“The world’s series turned over and gave its last gasp yesterday. …This morning will see all the players except home-breds on their way back home or headed for the great open spaces where the streams abound with fish and woods are full of game.” The New York Times, October 18, 1923
I wonder what Mike Trout is doing right now?
How strange to have your free days all bundled together into a handful of weeks in the chill of fall and winter. I spend my free time following baseball. Mike Trout doesn’t.
It’s been one week without baseball.
It’s estimated that 800,000 people turned out in Kansas City on Tuesday to greet the World Series champion Royals along the parade route – that’s nearly half the city’s population. Businesses and schools closed, while bars along the parade route opened at 8:30 a.m.
That’s righteous support, Royals fans! You have made baseball feel magical and important again. Take that, Super Bowl.
That’s one mess of blue.
So, how to spend these winter-ish days? They are, to the casual observer, baseball-less, but, to those who know better, they are filled with games in Arizona and the Caribbean and Australia.
There’s the intrigue of the “hot stove” where owners toss money and players around like Secret Santa gifts, and where I, as is tradition, wonder how I ended up loving cheapskates like the Orioles. There’s a candy cane stuck in my stocking, while everyone else gets coffee gift cards, imported chocolates, and Zack Greinke.
For most players the off-season is already a month old, and these first weeks are spent hunting and fishing, getting married, and having surgeries to knit up season-old injuries.
In 1904, Cy Young advised: “Take things comparatively easy during the off season. … Light farm work in the off season has helped me. It is healthier than life in the big city.”
I’m all for taking things comparatively easy, but, any farmer will tell you, “light” farm work is always more strenuous, complicated, and exhausting than you planned on. And, I’m pretty sure that “light farm work” in 1904 meant 14 hours of labor, a hunk of bread for lunch, and trying not to lose your hand in the thresher.
In 1909, the “Old Fox” Clark Griffith, managing the Cincinnati Reds at the time, stopped his players from playing baseball in the off-season. “Playing ball in the winter ruins a man for his best work in the good old summer time,” he told The Washington Post. “Baseball is a sport which taxes the nerves as well as the muscles, and a man is sure to go stale unless he has plenty of time to recuperate.”
Clark Griffith Reminds You To Take It Easy … Get Some Rest.
This didn’t stop other players from making a buck by joining barnstorming teams that traveled the country or headed to Cuba or played in indoor leagues.
During the 1980s, the Royals’ wall-climbing outfielder Bo Jackson would spend his off-season as a running-back with the LA Raiders. He called football his “hobby.”
Bo Knows …
Cy Young pitched for 21 seasons; won 511 games, the most in baseball history; and threw three no-hitters, including one perfect game.
So, maybe he’s right. About the taking it easy part, not the light farm work.
Maybe fans need time to recuperate, too.
The only light farm work I will be doing is taking the garden gnomes in for the winter.
But, there are books to read, cats that need feeding, and rooms that need dusting. I’m sure there is other stuff as well. And, if you give me a couple days, I will surely come up with something.
To Do: Hang The Toilet Paper Back On The Roller.
And, I saved a couple games on the DVR, too … … … because I lied about dusting.
Oh … and what about Mike Trout? Come to find out, he wants to be a weatherman and he’s angling to join The Weather Channel this off-season. “We’re planning on me doing a story when there’s a big storm in Jersey,” he said. “Hopefully, we get a big snowstorm.”
Mike Trout is a) robbing a “sure” home run from Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, or b) checking to see which way the wind blows.
The all-knowing Twitter was able to tell me exactly what Mike Trout was doing “right now” as I wrote this post:
Huntin’ and fishin’. That’s all they do isn’t it?