"In baseball heaven, not one cloud dares impede the glorious sunshine. A slight, sweet breeze whispers through the azaleas, palmettos, royal palms and scrub pines. Perfectly groomed diamonds emit a Zen-like tranquility. And the voices and laughter of the Boys of Summer still rise from the hallowed grounds." Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated, February 26, 2007Verducci's words seem a fitting antidote to the 4 inches of slushy snow that are piled up outside my windows this evening, even as I could have done without the "zen-like" stuff - it is only a game, after all. Nonetheless, as Baseball Poetry goes, this is pretty good stuff. Ostensibly about Dodgertown, the author's words ring true in locales all over Florida and Arizona, and anywhere else where baseball fans' thoughts are finally turning to next month's Opening Day.
Every sport has a pre-season, and every annually observed human endeavor offers some modicum of renewal. Baseball, though, seems to honor its limbering-up ritual more deeply than the others in the major sporting firmament.
Boston's own Spring Training ritual usually begins with a media-manufactured controversy, and 2007 brings no exception and in fact offers us the bonus of 3 primary media storylines to compete with the actual business of building a ballclub. Manny Ramirez hasn't reported to camp yet, Curt Schilling won't be getting a new contract before the squad breaks camp for the season, and Daisuke Matsuzaka looks for all the world like a comet, trailing a stellar tail of Japanese and American media types. 2 tempests in twin teapots, and a full-blown international sensation. Welcome to Red Sox baseball.
I don't know much, but I do know that Manny Ramirez will eventually show up in Fort Myers, and that he will hit 40 homers, drive in 120 runs, and post an OPS around 1.000. As for Schilling, I'll let his SoSH post speak for him (and me):
"Am I disappointed? Yep. Am I surprised? Nope. Is everyone but the parties involved making way too much out of this? Yep.Schilling also took some time to praise Matsuzaka and describe how happy Sox fans will be to have a new #18 to worship, wrapping this little MLC diversion up in a neat bow. Things are proceeding at such an even keel in the Nation right now that SoSH is spending its time celebrating Carl Yastrzemski. Nothing to see here folks, with the possible exception of the fact that the Sox still really don't have a closer.
I've forever needed baseball a whole hell of a lot more than it needs me, I've always known that. I have also always known that it is a business, even when you don't want it to be.
Please trust me when I say, and have said, this will have zero bearing on my preperation or performance this season. I don't pitch for contracts, never have. My three best years were in the first year of new contracts. I pitch to win, just like most of the other guys in this game do.
One of the lines CHB failed to put into the article he wrote a few weeks back was me, on the phone, calling him an asshole. He knows as sure as he's reading this right now that I think he's a giant sphincter.
At some point soon he'll realize that the dislike for him here is not because he's the guy always taking the 'other side' while trying to illicit opinions and responses from readers, but rather he's disliked because he treats people like shit."
Changing directions in time to the scratching coming from Mixmaster Mike's turntable, I stumbled across VH1's Hip Hop Honors this evening while scouring the vast satellite TV wasteland for something better than an Arizona/Arizona State hoops game. As the Beastie Boys turned out a live version of "So What'cha Want", the cameras caught Ice Cube and Method Man doing the same slow nod I was performing, and moved on to frame MC Lyte rapping along with Ad Rock. Me, Cube, Method and Lyte - that's a foursome I'm quite certain nobody's ever considered in the same sentence before.