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Pepper

Baseball's winding season is long enough to allow for stories of all kinds, including the off-beat. So here ya go: Pepper, it turns out, is alive and well.

Maybe I just have a soft spot in my heart for pepper. The baseball team for which I played in high school -- "played" loosely translates into "wore a jersey and watched" -- had daily games of pepper. The game eventually got rough enough, in the fight for every grounder, that it more resembled football, but still, we loved it. (Tertiary Information Dept.: I also have a soft spot in my heart for Pepper.)

As for the Nats?

Here's why Randy St. Claire introduced the game to his pitchers, as he explained:

"Well, just watching the young guys, the way they handled themselves at the plate, on the mound, I thought: They can get better. Those aspects of their game. If you can get a bunt down, if you can handle a ball hit right back at you, if you can turn a double play, it will keep you in a game. Save you runs. Maybe help a team win."

One of those young guys, John Lannan, starts today for the Nats in a two-game series at Shea. (The House That Luis Ayala Will Close). The Mets learned this weekend that closer Billy Wagner, absent for a month already, will not be able to return this season. The upshot, as The New York Times wrote, is this: "For now, Luis Ayala will continue to serve as the team's impromptu closer, with Brian Stokes and Aaron Heilman as options should Ayala falter."

Ayala, if you're curious, never joined the pepper games.

By Chico Harlan  |  September 9, 2008; 8:14 AM ET
 
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Next: Dmitri Young is back

Comments

"Why is there a Redskins article penned by the third-string writer every single day?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 9, 2008 7:47 AM"

That's not the question. The question is why are those articles SO DAMN GOOD?

Posted by: this pastime of nationals | September 9, 2008 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Oh boy, can we please have a piece of the Opener? Or will he continue to do well for a "good" team and prove what a spineless jerk he is.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 9, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

"Spineless jerk"? Where the hell did that come from? Seems like a really low blow at a really decent guy. Did he do something to you personally?
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Oh boy, can we please have a piece of the Opener? Or will he continue to do well for a "good" team and prove what a spineless jerk he is.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 9, 2008 9:19 AM

Posted by: Section 138 | September 9, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

I clicked on all 12 articles on the Redskins page, and not a single Barry article. Guess I'm out of luck.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++
That's not the question. The question is why are those articles SO DAMN GOOD?

Posted by: this pastime of nationals | September 9, 2008 8:32 AM

Posted by: Section 138 | September 9, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, he sucked it up on our team despite all the patience and support he got for a looooong time before people started turning and then THE VERY DAY he got on a team contending for a spot went back to the old lights out form.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 9, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Very cool off-day article, Chico. I also enjoyed the fact that you offered us a look at Detwiler's encouraging performance yesterday, as well as some hope in the bullpen rebuild today.

Maybe it's hard to tell when juxtaposed against Redskins coverage, but I think Nats coverage is starting to offer what some of us have been asking for.

Sure, it's in small doses, but this week has already given us a personality piece, a focus on the minors, and a brief examination of a portion of the rebuilding process.

We'll never be satisfied - and I don't think there's anything wrong with that, honestly - but perhaps some credit is due.

By the way, Chico, I enjoy the heck out of your writing.

Posted by: John in Mpls | September 9, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

"By the way, Chico, I enjoy the heck out of your writing."

I am often confused as hell by his writing. Like this sentence in this morning's opus: "At one point, with Hanrahan holding the fungo, a low liner lasered right between Manning and St. Claire." I'm still trying to figure out what he's saying there. Okay, Hanrahan is holding the fungo. But what is a fungo, anyway? I always thought it was a fly ball hit to an outfielder for fielding practice. So Hanrahan is holding the fungo, meaning he caught the fly? Then how did a liner get lasered between Manning and St. Claire if Hanrahan was holding the ball? So does fungo maybe mean something different than what I thought it did? I looked it up only to discover that in various contexts the word fungo can mean a ball, a bat, or even a batted ball. So after all this research I still have no idea as to what the action was that Chico was trying to convey with this sentence. For that matter, after reading his whole article I still have no clue as to how one would play a game of pepper if one wanted to, even though Chico spent a paragraph or so explaining how the game worked. He might as well have said that St. Claire and his pitchers go out on the field before games and knock the ball around a bit. That would have told me just as much about what goes on there.

