Welcome back campers. It has been 170 variously eventful days since I last logged on and polluted cyberspace with my assorted ramblings, but spring has arrived and with it comes baseball, green grass and the concomitant minor league blogging. I must say that I was very surprised by the positive response to the blog last season and hopefully I can continue to provide some occasional entertainment for those of you who choose to spend your time following this blog. This past offseason ranks as far and away the best I have had since signing with the Cleveland Indians in August of 2005. After two trips to the Fall Instructional League (2005, 2006), a trip to the Hawaii Winter League (2007), and the Arizona Fall League (2008) I actually had the entire period from the end of the playoffs until I reported to spring training this past Sunday to get in the gym, lift weights, run, swim and do all the things I like to do to physically prepare for the season. As a consequence I feel as good as I’ve ever felt going into spring training. Having the six or so months to decompress has also made a huge difference in my mental outlook going into spring training. I’ve always been very focused on what I need to do to be successful, but the time off has left me in a much better mindset in terms of not worrying about the multi-various things that affect my career that I cannot control. I’m very excited about this spring training and definitely feeling a lot more optimistic about it than I have felt about any previous spring training.
My offseason was mostly spent training for the upcoming baseball season, but I did manage to squeeze in some amazing hiking trips to the Grand Canyon (twice) and also to Zion National Park with my girlfriend. The Zion trip was especially cool, with the added bonus that there was a surprisingly large amount of wildlife active in the park (especially for January). In addition to the ever present deer (which were so common that it got to the point where we be driving, see something and say “oh, it’s just a deer, keep driving”) and small animals, we took in wild turkey and a recent reintroduction to the park, big horn sheep. Clearly I couldn’t go the entire offseason without plowing through a sizable stack of books, but I’ll spare you the reading list and get you up to date on my current reading material. I actually have a surprisingly large array of reading material on my plate at the moment. In addition to doing some studying for the MCAT, I have four different books going at the moment. The first is Wealth and Democracy by Kevin Phillips, which is a very interesting but also extremely dense examination of the role wealth concentration has played in the development of the United States. The second is Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen, an examination of the inaccuracies and omissions in American history textbooks. I have also been spending some occasional time on Pat Conroy’s South of Broad, which I must confess I had low expectations for but has turned out to be simply sterling thus far. Last, but not least, I have been enjoying A Shropshire Lad by E.A. Housman, which contains one of my all-time favorite poems: “To An Athlete Dying Young.” Speaking of poems, this would seem like a natural place to bid you adieu for now and share with you the poem I have just mentioned. Until next time.
To An Athlete Dying Young
by A. E. Housman
The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.
To-day, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.
Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields were glory does not stay
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.
Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears:
Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.
So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.
And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl’s.