Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Swanie, How I Love Ya
2007-03-14 05:14
by Alex Belth

I'm proud to introduce the first Bronx Banter post by Village Voice sportswriter, Emma Span, who will be contributing twice-a-month for us this season. Dig...

By Emma Span

Spring training is a tough time for sports writers – or, at least, for me. You want to talk about the games, except they're so utterly unimportant that you often overhear players asking each other who today's opponent is. And at this stage of March, every statement about a player's performance has to be qualified by either "Of course, it's still early" or "It's only spring training" or "Keep in mind he was just out there to work on his change today."

It was especially tough to find legitimate news in Port St. Lucie (home of the Mets and an awful lot of strip malls), so I was relieved to arrive in Tampa. The Mets are a pleasant, friendly, likeable group, but the juiciest news items of the week were Duaner Sanchez arriving late to work a few times and Lastings Milledge cutting his hair; I'm counting on the Yanks to liven things up a little. Plus, there were no other female reporters with the Mets, and until I got to Legends Field on Sunday - where there are several - except for the lady at the hotel desk and the girl at Wendy's, I'd barely even glimpsed another woman in a week. I've never been happier to see Suzyn Waldman.

But if the lack of real baseball news can make spring training frustrating, that relaxation is also what makes spring's odd, enjoyable little moments possible. I've been at this job for about seven months now, and I like to think I've gotten fairly blasé about the locker room scene. But when Reggie Jackson walks by eating a sandwich, nods, and says hi, I realize – nope. Not quite used to it yet. A friend of mine rounded a corner last week and came face to face with Yogi Berra in a towel, an experience I'm sure, for various reasons, will prove difficult to forget.

Covering the Yankees will probably always be a little different for me because I grew up watching them – though Reggie was before my time. It was all Don Mattingly then, and watching him playing (sort of) first base behind Andy Pettitte in Monday's simulated game was definitely one of the highlights of spring training thus far. [One note: the Yankees announced yesterday that Mattingly's father had just passed away, after undergoing several brain surgeries this week, and Mattingly had left to be with his family. You'd never have known what he was going through by watching him interact with the players on Monday.]

Legends Field, as some of you probably know, has a fenced-in artificial pond on one side, stocked with enormously fat ducks, geese, and a swan -- a very Steinbrennerian touch. As I walked by Sunday afternoon, maybe an hour before the Indians game, I saw Kyle Farnsworth, Brian Bruney, and Scott Proctor grab some bread from a staffer, huddle around the chain-link fence, and start feeding the birds. I'm not sure why, but that tableau completely cracked me up.

Incidentally, I'd always thought swans were supposed to be mean, but Bruney said this one was "sweet," and lonely because it had just lost its mate. See, you learn something new every day here.

Emma Span, formerly of Eephus Pitch, lives in Brooklyn and writes about sports for the Village Voice. She recently began blogging for them at Out of Left Field.

2007-03-14 05:33:04
1.   Ben
This morning as I rode into work and walked across the parking lot, I heard the birds tweeting, and some geese flying overhead... they were headed north! Muz be Spring.

What a cool piece. I love the guest-appearances and Ms. Span reads like a keeper.


2007-03-14 05:40:46
2.   Jim Dean
If you're gonna call out poor Yogi in a towel, you can't leave out how you're hanging around the showers waiting for the same from Donnie B.

And Farns was just fattening those birds further so he could take home dinner later this week.

2007-03-14 06:19:07
3.   Sliced Bread
I like the image of our bullpen bulldogs feeding the Legends Field water fowl: these men who throw a baseball near and over 100 miles per hour, gently tossing bread crumbs to their feathered friends.

Last week there was a photo on the frontpage of my local newspaper showing two bald eagles devouring the carcass of a Canada goose, on the surface of our frozen lake. According to the caption, the photographer saw one of the eagles kill a goose on another occasion.

Last summer I saw the eagles a few times flying overhead, and got close to them in my boat as they were perched in the trees on the shore. They're an awe-inspiring sight these birds, and you feel privileged to be in their presence.

Yesterday, I was driving past the Meadlowlands and saw a Canada goose standing by the side of the road.
I drove past the bird going about 20 miles per hour, but in that glance it occurred to me that the goose looked lost, forlorn.

My eyes returned to the cars ahead, and I saw a dead Canada goose lying in the shoulder of the road. I felt the other bird's loss, and almost felt guilty to be driving a car.

Tough spring for Canada geese in the wilds of New Jersey.

