Posted on: February 20, 2012 5:33 pm
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Truth be told, the biggest news on Albert Pujols' first day as an Angel on Monday probably was something that actually occurred last Thursday, when he went mano y mano with Japanese sensation Yu Darvish.
Texas signed the Japanese sensation not long after the Angels signed Pujols, escalating the AL West arms race.
Pujols said the two met last Thursday while he was working out in Los Angeles.
"He walked in and introduced himself," Pujols said. "He's a really nice guy, really humble.
"He said he's looking forward to the battle, working in the same division. It's going to be fun."
The Angels and Rangers meet for the first time in 2012 on Friday, May 11, in Arlington.
Sunblock Day? Yep. Getting warmer. In the 40s at 7 am, but high 60s and warm sun by late morning.
Likes: Pujols admitting Monday he already received his first fine as an Angel on his first day in camp. "My phone rang in the clubhouse," he said, chuckling. ... Talking late Hall of Famer Gary Carter with Felipe Alou the other day. Alou managed Carter in Montreal, and the two lived about 20 minutes apart in the Palm Beach Gardens area of Florida. "He was the kind of guy who brought light into a room when he walked in," Alou said. Great description. ... Alou also was chuckling reminiscing about Carter's rookie year, when the Expos still had Barry Foote catching and sometimes played Carter in the outfield. "Gary about killed himself running into a wall one time," Alou said. "That was the last time he played outfield. Barry Foote was good, but he was not a Hall of Famer." ... The thin-crust pizza at Oregano's. Went sausage and mushroom the other night. Abstolutely delicious. Plus, cool T-shirts the wait staff was wearing: "Legalize Marinara" read their backs. ... Loved The Help. Definitely worth seeing, if you haven't. ... Indestructible Machine, fantastic disc from Lydia Loveless.
Dislikes: Netflixed The Tree of Life and either I'm not smart enough (very possible), or this is one miserable movie. Oh ... my ... Lord.
Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"I hear that there's a party tonight
"I probably won't go, but thanks for the invite
"'Cause I'd rather stay home and drink gallons of wine
"And that must be why nobody stops by"
-- More Like Them, Lydia Loveless
Posted on: February 16, 2012 5:42 pm
We've known this was coming now for nearly a year. But when the end finally arrived for Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter on a day when the baseball world was readying for the start of another spring training, it still seemed unreal.
The Kid? Gone?
He was only 57, with the smile and heart of a much younger man. His death Thursday came just two weeks after his last public appearance, a poignant visit with a Palm Beach Atlantic University baseball team he helped coach before their season opener near his home in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
In grave shape with a body ravaged by a malignant brain tumor, it was touching -- and certainly not a surprise -- that Carter would haul himself out to the baseball field one final time. Nobody loved the game and the people who play it more than Carter.
It must have been a lump-in-the-throat scene in person, because just looking at the photos made the eyes well up with tears. The man provided so many memories in both New York, where he starred for the Mets' last World Series champion team in 1986, and in Montreal, where he helped author some of that city's finest baseball moments before the Expos sadly left town.
Gary Carter was an 11-time All-Star, earned three Gold Gloves and, most famously, keyed the Mets' three-run rally in the bottom of the 10th inning as they came back to beat Boston in Game 6 of the '86 World Series.
And while he created so many great memories, what's maybe most satisfying as we remember him today is how much he always enjoyed the ride while he was on it.
Posted on: May 31, 2011 10:08 pm
Edited on: May 31, 2011 10:31 pm
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- Yes, Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson was one of the most visible managers Ken Griffey Sr. ever had, and surely is influencing in some way what Griff is doing as a manager today.
But Griffey's most influential manager?
That would be Russ Nixon, whom Griffey was blessed to have come across during his second year of professional baseball, perhaps the most difficult of his career.
It was in Sioux Falls, S.D., in the early 1970s, and Griffey was the only married player on the team.
Worse, Griffey says, "there were not many black folks in Sioux Falls. We were the only black family around."
Concerned over this, Griffey said he phoned his wife at the time, Birdie, and tried to tell her not to come to South Dakota with their five-month-old son -- Ken Griffey Jr. But she already was on a plane.
As Griffey remembers it, the team opened with a homestand of about nine or 10 days, and Birdie arrived on day six or seven. They were rebuffed on a couple of rental attempts while looking for a place to live, Griffey says, adding that he knew it was because of their race.
"I told Russ Nixon that if I didn't find a place to live by the time the team left for the trip, I was going home," Griffey says. "Russ was staying at the team hotel and knew the guy who owned the hotel, and the guy's nephew was in real estate.
"He found us a place to live."
Sometimes in the low minors, managing isn't just about teaching hit-and-run techniques and bunt defenses.
"You learn quick," says Griffey, who was Cincinnati's 29th-round draft pick in 1969.
From Nixon, Griffey learned the value of persistence and the human touch.
From Sparky, Griffey learned the value of aggressive play and the art of handling different personalities.
Over his 24-year professional career, Griffey Sr. also played for many skippers, including John McNamara, Vern Rapp, George Scherger, Yogi Berra and Billy Martin. He hated Martin -- especially when Martin was drunk (he was a mean drunk) -- but still marvels at how shrewd and skilled a sober Martin was.
Likes: The Diamondbacks (!) in first place in the NL West, and Seattle surging in the AL West. What a month. ... Thanks to all with the Bakersfield Blaze. Very nice visit there with Ken Griffey Sr. and so many others late last week. Clubhouse manager Eddie Vasquez rocks. ... Griffey's Big Red Machine stories (George Foster has been in touch the most since Griffey took the Bakersfield managing job). ... Griffey chuckling about how he got along fine with Billy Martin in 1983 shortly after joining the Yankees "until Billy realized I was on the Reds team that kicked their ass in the '76 World Series." ... Mama Roomba Caribbean restaurant in Bakersfield. The salmon with mango salsa, mmm. ... Moo Creamery, also in Bakersfield. Go for the Toasted Almond and Strawberry Shortcake ice cream. ... Merle Haggard. ... The countdown to the final day of school.
Dislikes: Hall of Famer Gary Carter's battle with malignant brain tumors. Colleague Danny Knobler updates Carter's condition here. Prayers to Carter and his family.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"I came here looking for something
-- Buck Owens, Streets of Bakersfield