Twas the night before Spring Training, when all through the clubhouse

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The stockings were hung by the locker with care,

In hopes that Brandon Webb soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of double plays danced in their heads.

And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my Diamondbacks cap,

Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the infield there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a 6’ 10 starting pitcher, and eight tiny position players.

With a little old manager, so lively and gellin’,

I knew in a moment it must be Bob Melvin.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Johnson! Now, Webb! Now, Hernandez and Davis!

On, Byrnes! On, Young! on Quentin and Jackson!

To the end of the outfield! To the top of the wall!

Now leap away! Leap away! Leap away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.

So up to the warning track the players they flew,

With a van full of bats, and Bob Melvin too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the street

The prancing and pawing of each little cleat.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the walkway Bob Melvin came with a bound.

He was dressed in Sedona Red, from his head to his foot,

And his uniform was all tarnished with grass stains and soot.

A bundle of bats he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pencil he held tight in his teeth,

And the bite marks encircled his pencil like a wreath.

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, from an extended off season,

And I laughed when I saw him, until I looked in the mirror!

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the lockers, then turned with a jerk.

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the walkway he rose!

He sprang to his golf card, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Spring Training to all, and to all a good-night!”

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You would think that after 25 years of marriage I would learn to make a note of when Valentines Day is and get something special for Trina. But each year this holiday sneaks up on me and I find myself unprepared. From the looks of the Hallmark store I am not alone in this dilemma as it is usually packed with men frantically going through cards trying to find something that makes them sound sensitive without appearing too feminine. That is usually followed by a trip to the floral shop where you pay three times the market value for wilting buds because you forgot to order in advance. This year I vowed to be different. I was going to take it upon myself to be the loving husband who bought something from the heart that his wife would love.

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Trina came into the room stating that Dakota’s tournament soccer team was interested in playing in a tournament in Cottonwood Arizona in April. Before she committed she thought she better check with me. This was good thinking. Dakota’s season began in January and up through March there were not many conflicts in scheduling. Beginning in April though we had to make sure and check the tournaments against the Diamondbacks schedule. I have not quite got the dates and teams memorized so I had to go out to the web to verify my assumption. Sure enough there were Diamondbacks home games scheduled the same weekend. As I was looking at the schedule I noticed that there was an asterisk on Saturday April 14. Could this mean what I think it means? I clicked the asterisk and sure enough, a pop-up window appeared listing the game day promotion. I jumped from my chair and began running through the house yelling, “The Promotion Schedule is Published! The Promotion Schedule is Published!” Immediately all of my kids were hovered around the computer screen as we began to dissect the upcoming Diamondbacks season.

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Steve Gilbert is the beat writer covering the Arizona Diamondbacks for I highly respect his work and always try to read any new stories he may have about the team. Today’s rendition was entitled D-backs ready to begin new legacy. It made me stop and think what length of time constitutes a legacy. The Diamondbacks have fielded a team for a decade. Is that long enough to create a legacy? I went to Google and began to research whether legacy equated to a specific time. This took much longer than I anticipated as I traveled from site to site and got involved in the journey rather than the result. For example, the number one return site for legacy is which appears to be an online obituary service. I made a note to bookmark that site. As soon as the Colorado Rockies are eliminated from contention which should be around the first of May I’ll return and write their obituary. That should be good for a few laughs.

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I’ve previously written about Major League Baseball’s fascination with the humidor and how the league may be contemplating expanded use of this device beyond the rarified air of Coors Field. The subject came up during the General Manager’s meetings but no decision was rendered. I thought perhaps we had finally put this thing to bed so that we could move on to more important matters but that was not the case. The Commissioner’s Office notified the teams that they will be monitoring the status of game baseballs during the season to ensure they comply with league standards for size and density. They stopped short of requiring the teams to install a humidor but the wording strongly suggested that its use would assist the teams in maintaining the necessary consistency. This is to be somewhat on the honor system except for the Colorado Rockies who must submit reports to the league offices to ensure this policy is being followed.

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Caps for Sale

When I was a small child I used to watch Captain Kangaroo on television religiously. Mostly I like to watch just so Mr. Moose would drop a million ping pong balls on the captain but there were other interesting segments on that show too. The Captain would always read a story each episode and one in particular that remember was called Caps for Sale which was about a hat salesman who had his hats stolen by a bunch of monkeys. This was kind of traumatic for me as I was always afraid some band of rogue monkeys would swoop down and take my baseball hat. As I’ve grown older, I have related more and more to the cap salesman. In fact, when the Diamondbacks changed their colors negating my 54 hat collection to that of old relic; I felt very similar to the cap salesman who looked up to see the monkeys wearing his hats in the trees. Today was yet another in a long line of monkeys reaching down to snatch the hat off my head.

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Mel On Balls

After the inaugural 1998 season, management made a decision that they needed to change their plans to take an aggressive approach to building a winning baseball franchise in Phoenix. During that off-season they began to stock pile players who were proven winners. It was immediately clear that Jerry Colangelo was not just looking for hired guns; he was looking for players with character and a winning tradition. Much has been made about the Randy Johnson signing that year as has the signing of Steve Finley and the trade for Luis Gonzalez. What is somewhat lost in the mix is the addition of Todd Stottlemyre. Some of this may be the fact that Stottlemyre had a series of bad luck befall him and his availability was somewhat limited due to injuries. What a lot of fans don’t understand is the intangibles that Todd brought to the Diamondbacks. His clubhouse attitude and willingness to play through pain were a huge part to the success that Arizona saw in 1999. And while he had a partially torn rotator cuff, Stottlemyre still was able to contribute and was rewarded as the pitcher who won the first play-off game in franchise history. Unfortunately this would be his crowning moment in a Diamondbacks uniform and the injuries would pile up making his stay seem less valuable than it truly was. The Diamondbacks connection with Todd Stottlemyre has had additional benefits that may or may not have occurred otherwise.

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