Over the course of a 162-game season, some basic napkin back math estimates that Major League Baseball relief pitchers spend about 324 hours per year cooling the bullpen.
This comes out to 13 and a half days. Sometimes they sit on folding chairs, sometimes they have a nice bench and some places they just leave their thoughts in the hot sun.
Helpers are friendly, resident guests of any group. The mental makeup and physical isolation they have with their teammates to make it to the end when the game is up to you makes for a different kind of guy.
Ask around the Yankees and Mets clubhouses for the criteria for what makes a good bullpen — the physical space, not the pitchers who sit in it — and you’ll get those weirdos right.
“It’s a climate-controlled place,” said Mets setup man Adam Ottavino. “Sometimes it’s cold. [outside], sometimes it gets hot. When you’re sitting there, you don’t want to deal with that. So that’s the big thing. The visuals of the game are good. Many places, you can not see anything, which kind of wash. Those are the first two, and you know, a nice bathroom.
“To me, I think you want to have some kind of fan interaction, but you want to find your place,” said the Yankees’ Clay Holmes. “Heroes are my favorite. Boston, you can’t get away with anything, and there’s not much room to move.
Not being able to see the field, or having a clouded view of it, was a common response to a bad bull experience. The room approved by Ottavino, with either air conditioning or heating, depending on the time of year, seems to be perhaps the most important aspect of the good.
Talking about popular and less popular bullpens was like throwing noise into shark-infested waters. Once the subject was spread, the other Bull residents couldn’t handle it.
“I don’t like Minnesota,” Matt said. “Detroit is far away.”
“Tampa and Oakland, those aren’t bullpens,” said the Yankees, taking a post shot at the league’s two remaining bullpens, not in the outfield.
Of course, when it comes to time spent in a given bullpen, players look to their team’s schedule and division. One person’s favorite was not registered for someone in the opposite league who probably only spent three games there. The new setup at San Francisco’s Oracle Park and the center field setup at Cleveland’s Progressive Field have been cited as one of the worst in the league. They love everyone at Yankee Stadium. The Petco Park bullpen in San Diego is considered a gem. Seattle was one of the consensus favorites for its heated seats and ability to communicate with fans.
“I like Seattle,” Mets middle reliever Michael Givens said. “The fans are there, but I’ve never had any problems with them. They are not bad.”
The Mets’ 36-year-old Tommy Hunter, who has more than 12 years of MLB experience, immediately named Seattle number one because of the fans’ ability to stand within an inch of him.
“S–I love to talk and I love when people talk to me,” Hunter explained. “We’re really good, to be honest we do it every day for eight months of the year. Sometimes the fans come and talk trash, but they only do it once. We do it every day.
The Milwaukee pen was praised by one veteran for its good vision, and he advised Detroit to have the occasional watering hole. Those in their least favorite bullpen spent hours hating him from the inside.
“Houston, you’re in the cage,” Ottavino said to a nearby teammate. “It’s a mosquito-infested house with dust on the walls and you have to be careful when peeling. Something must have bitten you.”
The Yankees’ Lucas Luttage said he had never thought about such a thing before: “There are bad ones,” he said. “Nobody wants to get hot on the field. You throw a past ball and it stops the whole game. You can’t heat freely as much as you want.
Now in his second year with the Mets, Trevor Williams has developed a natural disdain for Philadelphia.
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“Philly, you have a great view, but you’re three miles from everything. “The best way to describe the Philly bullpen is like an open-air exhibit at the zoo. We are on view. Have you ever seen meerkats at the zoo? You can see them and you are eye level with them. That’s who we are.
Williams listed the ability to hide as one of his favorite qualities. If an indoor room is too isolated, even though he says Wrigley Field, the feeling of running from silence to the sound of a crowd can be overwhelming. The orientation of the bullpen at Citi Field connects the seating reliefs to the right-center field fence, eliminating many valuable viewing angles. Hot on the mound, meanwhile, is their comebacker.
“We can’t look at the numbers or anything,” Williams said before explaining how the Mets’ relievers are eating up a game. “We look through the windows to any room [is near us] in the field. We watch their television to see what happened.
One thing that united both Yankees and Mets relievers was their architectural beef with Camden Yards in Baltimore. They described with trepidation the sensation of touching the cobblestones between the relief jar and the entrance to the field.
“Baltimore, when the rocks come down, it’s awful,” said Hunter, a former Oriole who had 104 relief appearances at Oriole Park. “I think this is my number one favorite bullpen. You have to be careful when you go to that thing.
“It’s an amazing leg,” Holmes said. “It just bothers me, little pet.”
It didn’t seem very high on the to-do list last summer, so hopefully the relief pitcher pet peeves will be addressed in the next collective bargaining agreement.