Spring Training Day Two: Naming Names

Day two of spring training took me to Goodyear, Arizona where my old hometown team the Cleveland Indians welcomed (and ultimately shut out) the evil Los Angeles Dodgers.  A good and just baseball outcome in a very dry heat.

There was less power hitting than in Tuesday’s 4-3 win over my current home team, the San Francisco Giants:  No home runs today vs. five yesterday.  But there were two botched pick off attempts by Dodgers pitcher Matt Palmer that allowed the Indians to score.

Even worse, two Indians players were hit by pitches.  In fact Matt Carson — up from the minors — got beaned, and was escorted to the locker room by Manager Terry Francona and a trainer.  He seemed OK, but wow the sound of a ball on a batting helmet is a terrible one.

Poor Carson. I realized today that some guys like him, non-roster or minor league Indians players, have neither a photo on the scoreboard nor a name on the back of their jerseys.  I suppose that’s to prevent fans like me from forming too much of an attachment to players who might not be around in April.

Too late.

Indians fans sitting around me really had a soft spot for these young guys, shouting encouragement — rather than insults — when they pretty much swung at every pitch that didn’t hit them in the head.

I have a new baseball crush, left fielder Tim Fedroff.  As I said in my last post, he is Hunter Pence in a different uniform.  Yesterday he was the guy to know, if you were under 14 years of age and wanted an Indians player to autograph your baseball.  Fedroff would take a kid’s ball, ask which player’s signature he or she wanted, descend into the dugout and badger that teammate until he signed.  The kids were busting.

That said, I asked one young boy which player had autographed his ball and he replied, “Honestly I have no idea.  I am a Dodgers fan.”  Boo!  Apparently they let anyone into Scottsdale stadium these days.

Today Fedroff was again effusive.   He didn’t start, and spent the early part of the game hanging over the dugout railing—apparently having a blast.  When he was called to play, he BOUNDED across the field.  He zigzagged like a kid pretending he was an airplane, and the other players laughed.  This is why I love spring training.

At one point I think he, Lonnie Chisenhall and Mark Reynolds may have been trying to get my attention.  (I was the woman with the biggest camera, three rows back.)  They were sort of miming that someone—possibly me—should take their photo.  I wanted to, but… the only thing worse than missing that opportunity would have been thinking it was directed at me, only to discover that they were talking to some hot, buxom chick in daisy dukes a few rows behind me.

(Have you ever seen the Southwest Airlines commercial in which a woman thinks a handsome colleague is professing his love for her before a big meeting?  She gushes her feelings in return, but he’s actually talking to his girlfriend via his bluetooth headset.  OUCH.  That’s what I was thinking about. ”Wanna get away?”)

Plus I didn’t have the heart to tell them that my camera was actually focused just behind them, on Jason Kipnis poised to steal second base.

That’s the kind of thing that happens at Spring training, though, when players and coaches are a little more loose and very accessible to fans.  Yesterday in Scottsdale, Will the Thrill Clark was channeling Shecky Green.  He knew all the regulars in my section and kept a running banter going with them.  He even threw fistfuls of gum into the stands.

Tomorrow the Giants and Indians will meet again, this time at Goodyear.  I’ll have no conflicting loyalties, because spring training is a time when you just want everyone to play well.

Especially the faceless new guys, wearing nameless jerseys.

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