Thank you for stopping by my blog, which is called either “Barb Caffrey’s Blog,” or “the Elfyverse.”
Why two names? Well, I figured it would be easier for people to find me if they used my name. But I’ve been writing about Elfys, Elfs, Dwarves, and more for the past ten years — thus “the Elfyverse.”
As for what I do here, it’s simple: I talk about anything I like.
I’ve been blogging now for nearly four years. (Here’s a link to my first blog post, if you don’t believe me.) Over that time, I’ve talked writing, publishing, music, sports, current events, politics . . . anything at all that I feel like talking about.
So while you’re here, expect the unexpected . . . because you never quite know what I’m about to say.
Please feel free to stop by any time you like. And tell your friends about all my work, including AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE (Barnes and Noble link is here) and the two stories of my late husband Michael’s, “A Dark and Stormy Night” and “On Westmount Station,” all available at Amazon.
And remember . . . support a real writer.
It’s been a long time in coming, but my first novel, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE (now with a subtitle of “Book One of the ELFY duology”) is now available at Amazon.com and will be available soon at all major e-book retailers.
**Edited to add: AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE has also “gone live” at BN.com (Barnes and Noble’s website), as Paul Howard told me in the comments. If you have a Nook and want to read AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, now’s your chance!
Now back to our regularly scheduled post.**
I’m very pleased that AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE is now out, even though I hadn’t expected it to “go live” on Amazon tonight, of all nights — but as it has, I figured I’d best skedaddle and get a blog post up, pronto.
For those of you who want a sample, please go here and read the first five chapters of AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE . . . then, I hope you’ll go to Amazon and get the e-book, as it’s on sale for a limited time at the low price of $3.99.
Because I’m a new author, and because I’m decidedly not well known, it is anyone’s guess as to whether or not AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE will do well enough to warrant an actual “dead tree” edition (that is, a paper edition).
For all I know, this e-book copy is all that we’re likely to get. So I hope you’ll enjoy it in the spirit intended.
In other words, if you want to read my novel because you’ve been intrigued about Bruno the Elfy and Sarah his human companion and want to know all about Sarah’s house (which is an Elfy trap of major proportions), or if you want to figure out why a Dark Elf would go to Northern California, or if you even want to know why Bruno’s mentor Roberto is worth saving despite being more than a bit of an butthead sometimes, now’s your chance.
I also hope that if you read and enjoy AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, you won’t be averse to letting people know my book exists. Because I need all the help I can get . . . and I’m not shy about saying so.
Folks, lately I’ve been getting tagged — informally or otherwise — by a number of wonderful writers in the hopes that people who otherwise have never heard of me, or my writing, might be interested enough to take a gander at my comic YA urban fantasy/mystery/romance novel, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE.
In this case, I was informally tagged by author Dora Machado, author of THE CURSE GIVER (a great fantasy/mystery in its own right). She told me about the Sisters in Crime Blog Hop (which is abbreviated as it’s shown above: #SinCBlogHop, presumably for Twitter purposes), and that she planned to do it if she could find the time . . . but that whether she did it or not, she felt I definitely should.
After our discussion, I went to the Sisters in Crime page that explains the blog hop, and decided for extra grins and giggles that I’d answer all of the questions — not just some.
So ready or not, here we go!
Question One: Which authors have inspired you?
Oh, that’s easy. The ones who have actively helped and inspired my work include Michael B. Caffrey, my late husband, my mentors Rosemary Edghill, Stephanie Osborn, and Katharine Eliska Kimbriel, and friend and writing buddy Jason Cordova.
Or do you mean the writers I loved to read when I was growing up, who inspired me to tell my own stories? Those include Andre Norton, Poul Anderson, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Elizabeth Moon, and Lois McMaster Bujold.
Those are just some of the many wonderful writers who’ve inspired me in one form or another along the way.
Question Two: Which male authors write great female characters? Which female authors write great male characters?
The female author question is easier for me to answer, because it contains most of the same people I listed above: Andre Norton. Lois McMaster Bujold. Rosemary Edghill. Katharine Eliska Kimbriel. Stephanie Osborn. And Elizabeth Moon. All of them have written outstanding male characters as well as wonderful female characters.
