LONG BALLS, DOGS AND MICHAEL LEWIS FEATURED AT MUNI
Dog Days in February?
False Travis Buck sightings? Real Michael
Lewis sightings? Michael Taylor
launching one into orbit? It’s in all in
a day’s work here at A’s Central in the desert.
This morning started with the traditional team meeting in the clubhouse,
which is held each spring before the first full squad workout. Bob Geren addressed his troops, including a nice acknowledgement
Bailey winning last year’s American
League Rookie of the Year award. Beyond
a sign of respect to Bailey, the A’s manager probably wanted to make a very
salient point to all of his young players in camp. His message was loud and clear: everyone here has an opportunity to compete
and it’s up to you to take full advantage of it. In Andrew’s case last year, he clearly did.
One scene today that was unexpected if not downright
bizarre,was seeing a half dozen dogs roaming the hallowed turf of Phoenix Muni
this afternoon after workouts. Team
photographer Michael Zagaris–aka, “The Z
Man”–was on hand for the annual photo shoot with A’s players for the AvoDerm
Natural Pet Calendar, which is a promotional giveaway at the Coliseum April
18. If you were here today, you would
have seen some rather unique pairings featuring Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden, Craig
Breslow, Landon Powell and newcomer Kevin Kouzmanoff with such canine hopefuls as a Bulldog, Frenchie,
Chocolate and Yellow Labs, and a Bracco Italiano. While it’s good to see him again in a green
and gold uniform, I’m fairly certain Lenny DiNardo
will not be featured in this year’s calendar.
This, I hear, really disappointed the Bracco Italiano.
Perhaps the best clubhouse line of the day came from
catching prospect Josh Donaldson, he of the flowing
mane under his cap. After today’s
workout at Papago, he said in mock disgust, “Man, this is getting
tiresome. I had four different fans come
up to me, thinking I was Travis Buck and wanting my autograph.” It’s no wonder he was mistaken for Travis,
considering he actually looks more like
Buck than Buck does–or at least Buck,
circa 2009, before he shaved his head. The
good news for those Travis Buck followers–and you know who you are–it should be
noted that he did report to camp with his hair grown out, although not yet to
the length that makes him Travis Buck
(as so aptly featured on his 2008 bobblehead).
When I left the clubhouse and returned to my office
this afternoon, I got off the elevator and almost got blindsided (appropriately) by a man who looked very familiar. It was none other than best-selling author Michael Lewis, someone I have long admired who wrote such wildly
successful books as “The Blind Side” and “Moneyball.” He was here to visit good friend, Billy Beane, the subject of “Moneyball” who reportedly
will be portrayed by Brad Pitt in the movie version
which starts shooting later this year.
Clearly a superstar in the literary world, I was struck how friendly and
approachable Michael was. Both Berkeley residents, we
chatted for a few minutes before he headed up to Billy’s office. He mentioned that he’s about to publish
another book about Wall Street, and that he’s also working on a sequel to
Moneyball focusing on the journey of pitchers through the minor leagues.
One final scene from today that I won’t soon forget
was standing at the cage of Field 4 at Papago during live batting
practice. Left-handed reliever Brad Kilby was pitching to outfielder Michael Taylor in the
first pitcher-hitter confrontation of the spring. Kilby’s fastball was clearly getting the best
of Taylor early
on, which is quite common when hitters first step in against live
pitching. There’s always a lot of taking
of pitches–Jack Cust today didn’t swing the
bat once against a very impressive Vin Mazarro
in an earlier session–but before I could even bat an eyelash, whoosh.
Taylor threw his bat head forward and connected on an inside heater
that started as a low line drive and just soared, clearing the left field fence
and then soaring some more. While Geren
was not there to witness it, word travelled fast. By the time he visited Field 4, he had
already learned of Taylor’s
christening blow. Good thing the A’s
skipper was wearing his usual sun glasses.
It was the only way for him to cut down the glare of a future so bright.