March 06, 2006
Thank you to the several readers who answered my last entry’s call for comments on the state of Americans’ historical knowledge and the teaching of World War II. I’m sorry it took so long to post the responses, but I was in Florida, purposely out of computer reach. Please take a look at those thoughtful responses to “Don’t know much about history?” and add your own commentary if you’d like. If I get time later this week, I may take up a point or two in a new entry.
But I brought back fresh material from Florida, and I want to get some of it down before my job swallows me up again. Here are a few headlines:
– Bait-and-switch hits Grapefruit League
– Whither Jeb Bush?
– Gulf beaches’ sellout accelerates
– Joakim Noah leads Gators’ super sophs
I could go on. About once a year, I visit family and friends in the area where I grew up, and I always come away with many snapshots. I’ll try to put the stories to the other headlines during the days ahead, but let’s begin with baseball.
Six or eight weeks ago, I arranged to see two Grapefruit League games. I had visions of needling my Red Sox fan friends (no shortage of them around here) about early glimpses of Johnny Damon in pinstripes. On Friday and Saturday, I saw the Yankees in Clearwater and Tampa. No Damon. No A-Rod. No Jeter. No Williams. All were gone to the World Baseball Classic, as were players from the opposing Phillies and Reds.
Although you’ll never catch me complaining about sitting in sunny high-70s weather in early March watching baseball, spring training has become a huge enterprise, creating high expectations for sell-out crowds. Fans know that winning matters little and that the No. 71s and 93s will take over in the fifth inning, but they buy their tickets to see the stars. When minor leaguers start at third base, in center field and in left and utilitymen get the call at short and in right, it’s hard not to feel cheated.
The World Baseball Classic is a good idea, but it comes at the wrong time.
Now that that’s off my chest, here’s a non-secret to people who pay close attention to baseball (including, I imagine, all the fantasy leaguers). The Phillies’ first baseman Ryan Howard is a more agile, somewhat lankier David Ortiz with the tools to be a superstar. During a 4-for-4 day against the Yankees Friday, he hit two homers to right center. There is a grassy hill out there where fans can picnic and take in the game. Howard’s first homer, a high drive, cleared the fence easily. His second was a moon shot. As it rose to pea-size against the azure sky, the fans on the grassy incline skittered toward the back fence of the stadium. My seat was along the third-base line, so as Howard trotted around the bases, the backdrop for me was the backs of all those fans peering into the distance wondering if the ball would ever come to earth.
And Howard was just recovering from the flu.
Posted by Mike Pride at March 6, 2006 10:12 AM
You mentioned Johnny Damon in pinstripes and I immediately thought of three things:
1. Looks like a girl.
2. Throws like a girl
3. Broke my 4-year-old daughter's heart.
Posted by: Tim McLaughlin at March 9, 2006 03:20 PM