Male authors writing female characters. Hm. Well, in military science fiction, the biggest example of that is David Weber, who has sold a boatload of books in his Honor Harrington series. (So he must be doing something right.)
However, another of my writer-friends, Christopher Nuttall, is also very, very good at writing female characters. His fantasy novels, in particular, are centered around strong, talented young women with heart and spirit, and are a joy to read. (Check out SCHOOLED IN MAGIC or BOOKWORM if you don’t believe me.)
Finally, Michael Z. Williamson has written a number of novels from a female perspective, and he gets the issues right. (For example, in FREEHOLD, his female character Kendra must find a brassiere with excellent support once she goes to the Freehold of Grainne, as Grainne has higher gravity than Earth and thus poses more of a challenge for a busty woman. Not every male author would think about that, much less understand what the problem was; kudos to “Mad Mike” for getting it right.)
Question Three: If someone said “Nothing against women writers, but all of my favorite crime fiction authors happen to be men,” how would you respond?
First, I’d bite back an expletive of some sort. (I’m sure of this.)
Then I’d say, “Wow. You’re really missing out on a lot, then.” And I’d point to Rosemary Edghill’s work (again), this time to her three novels included in the BELL, BOOK, AND MURDER omnibus. Or maybe to her short-story collection FAILURE OF MOONLIGHT.
Or perhaps I’d ask this person if he’s read any of Sarah A. Hoyt’s work, as I’m definitely a SF&F genre writer. Most of her stories have some elements of mystery in there, and there’s a ton of action — guys who love shoot ‘em up thrill-rides should be ecstatic with A FEW GOOD MEN or DARKSHIP THIEVES.
I mean, seriously. There are so many wonderful writers, why must anyone stay with only male authors? Must gender always win out? Can’t we see words for what they are, irrespective of the author’s gender?
Question Four: What’s the best part of the writing process for you? What’s the most challenging?
The best part of the writing process is actually writing. When I have a story and am fully involved in it, the world is a better place — or at least it seems that way while I’m writing.
The most challenging part is coming up with ways to market my writing after the book is done and out. (No, this isn’t part of the writing process, and it’s just as well it’s not. But it’s still so very difficult that I felt I’d mention it anyway. I can see why big-name authors hire publicists.)
Question Five: Do you listen to music while writing? What’s on your playlist?
Yes, I listen to music while writing. It helps me attain “alpha state,” or whatever/wherever it is that I go when I’m writing.
What’s on my playlist? Usually a little Alice in Chains, a little Nirvana, a little Soundgarden . . . and a whole lot of Stabbing Westward. (What can I say? I like 1990s rock. A lot.)
Question Six: What books are on your nightstand right now?
- Peter Brown, THE RISE OF WESTERN CHRISTENDOM
- Michael Z. Williamson, FREEHOLD
- Andre Norton, GALACTIC DERELICT
- Katharine Eliska Kimbriel, SPIRAL PATH
- Rosemary Edghill, TWO OF A KIND
- Sherry Thomas, MY BEAUTIFUL ENEMY
- Stephanie Osborn, A CASE OF SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION (Displaced Detective Series, book 5)
(Note that this doesn’t count all the half-finished e-books on the figurative pile, or we’d be here all night.)
Question Seven: If you were to mentor a new writer, what would you tell her about the writing business?
I’d tell her that publishing is a very difficult and frustrating business, but not to give up. She needs to believe in herself and what she’s doing, and keep doing it as long as it takes . . . push until it gives, and then some.
Because the name of the game in publishing — and in life itself — is persistence. So do not give up.
Don’t ever give up.
This concludes my first-ever Sisters in Crime Blog Hop! And I do hope you enjoyed it! (Normally, I’d tag someone else — as that’s what a blog hop is all about — but as it’s the 30th already, please go check out some of the work of the fine authors I’ve mentioned above instead!)
Folks, some of you are aware that I had surgery a little over three weeks ago. I kept that to myself until the surgery was over, as I didn’t want to worry anyone — besides, as an independent contractor, I couldn’t afford to drive away any potential writing and/or editing jobs.
