You outgrow almost EVERYTHING. Clothes. The intense desire to lose teeth. The legit disinterest in romance. But, just as I still delight in eating a sleeve of Mallomars for breakfast just as much as I did when I was 5, I also have the same complete inability to wrap my head around time continuums. And I'm not talking about time in a Stephen Hawking, crazy dimensional kind of way.
I'm talking about the time of attitude that was rampant when I was coaching youth soccer. I would trek up to the field (the old Yankee Stadium parking lot) every Saturday morning at 8am, and just pray and pray that today wouldn't be the day that everyone decided to show up at once. "Is today....Jimmy Shakar day?" style.
Because I just flat out couldn't handle taking someone out of the game. The only time someone would willingly leave the field is if he got thirsty. But, I swear, if his shoe was filling up with blood and the soccer ball had lodged itself in the kid's GI tract, telling said boy "Ok, let's just sit out for a minute while someone else gets a chance to play" was the same thing as saying, "THIS IS THE END OF SOCCER FOR YOU AS WE KNOW IT."
Nothing NOTHING exists beyond the immediate moment. So trying to convince an 8-year-old that the benching is only temporary and is not some kind of Russian Roulette game I like to play, was like trying to convince my dad to evacuate Long Beach during Hurricane Irene. "I'm not leaving. I have a flashlight. End of story."
My point is that you like to think that after 20, 30 years you get a handle on the whole "foresight" thing. The "patience" thing. But right now, with the Yankees' first game a month away, it may as well be 4 months away. It feels like it's never going to get here, and while I rejoice like an newborn rhino, when Pitchers and Catchers Day rolls around, I think these spring training games are making the wait even more tortuous.
It's like being on a 6 hour flight and then landing only to have the pilot static and uh his way through a "we're going to be taxi-ing here for a little bit folks, keep your seat belts on" heartbreaker. You're there. You can throw a stone at the airport. But all you can do is sit there and be patient and wait for another 30 minutes, after you've already weathered an expanse of time 12 times longer than that. But it's different when you're so close because I can see it, but it's not really what I'm after.
I'm after April 6.
The first time the Yanks are really back.
And then April 13.
The first time the Yanks are REALLY back.
And in the meantime? In these remaining days of wait? I'm watching baseball.
And licking my chops. (Pause?)
And realizing that this year is going to be a circus. I know, I know. Spring Training doesn't mean anything. WELL IT DOES TO ME.
Since I'm categorically averse to (and I think incapable of) writing any kind of lucid analysis on off season story lines that I'm barely invested in, here's a topline of what's jumped to the forefront. (I'm sorry, I've just never been able to stir myself up in a tither about prospects who no one has ever seen play in a Major League Game, so farm league reports have never really been in my wheelhouse.)
But these line items are:
What an idiot. Seriously. The Yank-Sox rivalry is really fresh material. And putting your stake in the ground, establishing yourself firmly in opposition to the Yankees, is an ingenius way of rallying the fans and creating instant loyalty. If they were cartoon high schoolers, then yes, this would have been a brilliant PR move.
Maybe it's the fact that I've never really been able to hear his name without picturing "Teen Beat" magazine, but the evidence is really mounting against Bobby Valentine's legitimacy. I think the triteness of his comments irked me more than the comments themselves. It's like a new stand-up act at a comedy club that opens his bit with "So what's up with Sarah Palin? Dumb, right?"
I don't know who I feel worse for, him or the Pirates. I can only imagine how the Pirates feel, since I know all too well that feeling of making the token "WHOA. REALLY?" move during a fantasy draft. Or even mid-season. Like Jason Giambi or something. Who picks up Jason Giambi? Someone does, because the feeling of acting like you totally saw it coming (should he do something remotely good) is worth more.
You're really pulling for him, for that chance to bask in your own brilliance. And then he gets some kind of annoying ass quasi-injury that puts him day to day, and you never know what the hell his status is, whether you should drop him and cut your losses or hold out, because fantasy players almost always reward that kind of loyalty with a huge payoff.
Sweet Christ, AJ. I guess we gotta give him credit for his determination, and come on, can you really fault him for trying to iron out the trouble-spots in his game before the season started? Think of how many more quality starts he would have had last year if his bunting had just been up to snuff. It makes sense that that would be at the top of his "To Fix" list. And by "makes sense," I mean it makes sense to someone who has historically demonstrated an inability to accurately gauge situations:
(From June 27, 2010):
A.J. Burnett's struggles on the mound continued with his shortest outing of the season. The right-hander (6-7) gave up six runs and six hits in three-plus innings, walked six and struck out five. He's 0-5 with an 11.35 ERA in his past five starts.
"My command got away from me in the third. I had it early. I had unbelievable stuff. I had velocity, I had movement and I had a good hook," he said. "What it comes down to right now is the fact that I have to relax a little bit and have some fun out there. But it's hard to do right now."
(No joke, I was ust about to say "I like where his head's at," but then got lost in thought about the near certainty of someone interpreting a line like this as "So now you're saying you like putting people's heads into baseballs. Nice. Real nice.")
Is it possible that the Mets, a bigger joke than any other team in the league, have landed on "Maybe if we really accentuate each element of our ludicrous nadir of disarray, we're bound to imitate the fate of Hollywood's Cleveland Indians" as a viable course of action? Ok, actually that's not fair. I'm not even talking about the players, just the idiots at the helm who are mired in a Madoff-related lawsuit.
Which, to Scott Boras, seemed like the perfect time to chip in his few cents:
Boras: Big markets pay up or change owners
Asked about the Mets slashing payroll, Scott Boras said big market teams should spend their money.
My first question is, WHO? Who exactly asked Boras for his thoughts on the Mets slashing payroll? Who thought "I'd like to hear Boras weigh in because it's important we put the question to bed on what side of the fence he's really on."
So, yes, to be clear. Boras thinks his players need more money.
(You know how morbidly obese people shouldn't be assholes? Because they run the risk of someone retailiating with the below-the-belt, "Ok, you took it too far, so now I gotta point it out: you're a buffalo"? So given that mentality, why isn't Wilpon just looking blankly at Boros and saying all that, except replace "You're a bufflo" with "Oliver Perez.")
So far I've heard how the Royals are gonna be the team to beat in the AL, along with Toronto giving the AL East a run for their money. Also, the Orioles are getting screwed with the toughest opening 6 weeks of schedule, in the whole American League. (I love when people start raising eyebrows at professional sports schedules. It's not like they're sticking the Orioles with games that start at 3am. They're sticking them with other baseball teams.)
So, yeah, these are all great predictions that make me think some of the ESPN writers compose their stories like they're just updating their facebook status or something.
Where heads are at
Yanks beat University of South Florida in an exhibition game, 11-0. Which seemed...excessive. But, what can you do? Our minor leaguers were keeping them to 4 hits, it's not like a basketball game where you just stop running up and down the court. I guess there's no mercy in the Yankees dojo. All business.
Conversely, there's talk about how Papelbon won't be allowed to use "Shipping Up to Boston" when he's coming out of the Phillies' bullpen. The Red Sox (or their esteemed house band of Dropkick Murphies, anyways) are focusing on all the most important things.
Not unlike when I first moved into my apartment, and my mom looks around at the completely empty space, and says, "You know what you need to get? A paper towel holder."
Part II to come...