Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"Nothing" Is the Hardest Thing To Say

One of the best parts of Spring Training is what happens when guys who have largely been ignored to go hunting/fishing/truck washing/whatever for four months suddenly get an Edible Arrangements-sized bouquet of microphones stuck in their faces by reporters who haven't anything to talk about except salary arbitration (which is math and which many of them therefore do not actually understand). The players, understandably, are not in mid-season cliche-spouting form, and as such there's a greater-than-average chance of getting something pants-on-head quotable.

Like, say some passive-aggressive stream-of-consciousness sandbagging of former teammates and managers. Take, for example, Red Sox DH David Ortiz taking the opportunity to throw long-gone and discredited former manager Bobby Valentine under the bus. Now, the odds are that the next team Valentine manages consists entirely of nine year olds and has the words "SPONSORED BY CONKLIN LIQUORS" on the backs of their jerseys. It is also entirely likely that by the end of that season, the kids will have grown tired of Valentine's erratic distribution of orange slices, his calling out of the team's third baseman for spending too much time on math homework, and his refusal to accept the fact that one of the pitchers actually did get a boo-boo on his elbow when he ran into the catcher by accident chasing a pop-up. But you know what? It doesn't matter. Valentine's gone, Ortiz is still there for another year or two, and everyone moves on...except someone's got to get in last licks.

Then there's the fun in Arizona, where catcher Miguel Montero (the quintessential $9 NL-only roto league catcher) made a point of ripping former Diamondbacks pitching prospect Trevor Bauer for his poor work ethic and inability to take instruction. Bauer, who ended up in Cleveland this offseason as part of Arizona's plan to field a team of nine cloned, stubbly Kirk Gibsons, has his own unique throwing and workout regimen, and regardless of results, this didn't sit well with DBacks management, coaches...or players. And so Montero unleashed a rant that, translated from the original Khazad, can be boiled down to "I totally dumped him first." (Bauer, for his part, responded from Cleveland with a bit of verbal jujitsu that can be summarized as "He crazy. God bless the troops!")

You don't get this stuff during the season, except maybe at the end when the ship's going down and everyone's fighting for a job. But for now, baseball is fresh and so are the opinions, and all I can say is "pass the popcorn".
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