You know, I never had this confusion with Svrluga's writing, but it's a daily occurrence with Chico. Maybe I should just stick to reading Svrluga's stellar Redskins reports, which certianly won't add to any confusion I have over baseball.

Posted by: this pastime of nationals | September 9, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Pastime - a fungo is the long thin barrelled bat used to hit fly balls and grounds to the fielders during practice. Therefore Hanarahan was holding the bat and hit a laser at the coaches. Players simply refer to the bat as a fungo without specifying the bat part of it.

Posted by: Forrest | September 9, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

If only there was some place we could find definitions for words we didn't know.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 9, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Pastime,

i must admit, I've never had any difficulty with Chico's writings. In fact, his column made perfect sense today. Maybe a book on baseball themes to familiarize yourself with the game a little more? (I must admit, I've never ran into anyone who played/watched for a long period of time the game and didn't know what a fungo bat was.)

Posted by: Anonymous | September 9, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

506,

I still don't understand where the term "Spineless jerk" comes in. In no way was he either spineless, nor a jerk. He is probably the nicest National I've met these past 3 years, and was taking his bad performance to heart. BTW, I've seen most of his Mets appearances via MLB TV, and his pitching isn't that different. He is moving the ball the same, just seems to have a bit better control. Some guys (I feel) deserve to be called out, but Luis' character shouldn't.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Yeah, he sucked it up on our team despite all the patience and support he got for a looooong time before people started turning and then THE VERY DAY he got on a team contending for a spot went back to the old lights out form.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 9, 2008 10:05 AM

Posted by: Section 138 | September 9, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

"If only there was some place we could find definitions for words we didn't know.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 9, 2008 11:16 AM "

There is, numb nuts. It's called a dictionary, and that's exactly where I looked to try to figure out what Chico meant with the word fungo. I found three definitions, and from context it's still not clear which one Chico intended in that sentence. I guess he meant fungo as in fungo bat, eh? So with Hanrahan holding the bat, a low liner somehow lasered itself off of it? Is that what Chico meant to say? Why didn't he just say "Hanrahan knocked a low liner between Manning and St. Claire" without trying to get all cute and literary with it, then?

Posted by: this pastime of nationals | September 9, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

506,

Cheer up regarding Ayala. I am confident that the mere sight of a Nats uniform will be enough have him revert back to his old lead blowing form. After all, those old ghosts that haunted him can not have wandered far off. With luck we won't be seeing him as a closer anyways.

Posted by: Dale | September 9, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

When I played as a kid we used to have a similar game called 500 for the outfielders. Since the coordination of the players in our neighborhood team was never that great we could stand around for quite a few whiffs from the player trying to hit the ball. This version of pepper sounds a lot less boring than ours was since we were forced to play with but one ball at a time.

Posted by: Dale | September 9, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

I'll defer to you on Ayala's character, 138, since you have both met him and watched him with the Mets. What gets me all cranky about it is here we see a guy who asked for a trade (reportedly), who used to be real good, but had gotten incredibly bad, go to a contending team and suddenly be good again. The logical conclusion was that he was having mental trouble and it seems like that mental trouble was he didn't like being on a losing team and therefore wasn't performing. That's the opposite of professional and would show an awfully weak countenance as well as quite a bit of me-first, none of which add up favorably.

But you say he is different and that's more than I know about him (I only know his stats), so I recant my bitter words. I still hope we knock him around.

Pastime, I was always taught when there are multiple definitions for a word you can use context clues to figure out which one it is. I might use the context that they are playing pepper, established in all the previous sentence ("Five formed a fielding line, and the other -- holding the bat -- stood some 10 yards away") to assume that there might be someone holding a bat hitting to fielders, as if they were playing pepper.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 9, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

"Pastime, I was always taught when there are multiple definitions for a word you can use context clues to figure out which one it is."

