Friday, October 17, 2003
4:22 am Arizona time (Pacific)
Can’t sleep. I’m so tired, my muscles are burning, but some part of me is so keyed up I can’t get back to sleep even though I’m exhausted.
Yesterday (today?) was probably one of the best baseball days of my life. It would have been anyway, even if the Yankees had not pulled off an unbelievable, improbable 11th inning win on a walk off homer from Aaron Boone. That was just the cherry on the sundae as far as I’m concerned.
Pro camp was amazing and great. Kevan Burns and his wife? partner? Clarissa Marquez run this baseball instruction business called Live The Dream. For us they pulled in a dozen ballplayers and coaches, from guys who have been in the minor leagues for a couple of years to some current college coaches who have already been through their pro time. Some even had a cup of coffee in the majors. They’re all incredibly nice and, damn, but there is so much to know about this game, even five minutes spent with any of them would already expand anyone’s knowledge of the sport. We got to spend all day with them.
I think I’m feeling the altitude as well as the heat and dryness, because yesterday I felt out of breath pretty much no matter what we did. I’m out of shape, but not THAT out of shape.
We did all kinds of things that are like what major leaguers go through in spring training. Agility drills to give us quick feet. “Ladder” drills. Jumping over little hurdles in the grass, side-stepping around cones, etc. Then we worked on various stuff. I worked with the infielders on short hops, “getting around the ball” (I never knew what that meant before), getting grounders to the glove side/backhand, etc. This was all with them just rolling the balls to us and us working on the footwork and mechanics. Very fun and already I know three times as much about infield play as I did two days ago.
And batting practice. Oh, the most fun of all. They wanted us to take two bunts, then do two hit-and-runs hit through the second base hole, then two grounders to right to move the runner, then five to the opposite field. For right handed hitters, that meant going to right pretty much all the time. I missed my first bunt, but otherwise damn but I hit good. If you’ve been reading this journal previously you probably know I have an inside out swing (which I learned from watching Derek Jeter on TV, no I’m not kidding about that). So hitting to right is no problem. I hit some good shots into the gap, too. I feel good with the bat in my hands.
We also took swings off a tee and were supposed to do soft toss, but after 25 swings off the tee, my wrist/elbow tendon flared up, so I sat out the rest. By then it was 4:45 anyway.
My brother Julian was at Yankee Stadium by then, in the seats that I had bought weeks ago from a rest area in Florida via cell phone to Ticketmaster when they had gone on sale. I later realized of course that I would be in AZ for the 24 hour game and mailed the tickets to him. I called him for the batting order but he hadn’t gotten to his seats yet. Then my parents called from Florida to say hi and ask if I was watching the game–I told them I was at a beautiful field in Arizona, with a perfect blue sky overhead and mountains all around, but no, no TV nearby.
So Dad gave me the play by play of the first inning. As the commercial break came for the top of the second, I hung up the phone as we were nearing the hotel. When I walked into the lobby, I suddenly found the score was 2-0. In those short minutes I was out of touch, Trot Nixon went deep with a man on. Argh! I felt, of course, that this was somehow my fault. I sat down in the lobby and did not leave it until the game was over. No shower, no dinner out. I was glued to that television and refused to move except to refill my water glass or grab a snack from the microwave (breakfast is served daily in that lobby). When I finally decided to get up and leave the room was right before the bottom of the 11th, when I thought, dang, time to change the luck here. I thought if the Yankees didn’t win it in the 11th, they were going to lose it based on Wakefield and the Boston bullpen, versus all the Yankees had left in their bullpen (Weaver, Contreras and White). So I finally got up and went to pee. The astonishing thing about this was that despite drinking gallons (not exaggerating) of water all day, I had not had to pee since about 11:30 in the morning. And I didn’t really HAVE to go then, either, but I felt I could. So I did. I came back and wham, Aaron Boone hits that home run.
I still don’t quite believe that they won it. I really thought after the Red Sox took game 6, that they were going to take game 7 too. A sign hung at the stadium said “Mystique Don’t Fail Me Now.” Mystique was there, and so was Jason Giambi’s batting eye. Two solo home runs, plus that shot yesterday makes three homers in two days. Unbelievable.
Okay, I’ve been typing for twenty minutes. We have to be in the lobby at 7:15 am to catch the shuttle to camp today. I feel mighty beat. Every muscle is sore, no doubt a combination of dehydration, altitude, and all the work we did. And not sleeping. It’s just exciting to be here. Is this what Aaron Boone felt like this week?