Spring training is here. The posturing has started up where it left off – Schilling calling out Alex Rodriguez for slapping the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove has turned into the Red Sox piling on Rodriguez as soon as camp opened. Lots of fans call up radio shows to talk about football and basketball but it’s nothing compared to baseball talk.
I can’t count how many new friends I’ve taken to a baseball game who have refused to ever go again. “Jeez, it’s so boring. I don’t know what you see in it.” I’m jabbering their ear off about an upcoming pitching change and the left handed pinch hitter, the available setup men and the player they’re showcasing because the trade deadline is near. And they are not getting it. Half of baseball is the undercurrent, all the things that could possibly happen and all the talk that leads to more talk that could, just might, turn into a defining moment on the field. Teams know that only a handful of players would ever run out to the mound and start a fight with a pitcher who throws at their head. Most players posture and yell but don’t stray more than two feet from the plate. Jason Varitek has a toughness that Rodriguez doesn’t and their fight helped define the Red Sox last year.
This year, though, it’s been laughably over the top. A newspaper reports a Red Sox player saying that Rodriguez is not a Yankee – in other words he’s not a winner. Another player called him a deadbeat dad because he was running steps at 6am instead of attending to his newborn baby girl. Rodriguez’ teammates don’t have his back. How silly does all that sound? Before I could get around to weighing in on the silliness, Harvey Araton’s column in the New York Times shows how the media misrepresented the Red Sox players’ comments and says that reporters repeatedly asked questions about Rodriguez when they’d already been given an answer that wasn’t negative enough for them. Araton calls it “one of the most distasteful instances I have witnessed in 45 years of covering baseball,” which is a bit much. Where has he been? What does he think sells newspapers?
Half of baseball is the undercurrent, all the things that could possibly happen and all the talk that leads to more talk that could, just might, turn into a defining moment on the field.
Still, I’m happy that he set things straight. It does point out the place of posturing and jabber in the undercurrent. Coming back from 0-3 to win a playoff series is thrilling and winning the world series is thrilling. Talking about it, though, that supports entire radio stations and a year round season of newspapers.
Practice and Competition Report: practiced for and hour and a half and played three sets with T, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
1. Looking for a solution to trying to hard. Three times I approached the net with the intention of smashing the ball instead of just getting it into my opponent’s court. Three times I hit an unforced error.
1. As I’m warming up my serve, I use a very relaxed service stroke. Instead of trying to crush the ball, I used the relaxed stroke throughout the match and my first serve percentage was very high. Watch Federer, relaxation incarnate.
2. At the beginning of the match, T was hitting the ball short to get me to the net and then lobbing me. I kep hitting my overhead into the net. I hung in there, though, and started getting the overheads over the net and started to win points at the net. Rather than get upset after hitting the ball into the net a few times, I persisted in focusing on getting the ball across the net and eventually that’s what I did.
3. I returned serve very well.