Hello again and welcome back for another installment. The past week or so has been typical of spring training in being mind numbingly boring with a few intermittent high points sprinkled in. I threw two live batting practice sessions early in the week, which as any of you who read this blog last spring are aware, is my absolute least favorite part of spring training. The idea behind them is that it gives the pitchers an opportunity to get a feel for all of their pitches with a batter in the box before the actual game action starts and it gives the hitters a chance to see some live pitching, but I have always questioned how much good is actually accomplished. I never leave live batting practice feeling really good about how I just threw because when the hitters are told every pitch that is coming they never swing at off-speed pitches or well located fastballs, i.e. the pitches we are trying to execute, with the resulting feeling being that even my best pitches are not fooling anyone. I am fully aware that this sounds ridiculous, because of course the hitters know what is coming and should not be fooled but it is an annoying feeling nonetheless. I also don’t like the fact that, knowing what is coming, every mistake made with a fastball gets absolutely crushed which doesn’t represent how things happen in an actual game. On the whole I guess I would rather just throw bullpens or in an actual game than tell the hitter what I’m throwing and let him take it or crush it, but such as it is both of my sessions went well so ultimately it isn’t a huge deal. Yesterday (Saturday) I got into my first game of the spring and threw two good innings, kept the pitch count down and was throwing strikes, which hopefully will continue to be the pattern for the rest of the spring.
Away from the field, there is scant little to report as most of my time has been absorbed by meetings and the other attendant busy work that makes up spring training. I did manage to take in the Scottsdale Arts Festival last weekend, which was enjoyable but not extremely overwhelming. In addition to the work of a number of talented artists whose works I thoroughly enjoyed and sadly was unable to purchase, there was the inevitable contingent of smug and talentless oddballs that pass themselves off as artists by making junk and giving it a pretentious and important-sounding name whose efforts I found hilarious and enjoyed on an entirely different level. (To view a brief and humorous analysis of said artists, read this article http://www.artbusiness.com/hownot.html). Overall it was a nice break from the Groundhog Day-esque existence that is spring training baseball. I also finally finished off three of the four books I had been working on simultaneously and in the process disproved an old idiom: “Never judge a book by it’s cover.” When it came out last year I had little interest in reading South of Broad by Pat Conroy (of Prince of Tides fame), but I ended up buying it for no better reason than I kept seeing it in bookstores and something about the cover art convinced me to buy it. Good decision as it turns out, because South of Broad ended up being one of my all-time favorite novels and one that I see myself returning to at some point in the near future. I’m also on the verge of finishing up another instant favorite, this time non-fiction, by James Loewen titled Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, so hopefully my next few books in the queue will be just as good. I’ve had my eye on Empire Falls by Richard Russo for a while now so I’m thinking that, along with one of the books from the unread stack of poetry, will be next in line. Anyway, before I bore you any further I’ll leave you with the traditional poem, which I will dedicate to the memory of Ron Urbach, a truly kind person and close family friend who passed away yesterday.
by Christina Rossetti
Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann’d:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.