The Old Man and the Pee
In a recent article on SI.com, Tom Verducci describes Major League spring training as follows:
“Spring training begins every year like some midwinter festival, demanding our attention with its abundance of light, warmth and sense of renewal, but quickly settles into a mundane Groundhog Day existence. It is little more than glorified practice, really, for what is a game of repetition.”
In the following paragraph, he goes on to reference the “necessary tedium” of spring training.
Having never been to Florida or Arizona for any purpose other than impersonating Disney mascots or chopping down insanely large cacti, we can’t speak to whether or not Verducci’s claims about the tedium of spring training are true.
However, we can say that in the midst of whatever tedium may or may not be going on this year (and perhaps every year), a handful of writers are doing a fine job of turning up some noteworthy tidbits from around the various camps.
Here are a few of the things that have caught our eye of late:
1) There’s a midget on the Giants who can throw 100 miles per hour.
Okay, in fairness, the player in question – rookie right-hander Tim Lincecum – is not technically a midget. And we only made reference to him as a midget because we once heard Mark Grace say of Billy Wagner on the Jim Rome radio show, “That midget can bring it.” And we thought that was funny.
Lincecum is actually listed at 5-11 (though according to writer Jeff Passan, who slightly resembles the long-lost love child of Ben Affleck and Chipper Jones, Lincecum is actually closer to 5-10).
In any case, considering that 5-11, 170 is very nearly identical to our own personal listing in the OCC media guide and we topped out somewhere in the low 60’s last time we wrecked our arm attempting to blow up the radar gun on the speed pitch, it’s safe to say we are sufficiently wowed by Lincecum’s ability.
The article draws a parallel between Lincecum’s delivery and that of Astros’ ace righty Roy Oswalt. And if you watch video of Lincecum pitching, that comparison rings very true.
2) Chipper Jones did not actually spawn Ben Affleck’s love child, though he has gone on a unique nutritional program for the ’07 season.
Last season, as Chipper told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “I was drinking a lot of whey shakes, eating a lot of protein bars, a lot of oatmeal, a lot of yogurt, a lot of eggs whites.”
As for this year:
“...I still have a lot of egg whites, but with the yolks,” he said. “Candy bars have taken the place of the protein bars. Instead of the whey shakes, I get those cookies-and-cream milkshakes from Chick-fil-A.”
This probably should be something of a red flag to Braves fans everywhere, but we’re opting to give Chipper a free pass here, because a) his training regime clearly didn’t get the job done last year anyways, and b) Chick-fil-A is absolutely delicious.
3) Eric Byrnes is a little bit quirky.
There were few things we were going to read that we’d legitimately find surprising or noteworthy in an article about Eric Byrnes: clubhouse oddball, but thanks to a recent report in the Arizona Republic, we have learned that the D’Backs’ outfielder only washes his hair once every 10 days or so and has been known to “throw a little lotion in there now and again.”
And by “lotion,” Byrnes means body lotion. Asked if this was good for his hair, he responded, “I don’t know.”
We’re not positive, but we believe we find this news to be interesting because we always thought of Byrnes as hard-nosed on the field but ultimately something of a pretty boy surfer type off the field. But now it’s apparent that he’s closer to being just a very strange, semi-dirty caveman type who does whatever the hell he wants to do for reasons he can’t necessarily explain.
And we think that makes us like him a lot better.
4) Speaking of dirty, Greg Maddux may be the most quietly filthy man in all of baseball. Writes Jerry Crasnick on ESPN.com:
“For a guy with a CPA's demeanor, he has a sense of humor that a 12-year-old would envy. Maddux is a master of strategically timed nose picking, sidling up to an unsuspecting rookie in the shower and urinating on the kid's leg, and inventing just the right nickname for a teammate with big ears, a prominent schnozz or some other pronounced physical qualities.”
Naturally, the part of this that stands out to us the most is that Maddux has been known to make pee-pee on teammates’ legs in the shower, an odd, disturbing and strangely delightful image, to say the least.
But we’d also like to take note of Maddux coming up with nicknames for teammates with “pronounced physical qualities.” As funny as it would be if Maddux were commenting on some teammate who had an enormously large cranium or terribly misshapen thumb, we have a feeling that the physical qualities Maddux is observing aren’t necessarily so PG-rated. Makes you think that the old professor might just be keeping tabs on certain teammates’ appendages in the shower (that is, when he’s not too preoccupied with peeing on their legs).
As longtime Braves fans, we’d occasionally heard whispers about Maddux being something of an irreverent clubhouse prankster, but some of these gags (particularly the shower micturation) exceed our wildest dreams.And perhaps that’s what spring training, in its finest moments, is really all about.