It's OK if you don't know Charlie Furbush

So you’re a baseball fan, and you’re feeling guilty because you think you know the game pretty well.

But a lot of times when your favorite team’s opponent calls on a middle reliever, you’ve never heard of the guy. “I’m in a fantasy league,” you say to yourself. “I read stuff. I watch the ‘SportsCenter’ on the old hi-def Philco – but who the hell is this guy, and why is he not in my brain files?”

Then you go look him up and find out he’s been in the league for four years, and you really start feeling like there’s something wrong with you. But is there? Should even a serious baseball fan be expected to know every man jack of a middle reliever who comes trudging off a bullpen mound to the real one to get an out or three?

I’m gonna let you off the hook here and say no.

The fact is, there are just too damn many of them for the human mind to process. Look at it this way: Each of the 30 major league teams has a bullpen of seven or eight guys. One of them is the closer, and it’s definitely on you to know who that is. That leaves somewhere over 180 other relievers’ names to learn. Sure, some of them are semi-household names in houses where baseball means something (that would be in the houses of real Americans, of course), and you’ll obviously know the bullpen denizens of your team and probably other teams in the division.

But as for the rest? Unless you’re an idiot savant who can memorize large chunks of the phone book, you’re under no obligation to know them all. It’s not your fault the game has gone reliever crazy. That’s probably on Tony La Russa or Bobby Cox.