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Spring Training trip wrap-up

Mar 15, 2010, 1:16 PM EDT

Press pass and booze small.JPGMy spring training trip ended with a flight back home yesterday afternoon.  The tale of the tape:

  • Five games, one rainout;
  • One meal with my mother-in-law;
  • One meal with, and four pieces of new media from, Old Gator;
  • A couple dozen awkward conversations with ballplayers who didn’t know me from Adam;
  • A dozen or so conversations with front office/management/PR types, a couple of whom did know me from Adam, but none of whom would tell me all of their deepest, darkest organizational secrets. Yet;
  • Something like 600 miles on the rental Corolla; no sudden accelerations;
  • A serious shortage of fresh vegetables and salads. It’s hard to eat healthy on the road, especially in Florida, especially when you’re in ballparks all the time;
  • A good 15 anecdotes from writers I was told I couldn’t repeat, and a half dozen dirty jokes that I can repeat, but not on this website;
  • A distinct impression that, Joe Nathan’s injury aside, the Twins are going to be pretty good this year;
  • A distinct impression that the Red Sox, Rays and Phillies are going to do more or less what everyone expects of them;
  • A distinct impression that the Pirates may be even worse than people realize, even if they’re a little better off organizationally speaking now that they’ve accepted reality and allowed themselves to hit bottom;
  • A new found appreciation for how tough a job the beat writer has, especially the ones who have to deal with Tony La Russa every day;
  • An affirmation of what I’ve long suspected but never knew for sure before now: watching games from the press box, while interesting, is nowhere near as cool as watching games from the stands or, in some cases, your own living room;
  • An affirmation of what I’ve long suspected and pretty much knew for sure but was glad to have affirmed anyway: watching games from the press box is 100 times better than working in an office;
  • A chance meeting with the son of a famous, now-retired major league umpire, who is absolutely hilarious. The son, I mean. No idea if the umpire is hilarious, though I kinda doubt it.
  • The surprising realization that gang bangs really aren’t all that fun or, to be honest, satisfying.

Most of all, and most importantly, is that I got a much closer look at the way teams prepare and train for games, approach their jobs and execute in an up-close and personal fashion. There are so many little things you see while watching these guys that impact the way you view what they do on the field. No, not nearly as many as some crusty old beat writers will tell you — contrary to what some of them say, you don’t have to be on the field to understand the game — but enough stuff that I think it will better-inform my writing and analysis going forward.

Anyway, it was a good week. Hope you enjoyed the dispatches from the road. Assuming the content and sheer size of my reimbursement requests to NBC don’t get me fired, maybe we’ll do this from Arizona next spring.

  1. Charles Gates - Mar 15, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    Bulleit is one of my favorite bourbons. I used to get it for $16.99 a few years ago when I lived near Baltimore. Now, as I find it gaining in popularity, as judged by its shelf placement, the Delaware dispensaries charge me somewhere in the $27 range.

  2. Jonny5 - Mar 15, 2010 at 1:27 PM

    What in heavens name was in that bottle pictured above? BTW , loved the spring training tour!

  3. Darryl - Mar 15, 2010 at 1:37 PM

    Safe travels home.

  4. Megary - Mar 15, 2010 at 1:38 PM

    An affirmation of what I’ve long suspected but never knew for sure before now: This is the coolest baseball blog, by far.
    Thanks, Craig.
    By the way, that soda…was it a Lord Chesterfield Coke or just an old fashioned Lager coke?

  5. Craig Calcaterra - Mar 15, 2010 at 1:41 PM

    Thanks Megary. For the record, it was a regular old lager “soda.”

  6. jwb - Mar 15, 2010 at 1:51 PM

    Thank you for your fresh, more fan-like (for lack of a better term) perspective on spring training. I really enjoyed it.

  7. GimmeSomeSteel - Mar 15, 2010 at 2:04 PM

    Great series, even if I wish you’d have had more hopeful things to say about my lousy Pirates.
    Not to be a downer about it, but welcome back to cool, gray, blah Ohio. If you happen to be in the market for a fantasy auction this weekend, let me know, there’s a team available in one of my leagues.

  8. Andy II - Mar 15, 2010 at 2:05 PM

    If you could e-mail me what is unprintable for this site, I would be eternally grateful. The more you can make me feel like I’m at spring training, the less horrible I’ll feel about having to learn about the Mexican debt crisis of 1982.

  9. Joe G - Mar 15, 2010 at 2:13 PM

    Yeah I really dug the spring training tour. Even if it did include a gratuitous shot at us Philly fans.

  10. Dan in Katonah - Mar 15, 2010 at 2:14 PM

    Craig, you are living the dream. I actually have no complaints about my job (in-house is as close as us lawyers get to the promised land), but I am sure jealous you get paid to watch baseball and hang out behind the scenes.
    Vicariously yours,
    Dan in Katonah

  11. John - Mar 15, 2010 at 2:42 PM

    where? where’s the gratuitous shot at philly fans?

  12. Soup Sandwich - Mar 15, 2010 at 3:02 PM

    Great dirty jokes you can’t share here, but you can discuss your lack of satisfaction with gang bangs. I’m sure there’s some sort of distinction that could be made by reasonable people, but I cannot see it.

  13. Curious George - Mar 15, 2010 at 5:57 PM

    More kudos, Craig. It may sound presumptuous, but it feels like you are our man on the inside. Your insights from the other side of the wall have, and will continue to be, interesting.

  14. The Rabbit - Mar 15, 2010 at 6:59 PM

    If you’ve been closely following Craig’s outstanding and highly entertaining spring training reports, you’d have learned that “gang bang” is the term used when writers surround a manager or player after a game and bombard him with inane questions.
    It appears you have assumed Craig was referring to the better known meaning of the phrase.

  15. Old Gator - Mar 15, 2010 at 7:23 PM

    Hey Craig, it was great having you in town and spending part of a sunny Macondo day with ya. Enjoy the CDs and books (you have to re-watch No Country for Old Men, of course, especially if you haven’t watched it in the first place). I’ll be checking the Florida DOT web site from time to time to see if they schedule any belated attempt to deal with…er…the flood of fans expected at Macondo Banana Massacre stadium, but I ain’t gonna close the valves on my snout waiting for it to happen.
    .
    And I do hope your next angiogram doesn’t still show the residues of that horrible horsemeat and velveeta sandwich you ate day before yesterday.

  16. hylen - Mar 15, 2010 at 7:27 PM

    I agree with these other guys. The spring training tour was highly entertaining. Keep up the great work.

  17. hylen - Mar 16, 2010 at 6:00 AM

    I agree with these other guys. The spring training tour was highly entertaining. Keep up the great work.

  18. hylen - Mar 16, 2010 at 6:06 AM

    I agreed so strongly I had to say it twice! Darn it! :)
    Stupid computers.

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