For the second straight day it is snowing in New York. The city is mobbed today with packs of drunken suburbanites stumbling around in the name of Saint Patrick. Fortunately, the YES network is televising a Yankee exhibition game tonight, so the last-ditch efforts of old man winter aren't bothering too tough.
I got an e-mail from my friend Mindy who was in Tampa last week with a couple of her pals, checking out the Yankees camp. She said it was such a mob scene this year that she doesn't have any intentions of going back next season. Here are a few of her observations:
There were a couple of light-hearted moments we saw before the games. One day, Jeter and Kenny Loften were making fun of the way a-Rod was running up and down the field, so Kenny started prancing around on his tippy toes, leaving Jeter doubled over. Giambi ran over to get in on the joke and Jeter looked like he was gladly re-telling the story. Very cute.
...One thing I feel is worth mentioning...I realized that many of these people come down to spring training not just to see games, but to see players up close, get pictures and most importantly, get autographs. The autograph seekers are everyone from wide-eyed little kids to ruthless baseball memorabilia freaks who are looking to make an easy buck on e-bay. Either way, the entire time I was there the only person I saw signing any autographs was Jason Giambi (which he did last year as well). After, the guys left batting practice, A-Rod, Jeter, Kenny Lofton, even Enrique Wilson, ran by tons of fans waiting for autographs. Giambi was the only one to take the time to sign them. Even when people were throwing the balls over the fence at him (all at once), he stopped and ran around picking them up off the ground to give a signature to everyone. Last year, Joe Torre was the only other guy next to Giambi that I saw giving an autograph. I was very proud of Bam Bam Giambi and according to everyone that I met who knows or has met these guys—they all said hands down Giambi is the nicest of the pack. He is friendly and down-to-earth and immediately made them feel comfortable approaching him.
Slow day in Yankee land as yesterday's game against the Devil Rays was rained out. Oh, my bad, there was one newsflash: Popeye Zimmer doesn't like George Steinbrenner. I don't know about you, but I'd pay to see George and Zim settle this like men, in a steel cage match. Two men enter, one man leaves.
There are a few good articles out there that I'd like to alert you to if you haven't come across them on your own already:
2. Alex Ciepley has a fascinating two-part interview with Michael Musuka (part one, and part two), who was the first openly gay Athletic director in the country. Musuka worked for Oberlin college and then Brown University. Musuka is insightful, and a lot of what he says may surprise you. Here is a good exchange:
BT: So you would actually not advise a pro athlete to come out.
Muska: I just don't think it's worth going through. I wish it were.
It's kind of like a kid coming out. If the kid's going to come out to his family, it's a scary thing -- you're going to hope that you have a support network around you. Perhaps your parents or teachers at school. I think a pro athlete needs to know they've got that same support mechanism.
Until we see a general manager who brings in people to talk about homophobia in sports, until you see some leadership in pro teams do that, I think that a guy will say, "What's my support base, what's my safety net, what's in my contract to protect me?" Basically, there's nothing.
Ciepley does a terrific job with the interview. Kudos.
3. Here are a trio of articles on statistical analysis. Two are from mlb.com (one and two) and another one is from The New Yorker (thanks to Baseball Primer for the links).