Monthly Archives: September 2007

WANNA PLAY BALL?

It’s often easier for me to start stories from the end and work backwards.  This one ended with me driving home in my cleats because someone squirted shaving cream in my shoes. Not Fantasy_camp_dj something that happens to me everyday.  But this wasn’t every day.  Jackie and I played the roles of rookie players for Dave Henderson Baseball Fantasy Camp. It was held at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, WA, home of the Seattle Mariners AAA team, the Tacoma Rainiers.

I twice played second base and got a put out that I was pretty proud of. My turn in left field produced no action and my stint at shortstop was atrocious – cue the video of the grounder going between my legs. (Get the glove down, dammit!). I went 2-3 with two runs. But I may have credited myself for a hit when I swung hard and the ball responded as if I’d bunted. When I got to first base I asked the first baseman if anyone had even thrown the ball. Nope. Anyway, that was probably an error and not a base hit. So, I guess I went 1-3. My first swack was a soundly hit foul ball that landed in the seats by first base. Never knew a loud “clank!” could be so gratifying. The pitcher was shaking in his spikes. We were given a smaller bat to use. It had a powder blue barrel and the vibration of that hit hurt my fingers. (Afterwards, I realized I was locking my fingers around the bat as if I were holding a golf club.) Jackie fared similarly at the plate but will be on the highlight reel for her great catch in right field for the final out of the inning. All the guys came out to greet her and she went into the dugout with a special swagger. Even her chatter swaggered. I was happy for her — we all dream of that catch!

We were welcomed to the dugout with one of our teammates walking by and unbuttoning his pants and loosening his belt. I figured that he was just adjusting “things” or tucking in his jersey.  No. He was heading to the urinal that was about three feet from where I was sitting. Hi girls!

In between the urination and the shaving cream incident it was a great day.  I can’t believe I was pissed that Jackie didn’t get me out of it. We learned real stuff. We handled fast pitches and jumped back when one got too close for comfort. I may have never played baseball before but that doesn’t mean I’m not a competitive-minded athlete. I feel a need to redeem my infield blunders. Who wants to play ball? I do.

Fantasy_camp_jackie_and_her_ball_1 Fantasy_camp_celebrating_the_catchFantasy_camp_d_waits_for_the_clang <—–jackie and her ball!

celebrating the catch; d waits to hear the clang! in the seats… (see the ball?)

d&j talk strategy. 
Fantasy_camp_discuss_strategy Fantasy_camp_d_takes_notes
d takes notes

FANTASY BASEBALL

Tomorrow, Jackie and I will be special guests of "Dave Henderson Baseball" and will participate in a baseball game for fantasy baseball VIPs.  Should be interesting.  The game will be played in Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, Washington Hendu_road_trip (home of the Mariners AAA team, the Tacoma Rainiers).  I’m sure that the only time I’ve been on a real baseball field was when I ran the bases with my son Tony when he was three years old. It, too, was at Cheney.  This time, I’ll be playing second base.

The organizer of the event sent out an e-mail saying we were welcome to bring our batting gloves and a wooden bat.  We are also instructed to wear shoes that won’t embarrass the Mariners.  I’m more concerned with not embarrassing myself and avoiding getting plunked by an inside fastball.

I think I’ll start a brawl.

RIGOR OF THE SEASON IS OUR LIFE’S WORK

Too much going on.  Post-season races, late-season slides, soccer practices, back-to-school, piano lessons and carpools. And there’s keeping track of the Women’s World Cup, OJ’s Viva Las Vegas vacation and tracking the astonishing news about a Saudi men’s professional soccer match being delayed because there was a 12-year-old girl present in the stadium. The referees ordered her removed as it is deemed inappropriate that females observe such contests. Poor kid.

With all that going on, it’s nearly impossible to keep our minds on our completing our Savvy Girls score book and firming up plans with our publisher and the ten MLB teams and sponsors we’ll be working with for our 2008 book tour. This isn’t as easy as it seems. In fact, I’m starting to think we’ve gone completely mad enroute to getting this book on the shelves. We still are looking for a forward endorsement and back cover blurbs.  We have content for the score book to finalize and to meet with players’ agents, broadcasters and MLB marketing departments. And I’ve threatened my daughter no less than three times this week that I’m going to cut her hair if she doesn’t stop whining every time I comb the knots out.

Last night, Jackie and met after work with our videographer who is helping us finalize our press kit.  Then we went out for a bite… Well, we had drinks for an hour until the late night happy hour kicked in and we could get cheap eats. The Pairs_mugNicole_mug  video looks great but needs some tweaking, namely adding a piece at the end, in an “I buried Paul” surprise format, where I am singing some stupid song about a “Mississippi Squirrel” while Jackie intently studies our notes for the interview.  If Jackie could do this alone, I’m sure there are many days she’d prefer that.

But we cannot do it alone.  It’s not our fault that we are “Deidre and Jackie” and not “Paris and Nicole.” Believe me, it’d be a lot easier if we’d been born, rich, famous. Petite bone structure wouldn’t hurt much, either. The jail stints would have certainly put a crimp in our squeaky clean images but look how those two bounced back!  Some time in jail and maybe people would look to us as role models, too! And there’d be a book in such suffering.

Alas, we don’t have gobs of money or mansions. I work in an office with piles of papers, a bare light bulb, cinderblock walls, a tiny window that I keep closed on principle and an unmade bed. Jackie’s office is far nicer. Smaller but significantly more put together. (I wonder where she takes her naps?) And we even commute and pay rent for all this luxury!  Paris and Nicole must be doing something right. And they probably already wrote a book about it without ever knowing it. OJ wrote a book. I wonder if that Saudi girl will ever get a shot at writing a book.

ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS – GO!

Last night my daughter said something interesting as the family gathered for fajitas at the dining room table. No, it wasn’t about how the hair on her American Girl doll was a little tangled. Amelia was instead concerned with baseball and wondered why the visitor’s team always got to bat, first.  Why didn’t the teams simply flip coins like many other sports, she wondered. Even more in step with a seven-year-old’s mind, is that she suggested – with a Rps1 straight face, mind you — why didn’t they decide who batted first by playing rock, paper, scissors? I didn’t have a good answer for her and didn’t try to give her a bunch of bologna about how baseball is so gentlemanly that it only seemed proper that the visiting team would bat first.  That was going through my head, however. And I thought I was right.

While working today, I posed the question to Jackie, the one Savvy Girl you don’t often hear from but is still our Numero Uno when it comes to finding out stuff and making sure a ton of other stuff gets done. (It’s sort of like she’s the “stuff” member of the team and I’m the “stuff-it” member. I don’t know how we make this work.) So I asked Jackie what she could find on the topic. From coin flipping and gallantry, it’s all there.  But for the gallantry, because there really wasn’t much of that.

In the very early ages of baseball, up to the mid 1880s, a coin toss determined who got to bat first. Then the decision was up to the home team’s manager and a strategy call encroached on the more democratic process. The “strategy” was that it was best for the team to bat first because the ball was fresh and more apt to pop off the bat and travel great distances. The home team would whack the lights out of the ball in hopes of dulling its response when the visitors came up to bat. See, this was back in the day where balls weren’t replaced during a game. They were expensive, after all, and team owners were wont to throw their money out in such a cavalier fashion as providing fresh, clean baseballs. In fact, until the mid-1920s, teams would hire lackeys to run into the stands to retrieve foul balls and home runs so they could be recycled back into the game. So much for Little Suzy’s souvenier! Used like this game balls would become haggard – discolored from dirt and tobacco juice and misshapen from being pounded on.

But, by the 1890s it was the norm for home teams to bat last, though some still opted to bat first. Some home team managers would make the decision on whether to bat first or second based on who was pitching for the visiting team.  If the home team batted first, after all, then there would be less time for the opposing pitcher to warm up.  Oh, the tangled webs they weaved! 

It wasn’t until the 1950s that it was an official rule that the visiting team batted first and managers had to focus their strategies elsewhere.  But, I don’t know a soul who would’t pay to see Ozzie Guillen and Joe Torre standing on the pitcher’s mound before the game and getting their foreheads in a tangle during a showdown of Rock, Paper, Scissors.

photo credit: World Rock, Paper, Scissors Society.

CAN YOU HANDLE THE UNRULY TRUTH?

Stadium executives in any sport expect fans to adhere to a code of conduct. These stadium rules are stated plainly in faint 4pt font on the back of the ticket Streaker you purchased. The message is usually overshadowed by a big coupon to get a free Pepsi with your Chimichuga when you purchase a second Chimichunga (or item of lesser or equal value) from your local fast food palace. Now, I don’t know about you, but, coming from people who want us to act civil, I find that endorsing consumption of Chimichungas uncivilized. The implication is of course is that you are supposed to eat greasy food between the hours of 2AM and 5AM, the only civilized time to eat a Chimichunga.

Much of this code of conduct is enforced so that fans can enjoy the game. Also such rules are intended to act as an early warning system to stifle “father and son” bonding such as the one that resulted in a Kansas City Royals first base coach being attacked during a game at Chicago’s Comiskey Park. A pocket knife was found the scene. That frightening display of fan fortitude happened five years ago this month.  Since the stadium’s code of conduct clearly thought that behavior was OK, the legislature had to step in. The following year, a statute was approved that made such an act punishable by $1000 fine and up to three years in jail. Talk about family time. Believe me, it hurt to type that but I always go for the low-hanging fruit.

And that incident came on the heels of another the year before when Dodger players went into the stands to handle some unruly fans at Wrigley. Now the stadium doesn’t sell beer after the sixth inning. Other rules exist so that people are dressed appropriately (leave your “Ruck You Fed Sox” shirts at home, girls!) and drink responsibly. A couple weeks ago I was at Safeco and I over heard a fan defending himself to no fewer than three alcohol enforcement lugs. He sounded sober to me but the person seated in front of him, who I gathered had been doused three times with spilled beer and expletives, disagreed.

Now, some would say “Hey, don’t bother coming to the ballpark if you can’t handle a little beer spillage and profanity.” And, often, I would agree.  I’ve been the yelling, spilling, stumbling fan. I’ve also been the fan with the little kids. If I’m planning to take them to a game I wouldn’t, say, buy tickets in the Yankees bleachers and have them wear their Red Sox hats. However, what if I’ve paid good money to sit in a decent place and teach my kids to score a game? Should this belligerent fan’s needs trump mine just because I should “expect to have to deal with jerks at the ball park?” No. Should I find another place to sit? That would be a good option and asking an usher to help you find another seats could be a good, nonconfrontational idea. Is the whole experience a learning opportunity for my kids? Yes. I’m sure that’s what that father thought when he ran with his son onto the field to pummel Tom Gamboa

Now, I hear tennis fans are starting to get unruly at the US Open in New York. And do you see some of those outfits worn by NASCAR fans? And what of the chicken wire set up so that Jeff Gordon’s car doesn’t get smashed with projectiles like Miller Lite bottles and half-priced Chimichungas? Sometimes I think that baseball has it pretty easy.