Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

April 2007

Inside Baseball

For those baseball nuts who have been waiting for next year, it’s almost here. Spring hasn’t exactly sprung yet, but pitchers and catchers have been joined by batters and fielders, and both the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues are enjoying sellouts and testing fans’ willingness to pay movie-theater prices for snacks.

I particularly like the custom at Red Sox City of Palms Park in Fort Myers of asking patrons for IDs before allowing them to purchase beer. It makes for some great scenes, the beer guy holding grandpa’s nachos so the senior citizen can get his license out.

“Oops, no, the other pocket. Sorry. Wait! Wait! No ...”

Velveeta cheese with a few chopped, freeze-dried jalapenos wants to drip. It’s Velveeta’s job, okay? No one has ever confused Velveeta with Cabot’s Seriously Sharp aged cheddar, and few take exception to finding goo on the side of their Buds.

“Be-ah” guys earn their tips at City of Palms. Now, of course, you can have sushi with your peanuts at the ball park, thanks to Daisuke Matsuzaka. Four tickets to a spring training game plus a round of beers, one order of nachos, two bags of peanuts and a T-shirt run you about 18,500 yen.

The challenge during spring training is different from that of the regular season, no matter whether you’re a fan or a player. During the season, everyone is on the same page, the “let’s win and hope the Yankees ...” However, during the spring, the fans try to learn more about the new players and wonder what happened to the old ones, while the players seem most concerned with stretching their hamstrings.

The games need a little punching up so star players jog along the outfield warning track during the game, kids scream for players to flip them a ball, boy fans propose to girl fans at home plate between innings, and there are prize drawings (check your program) and sumo wrestling.

Even preseason hockey is more exciting than Spring Training games; there’s bound to be a fight or two between athletes not wearing inflated sumo suits.