By West Coast Craig

VALLEY COLLEGE BASEBALL FIELD, CA – Sorry, no Manny this week; according to Joe Torre he still looked devastated as he apologized to the team this weekend. Apparently he [Manny] has a home in South Florida, so it was convenient that the Dodgers were playing the Marlins – and I shudder to think of what our beloved, goofy, hitting savant will be like if he returns as a more somber character full of pathos when he comes back in July. That just wouldn’t be fun. Certainly Angelinos are desperate for fun Manny back and have been surprisingly supportive of the embattled slugger. My sources tell me the Free Manny shirts are outselling the JuanPierreWood ones. Funny, but I seem to recall a similar attitude whenever Barry Bonds came to town. Oh wait, that was about throwing needles onto the field, chanting “Ster-oids” and wearing shirts with a giant asterisk.

This was a pretty good sports weekend:

  • The Preakness was won by a girl.
  • The Celtics were officially halted in their improbable bid to repeat.
  • The Lakers are an awful frustrating bunch and will have their hands full with the Nuggets – who probably have the most tattoos in the league. Indeed, it may be a Melo-LeBron Finals.
  • The Red Wings look tenacious.
  • Both New York Nines looked strong at the same time for perhaps the first time all year.
  • The Yankees finally got the new home mojo they’d been looking for – it’s not aura and mystique yet, but the Twins, who never seem to win in Yankee Stadium no matter where it’s located. It it must feel like there’s nothing they can do. And that Gardner race home from second, where he was tagged at the last second by a diving Mauer, had more hustle in that one play than I’ve seen in a lot of games.
  • The Mets deserve good props for flying across the country and winning three of four from a Giants team that resembles a burly softball team. If Pelfrey hadn’t tied a record with 3 balks and Jerry Manuel didn’t beckon a bad Angel, they might have swept 4 on the road. By the way, any of you Met fans venturing out to La La Land to see them play in Chavez Ravine this week? It wasn’t so long ago people were circling these games as the ones that would test the Dodgers’ home winning streak. Should be a good series, anyway, and then another long flight all the way back to Boston. If the Mets make it through this week and next weekend relatively unscathed, it’ll have to boost your confidence in them.
  • And now for something completely different.

    I couldn’t shine Graig Nettles’ shoes (see whose shoes, Nettles couldn’t shine in video at bottom) but after playing the hot corner most of my adult life I’ve gotten a decent idea about how to play the position. I’m far too oafish to play shortstop and I don’t have a strong enough arm – mine’s just strong enough to get the ball across the diamond without needing the pitcher to cut it off. At any rate, I’m out there today, trying to focus on the game and here’s what was going through my head:

    “Okay, okay, get your butt down, get the glove out in front, okay… Boy, when did the sun get so bright? I hope nobody pops it up to me. Never mind that, what’s the count. Huh? Watch the bunt? Yeah yeah, I got it… I’ll just step up a little bit here. Why didn’t I wear my cup today? What am I going to write about for the Matts post tonight? Oh, why didn’t I start it back on Thursday? Yikes, he’s swinging and it looks like he’s in front… Uh oh, that ping sounded loud… The ball’s a blur, but it’s coming right at me. Stick the glove down! Stick the glove down! Ach, it hit the edge of the grass and the dirt, it’s not supposed to bounce like that…OWWW, my glove was too far down, it ricocheted up and hit me right in the wrist. Oh that smarts… Wait forget that, where’s the ball? Oh there it is, bouncing behind me. Okay, crap, that guy’s safe and now there’s a bruise that looks like stitch marks rising on my wrist. That’s going to hurt tomorrow. Next batter, tell the pitcher he’s doing good – rock and fire… Step up even with the bag to try and turn two. Glove down, butt down. I wonder how my fantasy team’s doing? Ok, he’s throwing to first to keep the runner close – move behind the pitcher in case he misses the throw back from the first baseman ( it happens sometimes and the runner could move up if I’m not paying attention). Wow, I’m good! I know what I’m doing over here. Okay, knock it down, keep it in front of you. Man, that pitch I popped up on last inning was a meatball… Damn, I wish I had that bac. No, forget it. That’s over. Think defense…Whack! Crap, it’s in the gap…That guy’s going to try and go first to third. Yell to the shortstop running out for the cut. ‘Right a step! Right a step! Right there!’ Center Fielder’s got a gun… We might get this guy. Tell the Shortstop, Let it go! He does, the ball’s going to bounce…Oh man, this guy’s coming hard. Hang in there, you’ve got to catch it. The dirt is flying now. He’s sliding in like a freight train and now the ball’s bouncing… Stick out the glove – stick it out what’s the worse that can happen? I can miss the ball, letting it fly into the dugout and letting the guy trot home – That’s what can happen! No time to think that. The ball’s here and so is this sliding goon with the metal spikes. I don’t even feel it hit the glove… Did it skip past me? Do I have it? Make the tag anyway, you can look in the webbing in a second. Oof, that cleat got me pretty good, followed by the rest of this guy’s hurtling bulk and now I’m being slammed backwards. This isn’t going to look graceful. I’m flying back on my butt and sliding a few feet on it… I can’t breath but now I can glance at the glove. The Blue is looking curiously at me as well. Everyone is. I hold it up and there it is… Snowconed! The ump gives a dramatic punch-out. Whew, sometimes it actually does look like I know what I’m doing over here! I’m also getting too old for it. How do catchers go through this? When can I make that inevitable switch to first?”

    I’m still a bit sore. There’s only so much healing some post-game pints can do – so I’ll sign off with that. Dodgers miss Santana, but Maine-Billingsly on Tuesday ought to be a good one.

    Graig Nettles shines whose shoes???

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    About West Coast Craig 226 Articles
    West Coast Craig reports from Hollywood with an endearingly laid back style. A happily married father of two little boys, WCC has an avocado tree in his yard, plays the hot corner in a "Valley" hardball league and always manages to take cool sports-related mini road-trips, often with his immediate clan. He hails from Oneonta, NY but has been "So very L.A." for twenty years, so his sports teams are the Yankees AND the Dodgers, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the L.A. Lakers and the Colorado Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques. WCC loves bacon-wrapped hotdogs and can touch his heel and his ear... with his hand.