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Friday, January 26, 2007


Spring has sprung

It's time. We know it is because baseball has started. Maybe not the pros just yet, maybe not even spring training, but soon, very soon — Saturday, even — the players hit the field, when the world is mud-luscious.

So we heard Jered Weaver speak at the Dirtbag baseball season kickoff dinner; what he lacked in public speaking skills he certainly made up for in sincerity, delivering what turned out to be a heartfelt thank-you to his former coaches, teammates, and most of all, parents. He talked briefly about his learning disabilities, and what a struggle it was for him to stay eligible to pitch on the team. He donated some of his signing bonus to the school, and so there is now a facility (with his name?) dedicated to helping student-athletes keep up with their academics.

He talked a fair amount about his brother, how excited and happy he was to be on the same team, and then upon being called up the second time, how he didn't know he displaced Jeff until after he had arrived in the bigs. He waxed emotional as he recalled October 27, after the madness had quieted some in St. Louis, running out to the field, embracing his brother, "sharing tears" on the field in perhaps the crowning achievement of Jeff's career. (Jeff, he also told us, is now a Mariner.)

Towards the end, he mentioned how he got yanked from the rotation and put into the bullpen, and working toward the goal of returning to the rotation made him a better pitcher. It was a recurring theme, overcoming personal limitations, and he advised the incoming Dirtbags to work hard, not to let up — lest they end up in his situation, in which he was having a hard time once more; the room fairly gasped. What he meant by that, I cannot say. But, he will get his old college number 36 back next year.

Thanks to a pleasant happenstance, we got to sit next to Bobby Crosby and his lovely fiancee, with whom Helen chatted throughout the evening. At a table or two away from us, Abe Alvarez, Jason Vargas, Troy Tulowitzki, all of whom we chatted with briefly. We finally got to meet Coach Weathers and his wife, as well as Bob Wuesthoff, who arrived in an electric scooter; the latter thanked us for the support of the scholarship in his name.

And so, the preseason starts Saturday. I can't wait.

Ah, yes. USD played their first exhibition last weekend. The game was brutal but it was awesome to be back out at the ballpark again. With all due respect to the song, this is the most wonderful time of the year.

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