And some of you are also aware that I have been without a car now for 28 days. My 2010 Hyundai Accent stopped running on September 1, 2014; the cause appears to be a transmission casing which cracked somehow, damage I could not have possibly caused on my own.
These two things have made for a goodly amount of frustration. Walking everywhere in Racine, Wisconsin, is not easy; yes, we have a bus service, but it only runs every half-hour to an hour at best, and is far from the excellent public transit many cities have — including my late husband Michael’s hometown of San Francisco, California.
So when I’ve needed to go somewhere, I’ve had three choices:
- Call for a ride,
- Or do without.
Now, why haven’t I been trying to use the bus system? It’s mostly because I’ve been extremely tired due to my ongoing surgical recovery. The energy I have must be put into whatever work I can do, as again I’m an independent contractor (so if I don’t work, I don’t make any money; if I don’t make any money, I’m in big trouble).
But it’s also partly because I’ve been fighting with Hyundai over who should pay for my car repair. A cracked transmission casing repair costs $2400. I don’t have it. And I’ve been reluctant to set up a Go Fund Me page for a number of reasons . . . partly because I truly felt Hyundai would do the right thing here.
As it stands, though, I haven’t a clue if they will do the right thing or not. It’s now been 28 days since my car’s transmission casing cracked. It’s been over two weeks since Hyundai itself was alerted. And it’s been about a week since the local Hyundai dealership was alerted — they recently changed hands, and they’re the most likely ones to do a repair if any is to be done.
For those of you asking, “What about the warranty, Barb,” here’s the answer to that: I’m about seven thousand miles over the expiration of my car’s warranty. I bought it used at just over 37,000 miles, and am thus not the original owner. So a six-year, 60,000 mile warranty was all I had.
Of course, if I had been the original owner, this would’ve been repaired and replaced weeks ago. Because Hyundai gives a 100,000 mile warranty on the power train, of which the transmission is a part.
But I bought it in November of 2011 (a few, short days before my best friend Jeff passed away) from a reputable used car dealership in Racine County, Autowerks in Sturtevant (next to the Educator’s Credit Union on Highway 20).
I knew something was wrong at the 52,000 mile mark, mind you. And I called Autowerks at that time. But nothing was done because my own garage, Wild Rides (not a Hyundai place, but I trust them), could not find out what was going on. The problem was intermittent, you see, and the car was still running . . . and no one wants to tear apart a transmission that’s still working.
I also drove into the former Frank Gentile Hyundai dealership at the 52,000 mile mark, but wasn’t given any help. All that happened there was that a young male mechanic drove my car (without paperwork being given to me; a grave oversight, and I should’ve demanded it), didn’t find a problem, and sent me on my way again with a messed-up car.
Mind, one of the reasons nothing was ever done was that Autowerks and Gentile Hyundai had a strained relationship at best. Most attribute that to how Gentile acted — and all I know is how I, personally, was treated. (So I’d tend to believe it was Gentile’s fault.)
Anyway, even though I knew something was wrong, I had no idea the transmission’s casing would crack so it won’t hold fluid in it. And without fluid, the car won’t drive anywhere.
My contention is that this car should’ve been repaired at 52,000 miles by the former Hyundai dealership. But they blew me off, my car died, and I believe it should be covered under warranty because I did my best to do the right thing before the warranty expired.
So here I am. It’s been 28 days since my car last worked. I’ve paid auto insurance the entire month, because I’d hoped the car would be repaired by now — but between my surgical recovery and some unfortunate miscommunication, Racine Hyundai (the new dealership) only got my car to do their assessment (required before they’ll help me, or not) this past Friday.
I remain in limbo.
This wouldn’t be so bad if I wasn’t recovering from surgery. Or if my Mom’s health were a whole lot better . . . but I am recovering from surgery, and my Mom’s health decidedly isn’t good. Which adds to the stress of not having a car and multiplies it at least a hundredfold.
