Well as Will Ferrell put it in his SNL skit depicting Harry Carey, “A lot of things happened, some good…some bad.” This spring training has been very up and down. Of course, it has been a very good experience. But things are looking up for me people. AJ actually managed a complete sentence that was directed at me. AJ then asked a follow up question after I answered the first. Once again people, things are really looking up. I went to dinner with Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, and AJ the other day. This was a huge bragging nugget to my friends back home. I called a couple of friends the day before and casually brought up the fact that I was going to dinner with three all-stars and at least one sure fire hall of famer. For all of you people who have heard such good things about Jim Thome, I just wanted to let you know they are all true. Jim treated me as his equal when I have yet to step foot in a major league game. He will be in the Hall of Fame, probably first ballot, and he treated me like I had known him for ten years. There is a lot to be said for treating people like that.
I try everyday to make sure that I treat people in a way that I would like to be treated. I will be the first to say that I love the fans. The fans are why I play this game. When I run out onto the field and the fans go crazy, that’s what fires me up, that’s what gets me ready to play. I try to sign as many autographs as I can each day. Problem is, sometimes it just isn’t going to happen. There are days where it’s impossible. I feel bad when I can’t sign every autograph but the fact is, I have a job to do. If I pull a hamstring because I was not loose for the game, I am blamed for that. I think there are moments when people forget that. There is another problem which a lot of players keep in mind when signing autographs. There are some people out there that try to profit off your signature. THAT’S PRETTY SAD. I was once approached by a little boy about six years old. He ran up to me while I was going to the cage and asked if I could sign his baseball. He then asked me if I could sign it on the “sweet spot”. Pause right there and tell me when you were six did you know what a sweet spot was? I did not find out until I was 18 years old! Anyways, on with the story. Even though I was a little suspicious of how he knew what the sweet spot was, I reached down to sign his ball. My teammate, who will remain nameless, asked the little boy, “What’s your name buddy?” Once we found out what his name was, my buddy asked him if it would be alright if I personalized the baseball to him. Pause right there and tell me if you were six or you have a six year old child who wanted an autograph, wouldn’t you be ecstatic to have your name on the ball? I know I would have been beyond pumped. Personalizing a ball is genuine. It means that you wanted it for you and no one else. Back to the story. The kid looked shocked and depressed when I asked him if I could personalize it for him. He looked blankly around and then said ever so meekly and unexcitedly that I could. Finally I went into the cage as the kid ran off. My friend told me to watch from the cage. I then watched the little boy run to a couple of grown men. He started to walk with what I guess was his father and gently handed him the ball. For me, this is one of the saddest moments I have had as a pro. I love kids. I love the fact in how genuine they are about getting autographs and how their joy helps make my job easier (not that it is too difficult). I will never forget bawling after I heard the news that our game was cancelled one afternoon. I was ten and my Dad had just called the game. It’s that emotion, that love for baseball that I see in every kids eyes. It always makes me smile. So for all you true fans and kids out there, thank you for making my life easier and more enjoyable. You truly are the reason I play the game. The genuine people unfortunately get mixed with the guys who are there to profit, and for that I apologize. For the true fans out there, I just want to say thank you.
But it is basically all quiet on the western front ladies and gentlemen. I will be heading east, back to my southern roots, on Saturday. Back where people drink sweet tea, say “ya’ll” and “yes ma’am”. Where there is more green than concrete and skyscrapers aren’t always metal. Where there are actually trees, big majestic two-hundred year old oak trees entrenched in southern soil. Where the writings of Pat Conroy float through the marsh breeze on the coast of the southern shore. Where thunderstorms are actually welcomed after two months of no clouds. But mainly, where baseball parks light up the bright red marinated sunset.
Should be fun.
HEY! Let me ask you a question. If the moon were made of spare ribs would you eat it? I know I would, heck…I’d have seconds, then I’d polish it off with a nice cold Budweiser.
Will Ferrell imitating Harry Carey
So recently I have continued to notice that I don’t know “jack squat” about anything. I might as well be living “in a van down by the river!” While the baseball seems to be coming relatively easy, the clubhouse ribbing seems to get even tougher. Lately, the border war between AJ and I has become relatively heated. I have hit two homeruns this spring training and the next day is always a rough one. AJ claims that my bag is on his side of the “border”. I walk in and he asks why I placed my bag inside of his locker. He insists that I purposely threw my bag in his locker to mock him. I think we all know that is the last thing I want.
It seems like everything I do is put under the microscope. But I guess that’s ok because it keeps me on my toes. The other day was Harold Baines’ birthday. I actually had the day off that day but as soon as I got to the field, AJ informed me I would be presenting the cake to Harold. So in the bottom of the first I came out of the bathroom with the cake and presented it to Harold. Harold almost dropped the cake which would have been awesome. I was kind of hoping he would just throw the cake on me because I deserved it! But that would have been detrimental to the stomachs of our training staff who devoured the whole cake once it was safely back in the dugout.
To take a quote from Matt Foley:
“You kids are probably saying to yourselves, hey I’m going to go out and grab the world by the tail and wrap it around and pull it down and put it in my pocket. Well I’m here to tell you, your probably going to find out as you go out there…that your probably not going to amount to jack squat!”
Well to be honest, the last couple weeks have made me feel that way. I’m pretty depressed.
“A funny thing to do is, if you’re out hiking and your friend gets bitten by a
poisonous snake, tell him you’re going to go for help, then go about ten feet
and pretend that *you* got bit by a snake. Then start an argument with him
about who’s going to go get help. A lot of guys will start crying. That’s why
it makes you feel good when you tell them it was just a joke.”
It takes a big man to cry, but it takes a bigger man to laugh at that man.