Twelve hours to spring training: 1976

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A fantastic road trip story from former major league journeyman pitcher John D’Acquisto. He tells of the twelve hours before reporting to spring training for the Giants in 1976. He, John Montefusco and Randy Moffitt in a Porche, racing to make it from Foster City, California to Phoenix in time to report to camp.

I picked up Moffitt at his place. Randy’s wife came out to see us off. I threw his bag in the trunk and handed him the keys for the long journey. With our history of aggressive driving, the willingness to air out these badass sports cars, and hell, just the general testosterone of dudes under 25, all the wives thought we were out of our minds to drive to Arizona. Count and Ed had followed us to Moff’s house as we mapped out the race. Moff and I shared a quick laugh watching the six-foot-seven Halicki trying to pack himself into Count’s Porsche.

“How’s that big son of a bitch gonna get himself in,” Moff laughed, scratching his head as he opened the driver’s side door to my car.

Along the way there is fast driving. There is silliness. There is also a pretty deep contemplation of how quickly youth is lost and how uncertain even the most seemingly cocksure young jocks can be.

Great story.

(link via BTF)

Mad Dog Licks Boots

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Earlier this week Tyler Kepner of the New York Times reported that the MLBPA and the league are heading back to the table more than two years before the expiration of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, which expires following the 2021 season.

This had been hinted at for some time, as the union has shown clear displeasure at the current state of business, particularly with the free agent market. The league, one might assume, is happy with the current state of affairs, but it also has an interest in heading off potential strife or even the hint of a labor stoppage in the future. Moreover, there are priorities which have emerged on MLB’s part since the last CBA was signed that they’d love to advance — pace of play, etc. — so they have some incentive to talk as well. So, while it’s totally newsworthy that the sides are talking, it’s also quite understandable and not particularly controversial.

It’s also quite understandable that, given that this is a negotiation between parties in an adversarial position, there will be public comments from the principles which involve advocacy or even posturing on occasion. That’s part of the deal of any negotiation that holds public interest. So, when Tony Clark, for example, says something like “the system doesn’t work,” and “either we’re going to have a conversation now, or we’re going to have a louder conversation later,” which is what he told Kepner, it’s not really a controversial thing. Indeed, it’s expected.

Chris “Mad Dog” Russo thinks it’s pretty controversial, however. The MLB Network host and talk radio legend took to the airwaves yesterday blasting Clark for not being more deferential to Rob Manfred who “was nice enough to extend him an olive branch.”  Russo likewise asked, rhetorically, what “Rob” must’ve thought when reading Clark’s quotes “over his cup of coffee, and bran muffin, on Madison Avenue, after his workout and all those things . . . his morning coffee, milk and two sugars by the way — Sweet and Low.”

He’s the Mad Dog, but he certainly licks boots here:

 

It’s amusing enough that Russo believes that Clark, Manfred’s counterpart and adversary, is supposed to be deferential and thankful for the mighty Manfred. It’s even more amusing, however, that he takes the tack of arguing that MLB has no real interest in negotiating now and is somehow merely throwing the union a bone or offering an olive branch. In saying this Russo, whether he realizes it or not, is accusing Manfred of bad faith, optics-only talks with the union. I don’t feel like Manfred thinks he’s doing that. And I don’t think Clark would be talking to him if he felt he was being patronized to either. Indeed, the dance of the last several months around all of this was, in part, to ensure that that was not the case.

I don’t know what Manfred thought about Clark’s comments on Tuesday, but I do wonder how he feels about being accused by an MLB Network employee of playing games like this. It might be enough for him to spit out his bran muffin and coffee. Cream and two sugars and all.