Well, I guess it's a good thing you were always taught that, because you seem not to have noticed that THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT I DID. Here's your context: pepper, a game played with a bat and a ball. Here are your three definitions for the word fungo:

1. (in practice sessions) a ball tossed into the air by the batter and struck as it comes down.
2. a batted ball, esp. a fly ball, hit in this manner.
3. Also called fungo bat. a bat used in hitting fungoes, being lighter, longer, and narrower than an ordinary baseball bat.

Context that, numb nuts.

I was always taught that if you're going to be condescending and insulting when you tell someone else that they don't know what they're talking about, it greatly helps if you know what you're talking about yourself first. Guess no one taught you that, huh?

Posted by: this pastime of nationals | September 9, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I would like to note that Chico mentioned that Pepper was a game to practice fielding skills for pitchers, which has nothign to do with fly balls, so #2 does not apply. So you are left with 1 and 3.

Based upon the sentence 506 quoted, it would appear to me that #3 was the better context.

But that's just me and how I read it. On the other hand, I knew what the fungo bat was, I actually didn't know that the balls that it hit were also called fungos.

Posted by: SF Fan | September 9, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

You know, I never had this confusion with Svrluga's writing, but it's a daily occurrence with Chico. Maybe I should just stick to reading Svrluga's stellar Redskins reports, which certianly won't add to any confusion I have over baseball.

Posted by: Condescending and Insulting | September 9, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I don't have a baseball background (which I think is fine), so was also confused by the description.

Needed this video to help me out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDFG6CWH_gE

Sorry for not being as baseball saavy. Some of us really don't know what pepper and fungos are.

Posted by: also confused | September 9, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

No offense, also confused. The difference between you and pastime is that he or she does know.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 9, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

So, what does everyone think about Hanrahan for closer in 09? Assuming no decisions by default, do we keep him in that role? I favor doing so, but am still a little nervous.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 9, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

"Needed this video to help me out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDFG6CWH_gE"

If Chico's going to write stories that require a YouTube video in order for his readers to figure out what he's talking about, then he needs to invent the technology to embed videos in the dead tree edition of his newspaper, so that dummies like me who are reading his story in stall #1 of the office men's room will be able to avoid confusion as we read. Otherwise, y'know, we'll just slide on over to some of Svrluga's excellent Redskins prose.

Posted by: i like to leave the stall enlightened, not confused | September 9, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I was done commenting on this, but this has to get a call out: "i like to leave the stall enlightened, not confused"

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 9, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Does the weather today have everyone cranky? Ouch!

Posted by: The Ghost of Gordon Barnes | September 9, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

If we are to limit Chico to only writing articles that presume the reader has no knowledge of baseball then you might as well ask him to include pictures and only write in crayon.

I too didn't know what Pepper is, so I looked it up. No big deal; I can read and I look stuff up all the time. What is a big deal is that we have a beat writer that has given us a decent insight into the atmosphere in this team, and the training techniques of our pitching coach.

I can't imagine you would criticise the economics editor of the Post if he referred to stagflation without explaining it.

Posted by: Ben | September 9, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

"I can't imagine you would criticise the economics editor of the Post if he referred to stagflation without explaining it."

No, but if he tried to explain it and just further muddied the waters I would. That's what Chico did for me today, he muddied the waters. I went into his article with a vague idea of what pepper is, and came out of it with an even vaguer idea. Excellent wordsmithing or not, that's just plain bad writing. Today is not the first time I've been left shaking my head and wondering after reading an article by Chico Harlan.

Posted by: this pastime of nationals | September 9, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

It is also worth noting that it usually appears as "fungos" in its adverbial usage - that being the batted ball variety.
As in:

"Hanrahan was hitting fungos (sometime fungoes) to Milledge after the game."

For the record Chico (the writer, not the pitcher who will return one day), I prefer the "cute and literary." But then, I don't read Redskin's stories either.

Posted by: lowcountry | September 9, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Can't we all just get along?

Posted by: Fred Rogers | September 9, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Fred makes the best point all day.

