GRAPEFRUIT LEAGUE – One of the grand traditions of Cactus and Grapefruit League action is that often Spring Training Guest Instructors are brought in mostly as a gimmick by teams looking for… what? An image boost? Star power? Connecting to older fans? Unique expertise from a former player? I’m not entirely sure what these Guest Instructors do bring to the table, but the guys chosen for these “gigs” are curious, to say the least.
In Scottsdale, AZ this Spring, the San Francisco Giants have brought in that much respected team player and all-around good guy, Baseball’s all-time HR King* Barry Bonds. As an active player, Bonds’ behavior and interactions with teammates, coaches, fans, etc could be characterized as anywhere between belligerent and say, Uday & Qusay Hussein. But there he is in Scottsdale looking svelte and confident ready to impart his wisdom on the youngsters in camp.
In Port St. Lucie, the great Mike Piazza has returned as a special instructor for Mets Camp. Mike was generally viewed as a good guy and amiable enough while still active. I’m just not sure what pieces of wisdom he’ll be delivering to the team. “Going blonde while still ignoring the rumors?” Or “Backne? It’s not just for breakfast any more?”
Craig Biggio is a guest instructor in Kissimmee for the Astros. His lessons would likely include…”Compiling–Why should Hoarders have all the fun!” or “How I learned to love Jeff Bagwell and started to share his training habits?”
In Tampa, Alex Rodriguez is a guest instructor for the Yankees, in which he’ll be holding court each morning on how to appear as the douchiest, most smug, insincere and manipulative piece of crap since Danny Bonaduce.
Plant City, Florida is welcoming Pete Rose to Reds camp. Pete will show the current ballplayers how to bet on anything that moves, doesn’t move, or why never to split 8s against picture cards. Also he’ll be there signing some of Marge Schott’s Nazi Paraphernalia.
Additional tips being dispensed this Spring across both the Grapefruit and Cactus league camps can be found as well, such as in…
Yanks camp, where Jim Leyritz will be providing the younger players with driving lessons
Orioles camp, where Brady Anderson will cover Paul Simon by signing “there must be…just 1 way to hit 50HRs”…
Mets Camp, Clubhouse Man Charlie Samuels will join Rickey Henderson to improve the art of stealing.
Cubs Camp, where Carlos Zambrano and Michael Barrett will sing Kumbaya.
Expos Camp, where Ugeuth Urbina will demonstrate his Ginsu skills.
Royals Camp, where Jim Eisenreich will teach how to curse out his owner and manager and get away with blaming it all on Tourette’s. And of course, back again at… Here’s a clip of Jim Eisenreich speaking with the Royals players in Florida…
Mets Camp, where special instructor Bernard Madoff will address a room full of Millionaire athletes on how to invest and grow their money. This Instructor will present via WebEx as he is currently unavailable to travel.
Elsewhere in Spring Training, the Mets are off to a 1-3 start and yes, I know it’s Spring Training – and very early Spring Training at that. But is it really ever too early to start adopting a culture of winning that can be carried over into the regular season? Ruben Tejada is still projected to be this team’s starting shortstop, so any nonsense about this being a 90 Win team is utter crap from Real Sandy Alderson.
Two quick thoughts though on the disingenuous declaration by RSA of 90 Wins for this team. Current projected Met starters at SS, 1B and C are all among the weakest in Baseball. Dead wood that wouldn’t see even AAA for any organization still comprise 40% of the team’s roster. During the Moneyball nonsense, as detailed by Ken Lewis, Billy Bean and the SABR freaks spoke of the “good face.” That a classically chiseled handsome face could usually portend success as a ballplayer according to the Stat Geeks like Sandy, Beane and DePo. This is why Anthony Recker is the backup Catcher. He grades out well below average in every quantifiable measurement on the ballfield – but Sandy apparently likes how he looks. You can’t make this crap up. The guys with the absurd single-minded obsession with Advanced Statistical Analysis also fancy the symmetrical faces of their favorite players.
And finally, if Sandy really thought this team could win 90 games, he would support that effort by providing Terry Collins with the tools and firepower to actually do so. This means not worrying about an extra 300K that Noah Syndegaard may earn in 2017 as a result of having him start this season with the big club. Doc Gooden did it in ’84. Tim Leary in ’81. Hell, even the Marlins had Jose Fernandez break camp last year with the Major League team, in spite of losing a year of his free agency period down the road. So Sandy…enough crap. If you think this team can win 90, put-up… Or do us all a favor, and shut-up.
Our own Jim Eisenreich, the twitchy and always Thor, Angry Ward tomorrow.
P.s… From the Vault: The Ruben Tejada/Mayans story: