Showing posts from January, 2008

Future Foes

The historic value or the irony in a shot isn't always apparent when you click the shutter. We're at the Cardinals' spring training home Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida in March 2005. As is the case for many exhibition games, the managers and their key aides view the action not from the dugout, but from the field itself. Bookending Cards skipper Tony LaRussa are (on the left) his longtime pitching coach Dave Duncan and (to the right) Jim Leyland, then working as a scout for the club. Who could have predicted that a year and a half later, LaRussa and Leyland would be the managers of opposing clubs in a World Series? 2006 was when the Cardinals defeated the Detroit Tigers -- managed by Jim Leyland -- in five games. Somehow, I can't imagine LaRussa or Leyland framing that scenario while comparing notes on prospects, bench players and maybe the local eatery where they'd share dinner.

The Promise of Youth

I spent Labor Day 2007 at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island to catch the Yankees' triple-A club play their Red Sox counterpart. While both clubs had already recalled many of their most important young talent, such as Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jon Lester, the cupboards weren't quite bare. Getting his chance to shine in the holiday spotlight was a former Yankees 1st round draft pick, Eric Duncan. That sweet swing that so impressed scouts was on display. It is high, far and gone! And thanks to a perfect vantage point in front of the right field picnic area, Duncan's blast is captured.

Rained Out

Last summer's "road trip" included a game at Baltimore's picturesque Camden Yards. Much like Wrigley, any game there is a pleasure -- heck, years ago, my pal Dennis and I drove down there from New York to catch a last-Sunday-in-March exhibition game. Unfortunately this time, the weather didn't cooperate. Holding batting practice with the cage surrounded by tarp was not a good sign. Nor was the ever-steadier stream of raindrops. After an hour or so's wait, and the prospects of a smallish crowd to catch the Orioles and Rangers, the game was postponed. Yet the ballpark was shimmering. Was it offering a visual apology? Have you ever sat through any especially rainy or stormy games that stick in your mind? Man (and woman) fighting the elements? Two quickly come to mind -- Game 4 of the 1977 National League Championship Series, with Tommy John, working in a steady rain totally mesmerizing the Phillies offense and clinching a Dodgers pennant. And the Yankees' 1


With January just half-over and the coldest weather of the season heading towards the East Coast, what setting most symbolizes summer? A day game at Wrigley Field. Mets vs. Cubs, shades of 1969 or 1984. New York visits Chicago. The Big Apple vs. the Second City. The backdrop is the most tradition-laden venue in the game. Sorry, Red Sox fans, Wrigley comes off as friendlier, more intimate, cozy and charming. And when you see the wave of modern-retro parks, many of them echo the ghosts of Ebbets Field, but they all salute the all-time and present-day charm of Wrigley.