2007-03-14 06:58:57
4.   unmoderated
Thanks, Emma. I love Eephus, keep up the good work.
2007-03-14 07:27:03
5.   RIYank
Why buy a newspaper? It's all here!
2007-03-14 10:10:02
6.   C2Coke
5 I was thinking the same thing just now. It's great to have you here Emma. This is a great piece to read. And I can't get the image of three bigs guys feeding birds.

And thanks again, Alex and Cliff, for bringing in new voices to the Banter. This is awesome.

2007-03-14 10:19:06
7.   Chyll Will
5 You don't have to buy the Village Voice if you're ever in Manhattan, it's free. I like the comics best, but now I'll look for Ms. Span's work. Cool >;)

3 Makes you wonder what the hell Ben Franklin was thinking when he suggested the turkey as the U.S. national bird.

Franklin: (Bursting into a sub-committee meeting of the Second Continental Congress)
"Gentlemen, gentleman (munch) I've been inspired! I have a wonderful idea!"

John Adams: "Ben, can this wait until we're done? We have articles we're having a problem confederating, and Jefferson won't shut up about wooden currency..."

Jefferson: "I'm just saying... it's a renewable resource and there's plenty of it to use, if we could just..."

John Adams: "Silence!!!"

Franklin: "I beg your pardon, but if you'd only just sample this fine fare, I'll be out of your way in no-time..."

John Adams: "Very well... (passes around samples, chew, gulp) hmm, not bad... a little dry, but not bad at all. What is this, Ben?"

Franklin: "What is it? Why, it's only the most heavenly food ever discovered by white men in the history of our wretched colonialization! I call it...OTTOMAN!"

Washington: "Ottoman? As in the Ottoman Empire? But why, Ben? Why such a wretched name for such a tasty bird?"

Franklin: "George, that's the very jib of my cut. Empirical! This is a taste that will sweep the nation, once we finish establishing it of course. And as such, I suggest we establish this delectable bird as a symbol of our good taste and speedy development..."

Patrick Henry: "Now see here, Ben Franklin! I happen to know how incredibly stupid these birds tend to be, and I will not allow our fledgling nation to be represented by such stupidity! I say, give me the eagle, or give me death!"

stunned silence.

John Hancock: "Show-off..."

John Adams: "Ben, I'll tell you what... we'll consider it if you you would consider changing the name of this bird... how about falafel, or turkey or something? Hmm?"

Franklin: "Oh, all right... an eagle as the national bird! Hmph!" (Closes door behind)

John Adams: "Well then.. back to the business at hand. Er, what was the business at hand?"

John Q. Adams: "We were discussing which would be a better name for the Capitol City once it's finished: Istanbul or Constantinople."

John Adams: "We're getting WAYYY ahead of ourselves, junior..."

...or something like that...

2007-03-14 10:26:53
8.   Sliced Bread
7 That's hilarious, Chyll. I knew I could count on you for a little Bird Banter.
2007-03-14 10:37:19
9.   The Mick 536
Wonder whether anyone, except Vince Scully, gets used to it.

He acknowledged you. Wow. How envious am I. Supppose you got to talk to him after he said hi-not interview him, just chatter. What would you have said?

2007-03-14 10:58:22
10.   Chyll Will
8 Just holding the spot for ya, Sliced >;)
2007-03-14 11:20:43
11.   pistolpete
My sympathies to Donnie Baseball...
2007-03-14 12:00:19
12.   Bama Yankee
7 Very nice, Chyll. "articles we're having a problem confederating" -LOL

John Quincy Adams was a They Might Be Giants fan... who knew?
(Or could it be that TMBG got that song from JQA. They did have that song about James K. Polk... Hmmmm)

2007-03-14 12:47:09
13.   Emma Span
You all have no idea how honored I am that something I posted led to a TMBG tangent.

9 You know, I should have chatted with him, because he seems like a friendly guy. But I was sort of caught off guard. "How's the sandwich?" is not really the sort of witty, insightful remark you'd want to lead off with, you know?

2007-03-14 13:16:32
14.   Jim Dean
13 Welcome to the party! A few questions, if I may, while you're stopping by:

Jeter or A-Rod?

Donnie B: 1987 or 2007?

Suzyn: Gal pal or Mean girl?

More fun to cover: Mets or Yanks?

Isiah: Spiked 2006 team or improved 2007 version?

2007-03-14 13:33:36
15.   joejoejoe
A covey of relievers feeding the ducks.
2007-03-14 13:45:50
16.   Schteeve
13 It could be a really good ice breaker.

