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 Spring training isn't what it used to be

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PostSubject: Spring training isn't what it used to be   Sun Mar 01, 2009 10:24 am

Saturday, February 28, 2009
Jerry Green
Commentary: Spring training isn't what it used to be

The kid pitcher with the floppy curls came charging toward the clubhouse assistant with gigantic strides.

"Got a dime?" he said.

He plugged the borrowed coin into the pay phone next to the door and phoned home.

"Mom, Dad, I made it," he chirped into the phone.

Ballplayers didn't carry cell phones in their uniform pockets back when Mark Fidrych was a rookie.

The eavesdropping journalist waited without much patience.

"It's not every day a kid makes it," Fidrych said, after he hung up the phone. "I'm one in a million."


There were no such devices as cell phones back then, in 1976 -- no BlackBerries and no Bluetooths; no computers and no Internet.

And no multi-million dollar left fielders sulking and quitting his team in midseason and grousing some more because his latest ballclub won't kick up the ante.


Spring training and all of baseball was a lot more enjoyable back when Mark the Bird broke in. And when there were guys like Frank Lary and Hank Aguirre and Norm Cash and Rocky Colavito getting ready for the season. A lot more fun than the daily soap opera involving Manny Ramirez.

Ramirez is one in a million, too. Just as Fidrych was once upon a time. Ramirez belted the Red Sox to championships in two World Series. He belted the Dodgers into the National League championship series for the first time in 20 years last October after he had dodged out on the Red Sox in a huge sulk.

Ramirez is one in a million, that's for sure. And the other day he rejected another offer to play left field for the Dodgers -- two years for $45 million. A sum of $25 million for this season, another $20 mill for the following year unless Ramirez opts to re-enter the free-agency market.

Not good enough.

Oh, the spring flings

I doubt if Ramirez ever could have as much fun with his millions as Fidrych did with his borrowed dime way back then.

Or as much fun as we had tagging along at spring training in Lakeland with the Tigers when the money was millions less and the joy was millions more.

The Bird! OK?

It was at spring training one evening, warm, in March. And the Bird slipped over the left-field fence at Joker Marchant Stadium with a girlfriend of the night. Bird led the lady onto his office on the ballfield -- meaning the pitcher's mound.

And there on the hill, Bird and the lady did, well, whatever men and women did in more secluded atmospheres since before there was night baseball.

It was a spring training tale Fidrych never denied.


One spring training before that, a band of Tigers were roaming around Lakeland, out of the Elks Club, which was the only spot where a guy might obtain an alcoholic drink at the time. Lary was in the lead. He spotted a double-decker bus parked up the street.

The driver, for a reason never quite explained but perhaps he had stopped into the Elks, had left the key in the ignition.

And Lary led his teammates on a wondrous joyride of Lakeland in the purloined bus, laughing and giggling all the way.


There were nights back in 1962 -- wow, that long ago -- when I first covered spring training. My bride and I checked into the Acer Nook Motel, on the two-lane Tampa road toward the county line. It cost 63 bucks a week.

Our neighbors were Aguirre and his family, Colavito and his and Cash with his wife. The bugs flicked around under the lights as we sat on the porch and ...


Hanging with the guys

Well, Polk County, of which Lakeland was the metropolis, was dry back then except for the Elks. A couple of miles down the road, just across the country line, was a well-illuminated party story.

Nights were that Aguirre would ride to the store with the rookie journalist riding shotgun. It was a routine beer run.

The cans were not aluminum back then. They were made of iron. All of us sat there amazed watching as a grinning Colavito would grab a can and in one hand would squeeze the empty into two equal parts.

It was a spring training feat of strength.

There was another spring training scene years later. Jack Morris stood on the mound at Marchant Stadium and glared down at the batter standing at home plate.

It was 8 in the morning and we were a couple of guys committing mischief.

Morris threw his pitch. Fresh from a rookie spell at the Tigers' inaugural Fantasy Camp, I took a mighty swing. I connected. The ball trickled toward shortstop and through.

"That's a knock," said Morris, laughing.

I preened. A base hit. Then he threw the next pitch and the ball vanished, just disappeared.

"That's the split finger," Morris said.


It was part of spring training camaraderie, until Jim Campbell, the club president, chased us off the field. Campbell was shrieking about no insurance if the fantasizing sports journalist happened to rupture a hamstring. Or something.

Spring training was an exercise in fun for the ballplayers, for the fans who'd group around gawking at the athletes and, absolutely, for the media. And I presume also for Fidrych's young friend.

It's quite sad now, checking daily on the perils of Manny Ramirez.

The Dodgers' spring training started a couple of weeks ago in Arizona. Ramirez was absent, aloof in Florida.

After well-publicized negotiations since November between the Dodgers' management and Ramirez's agent, Scott Boras, it turned nasty.

All of it has been chronicled in the southern California newspapers, now a front-page story.

Enough is enough

The other night after negotiations broke down again, Frank McCourt, the Dodgers owner, fired an e-mail to Boras, with copies to the media in the form a news release.

"This rejection is the fourth by the agent in the club's attempt to sign Manny," the news release said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "So now, we start from scratch."


Boras responded publicly that the Dodgers were trying to shortchange Ramirez because much of the money would be in deferred payments, thus the $45 million was not really $45 million.

Throughout the winter, Boras had been dropping hints that other clubs -- the Yankees and the Angels among them -- might be interested in Ramirez via free agency. The latest is that the Giants, the Dodgers' ancient enemies, are being used as bait.

The truth is that Dodgers fans, deprived for two decades, were ecstatic how Ramirez drove their team deep into the playoffs in 2008. The truth also is the Dodgers must have Ramirez in their lineup to remain competitive.

Manny is that exceptional as a driving force. One in a million.