Tomorrow I’m going to see if I can take care of some pressing business by bus. I shouldn’t be doing it so soon after surgery, especially considering the lengthy wait between bus routes and transferring and my complete unfamiliarity with Racine’s current public transportation, because it will exhaust me.
But I have no choice. Bills have to be paid. My Mom can’t do much. So I have to do it, whether I’m ready or not, and hope my body will stand the strain.
So why have I written all this? Frankly, I’d like some advice. I’m not at all sure this problem is enough for people to respond favorably to a potential Go Fund Me page. Because it’s not life and death — I admit that freely. But it is incredibly annoying and inconvenient, has definitely hurt my health and quality of life, and more to the point is something that should not be happening, as my 2010 Hyundai Accent Blue shouldn’t have given up the ghost this soon, nor in this way.
What would you all do in this situation, other than continue to go after Hyundai and hope they’ll do the right thing?
Note: I’ve had many cars in my lifetime. This is the first time a transmission’s casing has ever done this.
I know I didn’t cause this. And I believe firmly that Hyundai should pay for it. But I can’t guarantee what they’ll do — but I will keep you posted.
All I know is, if they don’t help me, I think people should never buy a Hyundai. Ever. Because they don’t service what they sell.
Folks, last night I wrote a blog about the Milwaukee Brewers being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. But later on Wednesday, I found out that the Brewers had a very minimal shot at making the playoffs instead.
The way the Brewers can go to the playoffs is this:
- They must win all of their remaining games.
- The San Francisco Giants must lose all of their remaining games.
- Providing those two things occur, a one-game playoff would ensue between the Brewers and the Giants at the conclusion of the 162-game regular season. Whichever team won that one-game playoff would then play the Pittsburgh Pirates in the official one-game Wild Card playoff. (And whichever team won that game would proceed to play the #1 seed among the three division winners; as of today’s date, that team is the Washington Nationals.)
So at the start of Wednesday night’s action, Brewers starting pitcher Kyle Lohse knew it was all down to him. He’s been pitching extremely well lately, though he hasn’t picked up the wins to show for it due to Milwaukee’s offensive woes, and he was by far the best pitcher to take the mound last night against the Cincinnati Reds.
What did Lohse do while under pressure? Why, toss a 2-hit complete game shutout, of course (shades of last year), helping the Brewers to a 5-0 win.
So the Brewers stayed alive another day in the playoff hunt, albeit on serious life-support. The Giants’ magic number (of Brewers losses or their own wins) remains at one, which means the above scenario remains in force.
Thursday’s afternoon game is the season finale against the Reds, and Yovani Gallardo will be going to the hill in the attempt to keep the Milwaukee’s playoff dreams alive. (Is it just me, or is the ghost of Oakland Raiders’ owner Al Davis — he of “Just win, baby” fame — hovering around the Brewers for some reason?)
Providing the Brewers beat Cincinnati, all eyes will be on San Francisco’s evening game against the San Diego Padres.
Will the Padres play spoiler? Who knows?
All I know is that I hope Gallardo wins, because it’s better by far for the Brewers to end their season with a bang instead of a whimper.
The Milwaukee Brewers have officially been eliminated from the playoffs.**
I knew this day would come, folks.
When the Brewers were not able to score hardly any runs in the second half of September, I knew this day would come.
But because hope springs eternal, I had considered some unusual possibilities that might lead to the Brewers making the playoffs anyway. Perhaps if they’d have won all their remaining games, and the Pirates had gone on a small losing streak . . . or if the Brewers had won all their games and the San Francisco Giants had gone on a small losing streak instead . . .
‘Twas not to be.
Anyway, here are just a few of my thoughts as I ponder the fact that my favorite team has been eliminated from postseason play:
- The Brewers were at least one and possibly two hitters short in the second half of the season, and it’s not always because of the same people (though Braun’s injuries definitely didn’t help). The biggest problem I saw, throughout, were the injuries; Aramis Ramirez can’t run any longer (at all), Braun at times could barely run, Scooter Gennett could barely run, etc.But if we’d have had someone consistently mashing at first base — perhaps if Kendrys Morales had been signed in the offseason, as he was the best available first baseman, and had a full Spring Training behind him — I think the Brewers wouldn’t have lost their lead in the NL Central and would still be going to the playoffs.
