Spring Training 2009, Day 4 – (“There’s still a chill in the air”)

February 19, 2009 | Drew Forrester

Ahhhhhhhhhhh…Thursday in Ft. Lauderdale.

Better, with all due respect, than Thursday in Baltimore.  In February, anyway.

Spring training rolls on and it’s now starting to look a little more like work and little less like spring break. Well, for the players, it’s more like work and less like spring break.  

I ventured over to the dog track last night and had a whale of a time.  No one joined me.  There’s a rumor floating around that members of the media signed a waiver acknowledging that they wouldn’t fraternize with me during “off hours”.

No worries.  I picked up a cool $244 at the track last night and would have hit my late $25 quinella (for $410 or thereabouts) had the #8 dog, Nooneelseintownbutmewasbannedfromspringtraining, not made up 25 yards in the final 80 yards of the race to ruin my last-race, last-ditch effort to make some serious money.  

We’re watching pitchers and catchers again today.  There’s nothing better than hearing that “pop” of a fastball as it hits the catcher’s mitt on a warm, nearly-spring morning in Florida.

At one point this morning, forgetting where I was, I leaned over to Andy MacPhail and said, “Damn, that Matusz kid throws hard.  How fast is he throwing right now?”

Andy looked over and rolled his eyes, then scooted down a few feet in the bleachers. 

PR chap Jay Moskowitz squeezed his way in between us to make sure I didn’t bother Andy with any further questions.  

I get it.

Peter Schmuck saw me at the water cooler.  “Hey, you available for golf later?” he asked.

I replied:  “I’m a very available individual.  I’ll play golf with you anytime, anywhere.  I have a lot of time for everybody.”

I don’t think Schmucker got it.  If you’ve listened to WNST long enough, you understand.  And, you’re smiling right now.

A few years ago, I went on the air and talked about a bunch of Orioles-related promotions I would produce if I were, in fact, responsible for that department at The Warehouse.  One of my offerings was “ride your bike to the ballpark day” –  a promotion the team actually used last summer, with Jeremy Guthrie serving as the team spokesperson for the event.  I’m not asking for a residual or a commission on it.  Maybe just my media credential, instead.  

I don’t really care if the team uses the promotional ideas I give out.  That’s why I do it, frankly.  At least I know they’re listening.  Like they did with the Baltimore-on-the-road-jerseys deal this past December.  No money needed.  Just give me a credential in April and don’t make me park near Carroll Park Golf Course again and we’ll call it even.

Or, at the very least, just be professional and answer an e-mail or return a phone call.  Baby steps…  

I was never very good at math growing up in Glen Burnie, but I’ve concluded, after buying tickets to at least 350 O’s games in my lifetime, that I’ve probably spent somewhere around $6,000 or so on tickets (alone) since the early 1980’s and another couple of grand on beer, soda, hot dogs, hats, etc. at the stadium.  Let’s round it off to $10,000 out of my pocket.  

I gaze at a few of the employees here at spring training who are responsible for making my relationship with the Orioles miserable and I wonder, oh, I wonder, how much has HE (or SHE) spent on the team in their lifetime? I bet it’s not ten grand.  Add to that the $2.65 a month cable-fee they’re arm-twisting from me once a month right now and I’m STILL helping to pay the salaries of the folks who are mistreating me.  

Isn’t THAT the irony of all irony?  The johnny-come-lately’s in The Warehouse (I’ve been waiting a LONG time to get that johnny-come-lately reference in there…it’s sort of a private joke…) who are dragging me through the mud have a job with the team in small part because I bought tickets, soft drinks, beer and hats over the last 25 or so years.  

The folks from the team’s flagship radio station will start wandering in here next week to pass the praises back home to the faithful.  I can’t help but think to myself:  “I wonder how much money those guys – and, ahem – the gal – spent on O’s tickets and merchandise in their lifetime?”  Answer:  Hardly nothing.

I shouldn’t think about those things too much.  It makes my stomach hurt.

My legal-eyes sent me a list of questions yesterday to follow-up on his suggestion that I could, perhaps, have an Anti-Trust case on my hands with regard to the O’s and their decision to not provide me with a media credential at spring training.  Here they are, in case you’re curious:

1.  In your current occupation at WNST, have you received a credential to spring training before 2009?  I checked off “yes” in the corresponding “yes” or “no” box.

2.  Are others who perform your specific duties for competitors in your market receiving a credential and/or access to the organization at 2009 spring training?  Another “yes” checked off.

3.  Have you entered into any kind of agreement with the baseball organization that would indicate you have waived your rights to receive access in exchange for some other additional benefit or compensation that is not offered to others in your market who perform similar duties?   I checked “no” on that one.

4.  Is the removal or restriction of access provided to you by the organization (Orioles) limiting or otherwise terminating your ability to compete with others in your market who perform similar duties?  I checked “yes” here and wrote a big arrow next to it to point it out for emphasis.

5.  Has the baseball organization filed a legal document with you and/or your representatives that outlines their decision to remove the access that they’ve previously granted you?  “No” – I checked that box.

I sent the survey back to him.

He responded with:  “Are you ready to talk with me more about this?  You absolutely have a case.  When are you available to meet?”

I wrote him back:  “Lawyer Jim, I’m a very available individual…I’ll meet with you anywhere, anytime.  I have a lot of time for everybody.”

I’ll check in again tomorrow with another daily entry.

I’m thinking about taking Schmucker up on his golf offer later today.  I see him over there on the other end of the press box.  He has one of those Groucho Marx disguises on. 

I guess that’s what happens when you sign the waiver.

You have to sneak around with a fake nose and moustache just to get in 18 holes with the “bad guy”.

Hit ’em straight up there in Bawlmer.

TGIFF (tomorrow)…