Thursday, February 03, 2005

Seeking Jeff Cirillo

For some reason that I've never been able to figure out, I'm a baseball fan. There is something about that game that just sucks me in each time I watch it on TV or when I get a chance to see one in person that I just can't figure out. I'm even geeky enough that when I go to Brewer games, I always buy a scorecard and keep score for posterity or something.

Last week one of my friends bought me a ticket to go to the annual Dugout Club dinner in Madison. The Dugout Club was originally founded as a booster club for the University of Wisconsin baseball team, but when the team was forced to shut down due to Title IX they decided to take the money that they raise every year and use it to fund youth baseball in the Madison area. All in all, a good cause as far as I'm concerned. One of the bonuses of the dinner is the fact that they bring out some of the Brewers players and coaches so you can get some "free" autographs and hear about the state of the franchise.

This year they brought two players from the 1982 World Series team, Jimmy Gantner and Jerry Augustine. I honestly don't remember too much of my early childhood. In fact the only real memories of my childhood begin in the year 1982, so that Brewer team always will have a special place in my heart. (As a side bar, is there any other sports franchise that celebrates the team that got close to winning a title? Seriously, it's sad that this is all a Brewer fan has to cling to. Remember that one year that we almost won the World Series? Man, that was great. No wonder we hate Yankees fans here.) Anywho... Besides the two players from the World Series team, they brought out a few current roster members as well as the pitching coach and the GM of the team, Bob Melvin.

What never ceases to amaze me is the, almost pathetic, amount of information that some baseball fans will obtain in order to feel more in touch with the game.

The autograph session went pretty well for me. I'm incredibly nervous when I meet any sort of celebrity and my face goes bright red whenever I get nervous, so I'm sure they all picked up on it. One player stood out due to the fact that he commented how nice my Goatee was. When a professional baseball player compliments me, there isn't even a competition anymore, he's my new favorite player. I won't be building a shrine to Jeff Bennett any time soon, but I'll be cheering a little louder for him each time he pitches.

After the autographs, there was a dinner and then each of the members of the team came up and said a few words about their roles, the pitching coach talked about the battle for spots 3 through 5 in the starting rotation, and the GM spoke about the two major trades that the team had pulled off in the off-season. Once that was done, they allowed for a brief question and answer session with the crowd.

I appreciate that they want to allow these people, who have paid $40 or so dollars to come out for dinner, to ask a few questions, but I'm constantly amazed at how many people think that they have what it takes to scout talent and run a team. Personally, I just come out for a steak dinner, to get a few autographs, and to hear some details about the team. Some others though feel that they need to brief the GM personally on which players the team should go after. When a guy asks if the team has considered going after a washed-up 36 year old 3rd basemen that is currently hitting over .300 in the Mexican Leagues, they should take that guy aside and gently, with kindness, throw him out the door.

I can't think of another sport in the world were people can get away with filling their head with more useless information. In football, you might know how many yards OJ Simpson ran for in his career, but you wouldn't know how many times he was tackled for a loss on the 2nd possession of the 3rd quarter in 1971. In baseball it's ok for people to know these things, I'll never understand that.

After the dinner was over I actually got a chance to speak with the GM for a while and it was fairly interesting once he got past the point of worrying if I was going to be one of those crazy baseball guys. I got to ask him a question that had always been a curiosity of mine regarding trades, and I won't bother you with those details, since it would probably put you to sleep.

Hell, I can't believe you're still reading the story at this point. I figured you would have moved on when you saw that I was going to talking about baseball. Ah, it's good to be back writing again.


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