- What was Ron Roenicke thinking? Where was the urgency? He was always quiet, always understated, while the team sank and sank . . . in 2008, Ned Yost got fired when his 2008 squad did much less poorly than this one, yet Roenicke has thus far kept his job? What’s the explanation for that going to be? (Oh, I can see it now — “No one else could’ve done any better. We’re happy with Ron. See you in 2015.” Yeah, right.)
I’m not too happy with Roenicke’s managerial moves, either, to wit:
- He waited way too long to take some starting pitchers out, and he did this consistently. (Allowing Wily Peralta to get shelled back-to-back in August didn’t help anything, to show just one bad managerial decision.)
- In addition, why did Roenicke leave reliever Jonathan Broxton in so long in the second of Broxton’s back-to-back bad games? (When he did stuff like that, I couldn’t help it; I Tweeted stuff like, “Fire him. Fire him now.”)
Now, why did this team fall apart so precipitously? I blame injuries, mostly. But I also blame Roenicke’s inexplicable managerial moves, mostly having to do with the pitching staff.
Injuries — well, they’ll heal.
But will the team be any better this year if Roenicke stays? My guess is that it won’t.
That’s why I’m urging the Brewers to please, please, for the love of little green apples, fire Ron Roenicke and bring in someone who can instill a sense of urgency. (Much less pull the starting pitchers out a little faster when they obviously don’t have it.)
**Edited to add: San Francisco lost last night, so the Brewers technically can still get in the playoffs if they win all five remaining games, while SF loses all five of theirs. At that point, there would be one of the one-game playoff scenarios I’ve discussed between SF and Milwaukee; if the Brewers won that, they’d then play Pittsburgh in the official one-game Wild Card playoff.
I think there’s very little chance of this. But as Noah Jarosh of SB Nation says, it’s like a lottery ticket — it could happen.
So keep your eyes peeled on the scoreboard tonight.
And, of course, I’ll have an end-of-the-season wrap-up next week, as per usual, with my picks for Brewers’ team MVP, pitching MVP(s), and rookie of the year. Don’t miss it!
On this, the tenth anniversary of my husband Michael B. Caffrey’s passing, I want to discuss something interesting I’ve recently watched. Something I hadn’t expected to have parallels with my husband’s life . . . but actually did.
For those who don’t know much about sports, you may not know much about Jim Valvano. He died in 1993 after a yearlong battle with bone cancer at the age of 47. But even though he’s been dead now for 21 years, Valvano’s shadow continues to linger — in a good way.
Valvano was a coach who believed very strongly in his players, in his team, and in dreams. (Yes, I said dreams.) He believed if you couldn’t dream something and believe it would happen, you couldn’t achieve it. And he actually had his team rehearse things like cutting down the basketball net (something done after winning a very important game, like a national championship), because he wanted them to know deep down to the bottom of their souls that they could do anything.
Valvano — affectionately known by his players as “Coach V” — lived a transformational life.
But what goes into making a transformational life, anyway? Was it the charisma, which is still evident in this speech (at the 1993 ESPY Awards, when Valvano was eight short weeks from death)? Was it the sheer tenacity of the man, who gave as his personal philosophy this phrase — “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” — as part of that same speech? Was it because Valvano was one of the best basketball coaches the East Coast ever produced?
It was all of that, but it was also something more. Jim Valvano made people believe they could do it. He was a positive, inspirational force of nature, with the outsized personality of a stand-up comedian but a heart as big as the Atlantic Ocean. And he made people believe in themselves — not just his 1983 Wolfpack team, but the many people who heard his motivational speeches, read his autobiography, and heard his final major speech at the ’93 ESPYs.
Having a talent like that is incredibly rare.
I’ve only known one person who had it in my entire life: my late husband, Michael. Though Michael was not an outsized personality — certainly not like Valvano, at any rate — he had a presence that was beyond anything I’ve ever known. A certainty, a positivity, and a belief that I could do anything I wanted no matter the obstacle. No matter how many times I might stumble. No matter how many times I might actually fall.
