Being in the bullpen there is one thing that is for certain….you’re going to have some down time. Now there are a lot of things you can do to entertain yourself aside from watching the game. One of the things we do is play games. Word association games, physical games, all sorts. Here are just a few things that keep us occupied.
The first game I played a lot at the lower levels, not so much at AA and above, but the game is called “2 Ball” and it goes a little something like this:
The players who are in the game make a circle, with one person holding two baseballs in their bare hands. That player throws both baseballs with one hand at another pitcher higher than his knees. The pitcher receiving the toss has a job to catch both baseballs, if he does then he’s safe. If he misses one or both of the baseballs he gets a strike (3 strikes you’re out……get it??). If he catches both baseballs in one hand, the person who threw the baseballs is out no matter how many strikes he has. Strikes are kept on the honor system. Throwing the balls is where this game gets tricky and involves the skill, there are ways to make the balls stay together so it’s hard to catch, you can put backspin on them to make them spread out far so it’s out of visual range. You can also go “no look” and change the speed to how hard you throw it.
There is a version of the game that is commonly played at the lower levels as well.
Players make a circle again and instead of throwing both baseballs to one guy, you throw one to one person and one to another. Once you catch a baseball you have to get rid of it right away, and you cannot throw the baseballs to your neighbors until there are 4 players or less. If you drop a ball when it comes into you, don’t worry you still have time to grab it and get rid of it before they throw the next baseball at you or to your spot where you were standing. If that happens, then you get a strike. This variation of the game is commonly referred to as “speedball” because sometimes players get a little too excited at the action and tend to put a little umpf in their tosses around the circle.
A third game that is played with a baseball, usually pre-game while guys are finishing warming up is called “flip” or “flips”
Again guys get in a circle but this time with one baseball and their gloves, and the object of the game is to keep the ball in the air again using your only your glove and “1 volley.” The baseball must be tossed between the other player’s knees and shoulders. Again you cannot “flip” it to your partner until there are 4 people left but if someone flips you the ball you can bounce it off your chest, head, knee, as long as the ball is touched by your glove only 1 times. The goal is to flip the ball to the other player so he cannot volley it to anyone else in the circle. Again 3 strikes and you’re out. Players here have to be on their toes in the circle because when the person next to you and he flips the ball between the person’s legs standing next to him them its 2 strikes to that person, and if he happens to get behind that personal and volley it between that person’s legs from behind them then that person is out of the game! This is one of my favorite games to play because it’s fun and fast paced, but does require a bit of hand eye coordination!
Now these games are fun when you got a little down time or during a rain delay, but there are some mental and word association games that can be played when you’re paying attention to the game in the bullpen. First game is commonly referred to as “The Hat Game”
I’m going to warn you know, this game is pretty dull but it’s still fun to mess with people who don’t know what’s going on. “Ok. I can play the hat game, hat game, hat game. I can play the hat game, can you?” The way it works is you have to say ok before you say anything or do anything with your hat. If you say ok before you go on to your moves then you know how to play the hat game. You will get everyone aggravated and trying to figure out how to play. Basically you take your hat in your hand and do all kinds of crazy tricks with it, do WHATEVER YOU WANT!! As long as you say OK before you start then your good in the game, pass it along when you’re done with your tricks and watch them go. It’s pretty funny to watch people get so frustrated at this game because it’s so simple.
Now we come to my favorite word game, this called “The Travel Game” and for some people is baffles them for years trying to figure out how it works! I will try and explain it the best I can. The travel game goes like this:
How it works is a person gets a city name from someone random and they spell out a team from that city using places they travel too. The number of days you stay in a place refers to a vowel; 1 day = A 2; E 3; I 4; O 5; U. For example let’s use Chicago as the city someone says. Here is how a typical dialogue would go. “I got up one morning and went to California and I really liked it there so I stayed for 5 days (U) then I decided I wants to go to Boston then immediately to Sacramento. Where am I? As you can see the first letters of each place spell out CUBS so you match the team with the city and voila! You have Chicago! This game is really fun if you want to mess with people, because it usually blows them away and they can’t understand it the first few times they hear it!
Although it things tend to get a little groundhogs day-ish just like in every job, we find ways to keep ourselves entertained a little bit and those are just of the few games we play with people too keep ourselves entertained!