Thursday, April 2, 2009

Spring Cleaning

Cleaning off my desk, emptying my suitcase, deleting a few shows from my TIVO and downloading the Spring Training pictures from the camera while waiting for a new season of ranting, raving and rambling about the great game.

Let's clear up a few last thoughts before we put on our game face:

Here and Back: I spent a very short but productive three days in Surprise last weekend. Came back with these impressions: maybe, just maybe Brandon McCarthy has a chance to make a contribution to the rotation…Elvis Andrus can play a little defense, and speaking of defense I don’t know about the infield, but after watching the plethora of Ranger OF’s I feel pretty good about all of the guys who’ll be tracking down fly balls this year…Chris Davis had 6 hits (in 8 AB’s) with 4 RBI and 2 HR’s while I was in Arizona – coincidence? I think not – Chris might want to hire me…I did get to see plenty of minor league pitching –Derek Holland, Kasey Kiker, Jacob Brigham and Tim Murphy (I was very impressed with Murphy and Brigham’s outings) … the Mariners minor leaguers don’t wear names on their uniforms – and I need to find out who #34 on their “A” squad was from the March 28th game – he could be some serious competition in a few years based on the way he pitched that day… I saw Justin Smoak taking BP, Engle Beltre hit a HR, Jason Hart coach first base and Steve Buchele coaching at third…met up with many good old friends and made a few new ones...found out the venerable Jim Reeves is a fellow “Life on Mars” fan (more on that later) … and was reminded that parking is a serious business. The parking lot attendants at the stadium are members of the Sundancers – a large group of volunteer retirees who work at the stadium. When you drive into the parking lot it’s like landing on an aircraft carrier: there a lots of grey haired guys in panama hats with flags and cones pointing you to the spot where you must park – God forbid you try to park in any other place than the one they’ve designated for you. Thinking about them still makes me smile.

Here's are the links to my Spring Training pictures:

Minor Leaguers and Former Minor Leaguers (now known as Major Leaguers)

I have a new camera that has lots of bells and whistles I haven't quite figured out yet. The one feature I have mastered is "continous shooting" - that gave me the delightful opportunity to capture an entire sequence of the pitching motions, here are the links for:

RHP Jacob Brigham - LHP Tim Murphy and LHP Kaskey Kiker

Leaving and Staying: Well, it’s over. The last episode of “Life On Mars” aired last night. It was terrific, up until the last five minutes. I was a little disappointed in the ending. If you know anything about the BBC version of the show – their finale was a shock – I was hoping for something as good. But I should have known better: it’s American network TV which means original, unique and edgy aren’t allowed – it had to have an “happy” ending – and it did – although I did love the very last shot of Gene’s white buck stepping out on the planet (“Life on Mars” – sort of clever). There are several good articles online today about the show: the New York Daily News uses "Life on Mars" as comparison between US and BBC TV series. The British shows are often created for a finite number of episodes that seems to produce a different creative process and much more interesting stories. Certainly it leads to less convoluted story lines than most long running US television shows that often lose track of their characters and become repetitious. This review from is probably the best summation of the show, especially the music – which is why I’m listening to Elton John on the IPod as I type this. Another aside: I love the Salon author's swipe at the HBO series that glorified the vapid and shallow. By the way: I really hope Jason O’Mara winds up in another series – because I am smitten. I have no idea what will be replacing “Life on Mars” on ABC –probably just another reality show or mushy drama about lawyers in love. That is one less season pass on my TIVO – however, the good news this week is that “Friday Nights Lights” has been renewed for two more short (thirteen) episode seasons. Thankfully, NBC is allowing just a little bit of innovation: the high school kids (Tyra, Riggins, Lyla and Matt) have all graduated – and new cast of characters will populate the Dillon High Schools next season with Eric and Tami Taylor.

I don’t spend all my time watching television: I occasionally spend time a book or find few things to read online too. Just finished “The Yankee Years” by Tom Verducci and Joe Torre – it wasn’t as good as I had hoped. Instead of being a true autobiography, it was Tom Verducci gushing on about the Yankees with commentary by Torre. I will say that Joe has secured his spot in heaven after enduring George Stienbrenner – and Torre was really very evenhanded with his reminiscences of “the boss”. The book I did like- it was long but worth it was Arthur Schlesinger’s"Journals: 1952 – 2000" – for a geeky history nut like me it was a great read. I am now starting on some Japanese travel books in preparation for my trip next month to Sapporo – the home of Ramen noodles. You might also want to read this very nice piece and make a contribution in the comments section (it won't be difficult to figure out which one is mine).

Opening day is almost here.

88 hours and 30 minutes until the first pitch --- Marla Hooch