First Full Day
Thursday, February 21, 2008
There is something so very special about the first day of spring training when the full squad has reported.
"This is a special day," said new third base coach Jeff Cox as the day began. "For me, it’s like Christmas, New Year’s, Easter or your birthday. It’s just a special day."
No matter how many spring trainings you attend — 17 for me — this day brings a special excitement.
"And you take it for granted until you don’t have it anymore," Cox noted.
I remember growing up as a kid and what it meant to read The Sporting News as camps opened in February. As I grew older, we would trek to Florida for spring training, spending our time in ballparks in Cocoa, Fla., or St. Petersburg.
Once when my cousin and I returned from our March trip to spring training — 13 games in 12 days — my aunt asked to see our vacation photos.
As she looked at shot after shot of Cal Ripken, George Brett and the 1983 Cardinals, she asked, "Didn’t you guys ever go to the beach."
Why in the world would anyone ever go to the beach when there was a baseball game to watch?
Sticking to the old adage of what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse, I’ll leave Kenny’s and Ozzie’s speeches to the troops to your imagination … you won’t be far off.
Suffice it to say that a couple of themes continued to be repeated, and they’re themes we’ve talked about publicly …
Last year was no fun for anyone.
We don’t want to go through that again.
We’ve been in a bad mood about it since last July.
This team has the talent to win.
We need to have one focus each and every day — preparing to win a championship.
The day started with my annual physical. Nothing like needles, blood work and fingers to wake you up at 7:30 am.
After proudly carrying my urine specimen into the office (where exactly do you put the specimen jar as you drive down from the Foothills to the complex? The beverage holder? I opted for the trunk, driving down curving Campbell Road thinking, "What happens if it tips over? How do I explain that to Avis?"), I checked in with Brian Ball, our assistant trainer. Herm Schneider and Brian do a terrific job of running an efficient Physical Day, and they are kind enough to add an aging PR guy to the list.
Having done many of the tests and the eye exam during the week, my first stop this morning was at the EKG machine. Everything seemed to check out OK, although they used me as a Guinea Pig for a new nurse learning just how to stick on the alligator clamps.
"Gosh," she said. "It would sure hurt if I pinched your skin."
Gee. Sure would.
Then, it was on to the BP table … which, let’s just get it straight, the BP cuff and I aren’t friends right now. The number is high, but not as high as two days ago. I take it as a victory.
Then on to the immunization table. No tetanus for me. Another small victory.
Then bloodwork, which was a piece of cake.
Final stop this morning was to be weighed and measured. At 5-11, somehow I’m two inches shorter than my high school basketball program height.
Last night my loving spouse, after telling me I was indeed, fat, challenged me to see who could lose the most weight this spring. I stupidly (or not), bragged that I would be closer to 180 pounds than 200 by the end of March. So as I stepped onto the scale, I told the trainer, "Here’s 20 dollars. Inflate my weight so I get a head start on her in pounds lost."
And the digitial read out was:
Earlier, I met with our internist to have the one test every man over 40 years of age dreads. As he snapped on the rubber glove, I prepped myself mentally and physically.
Imagine a 10-second pause that felt like 25 minutes.
"Hmm," he said, in deep medical thought. "It’s really small."
He was talking about my prostate. Really, he was.
(I just read this to my wife before posting. She laughed, said I was crazy to post this because of the TMI rule and reminded me that women and children read my posts. "Take out the prostate thing," she advised. Awww. It’s all in fun, I replied. Then go ahead, she answered, it’s your life. Isn’t it great to have such wonderful support?)
The last stop — one I skipped — was the ortho table. When you have very little physical ability, some might even question whether any ability at all, you don’t really have to worry about how your muscles and joints are working.
After all, any idiot with a computer and a key pad can keep a weblog nowdays. Just ask my wife.