Jackson Rutledge is making the most of his time at the Alternate Training Site in Fredericksburg, VA. Let us consider, for a moment, the Zoom sweater. Or rather, the ideal Zoom sweater. Will it be thick and reassuring, or thin and wrappable? Pullover or cardigan? Round neck, V-neck or high-neck? These are not immaterial questions. The university ordered residents of Witte and Sellery Halls to quarantine in place Wednesday night due to a high positive test rate for COVID-19 among residents in the two buildings.
Sean Doolittle was impressed with what he saw from Jackson Rutledge when the 33-year-old reliever spent time at the Washington Nationals’ Alternate Training Site last month.
“Incredibly hard thrower,” Doolittle said of the Nats’ 2019 1st Round pick, a 21-year-old, 6’8’’ right-hander out of San Jacinto College in Houston, Texas, who was taken 17th overall two drafts back.
“Huge dude,” Doolittle added. “Fun to watch, I played catch with him a few times and I was like, jeez, man, he’s bringing it.”
When they were able to select Rutledge, Nationals’ Assistant GM and VP of Scouting Ops, Kris Kline, was thrilled that the towering pitcher was still on the board at No. 17.
“When I woke up yesterday, I didn’t think that we’d get Rutledge,” Kline said when he spoke with reporters that June. “But we did, and the whole group is absolutely thrilled to get this guy, 6’8’’, 250, big arm, above average secondary stuff, strike thrower, the whole package.
“He was supposed to go in the top 10, ended up getting down to where we pick, and like I said, the whole group, everybody in that room was absolutely thrilled to death.”
“First round talent and everybody in that room is extremely pleased that he was there when we picked at 17,” Kline added.
“All of his pitches, four pitch mix, they all come out of his hand in the same spot, same arm speed, and he’s got good stuff.”
In his first season in the Nationals’ system, Rutledge made 10 starts between the Gulf Coast League, NY/Penn League, and Low-A South Atlantic League, with a 3.13 ERA, 15 walks, and 39 Ks in 37 1⁄3 IP, but with the minor leagues shut down amidst the COVID pandemic, he’s in Fredericksburg this season, continuing his development as part of the club’s 60-Man Player Pool.
The positives of pitching in such a situation, in what should have been his first full year of professional baseball?
“It’s definitely different,” Rutledge acknowledged when he spoke with reporters on a Zoom from Fredericksburg on Saturday afternoon.
“I mean, just their plate discipline is at another level that I’ve kind of never seen before — where guys will see the ball, just a single ball off the plate, and they’ll be able to spit on it every time,” Rutledge said, “which is something pretty new for me, so seeing those guys and the ability to foul pitches off. If you execute a good slider where you want it to, they’ll still be able to foul it off, and so it’s a little bit tougher to get those guys out, especially the older, more experienced ones, but again I’m learning how to do that and continually getting better at it.”
While the situation isn’t ideal for anyone, Rutledge said the opportunity to spend a year with coaches from the organization giving hands-on instruction in a talent-rich environment has benefits.
“I think there definitely is,” he said. “During a real game there would be a little less room to focus on things that you need to improve, it’s more about competing and getting guys out and it’s still about that, what we’re doing is intrasquad games, but there’s definitely some room to really throw pitches that you wouldn’t normally throw in a competitive environment like a game. For instance, I’ve been working a lot on my changeup, so I’ve probably had a few outings where I’ve had a little bit more volume of changeups than I would in a 1-0 game in an actual season.”
His focus in Fredericksburg, Rutledge said, is, “just filling up the zone and going right at hitters and getting hitters out that way rather than trying to hit corners and be too fancy with things.”
While he’s still working with the same mix of pitches, he said he was, “… adjusting the volume of changeups, being I hardly threw any last year, and I’ve really been focusing on that as kind of the secondary I’m trying to get better at, and then aside from that it’s just been really working on commanding my fastball, getting it in the zone where I want it to [be] consistently.”
“With the command,” he added, “the main focus is just focus. When I’m playing catch I’m trying to hit the guy in the chest every time. When I’m doing plyo balls or whatever I’m doing, I have a target that I’m throwing at. In games I’ve adjusted my rhythm a little bit, I’ve slowed down, tried to really stay over my back leg more, and that’s helped me get better extension and be able to move the ball where I want it to better, and as far as the changeup, the biggest thing that I’ve changed is my intent on it, really trying to throw it off of my fastball at the knees, and kind of let the grip play and change 9-10 MPH and get that different sort of horizontal break on it.”
Rutledge said he’s also picked the brains of some of the veterans at the Alternate Site, and enjoyed talking to Doolittle while the reliever was rehabbing there.
“I got a chance to play catch with him a couple times. It’s definitely cool to kind of talk to him and see what thought process goes through his mind as he kind of works towards improving his fastball and how he did that.
