Batman and Robin
Monday, March 20, 2006, 2:50 pm
First, the Good News
Scott Podsednik played in a Class AAA game today at our complex. He led off each of the first six innings, going 1-5 with a home run, walk and stolen base. Consider it a first step toward Opening Day.
Second, the Elephant in the Room
A poster this weekend mentioned that we are bringing up the rear in the Cactus League standings, really in all of baseball, and he/she is right. Early this spring, we did not look very good. We were flat. No one was hitting, and our pitching, specifically our bullpen, was horrid. We have played much better of late. You really don’t worry so much about wins and losses down here as you do how you are playing. You want to stay healthy. You do want to see the team start to play crisp, winning baseball the last 10 days or so each spring, although last year, we ended the spring by going 4-10.
I will try to pull together some statistical points that might provide some comfort (look at the ERAs of our starting rotation, scores of games after six innings, etc.). The other good thing is that with so many games on Comcast Sports Net this spring, and with all of them live on MLB.TV, you really can see — and judge — for yourself.
Sporting a walking cast, Robin Ventura wandered into camp today. He had been using a cane to help with his surgically repaired right foot, but he told me there was no way he was visiting the White Sox with a cane.
Each year, RV helps promote Cap Cure in helping find a cure for prostate cancer. He comes to spring training camps and then spends a weekend in June flying to major league games with a bevy of sports stars.
We sat in the trainer’s room for 45 minutes talking with Robin, asst trainer Brian Ball and Jim Thome.
I told (threatened) Robin that I would post some of the highlights (lowlights) of his offseason on this blog … I got the sense he is a reader.
Tough life … he spent a month in Hawaii this summer, "just relaxing." Then, he and a few friends/family flew to Alaska to fish for salmon. The experience was very cool. They were so far from civiliazation — and so close to the bears — that you had to stay alert. "We flew in on those little planes with the pontoons," he said, "and you had to fish with a gun on your back just in case the bears came too close." The group fly fished to catch the "silvers", which were filleted and packaged right on the banks.
Thome said Alaska is on his "to-do" list once his playing career is over.
RV did have surgery to improve his right ankle, the same one he injured so seriously with us in 1997 (one of the worst on-field events I have ever personally witnessed). He is in a walking cast for three months (two to go) and then should be running sprints soon afterward.
He remains very proud of his accomplishments as a junior high girls basketball coach.
"I had a few local high school ADs call me about coaching," Ventura said. "And I said, ‘girls basketball?’ … No, they replied, we wondered if you might want to coach baseball."
Someone posted that this blog was bookmarked on Senator Barack Obama’s new website. I looked but couldn’t find it. I have had the chance to meet the Senator several times, and he is a great guy.
We met for the first time when he threw out a first pitch at U.S. Cellular Field. He seemed a bit nervous about the ceremonial first pitch but threw fairly well (for a Senator not named Bunning). Later, I saw highlights of the Senator playing basketball with the troops in Iraq. I think basketball might be his sport.
The next time I saw the Senator was as we both dropped off our daughters at preschool. Our daughters have become very good friends … with my daughter much preferring a "play date" at the Obama house to one at her own (she certainly is not stupid). The littlest Obama claims to be a Cubs fan — something about being friends with Sarge Mathews — so we are working on converting her baseball politics.
Anyway, if the Senator from Illinois occasionally finds time to read this blog, I am truly honored.
I just received a book I ordered that is a quasi biography of sabermetrician Bill James. It is an enjoyable read through the first 90 pages or so. I will keep you posted when I finish.
Another book that landed on my desk this spring is Fantasyland by Sam Walker of the Wall Street Journal. I definitely recommend it. The concept is unique. Sam gains entrance into the toughest Rotisserie Baseball League in the country and uses his superpowers and keen media-credentialled insight to take on the League’s greats. You will have to read the book, which is discussed in this issue of Sports Illustrated. (Please note: the cartoon image of Sam in SI is a pretty close version of what he really looks like, regardless of what he will tell you).
In fairness, I know Sam (since that it my job), and he was kind enough to send me an advance copy of the book and thank me in the author’s notes.
I do not receive any compensation for mentioning the book here, however, which reminds me, quite randomly, that I was too stupid to negotiate additonal compensation for doing this blog all of last year.
Maybe a Soxblog book contract is in the works? Any chance, Newman?