Pastime, sorry. I took a cheap shot. I apologise.

And in the vein of cheeriness, anyone else read about Detwelier turning a corner on his season. Promising sign? Bowdenesque hyping? Has anyone on this board watched him? The suspense is killing me.

Posted by: Ben | September 9, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Who is the Detwelier guy?

Posted by: NR Ross Detwiler | September 9, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

[quote]It is also worth noting that it usually appears as "fungos" in its adverbial usage - that being the batted ball variety.
As in:

"Hanrahan was hitting fungos (sometime fungoes) to Milledge after the game." [/quote]

I'm no English major, but even I know that fungos (or however you want to spell it) is a noun in that sentence, not an adverb.

Here's an example of an adverb: The last word in the sentence "Wily Mo hits winning walkoffs weakly."

Posted by: now, please excuse me while I go have a good cry | September 9, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Once again, this is what happens when you don't have copyeditors.

I didn't have any trouble with the pepper story, because I already know what pepper is, but I think pastime's point is a valid one, notwithstanding how quickly the discussion went negative: good journalism assumes no special knowledge from readers of a major metro daily.

Joe DiMaggio supposedly said he went all out every play, because there might be some kid in the stands seeing him for the first time. That's the standard. That's why Charlie and Dave should give the score more often--because somebody just tuned in.

But I just went back and re-read it, and Chico seems to have explained it plenty:

"baseball's classic skills game ... baseball's quintessential pregame image, where a batter peppers a loose line of fielders with close-range grounders, on and on, until the ball is pin-balling back and forth, going from glove to fungo in rapid-fire."
"Bergmann ... explained the game, as the Nationals have adopted it. A line of fielders needs to scoop the grounders cleanly. If you make an error, you retreat to the end of the line. If you catch a line drive, you take a turn at bat. Batters score by knocking the ball past the fielders, though they can't hit it too hard. Ideally, Bergmann said, between four to seven play."

You could quibble with the arguably choppy narrative thread, I guess, but I think you could come up with a reasonable version of pepper from what's there; it's not like there are Official Rules of Pepper--it's a drill. The article might make some people want to learn more about the game, and that's good writing.

Posted by: CE | September 9, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

NR Ross Detwiler

You must be very popular at parties.

Posted by: Ben | September 9, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

i r teh advurb.

Posted by: fungoely | September 9, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

With regard to next year... I haven't decided whether I'd prefer Chad flirting with disaster or Joel. I think Joel can bring it a little faster than Chad. Maybe working with St Clair a little more would help...

Do you think we will get the WMP of several years ago (25 HR), now that he has had his surgery? It would be real nice to pair WMP up with ED... (and possibly Texiera). Washington's version of the Bash Brothers!

Posted by: Section 304 | September 9, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Fungo is my middle name, although I rarely use it on legal documents.

Posted by: nr Aaron F. Boone | September 9, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

OK, who wants to tell 304?


***************
With regard to next year... I haven't decided whether I'd prefer Chad flirting with disaster or Joel.
Posted by: Section 304 | September 9, 2008 2:08 PM

Posted by: ce | September 9, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

How about the job Hinkley is doing so far? Might he be a candidate for closing?

Posted by: DCFD | September 9, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

"With regard to next year... I haven't decided whether I'd prefer Chad flirting with disaster or Joel."

I'd rather see Chad flirting with Joel.

Posted by: not that there's anything wrong with that | September 9, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Chico, thanks for your "literary" articles.

You do a great job of maintaining interest (at least some of us) late in a dead season, looking for good stories and cleverly describing what happened and how it felt.

Its great to read your stories even when we lose.

Posted by: Natty Dread | September 9, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

I fear that those 33 years w/out baseball in DC are coming home to roost.

I might suggest that anyone confused about language and idiom re: baseball troop over to Garrett Park, MD and pound on Paul Dickson's door. He wrote the Baseball Dictionary. I might also commend to you his book about keeping score. It is a true gem.

This is not a paid advertisement. I just like his stuff.

