Spring is such a wonderful time of the year. It gives hope that the long, cold, winter is over and warmer times are upon us. You have to be careful, though, because you don’t want to become like a daffodil or a forsythia. The first warm day, a daffodil will pop out of the ground thinking spring is here only to be buried under a foot of snow the next day. Really, it’s a wonder there are still daffodils around. Darwin should look into this.
This spring is odd because of the coronavirus, which has shut down all sports, concerts, races and the presidential campaigning season.
Normally, I would’ve been following the Orioles through spring training to get a sense of what to expect during the season. Actually, I think most Oriole fans know what to expect: another losing season. Most of the players on the team are unknown to me, so I don’t really expect too much from them. I do know Chris Davis, however, the former slugger who has fallen on hard times in recent years.
Chris Davis was one of the most feared hitters in baseball for a while. From 2012 to 2017, Davis hit 33, 53, 26 , 47, 38 and 26 home runs. In the last two years, his production has fallen off precipitously with only 16 and 12 home runs, and increasingly high numbers of strikeouts. Many people blame this on his huge $161 million contract he signed in 2016. Others think there must be some kind of psychological damage that makes him appear lost at the plate.
But anyway, Davis was knocking the hell out of the ball in spring training and looked great doing it, so my hopes were that he had finally broken out of his record-breaking slump.
My enthusiasm was muted somewhat because I can remember “Big” Jim Fuller from Oriole training camps back in the ‘70s. Spring training would open and the newspapers would be filled the first several weeks with stories of tape measure blasts from Fuller, who could be counted on to hit 30-plus home runs at the Oriole minor league affiliate in Rochester. However, once the pitchers got sufficiently warmed up and started throwing curves and stuff, we didn’t hear any more about “Big” Jim Fuller. “Big” would not join the big league club and would be sent back to Rochester. Fuller ended his career with only 16 Major League home runs. I hope this is not the case with Davis.
Television, without any live sports to broadcast, has been televising previous games to fill the air time. One of these shows has been showing old Masters tournaments, which is kind of neat. The Masters has been rescheduled for November, when it’s assumed the virus will be over. This will seem odd since the azaleas will no longer be in bloom and are a big feature of the Masters telecast.
One of the quaint features of the Masters is the awarding of the hideous green jacket to that year’s winner. The previous year’s winner puts it on him in Butler cabin. I never paid much attention to this, but they did a short little story about it. Apparently, it’s not as easy as it looks. Sometimes if the previous winner is tall, he holds the jacket too high and the current winner has to awkwardly raise his arms in order to fit into the sleeve. (I did not know this, but it’s better when fitting a jacket to hold it low.) Also, some players preferred to put their left arm in first and got confused when they were offered the right arm. This made me think about my own habits in putting on a jacket. Normally, I just wear sweat clothes and have no need to wear a jacket, but I believe I put the left arm in first and then shrug into the right. (I practiced.) I don’t know if I’ve always done this or I’m compensating for having a bone spur in my right shoulder. Now I’m worried about what will happen if I win the Masters golf tournament this November.