“It was interesting having a conversation about his tempo on the mound and his rhythm and staying on his back side, and stuff of that nature, and I think I learned something from it and hopefully other guys did too.”
There’s also a sense of camaraderie developing among the players there, with several called up already to help the big league club, and more than a few MLB debuts, so the idea that it’s possible for them to make jump, especially this season, is there.
“It’s really exciting,” Rutledge said. “Even from the first guy who got called up we were all gathered in the same room watching it on one of our hotel TVs, and we’re all fired up for each other, and hopefully we get to see some more guys get called up and get their shot this season. And we really are, that’s all we’re here for, is working towards that goal of being an impact guy in the big leagues this year, and it’s exciting when it does happen, even if it’s not yourself. Seeing somebody work and get that shot.”
Author: Patrick Reddington
Zoom-era’s ‘workleisure’ clothing is now a reality
Let us consider, for a moment, the Zoom sweater. Or rather, the ideal Zoom sweater. Will it be thick and reassuring, or thin and wrappable? Pullover or cardigan? Round neck, V-neck or high-neck? These are not immaterial questions.
The Zoom sweater is, after all, the seasonal next wardrobe step after the Zoom shirt: the garment that stays draped on a chair and tossed on for meetings as the long, hot, summer of the pandemic segues into cooler, more unpredictable months.
For some, this may seem liberating: A final declaration of independence from the suit, and proof that after months of dressing for ourselves — and our perch in the corner of the couch — we have been freed from the constrictive suiting of white collar yesteryear (and all the antediluvian fashion rules they represent).
And yet my heart sinks at the prospect.
Here’s the problem: How will we know how we want to dress if we’ve got no colleagues around from whom to take our cues? No role models to emulate? If a tree falls in the woods … and all that.
The other day, I got a text from Virgil Abloh, the designer of Off-White and Louis Vuitton menswear. He had just finished a presentation to company executives, and was sure he’d spent more time choosing between “the million hoodies I own” than most businessmen do on their suits. “It’s an extremely interesting tango: suits vs. quarantine hoodie,” he wrote me. He was trying to figure out how his choices would be read through the tiny boxes on a computer screen, given they weren’t the same choices his far away executive colleagues were making. Would they be jarring? Or a statement of independence of mind? Maybe a bit of both.
In any case, he’s not the only one wrestling with this question.
Lyst, the global fashion search platform, recently noted in its quarterly ranking of the hottest brands that, for the very first time, Nike had come out on top rather than a luxury fashion brand — propelled by a 106% increase in demand for loungewear and activewear as consumers went all-in on comfortable clothes to wear at home.
WHAT THE PANDEMIC
DID FOR WORK WEAR
Workplace dressing has been moving toward casualization for some time — from the gold-buttoned power suits of the 1980s to the T-shirts and Tevas of the early digital age and — ultimately — the mix and match suits-‘n’-floral-dresses-‘n’-sneakers of pre-coronavirus time.
Now the pandemic has accelerated that shift.
But while the charms of all-day snuggle shirts and make-the-best-of-a-bad-situation leggings may have been appealing at first, the joy of secretly breaking dress code rules (no pants!) and tossing on a work-appropriate top at the last minute is beginning to lose its charm.
While it once seemed alluring — and potentially salubrious — for one’s mental health to wear the garb that signaled relaxation to do daily battle with the grim news of the day, it has also lessened the enjoyment of slipping into them afterward.
In the same way that smartphones have made it possible to work at all places and all times, just because you can wear your stretchy old workout gear in front of the computer, doesn’t always make it a good idea.
Or so I increasingly think, sitting in my track pants and slippers instead of the shirtdresses and sari silk blazers I used to wear. I am beginning to believe I can feel my mind getting flabby and fraying around the edges — along with the frayed edges of my T-shirts.
It’s been fun, wallowing in workout gear. But it was a short-term solution. Now we have to figure out what comes next.
DRESS FOR THE MINDSET YOU WANT
There is something to be said for putting on the costume of work: for that slight bit of discomfort that can keep you alert, that tailoring of the mind.
When I was freelancer and worked at home by choice, I made sure to dress and put on shoes each morning before I sat down at my desk — as a signal from body to brain that it was work time.
We all have rituals that serve as psychological cues; we don not just different clothes, but with them, different versions of ourselves.
And so these days, I have found myself staring nostalgically at my old jackets — the ones that sharpened my shoulders just enough to convince me I could batter down whatever barricade life might throw at me, or wrestle an idea or assignment into shape.
There is a reason the suit has survived as long as it has: as Anne Hollander, an art and dress historian, wrote in her 1994 book, “Sex and Suits,” it idealizes and abstracts the body — smoothing it into a modern simulacrum of Greek statuary and making us all feel garbed in a version of our best selves (the kind that can project across even the most cavernous conference room).