Posted by: Catcher50 | September 9, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I was in muddied waters, too. I took fungo to be the plural of fungus and thought it odd for professional baseball players to train using eukaryotic (thanks wikipedia) organisms.

For those confused by Chico's articles...this may be more helpful:

http://tinyurl.com/yzt6wz


Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | September 9, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I would be real surprised if Hanrahan was using a fungo(bat) in pepper games. In pepper you normally use a regulation bat and choke up for better bat control. With the thin handle of a fungo bat, to choke up to place good wood on the ball would have the hitter hitting himself in the stomach with the handle, and if he din't choke up would have a high probabilty of breaking the bat on an inside throw.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 9, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I am seriously considering making the drive Thursday night to see him (how ever you would like to spell his name) throw in game 3 of their playoff series. I just highly doubt I could get down 270, across 495, and down 95 in time to see the game if I leave Rockville at 5-ish. Anyone have any experience going from Montgomery County to Woodbridge in rush hour?
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
And in the vein of cheeriness, anyone else read about Detwelier turning a corner on his season. Promising sign? Bowdenesque hyping? Has anyone on this board watched him? The suspense is killing me.

Posted by: Ben | September 9, 2008 1:56 PM

Posted by: Section 138 | September 9, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

BTW, Dale,

I would suggest that your note about 500 is right on target. Frankly, a few dozen hours of 500 would certainly turn Milledge into a much better CF. Maybe with Marrero and a couple of others.

Posted by: Catcher50 | September 9, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Lost in the inane ( use a dictionary for this one), argument -- a losing season, BUT Randy St. Clair still finds a way to help the pitchers improve their skills and HAVE FUN - he is using their natural competitive drive to make them get better and they get to play a GAME for a LIVING!!! Also -- he beats them. Let's hear it for the middle aged people!!!!! I think you are too caught up in the details of the game and have missed the message. I SO wish I could watch them.

Posted by: masnstinks | September 9, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

"Anyone have any experience going from Montgomery County to Woodbridge in rush hour?"

"Experience" is the right word.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 9, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

"I SO wish I could watch them."

I SO wish you could watch them too. And then I SO wish that you could write a story about it that didn't leave me confused. I'd even pay 50 cents to read it in the dead-tree edition.

Posted by: after I finished reading Svrluga's Redskins article, of course | September 9, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Pepper? Was that the name of Angie Dickinson's character in Police Woman?

Posted by: PTBNL | September 9, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Obviously, preferences differ. But the point of my post was hammered home by masnstinks - this was a good article because it gave us that rare look at the personalities of guys like St. claire and Bergmann that are often lost in the grind of a losing season.

Yesterday was an off day, and Chico could have written about nearly anything. He chose to show us something we wouldn't normally see, something that is uniquely baseball (to make the noun into an adjective), yet something no one else in baseball currently does.

I never played baseball. I've heard of the "No Pepper Allowed" signs, but I wasn't sure what the game was or why it wasn't allowed. I still enjoyed the article, and felt like Chico's writing style made it that much more enjoyable. I also learned something.

Again, it's just me, but I think the nature of baseball is such that, unlike other sports, it lends itself well to a more literary prose. Baseball writing is like no other sportswriting, and for reasons too numerous, varied, and nuanced to enumerate. It takes a certain kind of writer to cover a baseball beat. Barry certainly understood that. And I really do think Chico gets it as well.

Then again, I was a lit major. Something about the alliterative "low liner lasered" pleases me, and I know that makes me weird. If the sentence was cumbersome (and again, adults can disagree), the editor should have fixed it.

What sucks is that, amidst a losing season, a bevy of injuries, front office mismanagement, and juggling Post coverage, we've become snippy and bitter. We used to be snarky and biting, which I guess is only slightly different. But we didn't used to resort to pejoratives with such frequency.

Listen folks, we're not Phillies or Cubs fans. This is DC, where more employees use the title "honorable" than any other city in the US. Even our pimps are called madames.

We're better than that.

Posted by: John in Mpls | September 9, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Say what you want about the pepper fight, at least it provided a little extra spice today...

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 9, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Stick a fork in this season. It's done.

