Results tagged ‘ Bullpen Mafia ’
Baseball is full of unique traditions that are handed down from veterans to the younger players on the club, and members of the Indians bullpen have their own specific ritual to help break in their youngest member.
When relief pitcher Cody Allen was called up to the Indians for the first time in July, he became the latest in a long line of relievers to perform an important duty for his senior bullpen teammates. Before each game, Allen must haul a load of supplies from the clubhouse to the bullpen, and he must carry them in a pink bag nicknamed “Wahoo Princess”.
Allen’s fellow reliever Vinnie Pestano carried the bag for a time last season, and revealed some intriguing details to TribeVibe: “The youngest guy in the bullpen has to take the bullpen bag down,” said Pestano. “It’s got various things in there – things that are top secret, but keep us busy and entertained and ready to go when we’re in the pen waiting.”
When Allen first arrived in Cleveland he wasn’t surprised to find the bag, which is a well-known commodity throughout the Indians’ minor league teams, and he accepted his role as the unofficial Bag-boy for the team’s bullpen.
“You got to embrace it. You got to have fun with it, and you got to enjoy it,” said Allen. “There are a lot of people that would kill to carry that bag in the minor leagues, so I just try to do the best I can, keep it full with stuff the guys like, and just carry it with pride.”
The tradition has evolved over time, with different players joining the bullpen, and new bags being brought in to keep things fresh. Pestano carried a different bag last season and has watched as new teammates and new bags have been welcomed to the Indians’ clubhouse.
“Last year I had a pink one with Disney princesses on it,” Pestano explained. “We had a different bag at the beginning of the year, but now that Cody’s up – and obviously it’s his first time up – we had Nike make a bag for him, so he’s been rocking that out there every day. It says ‘Wahoo Princess’ on it. It’s just one of those duties – one of those paying your dues kind of things.”
Allen says he is still enjoying his part in the unique Rookie ritual, but would be prepared to pass on the bag-toting duties should a younger player join the ‘pen.
“It would probably be weird the first couple times, walking out there without carrying the bag, but I think I’d be OK with it,” declared Allen. “[The new guy] would inherit the pink bag. They would inherit it, and they would love it.”
The Bullpen Mafia traditionally stops by Dorothy’s Diner, a small concession stand located on the service level of Progressive Field, prior to every home game. The members of the bullpen, led by Tony Sipp, ride a cart to the bullpen and stop to visit Dorothy on the way. TribeVibe chatted with Sipp, Joe Smith, and Dorothy to hear about the daily visit.
Sipp: It just started out as something fun, turned into routine. [We] sit back, just feel good going out on the field every day. I don’t think she has a care in the world; it seems like she’s always in a good mood. We just try to get some of that, get some of her presence. We get the candy every day. I don’t know, we probably eat one or two pieces. We feel like we need that when she’s not here. She missed it twice for her dad’s funeral, and it was like, ‘Aw, what are we going to do?’ We felt lost. It has just turned into a routine and a feel-good moment. It seems like it’s mutual; if not, she’s full of it, she’s a good actor.
Smith: She’s one of us. She’s like our bullpen mother. She makes our day. Dorothy is there to give us candy and tell us to get our stuff together and get going. She tells us, ‘Open up that can, baby.’
Dorothy: It makes you feel kind of important. They are really friendly, really nice fellas, but sometimes they can act like little kids. I give them candy every day, so we laugh and joke. Every now and then, one will want a hot dog or brat. That’s very seldom; they eat good down there [in the Indians Clubhouse]. Tony Sipp will start whistling; he gives a long whistle the whole time they ride down here, until they get to me, and I stop them real slow. They stop, get their candy, and carry on. They get a big laugh out of me, when I tell them, ‘Get out there and open up that can.’
-Megan Golden, TribeVibe contributor
It’s become an unmistakable sight in the late innings for Tribe fans – the high-octane sprint Indians reliever Vinnie Pestano makes from the bullpen whenever he gets the call from Manny. But how does he adjust at a place like the Oakland Coliseum, where the shorter distance to the mound seriously cuts into his cruise control? Why, the ‘Banana Route’ of course!
When did you start the sprint in from the bullpen?
“My first appearance in college, was really pumped to get out there and when our coach called for me I just kind of took off.”
You’ve done it ever since?
“Yep, it worked the first time so I stuck with it. Once you get a couple of years in then people start expecting it. Kind of stuck with it.”
So in Oakland, this has to be the shortest run in the league from the bullpen?
“Without a doubt. You cannot really get up to top speed in that short of a distance. Columbus, when I was down there, is kind of the same thing. What I do in those situations is kind of take a banana route to the mound. Give it a little extra room.”
You ever think about here or in Columbus taking a little loop around 2nd base?
“Maybe do a couple “poles”, you know sprinting foul pole to foul pole, and then a sprint into the mound maybe?? I don’t know how receptive anyone would be to that.”
How about doing a little “Heath Bell” slide from the All-Star Game?
“No, I don’t think I could pull that off. I have, however, been working on a back hand spring, ala what a gymnast does, but I’m a few weeks from breaking that out.”
What is the longest run from the bullpen in the league?
“Anywhere where it is dead in the middle of the outfield like Toronto, Texas, our place, Boston is very long too out in right field. Texas sticks out because it’s so hot. You get loose quick in Texas.”
So when you are day three in a row of pitching in a game do you ever sprint to the mound and say to yourself, “Gosh that wasn’t a very good idea”?
“No usually the third day everything is numb so you cannot even feel anything going into three in a row. That’s the least of my worries at that point.”