Nine Innings in Durham

Tuesday, October 1, 2013
watchful boy

Photo by Frank Hunter.

1.

It is easy to feel small on a baseball field. The expansive outfield and steep walls, the distance between each position player lend themselves to entrapment and isolation. To step into the batter’s box is to invite a public, personal humiliation, to throw a pitch is to invite the same. Squaring up a hot grounder is setting yourself up for a vicious hop that will take out your front teeth, or even worse, a short hop that will skip between the dirt and your glove and expose cowardice.

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Lucky Strike

Monday, September 30, 2013
lucky strike

Photo by Frank Hunter.

Josmil Pinto is 7-10 with two doubles and an RBI in his first three major league games.

  • John Sickels
  • From SB Nation: Minor League Baseball

A gray gloveless Rochester Red
Wings coach fires straight balls
from a wire bin, one

after another, splitting the plate.
He stands two yards down
from the mound, behind a screen

that shields him from liners
that would kill him before
he even completes his wind-up.

That close to his batters, his purpose
is to give them what they want.

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Friction & Discipline: An Epilogue, Part Five

Friday, September 27, 2013

Photo by Frank Hunter.

Disappointed

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.

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Personal Histories: Pawtucket Red Sox beat Durham Bulls in game one of Governors’ Cup championship series

Wednesday, September 11, 2013
bull rear

Photo by Frank Hunter.

After last night’s game, in which Pawtucket beat Durham, 2-1, to take the first game of the Governors’ Cup championship series, strong personal histories were in both clubhouses. On the home team side was Brandon Guyer, who was hit by two pitches last night. He missed about a month in July and August when he was hit by a pitch. He was hit fourteen times this season, second most in the league.

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Photo of the Day: Leading the Way

Tuesday, August 20, 2013
boy and girl holding hands

Photo by Frank Hunter.

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The Adopter of the Bulls

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I’ve just picked up Ben Ward from his on-campus apartment at Duke University. He’s a philosophy professor and dean for student development at Duke, where he’s worked for two decades. He’s also co-founder and director of The Pitchforks, Duke’s premiere all-male a cappella group. It’s not surprising that Professor Ward has amassed a huge network of student contacts over the years, but it’s remarkable just how well he nurtures these relationships. He sends out regular email updates, organizes meet-ups with alumni and invites current students to do homework and listen to music in his apartment, where more than thirty-five thousand CDs — most of them classical — line the walls.

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Right Field Jail Blues

Sunday, August 11, 2013
Durham County Detention Facility

Photo by Frank Hunter.

Behind home plate at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, right of the Blue Monster between the Goodmon Field sign and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance Company logo, in the shadow of the tower-tall courthouse that obscures it from the view of DBAP patrons, sits the Durham County Detention Facility. There, sleazy bails bondsmen, frustrated loved ones, pissed-off sheriff deputies, and prisoners of various offenses from drunk and disorderly conduct to murder go about their daily routines.

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Karma, Chameleon: Durham Bulls beat Charlotte Knights

Sunday, August 11, 2013
lemonade vendor

Photo by Frank Hunter.

The Triple-A troika that includes luck and momentum, both of which I’ve been writing about lately, is completed by karma. (Nice little alphabetical run there, k-l-m.) “As ye sow, so shall ye reap” is more or less the western analog to karma (or, more prosaically, “What comes around goes around,” which even Ratt knew).

What last night’s game suggested is that karma and luck are in some way intertwined, or perhaps that karma sometimes disguises itself as luck (chameleon, indeed); or at least that competing karmas — last night, those of the Durham Bulls and Charlotte Knights — can result in strange outcomes such as last night’s, in which the Bulls beat the Knights, 5-2.

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How many Durham Bulls does it take to change a light bulb?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013
light in a summer sky

Photo by Frank Hunter.

The scoreboard light that indicates ball three was out last night, so the home plate umpire regularly displayed the count with his fingers for the players to see. Apparently the Bulls’ Utility Maintenance Squad were deployed mid-game to address the problem, but it turned out to be something more than a simple burned-out bulb. So, no ball threes ever appeared: kind of an appropriate Monday mishap.

Appropriate for the Bulls last night, too.

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And furthermore on BABIP after Gwinnett Braves finally beat Durham Bulls in Durham

Monday, August 5, 2013
kid pointing

Photo by Frank Hunter.

I promise I will soon stop bothering you about BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play; see this for a succinct explanation), probably right after today’s story concludes, just as I promised (and did) about Hamlet back in June. And why not? Hamlet was a high-contact hitter, but he was done in by terrible baserunning instincts.

When you see the same team over and over again, as we have done with the Gwinnett Braves over the last few weeks (but thankfully no more this year!), you get trapped inside certain thought bubbles, and the only way to burst them is to get a new team in town.

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