minor-league affiliates. The Rays’ choice of honoree wasn’t Anderson. It was Vince Belnome.

Read More

Friction & Discipline: An Epilogue, Part Three

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Brandon Guyer (foreground) and Kevin Kiermaier in the Governor’s Cup series in Pawtucket. Photo by Revill Photographic.

(Part Two. Part One.)

If the Tampa Bay Rays had been at all on the fence about promoting Jeff Beliveau following the Triple-A season, he might have pushed them off of it, to the wrong side, by coughing up the Bulls’ 1-0 lead in the eighth inning of game one of the International League Championship series (he took the loss).

Read More

Friction & Discipline: an Epilogue, Part Two

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Photo by Revill Photographic.

(Part one.)

Immediately after the Triple-A National Championship game ended, the Tampa Bay Rays called up Tim Beckham and Jake Odorizzi. These moves had been credibly rumored for a few days, so they weren’t a surprise when they were made official.

Odorizzi’s callup made perfect sense. He had already been up to the majors twice this year (and once last year, called up by the Kansas City Royals from… the Omaha Storm Chasers).

Read More

Friction & Discipline: an Epilogue, Part One

Monday, September 23, 2013
Wool E. Bull with camera

Photo by Ivan Weiss.

Friction and discipline: the two things you need to tell a good story, documentary or otherwise. You need external friction to cause opposition, tension and sparks, otherwise you just get pretty pictures and glorified advertising copy. You need internal discipline as an artist to do something useful with that raw, elemental energy.

It’s all happening, as they say in Almost Famous. That’s sports: sheer competitive clash and collision; the push and pull of opposites; the action and the friction.

Read More