While everyone has their eyes glued to the tube for basketball updates, I am ignoring the madness and listening to the twitter from the baseball diamonds as the last two weeks of spring training runs down.
I have been a fan for all my life and used to collect oodles of baseball cards as a kid. I can still recite the entire Los Angeles Dodger infield from the 70s and 80s: Steve Garvey at first, Davey Lopes at second, Bill Russell at shortstop and Ron Cey at third.
I would sit by my radio at night often after I was told to go to bed and listen to Vin Scully calling the play-by-play. I would turn the volume really low in hopes of avoiding discovery.
I was truly a baseball nerd back then. As kids we would play the game as much as possible. We would either throw the ball around or play three flies up. At night I would sleep with my glove.
When people think of baseball fanatics talking they think of a bunch of guys sitting in a smoke-filled barber shop chewing the fat about their favorite teams. Things have changed over the years. Instead of the barber shop, men now just are glued to their favorite devices.
Now it’s not just men, women are just as interested as men in baseball.
Case in point, I just was asking my sister, Kim, about her favorite team, the Los Angeles Angels.
My sister works for the City of Los Angeles and every year waits for the spring to thaw the ground and then she takes a trip to Arizona to seek out her favorite ball players on the Angels. She loves spring training because she can get up close to her favorite Angel, Albert Pujols.
I asked her to comment on their pitching this year and she impressed me with some great facts and opinions.
“Remember last year, the Angels ended up winning 94 games …. the most in MLB. All that with a marginal starting five,” Kim said.
I humored her and just said I did, but in reality, my memory is not that good. I mean how much can she know, she’s just a girl, right?
She continued on and told me that they pitched just well enough and that combined with a stellar offense was a sight to see.
“Never in my life have I experienced a season where I was only unhappy 68 times in a regular season really the best season ever,” my sister rejoiced. “The post season went up in flames but that was inevitable once Garret Richards went down with that knee injury.”
“Garret who,” I said in my head.
Her main point was that she grew up watching the National League pitching. She says American League baseball is a different game.
“It took me three years but I get it now and you would be surprised at how effective it can be to just pitch enough and then blast your way to a victory after the sixth inning,” she said. “Many times last year the Angels won 9-6 really a beautiful thing.”
My sister then switched gears fairly easily and started to speak about the ace pitcher of the Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw.
“No more needs to be said about their pitching. I love him. He is a left-handed wonder and a nice Christian boy.”
She would probably marry him if he was available. For the rest of the Dodgers’ pitchers though, my sibling had nothing nearly as nice as what she said about Kershaw.
“The rest of the rotation pales but is National League stellar,” Kim said. “Zack Greinke is a funny guy but he can pitch. On any other team he would be the number one starter.”
She said one of the MLB managers got in trouble for calling him Rain Man.
“But in my opinion, from reading about him it is actually a spot-on description,” she said. “I admit I harbor some ill feelings as he was with the Angels in 2012 and ran off and signed with the Dodgers for some really big money.”
Kim has the opinion that Greinke is only in the game for the money. That is sacrilegious to her.
She then started off on Hyun Jin Ryu. If you didn’t know him, he is Asian.
My sister thinks he is representing our people very well.
“He has great pitches, but I heard he is starting the season with an injury,” Kim said. “Durability is always a question with Asian pitchers as typically they come from leagues that have shorter seasons and starters pitch only once per week instead of every 5 days.”
“Oh really,” I said under my breath.
Now that is analysis I never would have gotten. I had no idea that the Asian leagues were shorter in length and how she found out that they don’t pitch as much is beyond me. Of course that is something you would expect from a person subscribes to MLB so she can watch it on her lap top.
This Asian info is the type of commentary you would get from somebody like Vin Sculley, who is the only other person on this planet that watches more baseball than my sister.
I never really thought I would ever say this, but my sister could probably run circles around any fantasy baseball nut.
I mean my sister then told me who the injured Asian pitchers are around the big leagues and why.
“Tanaka on the Yankees has had similar issues. So far many of the imports have had injury issues in consecutive seasons.”
Now comes the good part. She then went into the baseball nerd zone. The zone where the casual fans stay out of. She spoke about pitchers no one had ever heard of. She is still talking Dodger baseball, just another layer and level.
“The contenders could be Juan Nicasio, Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson — you have never heard of these guys — only baseball nerds know these guys,” she said.
And she was right, I guess I am not much of a baseball nerd anymore.