And yet, those broad shoulders may read well in a meeting room or lectern, but on a small screen they just look desperate, as if you are trying to hard to dominate. What? The living room? (Well, that, or auditioning to be an anchor/talk show host.)
A few years ago there was an attempt to introduce the term “workleisure” to our dressing vernacular. It did not take off, perhaps for obvious linguistic reasons.
However, as a concept, its time may have come.
Free of the saccharine preachiness of “athleisure,” but with the same implications of comfort, workleisure (a reward to whomever can come up with a better term) is more creative than “business casual,” which was really just a suit with a mismatched jacket and pants.
What are its hallmarks?
First, start with what it is not: anything that might be confused with sleepwear or that you might once have worn to the gym and which was created to wick away sweat. Similarly, it is not anything with too giant a shoulder pad or too corseted a waist; those kind of restricted silhouette-shapers call to mind another, more air-brushed and power-sheathed, time.
Then acknowledge, a new era — which this will be — requires its own signifiers.
For me, workleisure begins with the basics of the off-duty wardrobe (T-shirts, pullovers, track pants) translated in the materials and details of the office. That means elastic waistbands are acceptable, but only if attached to the type of fabric — silk, linen, wool, pinstripes — that suggests a different kind of effort. That, when you catch them out of the corner of your eye, suggest you sit up just a little bit straighter. It means T-shirts fancied-up with embroidery. It means jackets with the structure taken out, so they are more like shirts, but still jackets, and shirts with a bit of slink.
Ultimately, it means the Zoom sweater, but blanket-striped, perhaps with one of the stripes glinting with sequins. And with it, promise.
Author: VANESSA FRIEDMAN THE NEW YORK TIMES
‘It’s really stressful,’ UW-Madison students prepare for online classes Monday as quarantine continues
MADISON (WKOW) — Four days into a shelter-in-place order for students at a pair of residence halls on the UW-Madison campus, new window messages like ‘Let Us Go’ and ‘Help Us’ emerge, while online delivery boxes filled a USPS van outside Sellery Hall Sunday evening.
The university ordered residents of Witte and Sellery Halls to quarantine in place Wednesday night due to a high positive test rate for COVID-19 among residents in the two buildings.
“It’s not fun, especially when the weather’s nice, knowing we can’t go outside and go for a walk,” said freshman Natalie Meath, who lives on the sixth floor of Sellery.
The room next to Meath’s had a sign in the window crafted from Post-It notes reading ‘Prison;’ Meath herself put up a window sign in her room soliciting Venmo donations so she could have restaurant meals delivered to her dorm.
“I’ve gotten three whole dollars from it,” Meath said with a grin.
While an additional 150 UW-Madison students tested positive for COVID-19 over the previous two days, the positive test rate has declined to back below 10 percent.
Students in the quarantined residence halls said Sunday they’re hoping the order will not extend beyond the initial two-week period laid out by Chancellor Rebecca Blank.
“Because things aren’t in-person, it’s very ambiguous through email so we’re still trying to figure out what we can and can’t do exactly,” said freshman Grainne McDonagh, who lives in Sellery.
While University Housing delivered brown bag meals to residents of the quarantined dorms Thursday, it has since designated Gordon Dining Center as the meal pick-up facility for those residents. Students can spend up to 30 minutes at Gordon selecting meals to carry out.
The fleet of Starship meal delivery robots also cruised the short distance between Gordon and the two dorms, dropping off dining hall meals.
While students expressed an appreciation for the upgraded dining situation, they noted others were still opting to go back home. On Sunday, 27 News saw at least a pair of families helping students load up their cars to leave.
“People are leaving every day,” said freshman Ryan Zolkosky. “The group gets smaller and smaller.”
Those who are staying said they hope to remain on campus for at least the entire first semester. They shared concerns about classes resuming entirely online Monday.
“My main concern is when me and my roommate have classes at the same time,” Meath said. “It’s really difficult because we both have to listen and contribute to the classes while being in the same room.”
Meath’s concern was one that came up with other Sellery residents.
“(Classes are) gonna be tough, especially if you and your roommate have class at the same time,” Zolkosky said.
For now, those committed to staying in the quarantined residence halls said their stress stems from the combination of staying in the same building all day, the uncertainly of how the online class structure will work while in the dorms, and their questions about just how long the predicament will last.
“We’re all kind of wondering what the next step after we get out of quarantine will be,” said freshman Isabel Burgos.
University Housing said all students in residence halls are still required to get tested for COVID-19 every two weeks. To enforce the quarantine, only one entrance is open at Witte and Sellery with staff checking IDs at “key times” to keep visitors from getting in.
“Are there gonna be more quarantines like this? What happens after the two weeks? Stuff like that, there’s a lot of uncertainties,” Meath said. “Are we just doing this to eventually get sent home? It’s really stressful.”
Author: A. J. Bayatpour