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Scenes from Spring Training: My favorite thing to happen yet this spring

Mar 2, 2011, 6:03 PM EDT

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That’s Hideki Matsui taking strike two on what turned out to be a strikeout in the fifth inning.  In spite of this — and in spite of him grounding into a double play with the bases loaded in the first — I still liked Hideki Matsui’s performance and I would like to have a player like Hideki Matsui on my team. In other news:

  • As soon as the game got going the following public service announcement came over the PA system: “Fans, the Oakland A’s say that a winner always uses a designated driver. Keep our roads safe …”  Between today’s Coco Crisp news and this week’s Charlie Sheenian redefinition of what constitutes “winning,” the A’s probably need to change that announcement.
  • Justin Masterson got the start for the Indians. I’m not a pitching mechanics expert, but watching him throw makes my shoulder hurt. It’s like his arm goes slack and then snaps back into tension before he pitches. Just, ow.
  • A’s pitcher Bobby Cramer, on the other hand, was pretty sweet to watch. He pitched two innings giving up one hit and no runs and striking out a guy. He doesn’t seem poised to be anything approaching an important part of the A’s staff this year, but given how tortured a path he’s taken in his career — time off, Tommy John surgery and all of that kind of thing — it’s cool to see him pitch well.
  • The A’s fans here in Phoenix are easily the sassiest I’ve encountered this spring. They taunted the Indians. They taunted other fans who couldn’t catch foul balls. They yelled at umps making fair/foul calls way the hell on the other side of the ballpark from them.  My kind of people!
  • Favorite bits of chatter: “C’mon, strike him out.”  Which, amazingly and quite rudely, the A’s pitcher refused to do.  I also liked it when a young couple stood up to get their picture taken with the field in the background.  An old guy right below the press box yelled “now take one of ‘em swappin’ spit!”
  • An Athletics employee handed out lapel pins to the assembled sporting press during the game. Here’s mine.  I don’t wear jackets with lapels very often, but it was a nice gesture. Perhaps I’ll pin it to my fedora, right next to the little card that says “press.”

All in all this game was a major snoozer.  I think the parade of anonymous players after the third inning is starting to get to me. But that’s OK because — in keeping with my little Metafandom riff from a couple of weeks ago — a lot of what we’re here for isn’t the actual baseball game itself.  Rather, it’s the bright mornings, the stretching, the crack of the bat in BP and the guys shagging flies and taking infield. You know, the general vibe of it all.

And speaking of vibe, my absolute most favoritest thing to happen in spring training so far just happened as I was typing this up: the seventh inning stretch began and two of the Japanese reporters next to me here in the auxiliary press box sang along with “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

Baseball: it’s faaaaantastic.

  1. apbaguy - Mar 2, 2011 at 6:58 PM

    I’m sure you’ll get a hard time from those of us who’d love to trade places with you and watch some baseball in Arizona. But I agree, the games are boring, unless you are playing in them and you are a rookie.

    I love that pin and now I want one.

    But my big question is: you said A’s fans. Plural. Peyote buttons? Or were there really more than one fan(s) in attendance? As a follow up, were they relatives of the A’s players?

  2. cur68 - Mar 2, 2011 at 7:01 PM

    Take the pin and the card out of that fedora; things indigestible as it is & laminated paper and die cast steel will make the subsequent stomach pumping so much harder. BTW, I have Wells for around .285 -.290 this year, maybe 25-35 homers, mid 90’s for RBIs. I got Beltran for .270, 20 – 30, and 65 or so, averaged over the entire season because, of course his knees are going to make him oh so cautious legging anything out, prevent him from swinging as hard as he might like and then make a wet celery ripping noise around July or so. This is not a hope, BTW and I’ll be happy to be wrong. Still, de-pin & de-card the fedora just to be safe. Oh & get some mustard.

  3. sosascork - Mar 2, 2011 at 9:07 PM

    It’s 8pm and I’m still stuck here in my office in Chicago. It’s 27 degrees outside. Can’t wait until opening day, when I’ll gladly be playing hookie to catch a game and pick up some vibe!

  4. Detroit Michael - Mar 3, 2011 at 9:08 AM

    You buried the lead in the last paragraph? I guess it worked — I read the whole post.

  5. jwbiii - Mar 3, 2011 at 9:57 AM

    But that’s OK because a lot of what we’re here for isn’t the actual baseball game itself

    It’s leaving the wife and kids back home where 32 and sunny feels like spring, watching baseball games by day and swilling pints with (mostly) excellent company by night. Lucky so-and-so : )

  6. tribester - Mar 3, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    You had better get used to the Indians anonymous players. They’re gonna be the starters after the trade deadline.

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