February 29, the day that reminds us that everyone makes mistakes. I mean, if the time and calendar guys can’t figure out exactly how long a year is, why should we care that we make a few mistakes or don’t know everything we should. This day is always a day of retrospect for me. I take time to ponder all the things I don’t understand. Now I don’t profess to be a rocket scientist, and there are more than a few things that confuse me. For example, we can develop a microwave oven that heats things from frozen to steaming in 1 minute flat and yet we can’t develop a reverse microwave that will take things from steaming hot to frozen solid in the same amount of time. Another one that always confused me was why hot dogs are sold in packages of 12 while hot dog buns are sold in packages of 8? Are there really 4 people who don’t want their hot dogs surrounded by bread? If so, what do these people do at the ballgame? I have eaten my share of hot dogs at the game and I have never seen anyone ask the vendor for a dog without a bun. Where do these people live? The other thing that always bothered me was why all beverages only come in even servings? Every can of pop, juice, water, regardless of the size of the container is always an even number ounces. Could this be what happened to all of my elementary school classmates that were absent the day we learned about odd numbers? I’m telling you, don’t try to buck the system on this one. I have tried on numerous occasions and people just don’t want to deal with it. Don’t take my word for it though, try it next time you go out to eat. Ask the waitress for a 15 ounce beverage, not a 12 ounce nor a 16 ounce, tell her you want 15 ounces. She will completely freak out. I have had more waitresses go on break while serving my table than I care to remember. At first I thought it was a coincidence that they went on break while I was eating so I started going to restraunts and different times. Sure enough, they would take my order, I would request an odd number of ounces in my drink and the next thing I knew they were on break and a new waitress would complete my order. I cannot prove it, but I think they were just having problems with the odd number of ounces in my drink. There are many of these imponderables that I hope to explore. It’s probably a good thing this day only comes once every four years.
There are a handful of days that stand out in a baseball fan’s life, Spring Training report day, first Spring Training game, Opening Day, All-Star break, first day of the playoffs, first World Series game, and Fantasy Baseball draft day. Well, today was one of those days. It was the annual draft for the Cactus League Cast-offs fantasy league and I was prepared and ready to go. Looking at the draft order, I was in uncharted territory. I had the number three pick in the draft. It means that after Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson are picked, it is up to me to set the tone of the draft. Do I go for the number three best pitcher or do I stock my team with high-octane hitters? Such a quandary. I paced the floor trying to solidify my strategy. As the commissioner called my name, I was on the clock. I settled with a strategy that would send ripples among the other owners. I selected Alex Rodriguez with my pick. This sent the other owners scrambling to pick up the other high-powered shortstops and when the first round was finished, the only positions drafted were starting pitchers and shortstops. I was now in a groove. I began picking hitter after hitter, not drafting a pitcher until the fourth round. When all twenty-five rounds were complete, my roster looked like this:
Catchers Jason Kendall (PIT), Todd Hundley (LA)
First Basemen Carlos Delgado (TOR), Mo Vaughn (ANA)
Second Basemen Edgardo Alfonzo (NYM), Jeff Kent (SF)
Third Basemen Jeff Cirillo (COL), Troy Glaus (ANA)
Shortstop Alex Rodriguez (SEA), Miguel Tejada (OAK)
Outfielders Ken Griffey Jr. (CIN), Brian Jordan (ATL), Barry Bonds (SF), Jeromy Burnitz (MIL), Roger Cedeno (HOU), Moises Alou (HOU)
Starting Pitchers Tom Glavine (ATL), Brad Radke (MIN), Al Leiter (NYM), Roger Clemens (NYY), Livian Hernandez (SF), Kris Benson (PIT), Brian Anderson (AZ)
Relief Pitchers Trevor Hoffman (SD), Jeff Shaw (LA)
As the draft ended, I felt pretty good with my selections. My pitching isn’t quite what I had in mind before the draft, but they should be respectable. This was a good day.
One of the reasons I decided to get a dog was for Dakota. Having never been around dogs in his life, he was one scared two-year-old. I couldn’t let him be afraid of a dog. We had looked at a lot of breeds but none seemed to fit as much as a Basset Hound. My grandpa once described these dogs as half a dog high and two dogs long. Anything this funny looking could never breed fear in a child. So far, Dakota has proven me wrong. If Dog Dot Com comes anywhere near him, he freaks completely out. If these two were going to ever hit it off, I was going to have to step in. I did the one thing that I knew would bring a kid and a dog together, I brought out a baseball. Now I didn’t expect a two-year-old boy and a nine-week-old puppy to immediately become friends or even start playing ball effectively and I wasn’t disappointed. After hitting each of them in the head a couple of times with the ball, I quickly decided we needed to switch to a softer ball. At the end of an hour of playing catch, I am happy to report someone has been trained to play ball, me. The both have got me throwing the ball and then retrieving it. When I bring it back, Dakota cheers and Dog Dot Com wags her tail. I am beginning to wonder who is smarter, me or the kid and the dog. In the end though, it was all worth it. Dakota has made a new friend and they are both out in the back yard together constantly. Every hour or so, they will both come find me in the house and ask if I will come out and play ball some more. There is nothing quite like a boy and his dog to make life complete.
