FAFIF Fantasy Camp correspondent Jeff Hysen is not letting the laundry loop hamper his [friggin’] good time in St. Lucie, but he may be a little lighter in the pockets once the kangaroo court gavels into session. What’s said in the bull session mostly stays in the bull session, but Jeff has a few other things to tell us.
I knew that I would have to learn to hit and throw and run but I didn’t know that I would have to learn about the laundry loop. This is a big deal at camp. We’ve been lectured on it twice and the clubhouse guys come around to see if we’re doing it right. For a proper loop, you put a sock in the loop on the end, tighten the loop, do the same at the other end with your other sock, then put everything else (other than uniform and towels) in the middle, belt the two ends, and throw it in the bin. Apparently some aren’t doing it correctly, which prompted a repeat lecture.
It was really cold this morning. I don’t expect sympathy, given the weather “up north,” but when you come to Florida, you don’t expect to hear the phrases “dress in layers” and “wind chill advisory.” After another hitting session with Mickey Brantley, I went for a run on the campus. I passed Gil Hodges Way and Tom Seaver Curve en route to Tradition Field. I ran around the warning track until the automatic sprinklers went on. It made me think of Pedro.
It was picture day so after a group picture, a picture with the coaching staff, individual pictures and team pictures (all available for a price), it was onto our first game. One of our guys hit a shot that I thought was out but it struck the fence (on a fly!). I thought that the fence was very high and it was. The field was configured to the specifications of Citi Field. Once this season starts, we’re going to be bemoaning the heights of the fences…well, at least in the bottom halves of innings.
Just so you know about these games, we play seven innings, a pitcher has to be pulled after giving up six runs, there is no stealing, no running on the pitch (unless it’s a 3-2 count with two outs), the leads are only to the edge of the grass, and there are no wild pitches or passed balls. The lineup begins where it ended at the previous game to help ensure equal playing time. When I saw that each team had between nine and eleven guys, I said that this meant a lot of action. I was told that we’d miss the extra players and this has already come true — guys get hurt and you need the extra players. The team we played in the afternoon needed coaches to play in center and right.
I was surprised at how annoyed/upset I was with myself for hitting poorly Tuesday. I haven’t faced a pitcher throwing a hardball in about 38 years so I shouldn’t have been surprised, yet I was. There are many guys here who are really into the games and, to an extent, that’s rubbed off on me. I thought that the games would be relaxed and fun, but they are serious (despite the modified rules). One repeat camper said that he was only here because he did so poorly last year. Another said he was here to “redeem himself” for last year. One guy said that he’s not even a Mets fan and is only here to play ball (making the fantasy part irrelevant for him).
I’m happy to report that things went better Wednesday. In the first game, I had the game winning RBI when I was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. In the second game, I had two hits. More importantly, Capra’s Cyclones won twice. We have some excellent players on the team. Coach Capra — Buzz — was very happy.
From there, it was time for a Bull Session in which the coaches answered our questions. I will not relay most of what was said; not that it was controversial, but they weren’t speaking for attribution (only for us). We heard stories about 1969, Yogi and Gil. One thing that I think you will be interested in: when a question was asked about the last two Septembers, new bullpen coach Randy Niemann stood up and said, slowly, “That will not happen again.”
Pat Zachry update: he saw me at photos and yelled “stop [friggin’] smiling!” As I walked into the Bull Session, he simply scowled and made a motion across his lips.
Capra’s Cyclones had a team bonding dinner at Duffy’s. Buzz joined us and told some great stories. Two more games tomorrow and then the Kangaroo Court. I’ve already been told that I will be fined. More on that tomorrow.