Scenes from Spring Training: “Ozzie Guillen! Look at me!”

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So I slid down close to the White Sox dugout when I saw Ozzie Guillen sitting there like that. Figured I’d take his picture.  I took this one and a couple other ones of him hanging out there.  Then a guy a couple seats down said “want me to get his attention for you?”  I said “no, that’s cool,” figuring that it’s probably not kosher to bug the manager in the middle of the game.  The guy next to me had made up his mind already, however:

Guy: “Ozzie! Yo! Look up here!”

Guillen: [not taking his eyes off the field] “Nah.”

Oh well.  Other stuff from today’s game:

Forgot to mention this earlier, but when I was in the White Sox clubhouse there was a table set up where two women from a company called Elevee Custom Clothing were handing out cards and catalogs to players. The deal: busy players get measured by them once and then they buy their clothes over the phone or the Internet all year. Convenient, I suppose.  I snagged a catalog because I thought it might be cool to dress like a ballplayer. There was nothing in there for me, but tell me: am I nuts, or is that Dan Haren modeling?

Hey, good for him. Handsome man. Glad he has a second gig lined up.

I think it’s pretty lame to hear reporters complain about the lunch spread the ballpark puts out for them, but today was kinda nuts: creole chicken and beef barley soup. I’m sure it was tasty, but it was pushing 80 degrees today and that stuff sounded all hot and complicated. I went to the concourse for a Chicago dog with crazy dayglo green relish and a Deschutes pale ale. I chose … wisely.

I teased it with the pic of Adam Dunn playing first earlier, but it was a very special day defensively speaking. Not only did the Donkey have first base, but Jack Cust was playing left for the the Mariners.  Sadly neither one of them embarrassed themselves out there. I had my hopes up.

I made a point to get here early this morning because with the Mariners coming to Camelback that means Ichiro, and that means a Japanese press contingent that, I’m told anyway, is even bigger than Matsui’s. A press corps that big means space in the box would be at a premium.  Sadly, no Ichiro and no Japanese press corps. I like those guys. I kinda missed ’em today.

Tony Pena came in to pitch for the Sox. I was all excited because I had never seen a converted middle infielder pitch in person before. I enjoyed it for a whole inning until I realized that it was the other Tony Pena. I should probably start paying more attention to random relief pitchers.

It occurred to me that I’ve seen Adam Dunn play in person six times and that each time I’ve seen him — mostly when he was with the Reds, but once when he was with the Nats — he hit a home run. No homer for Dunn today, however. The streak, she died.

And tell me, this ain’t bad for a little pocket camera, is it?

Teahen took that one for ball two low, then flew out to center the next pitch.

That pic made me happy. What makes me sad: this was my last game and thus the baseball portion of my trip is over. If I didn’t have a wife and kids back home who I miss very much, I’d stay until the teams broke camp. Then I’d follow them around until NBC decided that the hotel bills were getting out of hand.  But I do have a wife and kids back home and NBC would probably suspend my expense account by April 10th, so I fly home tomorrow.

I’ll have a big honkin’ Scenes from Spring Training retrospective up before I catch my flight tomorrow morning.  But for now I reluctantly bid the ballparks adieu.  Thanks for travelling with me, everybody.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.