2/15/2008 - Happy Spring Training!
Posted in Unspecified


 "For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle(dove) is heard in our land."

~Song of Solomon 2:12



I don't know if it's due to the talk with my mother or the fact that baseball's finally returned to me after a long, long break, but I'm determined to try to begin to put a positive spin on everything. So instead of me wasting any time sharing with you about why my Valentine's Day was really just another day, let me tell you about all of the things I thought about yesterday that I'm absolutely thankful for:


* The sun was coming up over the buildings in downtown St. Pete as I drove to Tampa in the morning. It was a crisp, fall-ish morning, not a cloud in the sky, and the way the sun hit the ocean with such a bright glare made me happy to be alive and in a place where the sun shines all year round.


* I picked up my press pass for Spring Training, and it's universal, meaning I can go to any game anywhere, here or Arizona, for free this Spring.


* The lanyard for my Spring Training pass is Adidas. I *heart* Adidas, and have doubled my wardrobe with stuff since I started at Dick's. I like matching, from my shirt to my jacket to my shoes and now, my lanyard.



* I took a moment when I walked into the clubhouse to look around. Now more than ever, every time I walk into a locker room it could be my last and I'm not going to waste my appreciation. The 'NY' logo is everywhere, especially prominent in the middle of the floor. Everything is so sharp here, so professional. I know the stadium was only built in '96 so its history doesn't go back too far, but I'm seriously impressed with the aura this team presents. These aren't the Rays, they're the motherfucking Yankees. Babe Ruth. Roger Maris. Joe D. A bunch of other guys who weren't Ty Cobb. Tradition. Excellence. Championships. Dynasty. This is really cool.


* Building on that, the writers here are phenomenal. There's so much competition in the NY media, these guys are the best of the best, at the top of the food chain. And even though it's only for two weeks, my boss called me to cover them. I'm sure there were many other people in line, but I was the one he wanted. And you know what? These other guys don't intimidate me at all any more. There was a time when I first started writing that I panicked about everything I wrote. Was it perfect? Did I transcribe every quote correctly? Would the other writers read my story the next day and laugh, or have sympathy because I wasn't any good? Would I get torn apart in a fan blog somewhere? Now, it's all second nature. I read my story today and I think it turned out pretty well, especially since I haven't written at length since baseball left me in September.


* There I was, laughing with Mike Mussina (no, I'm not name-dropping, stay with me here), an amazing player who's pitched for 18 seasons and never had surgery on his arm -- way cool -- when I have a flashback:


It's 2001 and I'm a junior at MSU. I'm in my second semester at The State News, but still on the copy desk -- I still haven't written a single thing for sports just yet. My buddy Eric, who was also my editor at the time, knew I wanted to cover sports so he threw me what I'm sure he thought was a lob for my first-ever piece: Go to Breslin at 3p.m. and talk to women's basketball player Julie Pagel about her experiences on the Big Ten Foreign Tour. Come back, write me 4 inches (about 100 words -- very, very little).


I agree, do a bit of research on who this Julie Pagel person is, and hit the streets en route to the Bres. I'm fine, up until I get into the parking lot, and I'm so nervous I cannot physically force myself to open the Blazer door and get out to walk inside. OhmygodwhatinthehellwasIthinkingshesfamousandImnobodyandIhavenoideahowtointervieworwriteoranythingandnowImscrewedImsuchanidiotIwanttogohomescrewthis......and on and on and on it went until I actually made myself physically sick. Looking back, it was probably for the better since my only option at that point was to open the door or yak inside the truck, so at least the door worked its way open after all. After donating my lunch to the blacktop, I rose on wobbly knees and teetered up to the Bres to find Julie.


There she was, at the end of a long hallway. There was a camera guy there about my age, laughing with her about being drunk. Turns out, they're neighbors and were at the same party the night before. Great, I thought. He's got an inside track and I'm an idiot. Nevertheless, I finally conquered the hallway and introduced myself. Mission (partly) accomplished.


The camera guy went first, and then left her to me. I mumbled. I kicked at the court. I said, "Umm I don't know what to ask," about 40 times. I really, really wish I would have saved that tape because it'd be mounted on the wall somehow today. Thankfully for both my story and my journalistic aspirations, Julie was about the nicest person I've ever interviewed. She told me she knew I was nervous, and then she told me questions to ask her. It was a great interview, but because of her, not me.


Then I went back to the office and stared at a blank screen for about 40 minutes. I transcribed my quotes so that there was something on the screen. I panicked and called Shannon to the back room.


She actually wrote my lead. Oh, and then she asked me a few questions, completed my segueways and linked my quotes together with facts. In short, she wrote the article while I hyperventilated about meeting someone famous (Julie) and chewed my nails down to the cuticle.


I looked up in just enough time to see Mussina shooting me a funny look. "Sorry, I'm just hungry," I said, and smiled. He smiled back, and we kept on with our talk.


That was seven years ago, and some of these writers with whom I'm in daily competition have been writing longer than I've been alive. I can honestly say when I read some of their things that I could have written just as well, if not better. This writing thing is an amazing gift from God, and I'm sorry for not having realized it before now. I'm really, really good at what I do, and really, really passionate about it, and that remains a fact no matter how many newspapers/Web sites turn me down for job openings. Eventually, someone will be lucky enough to have me on their team. All I can do is keep trying.


Back to my flashback, I realize now that, even with the Yankees, I don't even recognize these guys as famous any more. To me, they're not, and it's actually funny to see thousands of people crowding into Legends on Friday morning to watch them work out when I actually get to talk to them, about anything I want, each and every day (more on this, with pictures, in Friday's entry).


Anyway, it's after 5 p.m. and there's so much more to be thankful for but I'm tired of writing for today and have a long drive ahead of me already. I'm extremely blessed to be where I am today, we'll just leave it at that. 



The view from my "office." :)

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