Spring Training Starts…

The Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic parts of the US remain in the deep freeze; there is not even a hint of Spring as one looks at the landscape. Nonetheless, Spring Training has begun in Florida and in Arizona meaning that even as I am bundling up to go out and get the mail, there is a real and reliable harbinger of Spring out there. As alluring as the harbinger is, it comes with a price:

    For the next 6 weeks, baseball fans will be bombarded on a daily basis with reports from Spring Training that are formulaic and unimportant.

There is a harsh reality associated with Spring Training every year and somehow it has escaped the cognizance of newspaper sports editors for at least the last 60 years that I have been “following” Spring Training. Here is that harsh reality:

    Newspapers come out on a daily basis.

    Actual news emanating from Spring Training happens far less frequently.

Publishing daily “reports” from Spring Training makes no more sense than publishing daily reports on what the astronauts are doing on the International Space Station.

Reporters faced with deadlines for daily stories therefore fall back on standard themes:

    A player who was injured last year surely hopes to be healthy this year.

    A player who shows up 15 pounds heavier says this will allow him to stay stronger during the long season.

    A player who shows up 15 pounds lighter says this will give him more speed and will keep him stronger longer in the season because he is carrying around less weight.

    A player with a new fat contract from free agency just wants to win and it glad that all the hoopla associated with contract negotiations are behind him.

    A player whose contract will expire at the end of this year is intent on getting a new contract and/or using the upcoming season to demonstrate his real worth – by focusing on nothing but winning of course.

We have all read all of those stories a hundred times before and will read another 4 or 5 dozen of them again this year because there is nothing else to put in the papers. On most days, nothing of any import happens in Spring Training. It is the price we pay for that particular harbinger of Spring…

About a year ago, I created an entity that I called the “Just Go Away Club” and populated it with folks about whom and from whom I had heard enough. All I wanted was for them to Just Go Away; I did not wish them any harm; Just Go Away. [Aside: The rant that created that “club” was one of the casualties of the website crash, so I cannot link to it anymore. It just does not exist…] One of the charter members of that club was Lance Armstrong. I have refrained from commenting about him since then and paid only scant attention to anything written about him – until now. In the last couple of weeks, however, he made the news twice with happenings that are at least as outrageous as his PED induced cycling career ever was.

    Driving in the snow in Aspen, CO, Armstrong hit two parked cars. His first reaction was to concoct a story that his ladyfriend was driving not him. Amazingly, she agreed to take the rap for him at first. The falsehood unraveled and Armstrong pled guilty to reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident. Once again, Lance Armstrong demonstrated that he is a lying weasel and a manipulator of other people.

    An arbitration panel ruled against him saying that he needs to pay a promotions company $10M. In handing down the decision, the panel cited Armstrong as having an “unparalleled pageant of international perjury, fraud and conspiracy.” According to reports, Armstrong said he will not comply with the arbitration ruling which makes one wonder why he bothered to contest the action in the first place.

I had had more than my fill of Lance Armstrong a year ago; these two happenings in the last month or so only confirm my previous sense that the best thing Lance Armstrong can do is to Just Go Away!

When Tiger Woods announced that he was taking some time off from the PGA Tour because his golf game was not up to the standards of tournament golf, I wonder how many duffers around the country partaking of an adult beverage after a round at the local club looked at the other members of their foursome that day and said something along the lines of:

“Same with my game…”

Finally, Scott Ostler of the SF Chronicle left little doubt regarding what he thinks of Alex Rodriguez’ handwritten apology to the world:

“Nice of Alex Rodriguez to apologize for his ‘mistakes.’ Hey, at least he didn’t refer to his serial lying and cheating as ‘oopsies.’

“ ‘I take full responsibility,’ A-Rod said, falling back on the most overused and meaningless phrase in sports apologies. It usually means, ‘I’ve run out of people to blame.’ “

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………