Did you know that Golf also uses birds to record scoring? If you’re at all familiar with the game you will be familiar with the term Par. If you score Par it simply means that to put the ball in the hole it took you as many shots as you’re expected to on a specific field of a golf course. These fields are enumerated and called “holes”, as in No. 9 hole at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club, for example.
This par value varies with the length and difficulty of the hole. Typically par is 4 or 5 shots but there are some Par-6 and even rarer Par-7s. If it takes you one shot more than par to put the ball in the hole that score is called a Bogey. If you take more than that you’re simply lame and probably not a professional golfer. But what if it takes you less shots? That’s when the ornithology comes into play.
Birde is the score when you take one shot less than par. The Eagle is the score when you take two shots less than par. Then comes the Albatross when you manage three shots less than par. Finally, you have the rarest bird. The Condor. At four shots under par this score has apparently only been recorded four times as of 2008 (it requires a hole in one at a Par-5 course). Don’t know if any other Condors have been sighted since then. But you know what has been sighted in the last week?
Unlike golf our birds are not celebratory achievements but exercises in rewarding valiant failure.
April 13th. Michael Blazek of the Milwakee Brewers. Primarily Brewers fans will likely recognize this name. I know I didn’t. I was like, Michael who? So yeah, I had to check the stat lines and notice that Blazek has some pretty nice numbers last year for a relatively new setup guy. It’s not like he’s some fireballer that puts away the hitters but overall he’s good at what he does. Life is pleasant for Mike in general. But now, he has given a name to his pain, and it is Brandon Moss. (Phillies fans will recognize him as the journeyman minor leaguer who went on a tear as soon as he left the team). The Pinch Hitter from Hell had two strikes on him after fouling off a pair of heaters, but Michael just couldn’t put him away. Ah, those pitches that we can’t take back. Should have stuck with the fastball Mike. Moss was just waiting for the curveball and crushed it:
But hey, Domingo Santana (yet another name Phillies fans will be familiar with) was there with 9th inning home run heroics of his own so it’s all good Michael. You even got a souvenir out of the experience. Just don’t put much stock in it. Baseball is the only sport where defeat can be officially rewarded in the box score.
April 13th. Luke Hochevar of the Kansas City Royals. Unlike Michael I immediately knew who Luke Hochevar was. He’s only won a world series after all (well as part of the team, not like, he won it personally). He’s also highly regarded as one of the best relief pitchers in the game, part of the famous three-armed monster of the KC bullpen. But even the best can have a bad night. And sometimes, they get bailed out by a savior. No not Jesus Christ but Salvador Perez whose first name literally translates as “savior”. His last name is the Venezuelan equivalent of “Smith” (it’s THAT common). Savior Smith… that has a nice ring to it.
Anyway, that night the force was not with Luke, it was with Altuve who tied the game by driving in Jake Marisnick from third (he was standing there courtesy of a Jason Castro triple). Luke was so mad he used force lightning on George Springer and Carlos Correa to end the inning. Well not really but he did strike them both out. Too little too late. Fortunately Sally hit a two run dinger off Kenny Giles to put the Royals ahead for good and give Luke a pity W. Regretting that trade yet Houston? HA-HA. Oh wait, Kenny is on my fantasy baseball team? Oh my God, Sally Killed Kenny! The Bastard!
April 17th. Jason Grilli of the Atlanta Braves. Jason Grilli was a career middle relief arm when Pitcher Whisperer Ray Searage of the Pirates put him in a calm submissive state and basically converted him into into a quality bullpen arm. Apparently that 1.93 ERA compiled at AAA Lehigh Valley back in ‘11 was an indicator of untapped potential rather than a mirage (And yes, this is yet another player Phillies fans are familiar with, it’s like a high school reunion this week). He had a nice run with the Pirates from ‘11-14 and went through Anaheim before landing with the Barves and is still showing signs of life on the mound even at age 39.
In a game which the Braves were doing their damndest to lose by blowing a 5-0 lead Jason Grilli chipped in with his own effort. Allowing the lead off hitter of the inning to get on base is a sure way to complicate things for your team. Chris Johnson singled and was replaced by pinch runner J.T. Realmuto, whose last name I assume means “Really Speedy Bastard” in Minion-ese (Reh-Al-Moo-Toh). Grilli nearly locked down the save by getting a pair of outs but was done in by non other than the legendary Ichiro Suzuki; whose uniform number I assume matches his current age. He singled in J.T. and went to second base on the throw. Dee Gordon could not complete the walk off so the Barves had to try again next inning when THIS happened:
I swear the Braves just stumble into winning games. They can’t even run the bases right when they’re scoring. With 2 outs I suppose you might as well try to score from third. No point in keeping Peterson there when your batter is caught in a rundown between 1st and 2nd. The real question is WHY Smith went to second on that play. Did he really think Peterson was gonna score on a single from 1st base? Peterson is Minion-ese for “Average Running Man”. Still, despite the awful TOOTBLAN he did drive in the run. That just tells you how useful the RBI stat is.
Grilli didn’t come in for the bottom of the 10th since Francoeur pinch hit for him (and gave the out anyway) so Matt Wisler sealed the deal in a 1-2-3 tenth against Prado, Yelich and Stanton. Yeah, he managed to get Stanton to pop out to second base to end the game. That guy there is the ONLY one on that Braves team to deserve the W. The rest of them were there for baseball comic relief. Really, the Vulture should be collectively shared by Grilli and his teammates.