Thursday, April 21, 2016

If It’s Spring, Then….

The Boys of Spring are back and this Old Boy of Spring is once again attracted to the diamond of my dreams, formed by four bases each 90 feet from the other.  But in my mind’s eye, I see the interior, 60’6” from home plate, the long expired vision of my playing years, replete with fantasies of facing that last batter in my perfectly pitched game, the World Series tied three games each, my Yankee teammates urging me on.  I’m behind in the count, facing a right-handed slugger (I’m left-handed).  My catcher calls for a fastball inside, but I shrug him off, favoring my secret weapon, rarely thrown today, a screwball which looks like it’ll be down the middle of the plate, breaking away from the batter at the last second.  Strike three!  Poof, there goes the dream, but when I return to the Roger Dean Stadium to see the Class A+ ball there, it’s a testimony to the one thing in my life that has essentially remained the same: baseball.

I’m convinced though that minor league games are better than going to any major league game. We have TV for the latter and IF you can get tickets to a critical MLB game, be prepared to shell out $$$ for any decent seat.  Otherwise, you are in the stratosphere watching a postage size game.  Much better on HD TV.

And last night had a special treat for me, seeing a left-handed pitcher who really impressed – Austin Gomber.  He’s a big guy, 6’-5”, so you'd think he'd have a blazing fast ball, but no, “only” about 90 or so. But his breaking stuff, especially his curve, and placement was great.  He pitched a shutout during his 7 plus innings and he looked more like a major league pitcher, thinking strategically in his selection of pitches, relying on his dipping curveball and an occasional slider and change up to get guys out. Usually down here in the minors they just hurl the ball, but he's already a thinking pitcher.  In the past I had signaled out other lefties for the majors, including Andrew Heaney (now with the Angles) and Justin Nicolino (now with the Marlins).

The way the New York Yankees are playing, perhaps they could use him today?  Make a trade!

Unfortunately, Roger Dean Stadium has now erected netting in front of the seats where we normally like to sit, so photographs suffer, although not the enjoyment of the game. Ah, baseball is back.