He believed I could do it. More than that: he believed I would do it.
Watching Survive and Advance was both inspirational and heartbreaking for two reasons. One, Valvano died at age 47; Michael died at 46. And two, there were so many things in there that “Coach V” said that reminded me of my husband . . . it’s hard to explain, because Michael’s manner was nothing like Jim Valvano at all.
But the message — the powerful, motivational message — was exactly the same.
The words that rang truest of all were these, again from Valvano’s ’93 ESPY speech:
“”Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever.”
My husband did not have cancer. He instead died of several heart attacks in one day, without warning, to the point his ventricle failed him. But he once told me that no matter what happened to him — as he believed his own health wasn’t all that wonderful — he believed his heart, his mind, and his soul would endure. And he’d never stop loving me. He’d never stop caring about me. And he’d never, ever stop believing in me.
He told me that about a year before he died, when I was about to go in for a needed surgery that I was fearful of, and I have never forgotten it.
I know that Jimmy V’s life was lived in the public eye. Michael’s certainly wasn’t. Michael’s life didn’t touch nearly as many people — how could it?
But Michael is remembered by many. He helped many writers, including the late Ric Locke, with his editing. He helped many people believe they could indeed do exactly what they put their mind to doing . . . and that’s what makes a transformational life.
You come into contact with someone like that, and your whole life changes. It gets better, because you can do more. Even through the mourning, you can still do more. And you get up every day and you try your level best, because you want to be worthy of that belief.
My husband would be astonished that I’d mention him in this particular context, especially as he was also a sports fan. He’d probably see absolutely no parallels between himself and the famous “Coach V.”
But he’d be wrong.
It’s because Michael lived, and was with me, that I continue to do what I do. His loss was so painful that I continue to struggle with it, ten years later . . . but it’s because I knew him, was married to him, and got to see how he overcame his own obstacles that I have refused to give up.
If that’s not the epitome of what a transformational life is all about, I don’t know what is.
Note: If you want to read Michael’s writing — and I hope at least some of you do — please take a look at the two stories I’ve been able to put up as independent e-books over at Amazon: “A Dark and Stormy Night” and “Joey Maverick: On Westmount Station.” These are both stories of military science fiction, though the first is while Ensign Joey Maverick is on leave and participating in a “low-tech” sailing regatta (meaning approximately 20th Century tech) and the second is when newly-minted Lieutenant Maverick is about to ship out for the first time. In essence, the first story is a search-and-rescue story with some romance, and the second story is that of a young officer stopping an unexpected saboteur at a very early hour in a completely unexpected place.
A third story has been started (a bridge story, written by me with some details from Michael’s notes), and I’ve also written two stories in Michael’s universe from a different perspective entirely that are currently making the rounds (if all rounds end up exhausted, they, too, will end up as e-books).
So at least some of Michael’s words continue to live, which is what I vowed when Michael died suddenly. And if I have anything to say about it — if I get enough time on this Earth — all of them will.
The Milwaukee Brewers have had several heartbreaking losses lately. But tonight, in a must-win situation in Pittsburgh against the Pirates, the Brewers were able to pull out a needed 1-0 victory despite starting pitcher Matt Garza’s ejection in the 5th inning.
The game was a nervous, tension-filled one from the start. Almost no one was getting on base for either team, and when someone did, he didn’t score. Brewers and Pirates kept trying to get on; two Pirates (both in the form of center fielder Andrew McCutchen, in different innings) managed to reach after being hit by a pitch. (More on that in a bit.)
Let’s put it this way. Logan Schafer’s sacrifice fly in the 9th inning was by far the biggest hit in the game, as it scored the only run for either team.
So it was a pitcher’s duel throughout. But it wasn’t a usual type of pitcher’s duel at all due to the fact that Brewers starting pitcher Matt Garza got thrown out in the fifth inning after hitting McCutchen for the second time.
