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A Beginner’s Guide to Bird Sweeping

a fun activity for the whole family

Baltimore Orioles v Seattle Mariners
Smith and Iannetta demonstrate proper bird-sweeping technique
Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Oriole sweeping is a beautiful, traditional pasttime that has been largely neglected by today’s millenial-staffed MLB clubs. With just a few simple tools, you too can get started with this classic American activity.

You will need:

  • Access to a television, radio, or a seat in the lush greenery of Safeco Field (access to Twitter is optional. Sometimes the loud noise/heat of takes scares the birds)
  • Beverage of your choice
  • A starter who can give you 6+ innings
  • An opposing pitcher struggling with control
  • A lineup of hitters who rake even if apparently they don’t merit notice on the eastern seaboard
  • A collection of opposing hitters who are blinded by the beauty of classic cream


  • Step One: The Oriole is an aggressive bird, known for chomping at the first pitch offered. Have your starter take advantage of the Orioles’ natural impatience by inducing a ton of first-pitch swinging popups, flyouts, and foul outs. Get through the first three innings with no runs and three hits. Get some support from your All-Star second baseman who shows up the Oriole with an falcon-like grace:

Step Two: When confronted with the bottom third of the order, the Oriole becomes confused and disoriented. Patience will reward Chris Iannetta with a five-pitch walk, followed by a bleeder base hit from Ketel Marte on a 1-2 count, followed by a beautiful sacrifice bunt from Leonys Martín that will startle the Oriole stationed at third base into abandoning his perch. The bases are now loaded for the Orioles’ natural predator.

No not that...

Not that one either...

That’s the one! A fun fact: before today, Seth Smith had never hit a grand slam in his career. Another fun fact: Seth was in an 0-2 hole, having had a first pitch called a strike which caused Blowers, disgusted, to mutter, “that was WELL off the plate.” Seth then swung mightily at the next pitch and whiffed, putting him into an 0-2 hole and in danger of not putting up a professional at-bat. And then...

I don’t even mind the #PAPASLAM tie-ins:

With that home run, Smith not only gave the team the lead, but made some Mariners history:

Now that Seth has accomplished this, if Guti can squeak out another dinger before the break, the M’s will become one of only four teams to have eight or more hitters with double-digit homers before the All-Star Break. That’s the high-octane offense we saw at the beginning of the season.

Step Three: Toy with your prey by allowing them to score a run on a Trumbo Jumbo (Ben Franklin wanted Mark Trumbo to be our national bird, you know). Grant them two more runs on a dumb bunt base hit and then another base hit turned into a double by your normally sure-handed center fielder, followed by a hit rifled down the left-field line to make the game a one-run affair. Then have your starter make himself look very big and scary suddenly and frighten the most agile and beautiful Oriole, the one wearing number 10, into attempting to bunt for a base hit (???) and then popping it up (??!!!) to be caught by your sure-handed-if-not-as-great-at-pitch-framing catcher to end the inning.

Step Four: Distract the Oriole with a bird with even finer plumage who is also known as a predator of flying things. The Oriole will issue a walk. This will bring up Chris Iannetta, who does not chase garbage (his 20% O-swing rate is 10 points below the MLB average), and despite being in an 0-2 hole to begin the at-bat will work the count until he gets a good pitch to hit and finally the BABIP gods reward him with a hard-hit single right out of reach of a diving Chris Davis. Ketel Marte would then get a hit in about the same place, but because Ketel has wheels his was an RBI double scoring Guti and moving Iannetta to third. This will thoroughly discomfit the Oriole on the mound, drawing the world’s most obvious balk (my mom: “oh so that’s what a balk is.” Thank you for this object lesson, Ubaldo). 6-3, Mariners.

Step Five: In the seventh inning, after giving up a base hit for a somewhat-disturbing total of ten hits on the day, it is time to intimidate the Orioles with a new and different predator. One that throws high-90s and the long, elegant appendages of a bird of prey. Something like:

Yeah, like that. After allowing a hit to Hyun Soon Kim, Díaz would come back to K Machado and Davis before allowing a hit to Trumbo that blew Ketel up like he was Charlie Brown, scoring Jones from third. Then Díaz put on his hunting cap and went after Jonathan Schoop:


Step Six: Joaquin Benoit, who runs his own bird rescue, was getting loose, so the heart of the Mariners order obliged fans’ cries for some run-padding with a Canò single, a ground-rule double from Cruz that just missed being a home run, and then an RBI double by Kyle Seager, who just renewed his hunting license. However, it would prove unnecessary, as Benoit worked a competent inning and then Vidal Nuño came in to close things out in the ninth, and ignoring animal cruelty laws everywhere, dismissed the birds on approximately ten pitches, securing the sweep. Bird sweeping: it’s a fun family activity, one you can even enjoy with your dad:

Ethan tweeted this yesterday, but it’s even more relevant today:

Mercy me, how fun was this. Let’s keep the biz times rolling.