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April 3, 2012

Prospects Will Break Your Heart

Spring Training Diary: Last Entry

by Jason Parks

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6:00 AM

I’m up early, Patricia, but I have nowhere to go. It’s an empty feeling, like spending a decade in school only to serve coffee or write positive articles about the Chicago White Sox system. Everything feels false: yesterday was my final day at the fields. I watched around 75 games over the past five weeks, ranging from amateur to pro, in the vacant environments of the backfields to the packed houses under the bright lights. I already miss it more than words by Extreme. Oh, my Dear, give me the strength to face the realities of the world without baseball in my bloodstream. I’m flying back to New York City in a few hours. This can’t be happening. The music for the mood is Feel Flows by the Beach Boys. Shadows supplied by the words:

Unfolding enveloping missiles of soul
Recall senses sadly
Mirage like soft blue like lanterns below
To light the way gladly
Whether whistling heaven's clouds disappear
Where the wind withers memory
Whether whiteness whisks soft shadows away
Feel flows (White hot glistening shadowy flows)
Feel goes (Black hot glistening shadowy flows”

I’m petulant at the moment, with recognition and awareness but no apology. I’m sad. I get this way when things that I love sink back into the ground while I sit idly by and wait for them to sprout up. I’m waiting for a ghost to arrive and reset the clock. Please tell me it’s early March and not early April. It’s important to want the month to be March. It’s the month where baseball life erupts into full view. It’s a cyclical creation; in the spring, baseball is reborn and I’m in the room with an unobstructed view of the process. It’s beautiful, like the moment you first touch the hand of a new love, so awkward yet so deep and full of meaning and consequence. It makes everything else seem insignificant and distant, and it captures all your thoughts subsequent to the event. It’s a gas, Kitten.

Sorry that I called you Kitten. I thought about calling you something else, but I didn’t think hard enough because I was too busy thinking of my present sadness, failing to appreciate the amazing adventures I’ve participated in since the dawn of my journey back in late February. I’ve teased you with a few, Patricia, but I’ve kept some of the tastiest meat for my own mouth. It’s a selfish move, but people are intrinsically selfish, and I’ve come to accept this at this stage of the game. Your best friend would cut your throat to star on the Bachelor. It’s just a fact. I went to school with one of the Bachelors. I saw his face on a tabloid. Our culture has become shallow and glossy like pop-culture magazine pages, and we acquiesce to the very charms that bring us down. I’m pretty sure this diary is helping that cause, Patricia.

I miss you dearly. If I owned a chalet in the Swiss Alps, I’d hold you close as we ingested the beautiful surroundings like opiates. The people in this US Weekly have probably experienced that level of environmentally-aided romance. Most of us think a few kind words and a bottle of wine are enough to sweep away the spirits of a partner. As long as the Switzerland dream exists, words and wine will never be enough. Don’t let it fool you, Patricia. Keep your dreams small and you will be better served. Not every face is meant to be kissed by a prettier face, and not every Venezuelan shortstop is going to be Omar Vizquel.

When thinking of the good times, the fond memories flow. The hundreds of swings I saw Dominican bonus babies Ronald Guzman and Nomar Mazara take; the experience of being at the majority of Yu Darvish’s appearances; watching Darvish’s last start on an iPhone at a restaurant, as Rangers closer Joe Nathan watched-on from my immediate left, breaking down Darvish’s arsenal and boasting about the Japanese ace’s work ethic while eating a bowl of pasta; watching Bubba Starling step into the box for his first ever spring training backfield game; getting to watch the aforementioned at-bat with good friend Kevin Goldstein, as he stood to my 9 o’clock wearing a fedora and fighting off sun stroke; the French fries at the In-N-Out; getting to spend quality time around people with industry titles like “Special Assistant to the General Manager,” whose words of wisdom strike with the force of a 1000 armies; over a two-day span, I learned more about player projection than I had learned in the previous two years, and I’ve learned a lot about player projection over the last two years; getting to watch all the exciting prospects in the Royals system (in addition to Starling), some of which will find the light in a scouting article I’ve yet to write; Francisco Lindor agreed to be my one and only; getting to host a Baseball Prospectus party at my spring training home, which turned into an ad hoc FIFA tournament, complete with brackets and prizes. (..And here I thought the numbers dorks were the only dorks at the party.)