You: "Pastrami?"
Reggie: "Corned Beef"
You: "Cool."

2007-03-14 14:01:50
17.   Peter
Why is Yogi showering in the clubhouse? I understand he changes into a uniform but it's not like he's going out there and breaking a sweat anymore.
2007-03-14 14:03:40
18.   Bama Yankee
13 Welcome, Emma (I enjoyed the post, keep up the good work).
Adding to Jim's questions in 14:
2007-03-14 16:02:43
19.   Chyll Will
13 It only happens on special occasions, so welcome >;)

14 If getting closer to .500 is a sign of evident improvement, then Isiah Thomas is the Meh-Meister. The real question is:

Charles Dolan or James Dolan?

18 2kaxxo kicks... @$%!!!

2007-03-14 16:17:49
20.   Emma Span
14 Jim Dean,

Jeter or A-Rod?: Cano.

Donnie B: Always.

Suzyn: Seems very nice, honestly.

More fun to cover: Don't hate me, but last fall I would have said the Mets by a mile -- they were more relaxed, more approachable, and just around more often. But this spring, I think the Yanks have narrowed the gap. We'll see if it lasts. (They do have better food).

Isiah: Honestly? No goddamn idea. I can't read that guy at all… and someone needs to write a book about the Larry Brown fiasco, because you hear a million rumors about last season, but I'm dying to know what really happened behind the scenes. Anyway, I say they're sunk if David Lee can't get back soon.

But I'm a Nets fan, so I have bigger worries. Gah.

18 Bama Yankee, who's… oh, never mind.

2007-03-14 16:53:40
21.   Chyll Will
(Psst...Whaddaya think, JD, Bama? She's a keeper...)
2007-03-14 17:59:37
22.   yankz
Sorry, but you haven't made it until you've jumped in the middle of a Jim Dean storm and lived to tell about it.
2007-03-14 18:15:14
23.   Jim Dean
20 Excellent! No worries on the Mets though - the Yanks have been stale for a few years now. The baseball is fun, but they've taken Jeter as a role model too far - he's just not interesting as a personality. I'm still waiting for A-Rod go ape shit to liven things up - maybe attack an umpire, charge a few mounds, and Albert Belle a ball into the bleacher creatures.

And Bama 18 that was a LOL moment.

21 (Psst...Definitely).

22 See, I've got it mostly out of my system. By the time Minky is stinking up the joint into May? I'm Zen. Cairo in RF in June? Chillin' like a villian. And Prat for three weeks in August? I'm hunting Cashman down.

2007-03-14 18:26:46
24.   dianagramr
Is this Emma's favorite player?

2007-03-14 18:30:09
25.   Chyll Will
22 There is that, but I petrose he gives her the benefit of the doubt, especially since she has a PeteAbe vantage...

(petrose --> bet every damn day)

2007-03-14 19:20:28
26.   markp
meanwhile, two young pitchers continued to make a case for themselves and Cano had a good night.
2007-03-14 19:22:32
27.   Bama Yankee
19 "2kaxxo" might be one of the best TinyURLs of all time. It sounds like a lumberjack computer game (or possibly a nickname that Karim picked up over in Japan).

21 Emma is most definitely a keeper.

23 Glad you liked that one Jim. It was harder to find that picture of his Yankee card than I thought it would be (now I've got to get one of those for my collection).

2007-03-14 20:48:14
28.   Chyll Will
27 Yeah! A space-lumberjack clearing out forest-planets for the good of Habitats-for-Humanity or The Universal Home Depot...

23 I can just picture you sipping a Long Island iced tea while Cairo chases a fly ball to the warning track, slips on the loose dirt and gingerbreads himself on the wall, while Damon is laughing his behind off and Matsui races over to get the ball and throw to third, as Big Papi does a pop-up slide ahead of the tag.

Waldman: ...and get this, a fan in the box seats just behind the visitor's dugout is chanting something, let's see if we can make out what he's saying...

Sterling: Maybe he's chanting that old stand-by, 'Nam Myo Renge Kyo', as most people know means "pass the ol' green tea..."

Waldman: Bwuh-ha-hah-haah!!! Well anyway, the fan, who's drinking a lun-guylund ice tea by the way, appears to be chanting, "six weeks to hunting season"... what could that possibly mean?

Sterling: You know what, Susan? I am sure I don't know. Perhaps a regional colloquialism for Croton Watches, or Gallegher's Steakhouse...

Waldman: Err, John? We're on the air...

Sterling: Safe... secure...vital!

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