Wooden's World of Baseball

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Winter Blues

January and February are the two worst months of the year. There's no skipping around it.

It would help, perhaps, if I were a fan of hockey or basketball, but I'm not. Oh, I appreciate the pure skill of the former, and the amazing athleticism of the latter, and I'd never turn down an offer to see either in person, but I don't seek it out and I don't follow it very closely.

Football gets me through the first part of the offseason, and in days past it was college basketball that got me through the second. But moving away from Massachusetts has also coincided with the steady decline of UMass since their heyday in the mid-90s.

I think it's the sporadic nature of the basketball/hockey season. Baseball is every day; football is every week. And it doesn't help that these two winter sports overlap with the beginning and ending of the season, or the ugly half-truth that things don't really get going until the playoffs start.

Believe it or not, I don't like "the Hot Stove" part of the season. Maybe just because it's so protracted, or maybe because it's so fraught with people whining about spending. I think it may have meant more when the only way players changed teams was via trades, and I'm not advocating a return to that pseudoslavery.

Planning road trips seems to be my only solace. Last year, the big one was my jaunt to the Carolinas. This year, the hope is for Eastern Tennessee. In general, my goal this year is to see places I haven't seen yet while still visiting my usual stops in Hagerstown, Harrisburg, Bowie and Waldorf. And of course, completing the Carolina League circuit with a visit to Winston-Salem.

So with a forecast of rain tomorrow, I say: Go ahead. Get it over with. Just give me a drought from April 3rd to October 3rd.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Let's Kill The Culture Of Negativity

[Ed. note: This is what I wrote for another site, but am republishing under author's permission ;-]

With a New Year, and a New Decade upon us, hope springs eternal for a New Era (no, not that New Era). This is irrespective of baseball, but with this being a baseball [blog], but I'm proposing a very simple change for Nationals fans.

Let's kill the culture of negativity.

The more astute reader will recognize this as a reference to Rick Pitino's famous rant in which he intoned "Larry Bird is not walking through that door, fans. Kevin McHale is not walking through that door, and Robert Parish is not walking through that door. And if you expect them to walk through that door, they're going to be gray and old."

But it's the next four sentences that few people remember:

What we are is young, exciting, hard-working, and we're going to improve. People don't realize that, and as soon as they realize those three guys are not coming through that door, the better this town will be for all of us because there are young guys in that room playing their asses off. I wish we had $90 million under the salary cap. I wish we could buy the world. We can't; the only thing we can do is work hard, and all the negativity that's in this town sucks.

What Washington fans probably don't know is that the most powerful sports-talk radio station in Boston used to play that rant mockingly as a set-up for the call-in segment for people to give their (half) witty remarks. But in the end, wasn't Pitino right? Absolutely.

This isn't to say we should become boosterish Pollyannas, going after Moby Dick and taking the tartar sauce with us. But the constant b*tching and complaining from some so-called fans on other sites has long since gotten old. It's childish. It's ignorant. And it serves no good purpose, save for creating a fellowship of the miserable.

Washington's woes are far from unique. Pittsburgh hasn't had a winner since 1992. Baltimore hasn't had one since 1997. Kansas City hasn't had one since 2003. None of these franchises can point to a five-year period where MLB treated the franchise like the Pennsylvania Road Warriors, gutting it like a fish. And yet all three of those franchises have farm systems that experts believe can start feeding them some decent major-league talent.

By definition, this is a site that focuses on the future, not the past. I propose that [fans] focus on what can be, if not what will be, as opposed to what hasn't been and might not be. It's more productive and more instructive and I think it makes for better reading.