Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Spring training

Things have slowed on the beekeeping front for a few days until I can get some more hive parts to assemble, so thoughts turn to spring training. Ah, spring. Ah, spring training.

Winter hasn't blown especially harsh around here this year. In fact, it was so mild in January that we were actually complaining about it.

But now just past mid-February, it seems like it has been a long winter. The length of the winter is measured not by the weather but by how much we want the Season to start and how long it feels that we have been without baseball.

It's getting closer. Pitchers and catchers for almost all of the teams have reported to their spring training sites, and the other players will begin to show up in another couple of weeks. The games will begin in March. (College baseball has already started, and that will be some comfort.)

I'm not sure why the longing for baseball has been so intense this winter. Plenty of other things have been around to distract me -- including the beekeeping preparations. Duties at work have been plentiful and pleasurable, particularly seeing the TennesseeJournalist.com develop into an excellent student-run news web site. Still, the sooner baseball gets here, the happier I'll be.

Part of it may have to do with the fact that the St. Louis Cardinals (my team) won the World Series last year, the first series championship in 24 years. The Cards need to get back out onto the field and let Albert hit and Scott field and Jimmy E. dive for a few balls in centerfield. They need to answer some questions, too, especially about the pitching.

And we need to note the passing of Lew Burdette (among several other greats taken from us over the winter). Burdette pitched the Milwaukee Braves into the World Series in 1957, and then about as single-handedly as anyone has ever done it, he won the World Series from the vaunted Yankees. He pitched the Braves to victory in three of their four wins, and you just could not be any better than he was in that series.

But there were some oddities about Burdette's career that are fun to note:

  • He was the opposing and winning pitcher of the game when Pirate pitcher Harvey Haddix pitched 12 perfect innings against the Braves. Haddix lost in the 13th when he gave up a home run to Joe Adcock. Burdette scattered 12 hits over 13 innings that night and won the game -- coming out ahead at one of baseball's most ironic moments.

  • Burdette hit a dozen homers in his career, including two off of Sandy Kofax.

  • Burdette was a fidgety sort on the mound, so much so that Braves manager Fred Haney said, "Burdette would make coffee nervous."

Unlike his pitching buddy Warren Spahn (whom we lost a few years ago), Burdette wasn't good enough for long enough to make the Hall of Fame.

But when he was good, it was awfully thrilling for a young kid like me to know he was pitching.

Note: The illustration above is a watercolor on Bristol board. More of that can be found at First Inning Artworks.

1 comment:

Jim Miller said...

I've always said the worst period of the sports year is between the Super Bowl and April 1 - the start of baseball season.

Now that I live in an exciting NCAA basketball environment, March Madness helps me through this period, but April 1 can't come quickly enough.