Larson: The Boatload Mentality

From SABR member Greg Larson at Scarlet Leaf Review on March 1, 2017:

They say the true fireballers throw so fast that when a batter fouls it straight back he can put the bat up to his nose and smell the wood burning. This only happens when the hitter just misses crushing the ball—it spins so ferociously that the momentary friction of the leather and seams against the maple grain of the bat creates a burn. On July 3rd, 2012 Enrico Jimenez didn’t light any bats on fire.    

Enrico came off the mound to a chorus of boos from the record-breaking crowd of 6,904, most of whom were only in attendance to see the post-game fireworks, given the IronBirds’ 5-10 record and history of futility. The Baltimore Orioles’ Short-Season Single-A affiliate had, in its ten-year history, nine losing seasons. The team had failed to live up to the standard of greatness set by its owner, lifelong Oriole Cal Ripken Jr., who holds one of baseball’s most hallowed records: 2,632 consecutive games played. The feat granted him the nickname Iron Man. The IronBirds were named in honor of Cal and his tie to the Orioles (nicknamed “the Birds”) as well as a nod to the Aberdeen Proving Ground just east of Ripken Stadium on the Aberdeen Throughway, where the fighter jets are nicknamed iron birds. The team logo was a cartoon airplane with eyes, a mouth, and a number 8 on its fin in honor of Cal’s number when he played for the Birds.

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Originally published: March 27, 2017. Last Updated: March 27, 2017.