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A [Friggin’] Good Time

FAFIF Fantasy Camp correspondent Jeff Hysen [1] spent Inauguration Day not so solemnly swearing while, to the best of his ability, attempting to execute fundamentals and defend against fly balls. Now that he’s iced his chest, Jeff files his dispatch from Tuesday.

The next time that I hear about a player being late for practice during spring training, I will think of this morning. Events didn’t start until 8:45 but at least half the camp was at the field by 7:00.

I saw Pat Zachry again [2] and he again said to me “You’re [friggin’] smiling. People are gonna think you’re having a good time!” I said “I am having a good time.” He said, “What?” and I answered, “I am having a [friggin’] good time!”

He laughed.

After a nice breakfast, which included grits, we went to the hitting cages. I had a lesson with Mickey Brantley, who is an excellent teacher. After stretching, we were divided into groups for evaluation. First was outfield play. Ron Swoboda told us that he learned a lot by watching Curt Flood. Lenny Randle stressed the importance of not colliding with anybody — he said that when a fly ball was hit his way, he would yell “get the [frig] out of the way!” It was very windy and tough to catch the flies. After I did, Randle chest bumped me.

At pitching and catching, Zachry saw me and yelled “you’re still smiling!” Anthony Young tried to teach me to pitch, without success. Then Zachry came over, said “you don’t suck as much as you think you do” and switched me to a stretch position — which sort of worked. From there, we had a hitting lesson with former Mets minor league coach Al LeBeouf (“the bat is not an automatic weapon…it is manually operated”). After that, it was infield, with Doug Flynn and Bobby Wine. Wine didn’t like me missing a grounder and got on my case. It is all in fun, I think. We then hit and broke for the morning.

Yes, we watched the inauguration. Lenny Randle was almost in tears.

The coaches picked their teams and I was put on Buzz Capra’s team, the Cyclones. Willie Montañez is one of our coaches. We lost our game 6-5 to a team coached by Pete Schourek and Felix Millan. Let’s just say that I didn’t contribute much to the effort (if you’re reading this and expecting me to tell you stories of my diamond exploits, I fear that you will be disappointed). The camp staff wisely includes trainers from the Mets minor league system and, after the game, the line was out the door. The Mets are big on icing our wounds — too bad that they can’t treat our wounds from the last two Septembers.

Note to my friend Bob: free beer in the locker room.

If you’re wondering about the makeup of the campers, there are about 80 guys (and it’s only guys, although there have been women in other years), mostly white and from New York, New Jersey or Connecticut. Almost everyone is friendly and enjoying the experience. About half are camp veterans, with one guy in his eighth year. Several received this as a birthday present (like me) and many are with their brothers, fathers, or other relatives (if so, they are placed on the same team).

A large group went to dinner at Duffy’s, the same Duffy’s that the sports writers tell us in Spring Training is the only good place in town and where John Maine always goes to bowl. It has about 50 flat screens and good food. We talked a lot about how sore we are. We’ll be in worse shape tomorrow after two games.

One sort of-news item to pass on: Duaner Sanchez is here. I watched him play catch with a clubhouse attendant. Afterwards, I asked the attendant how Duaner looked and he said “real good.”