Posted by: 756* | September 9, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

The Newark Pepper was a Federal League baseball club in Newark, New Jersey in 1915.

Barry Pepper played Roger Maris in the HBO movie 61*.

Dr. Pepper is served at many baseball facilities. It was patented in 1885, meaning both Barry Pepper and members of the Newark Pepper could have enjoyed the beverage at one time.

-----

Pepper? Was that the name of Angie Dickinson's character in Police Woman?

Posted by: John in Mpls | September 9, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

A few comments on this thread. I generally like Chico's writing, though for those few games I don't watch, I sometimes I wish there was a little more in the gamer about the game. This morning's article was entertaining but I admit I wasn't clear about how this version of pepper is played. Bergmann talks about going to the back of the line when you make an error, but then Chico describes two or more players to get to the batted ball first and a line drive going between two players. So are the players in a single file line facing the batter, or are they in a line spread out in front of the batter. And if the latter, then what does going to the back of the line mean? Also, is there more than one ball in play at a time, and does the batter hit the ball that is "pitched" back to him, or does he hit them like fungo balls in fielding practice?

Finally, I'm so glad everyone loves Svrluga's Redskins articles, but why can't I find them in the online Post? Is he using an alias?

Posted by: Section 222 | September 9, 2008 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I liked the Pepper article. It provided almost as much insight as Barry's Pulitzer-quality piece on wins by the 2008 Redskins.

I wonder what would happen if you tried to score a baseball game using using the rules for 500. (Ours were 100 points for a fly, 75 for one bounce, 50 for two and 25 thereafter.)

Also, the P-Nats won their playoff opener 15-0! Lannan goes against the Mets tonight (this is as close as we get to playoff baseball at the MLB level, for now). The Opener is now The Closer.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 9, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I look forward to Chico's day after an off day pieces. He does round out our understanding of the team.

I do think its cool how St Claire is getting the pitchers to work on skills and bond. It may be telling that Chico adds at the top of the post that Ayala did not participate. Maybe it is just a veteran thing. The drill seems more targeted at teaching a skill to the young guys.

I sometimes wonder if the hold over players from Montreal have sensed they are at best on probation and more likely candidates to be spun off.

Posted by: PTBNL | September 9, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

PTBNL, I think they're just all hoping that they're "Maude" and not "704 Hauser"

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 9, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I remember the "NO PEPPER" signs, but could never figure out why a game involving hitting groundballs was forbidden in parks that left spectators exposed to line drive foul balls. (Love the safety netting in Atlanta, and MLB should have it everywhere.) Thanks, Chico! It was the grounds crew who didn't want the diamond chewed up by games of pepper! That's something I always wanted to know!

Posted by: flynnie | September 9, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Bonaficio, Dukes, Milledge,Gonzales and the other speedsters can warm up with a game of "hot box".

Posted by: Dale | September 9, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Peppery prose perplexes Pastime's perceptive powers.

Posted by: N@sfan | September 9, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Flynnie makes a good point. I have actually seen a few "no pepper" signs left at HS / Park fields. I, too, have wondered why the prohibition.

Anyone out there know?

Posted by: Catcher50 | September 9, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

I really liked today's piece. To be fair, I had to read the now-infamous "laser" sentence twice to make sure I was on target, but having played baseball, and pepper, I knew what was going on.

I've really warmed to Chico's writing, and you can almost chart his growth in baseball knowledge, which I take as a testament to his desire to please we rabid few (er...9,000+).

Also, I would like to echo John's sentiments, why the anger? It sounds like we're in the middle of a big losing streak, just without some potshots at the Lerners. We have won/split a few series straight, the young kiddos are performing and seemingly bonding (see Pepper). Isn't all well in the Natmosphere for now?

Posted by: NattyDelite! | September 9, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Erm, ND, isn't it the 9000-? didn't some posters swear off the Nats during the losing streak?

Posted by: SF Fan | September 9, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Chico, can we get the lineups for tonight please!

Posted by: Pablo | September 9, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Well said, N@sfan.