Here was the situation. There were two outs. No one was on base. Garza had a 1-2 count, and pitched inside to get McCutchen — who’s famous for leaning over the plate — to step off the plate a bit. (As Garza said later on in the after-game press conference, you can’t take chances with McCutchen as he’s a dangerous hitter — my best paraphrase here, as I don’t have a transcript.)
Now, there is no way in the world that Garza wanted to throw at McCutchen, OK? This is a playoff game of sorts for the Brewers, as they know they must win if they’re to have any chance of overtaking the Pirates for the second and final Wild Card slot. No runs at all had been scored, the reigning National League Most Valuable Player was at the plate in McCutchen, and he’d already been hit once by Garza so Garza knew he had to be careful not to hit him again.
That said, it’s not because Garza hit McCutchen that Garza ended up getting thrown out. Instead, it’s because Pirates starting pitcher Edinson Volquez threw inside twice — two purpose-pitches — to Ryan Braun that both benches were warned. And once the benches are warned, even if a pitcher isn’t intentionally trying to hit another batter, the umpires basically have no choice whatsoever: They have to throw out whatever pitcher actually hit someone.
So we go back to Garza in the 5th inning. It’s a tie game, nothing to nothing. McCutchen is, as usual, standing right on top of home plate. McCutchen is one of the best hitters in the NL, and Garza can’t give him anything, so probably the best outcome for Garza if you can’t get McCutchen off the plate would’ve been a walk.
But McCutchen also is a very fast runner. So if you put him on, you risk him stealing a base or two and creating a run. Which is the main reason Garza was trying to get McCutchen to back off a bit from the plate — that’s the only way Garza has, as a pitcher, to force McCutchen to hit Garza’s pitch. (I know all this “inside baseball” stuff may throw some of you. If it does, don’t worry; just skip to the next paragraph or so down.)
Anyway, because of Volquez’s actions in nearly hitting Braun twice (and throwing in the same place both times), when Garza hit McCutchen twice (albeit in two different innings), tempers would’ve flared and the benches might’ve cleared if the umpires hadn’t thrown Garza out. That’s the main reason the umpires don’t have much discretion in those cases; they are trying to prevent brawls where people get hurt, then the league office ends up fining people and issuing suspensions. And when both teams are still in the playoff hunt (no matter how tenuous it might be for the Brewers), the last thing you want is for someone’s season to end via injury because of a bench-clearing brawl.
So Garza was out, and so was Brewers manager Ron Roenicke (as that’s what the rule is; both must be ejected). The game could’ve turned ugly fast for the Brewers . . .
Except that every relief pitcher who was brought in subsequent to Garza’s ejection, starting with Marco Estrada, put up goose eggs.
Look. I’m a Brewers fan, but I’m also a baseball fan. I understand that McCutchen was hit badly in Arizona on August 2 due to a stupid, intentional action. That nearly ended McCutchen’s season right then and there.
I also understand that the Pirates don’t especially like the Brewers, because for years the Brewers would go into Pittsburgh and wipe the floor with the Pirates. Even when the Brewers had horrible teams that seemingly couldn’t beat anyone else, the Brewers just had the Pirates number, and it showed.
But I also know this: There’s no way, in a playoff hunt, that Garza wants to hit McCutchen right there. It would be a stupid act. More to the point, it would be a senseless one, as he has to know that McCutchen is still upset over the August 2 HBP that nearly ended his season . . . Garza’s job was to get McCutchen out, not to hurt McCutchen.
And Garza said as much in the postgame press conference. He wasn’t necessarily kind about it, as he said, in essence, that McCutchen “isn’t his guy” and that Garza pays attention to what’s happening right now, not what happened to McCutchen back on August 2. But as Garza said, you would have to be “an idiot” to believe Garza was intentionally trying to hit McCutchen under the circumstances — especially as Garza had no way to know at the time that his bullpen would step up and that the Brewers would actually find a way to win this game after losing three heartbreakers.
Anyway, the Brewers 1-0 win has kept their playoff hopes alive. My hope now is that Wily Peralta can come out on Sunday and pitch as well as the rest of the Milwaukee starters have done for the past two weeks, and shut the Pirates right down . . . and that the Brewers offense wakes up enough to win another game.