And the truth also is that bickering about how much dough $45 million really is, well, that's rough in today's fragile economy.

Meanwhile, it is a daily story, large headlines and explosive sound bites, national sports stuff.

Ultimately, Manny will sign, get in a touch of spring training. And baseball will go on into a season with its other heavy issues.

Until then, anybody got a dime?

Jerry Green is a retired Detroit News sportswriter. Read his Web-exclusive column every Sunday at detnews.com


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Spring training isn't what it used to be   Tue Mar 03, 2009 8:57 am

Cool I think many people want ST to be that way again! Lucky lady to be with Mark! PARTY! PARTY! PARTY! PARTY! PARTY! PARTY!
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PostSubject: Re: Spring training isn't what it used to be   Tue Mar 03, 2009 7:24 pm

laprimamirala wrote:
Cool I think many people want ST to be that way again! Lucky lady to be with Mark! PARTY! PARTY! PARTY! PARTY! PARTY! PARTY!



I be happy to ditch all that modern tech stuff


Cell Phones and Blackberries and Blue Tooths are just a way of controlling us

Like a slave or a dog on a leash
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PostSubject: Re: Spring training isn't what it used to be   Tue Mar 03, 2009 9:11 pm

gs78 wrote:
laprimamirala wrote:
Cool I think many people want ST to be that way again! Lucky lady to be with Mark! PARTY! PARTY! PARTY! PARTY! PARTY! PARTY!



I be happy to ditch all that modern tech stuff


Cell Phones and Blackberries and Blue Tooths are just a way of controlling us

Like a slave or a dog on a leash

Actually you are correct, gs. if you has the gps function, found in all cellphones, turned on in your cellphone, (not talking about a cellphone with the gps add-on feature that you can navigate by) then it can be used by police to help track you "in case you have an accident". Who says that is the only time SOMEONE ELSE could use it to monitor you!

I keep it turned off in mine!


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Spring training isn't what it used to be   Thu Mar 05, 2009 8:40 pm

GoGetEmTigers wrote:
gs78 wrote:
laprimamirala wrote:
Cool I think many people want ST to be that way again! Lucky lady to be with Mark! PARTY! PARTY! PARTY! PARTY! PARTY! PARTY!



I be happy to ditch all that modern tech stuff


Cell Phones and Blackberries and Blue Tooths are just a way of controlling us

Like a slave or a dog on a leash

Actually you are correct, gs. if you has the gps function, found in all cellphones, turned on in your cellphone, (not talking about a cellphone with the gps add-on feature that you can navigate by) then it can be used by police to help track you "in case you have an accident". Who says that is the only time SOMEONE ELSE could use it to monitor you!

I keep it turned off in mine!



Holy Crap


I am right about this


I just made it up


lol2 lol2 lol2
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PostSubject: Re: Spring training isn't what it used to be   Thu Mar 05, 2009 9:08 pm

The cellphone function is called different things, BASED ON THE PHONE MANUFACTURER, but it is a location function that you can set to "LOCATION ON" OR "LOCATION E911 ONLY"

I have mine to 911 only. It only works when I call 911 for help. 911 can then locate the phone. If it is set to regular on, it sends your location and other groups can use it to find your phone. Also, when a cellphone is on, it sends "Pings" to cellphone towers to keep you connected as you travel. Phone companies keep records of this.

Read the following for more info: http://www.snopes.com/crime/prevent/cellping.asp

Also see
tracking a cell phone location


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola


Last edited by GoGetEmTigers on Thu Mar 05, 2009 9:13 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Spring training isn't what it used to be   Thu Mar 05, 2009 9:13 pm

GoGetEmTigers wrote:
The cellphone function is called different things, BASED ON THE PHONE MANUFACTURER, but it is a location function that you can set to "LOCATION ON" OR "LOCATION E911 ONLY"

I have mine to 911 only. It only works when I call 911 for help. 911 can then locate the phone. If it is set to regular on, it sends your location and other groups can use it to find your phone. Also, when a cellphone is on, it sends "Pings" to cellphone towers to keep you connected as you travel. Phone companies keep records of this.

Read the following for more info: http://www.snopes.com/crime/prevent/cellping.asp



Amazing!


bow
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PostSubject: Re: Spring training isn't what it used to be   Thu Mar 05, 2009 9:13 pm

I Learn something everyday!
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PostSubject: Re: Spring training isn't what it used to be   Thu Mar 05, 2009 9:14 pm

Now If I can just remember what I learn Big Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Spring training isn't what it used to be   Thu Mar 05, 2009 9:21 pm

I keep my phone off unless I need it, or I am traveling and need to make and receive calls as I go. I do not use my cellphone for all my calls, like so many people do. They still put out enough radiation that many people get head cancer from heavy use of cellphones. I use the speakerphone feature of mine to keep it away from my head. When driving I use a bluetooth headset (still small amt of radiation) or a wired headset, for hands free phone use. I also try to pull over before making a call. I have seen too many car crashes caused by people not using hands free devices! I hope ALL states go to hands free devices required while driving!


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola


Last edited by GoGetEmTigers on Thu Mar 05, 2009 9:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Spring training isn't what it used to be   Thu Mar 05, 2009 9:22 pm

GoGetEmTigers wrote:
I keep my phone off unless I need it, or I am traveling and need to make and receive calls as I go. I do not use my cellphone for all my calls, like so many people do. They still put out enough radiation that many people get head cancer from heavy use of cellphones. I use the speakerphone feature of mine to keep it away from my head. When driving I use a bluetooth headset (still small amt of radiation) or a wired headset, for hands free phone use. I also try to pull over before making a call. I have seen too many car crashes caused by people not using hands free devices! I hope ALL states go to hands free devices required while driving!

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