Pastime = nattering nabob of negativism

(at least today)

########


Peppery prose perplexes Pastime's perceptive powers.

Posted by: N@sfan | September 9, 2008 4:04 PM

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 9, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

"Well said, N@sfan.

Pastime = nattering nabob of negativism

(at least today)"

So I post this morning saying why I am often confused by Chico's writing, get jumped all over by this numb nuts 506, decide to defend myself from what seemed to me to be an unwarranted attack on my intelligence, keep foolishly trying to defend myself as I continue to get piled onto, and *I'm* the negative one? Okay, I think I begin to understand this blog. If you don't want to suck up to Chico Harlan, don't post. Is that it? Why not just rename it "Kissing Chico's Prostate" to keep folks like me from being led astray by what it says below the "Post a Comment" heading?

Posted by: this pastime of nationals | September 9, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Dude, you totally set yourself up for the snark. It was a hanging slider, up in the strike zone. I would have been negligent in all standards of snarkdom to not mash it.

You take your lump and you look to dish some serious snark back next time, sheesh, it wasn't dirty at all.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 9, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

NattyD - so nice to have you chime in - I am in agreement. It's been a long season, but cheer up and chill out! Let's see if the Nats can repeat as spoilers this year.

Posted by: Patty | September 9, 2008 5:20 PM | Report abuse

"Okay, I think I begin to understand this blog. If you don't want to suck up to Chico Harlan, don't post. Is that it?"

Yes, that's it.

Now go away and take your numb nuts with you.

Posted by: joebleux | September 9, 2008 5:26 PM | Report abuse

this pastime of nationals,

Perhaps if Chico had started out with a step by step explanation of pepper then you may have had a clearer picture. I had to read the post twice to understand which form of pepper he was referring to but I did manage to piece it together in my own mind at least. The reference to the you tube video was worth more than any textual explanation. I enjoy Chico's lively prose but it comes at a price. The cost is simply that he is not going to provide you with the entire picture of a game, he leaves that up to you, dear reader, to seek out by any other means possible. (I am a devotee to reading the box score.) There are those who base their entire nomme de plume on the fact that Chico can not adequately cover all the facets of the game and the team himself. Like others, I am grateful for what we have but I crave more.

Posted by: Dale | September 9, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

"Now go away and take your numb nuts with you.

Posted by: joebleux | September 9, 2008 5:26 PM"

No problem. I'm sure I'm not the first one you louts have driven away, am I?

Posted by: this pastime of nationals | September 9, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

How are you going to post on a blog with thin skin? Really. Where are you going to go to find nicer bloggers? RI? The Fix?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 9, 2008 5:34 PM | Report abuse

How are you going to post on a blog with thin skin? Really. Where are you going to go to find nicer bloggers? RI? The Fix?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 9, 2008 5:34 PM

...or more grammatically sensitive bloggers?

Posted by: Dale | September 9, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Hey Pastime --

You were the one that made it negative. Go back and re-read the posts. You (rightfully) posted that you were confised by Chico's story. 506 replied in a (rightfully) snarky way. You took it to a whole other level when you used derogatory terms in your repsonse to 506:
------------------------------
"If only there was some place we could find definitions for words we didn't know.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 9, 2008 11:16 AM "

There is, numb nuts. It's called a dictionary

Posted by: this pastime of nationals | September 9, 2008 11:25 AM
------------------------------
I don't wany anyone to leave this blog, but if you can't take the snark and then get rudely dismissive about it, then have a good time wherever you go ...

Posted by: just sayin ... | September 9, 2008 5:43 PM | Report abuse

What you should have replied with:

Section 506 (proper noun, orig. RFK Stadium seating area) - A poster who thinks he's more clever than he really is. See also: numb nuts.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 9, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

I would also add to the definition:

2. The Blog Son, though not by birth, of the Blog Father, Barry Svrluga, who's primary goal is to maintain a Snark Rating of 5.3 or higher on the B.S. scale.

Posted by: NattyDelite! | September 9, 2008 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Yo!

Posted by: New Post | September 9, 2008 6:29 PM | Report abuse

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