Today, I took the kids to the Milwaukee Brewers Spring Training Fan Fest at the Maryvale stadium. We had a lot of fun as the kids were able to obtain several of the Milwaukee Brewers player’s autographs. Tiffany took part in an on-field baseball clinic sponsored by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association. There she was able to receive instruction and tips from several former players on different aspects of the game. She had a wonderful time and learned quite a lot from these players. There was a card show at the stadium so Dakota and I spent a lot of time wandering around the booths looking at the various cards. Mallorie spent most of her time talking to the current Brewers players and getting their autographs. Whitney was mostly interested in the balloons and eating. She downed two hot dogs and numerous treats and was thrilled to get a couple of packages of Pokemon cards. Trina took the time to take pictures and was able to go down on the playing field with Tiffany to snap photographs of her going through the drills. While she was on the field, she had the opportunity to meet Ferguson Jenkins, the Hall of Fame pitcher from the Chicago Cubs. I used to watch Fergie pitch quite often as I grew up a closet Cubs fan. I can remember spending Saturday mornings watching the game of the week. The Cubs seemed to be on a lot and Ferguson was always pitching. He was one of my idols. Trina knew this and approached Mr. Jenkins and told him my story. To my surprise and delight, Trina and Ferguson Jenkins came to where I was standing and I was able to talk with him and have my picture taken with one of my childhood heroes. He finished our visit by autographing a baseball for me. It was one of the great moments of my life. Trina never ceases to amaze me as she goes out of her way to make my dreams become realities. Ferguson Jenkins may have been my childhood hero, but Trina has become my adult hero.
We lived in Idaho before moving to Arizona six years ago. While living there, we owned two Basset Hounds. The first was a male that I bought for Trina for our first anniversary, his name was Bandit. Bandit lived to be eleven years old before we had to have him put to sleep due to an injury he sustained. A year after his passing, we bought another Basset Hound. I was not yet ready for another dog but after a lot of coaxing by the family, I relented on the condition that I got to name the dog. When we brought our new puppy home, I named him Bone Crusher. The kids were horrified and determined to call him BC for short. That didn’t quite fit him so I added to his name and he became Bone Crusher Hammer Man or BC Hammer for short. When we decided to move to Arizona, we did not have a place for BC so we decided to sell him. It just so happened that the people who came to look at the dog also liked the house and bought them both. On moving day, we said good-bye to BC, sent him to the backyard and moved out. The other owners moved in and let BC back into the house. To this day the dog is probably trying to figure out what happened. As we moved to Arizona, Trina vowed to never have another dog. She and BC were not exactly on speaking terms when they left. The kids and I had asked for a new dog but Trina has always put her foot down on this subject. That is, until today. We were shopping for my brother’s birthday present when we happened to walk by a pet store. There in the window was the cutest little female Basset Hound we had ever seen. After holding her for a while, we decided maybe it was time to have another dog. I once again made the stipulation that I got to name the dog. After the last round, the family was less lenient and decided they had a veto vote on the name I chose. After working through all of the baseball terms I had, I could not come up with an appropriate name. Each suggestion I had was met with a resounding no. Squeeze Bunt was denied as were Homer, Grand Slam, and Infield Fly Rule. In desparation, I came up with a brilliant name, I will call her Dog.com. It is perfect, or so I thought. Trina and the kids were horrified at the name. I tried to explain that she would be the first dog in the AKC with her own domain name but they were apalled. As a compromise, I have agreed to allow them to call her Dottie. Besides, that is the name of the main character of A League of Their Own, a baseball movie about women’s baseball. I’ll have to give this more thought but I think I may have a winner.
Besides never missing a Diamondbacks home game, I do have other interests. I am also involved in a couple of Fantasy Baseball Leagues. This is usually difficult for me since I struggle when one of my Fantasy players are playing against the Diamondbacks. Last year, it got so bad that Trina made me trade a couple of players and promise not to play anyone against the Diamondbacks during games that she was attending. She seems to think that I get a little crazy when I have Diamondbacks players playing against Fantasy players. I would have to agree with her. Today, the leagues I am involved with filled up which means it is time for the draft. My first draft is scheduled for Monday morning while the other draft is on Wednesday. I went to the book store tonight and bought every stats book I could find that covered the 1999 baseball season. I will be hovered around the computer developing draft strategies for the next several days, trying to find that elusive secret weapon that will propel my team into first place. Fantasy baseball is one of the great inventions of the twentieth century. The ability for fans to own and operate their own franchises is the ultimate dream. Now let me see, if I have the first pick in the draft, should I go for starting pitching or an awesome hitter?
Trina of course had plans for this evening and once again these plans did not include me. I was once again asked to keep the three younger kids (Tiffany, Whitney, and Dakota) while Trina went out with the two older girls (Ashley and Mallorie). Her last words as she walked out the door were, “The kids have not eaten and they need to be in bed early.” Well, that is what she claimed she said. What I actually heard was, “Take the kids to McDonalds and then you can take them to the store and get some treats.” While Trina was gone, the kids and I went out to play. We stopped at McDonald’s and ate Happy Meals until the smile on our faces became permanent. From there we went over to the mall and checked out the new sporting goods before ending the night with a trip to Krispy Kreme donuts for a last minute snack. We were all in a great mood and never wanted to see the evening end. When we finally got home, there were the three older members of the family standing at the garage door waiting for us. “Where have you been?” we were asked. As I explained all the places we went, I could see Trina’s patience become less and less. Now given that I had shown the kids such a good time, I felt that I had the upper hand. After all, they would never turn on their dad in the face of a little adversity would they? You better believe it. By the time they got done, they were singing like song birds turning states evidence against their father. To hear them tell it, I had held them at gun point and forced them to each candy while they begged to please have vegetables and other nutritional foods. I could see there was no way to win this, I guess I will listen to the lecture and call it a night. On an up note, a couple more nights like tonight and I should be eliminated from having to baby-sit ever again.