Speaking of awkward statistical analysis wizards, Voros McCracken ended up winning the FIFA tournament, besting the likes of Kevin Goldstein, Jorge Arangure, and Jason Cole [Roommate Jason] for the title. He did so with ruthless skill and grace. I have to say, it’s a strange world when in one room you have Yahoo’s Jeff Passan playing video games while wearing white sport socks and casual shorts, Jay Jaffe’s mustache holding court on the outdoor deck, articulately recounting the day’s events, and assorted writers, industry names, and fans of the game lining the path in between the two. It was a very cool party and Baseball Prospectus Wizard in Command Joe Hamrahi deserves all the props for not only making that happen, but also pushing the BP brand to another level. I should jump ship before the ship gets too big and luxurious.  I’m not one to enjoy things, Patricia. I should have included our blossoming affair on the list of fond memories. I do hope blossoming is the correct word. I would hate to hear that you prefer the word “fledgling.” I think our relationship is showing buds.

As sad as I am to leave the baseball and the blossoming behind, I’m triumphant in my escape from the state of Arizona, specifically the greater Phoenix area. Upon arriving home the other day, Roommate Jason and I discovered the following note on our front door, which I think sums up greater Phoenix better than the poetry I attempt to craft:

 

March 26, 2012

Hi Neighbors!

My name is Becky, I live on [redacted] and I want to warn you of a problem that unfortunately we have here in our neighborhood!

My dog was drugged sometime Sunday night/Monday morning!! This has been confirmed by my vet! As bad this is {sic}, thankfully he was drugged and not poisoned but it was still a close call! The police are aware, a report has been filed.

I just want to let you all know to be aware – someone is throwing something laced with drugs over the fence! PLEASE watch your animals, especially those who have doggy doors and can go in and out when they want (like mine!)!

I really thought our neighborhood was a safe place but for whatever reason, someone is out to hurt our pets!

I pray no one else has to go thru what I did this morning – my dog is alive but that’s a scare no one should have to go thru!!

First of all, I count 12 exclamation points executed in this note, which is about 12 too many. Becky means business. Secondly, if the described animal cruelty did in fact occur, it should come as no surprise to anybody in the neighborhood, even naïve Becky, who thought a lower income neighborhood in the West Valley of Phoenix would be a utopian existence where neighbors smile and refuse to drug animals and exclamation points are used in every sentence and random notes left on the doors of strangers warm the heart and bring guilty people to justice. It takes a village, Becky. Unfortunately, you decided to live in a village where it takes a better village.

Based on the behavior I’ve seen in the neighborhood, lacing something and throwing it over the fence for the purpose of drugging a dog is definitely within the brackets of reality; although it seems like it would take more effort and energy than the average person in the neighborhood is used to expending. My money is on the family with three Pontiacs on-site, two of which haven’t moved in a month, the other, a turquoise mid-90s number, doesn’t move often. The garage door is always open, as I believe it’s used as an adult fort, where methamphetamines can be consumed in the peace and quiet of an Incubus CD, a cloud of cigarette smoke, and the dreams that their great-grandchildren will have ten digits on the hands and ten on the feet.

I think the owner of the Pontiac that moved was named Dewayne. As you might have guessed, Dewayne has a goatee and a quick temper. If I were eight-years-old, I’d roll a ball into his garage and dare my friends to gamble with their lives in order to fetch it. I wanted to followup Becky’s neighborhood note with a note that listed the odds of guilt among the neighborhood elite. Dewayne would be the clear frontrunner. I’d use 13 exclamation points just to prove to Becky that I mean even more business than she means. I’d also remind Becky that her dog probably just tried to kill itself to escape the neighborhood. I saw a dog walking with a noose in its mouth the other day. That might have been Becky’s dog. Sometimes it’s best just to let things happen, Becky. Don’t you think, Patricia?

10:00 AM

I’m about to leave for the airport, so I need to wrap this up. It’s been a privilege to tether my thoughts to your heart, and vice-versa, if applicable. I’m not a crazy man, Patricia; rather, I just like to think and I like to be open with the things that I think and I lose thoughts with the way that I think. It’s a different bag of tea, but it’s still just a bag of tea. Over the last five weeks I’ve rediscovered my soul, and that soul can be found inside a baseball, placed in a bucket on the backfields of a spring training complex. I’m growing as a scout, which probably shrinks me as a writer, which narrows my career arc but keeps me warm at night.

Speaking of which, I think it’s time we took the next step. If I asked you to be my regular diary would you say yes? I’ll ask again at another time. I know it’s probably too soon. Everything that happens is too soon for somebody. Just know that I care, even if I say I don’t, which I probably won’t do, because I actually care. If this diary escapes my hands, I hope the readers know that I care. I really care for you. I’ll leave you with this before I go, something I’ve been thinking about since our first exchange: The object of your affection doesn’t have to appear real in the eyes of outsiders in order for that affection to be real. Take it easy, Patricia. Thanks for listening to me.

Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

Related Content:  Yu Darvish,  Spring Training Diary,  Patricia

26 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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colonel
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Dear Mr. Park,

Your lack of empathy for the dog and its owner speaks volumes about you. You suggest attempting to drug the dog required more effort than residents of the neighborhood may be willing to make. Yet, for some unstated reason, you question the dog owner's credibility without consideration of the effort it took to write and post the notes about her dog.

The closing paragraphs of your column demonstrate several shortcomings on your part, not the least of which is a lack of judgment. (Although you are quick to judge.) Since judgment is an major reason I read certain writers, I am afraid this is the last time I will read something written by you.

I do, however, agree with one thing you wrote in your little whine. The note is likely better than any poetry you would attempt to craft.

Best of luck in your future career, whatever it may be.

Apr 03, 2012 05:23 AM
rating: -17
 
NYYanks826
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Good to see we have some members of PETA on this site.

Apr 03, 2012 06:04 AM
rating: -4
 
Ian Miller

Please don't denigrate PETA members by lumping them in with this idiot.

Apr 03, 2012 09:00 AM
rating: 7
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Let me guess, you live in the greater Surprise, AZ area and your name is Becky? What are the odds?

Apr 03, 2012 08:03 AM
 
ttt

He wrote the note to Mr. Park. I'm not really sure who that is, maybe Chan Ho?

Apr 03, 2012 08:18 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Perhaps he has been reading Mr. Park all along, and he actually loves my work?

Apr 03, 2012 08:20 AM
 
ttt

How could anyone not love your work?

Apr 03, 2012 08:39 AM
rating: 0
 
adrock

Great series, Jason.

Clearly, I disagree with the colonel on the more than how fried chicken should be prepared.

Apr 03, 2012 05:51 AM
rating: 1
 
sacko83

"It takes a village, Becky. Unfortunately, you decided to live in a village where it takes a better village."

Great line.

Apr 03, 2012 05:51 AM
rating: 11
 
jhardman

Unfortunately, some great humor is wasted on some. Personally, I thought the dog carrying a noose in its mouth was hysterical. Thanks for the good laughs. My dog was laughing too.

Apr 03, 2012 07:06 AM
rating: 1
 
NotMrTibbs

As excited as I am for the start of the season, my enthusiasm is dampened knowing your spring missives to Patricia have come to an end.

And as an animal rights proponent (though not a PETA member), I found the Professor's recounting of the plight of the dog perfectly appropriate. Phoenix is, after all, the city equivalent of a factory farm. Perhaps the analogy doesn't hold with regard to cramped living quarters, but it certainly does in terms of overuse of pharmaceuticals and of general misery, human and otherwise. Do what you must, little pup.

Apr 03, 2012 07:36 AM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Many thanks. I just used the dog as a character in the criticism. I didn't think the humor was wearing such a disguise that people would confuse preverse judgment for the sake of argument with the inability to feel empathy for an animal that might have been drugged by a neighborhood lunatic. I guess I should have suggested that I drugged the dog and that I was the neighborhood lunatic. That really would have confused the point even more.

Apr 03, 2012 08:13 AM
 
BP staff member Joe Hamrahi
BP staff

Wow...I didn't realize Voros won the tournament. I knew he was there until dawn, but that's great. I also think it's interesting how all the baseball guys were playing soccer. I still need to get that game, but I'm afraid my kids will make fun of me.

Glad we had the party, JP, and thanks for hosting it.

Apr 03, 2012 07:37 AM
 
orenjungreis

This was an amazing series i loved all of it. I really hope you release a book at some point because you are a great writer.

Apr 03, 2012 08:24 AM
rating: 2
 
lacerati

About ten days ago, I returned home from seeing four spring games in three days around the Phoenix area and was just starting to get over the feeling that I should have stayed longer. I should have seen more baseball. This piece brought back that longing in full force.

Thanks, Jason. See you there next year.

Apr 03, 2012 09:23 AM
rating: 0
 
gweedoh565

The Bachelor so needs to have Jason as The Bachelor.

Apr 03, 2012 10:50 AM
rating: 2
 
NP_14

"...Yahoo’s Jeff Passan playing video games while wearing white sport socks and casual shorts." No sandals? Or was he wearing socks and sandals?

Apr 03, 2012 12:05 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Jeff was not wearing sandals. He showed up legit, but the subject of sandals did come up and he did take fire for his fashion choices.

Apr 03, 2012 12:17 PM
 
PeterBNYC

A memorable series- thanks.

Apr 03, 2012 12:42 PM
rating: 0
 
Replacement Cat

Jason: thank you, more please.

Apr 03, 2012 13:52 PM
rating: 0
 
Seth Cohen

I really enjoyed this series and I hope that it periodically pops up again. Since Its about being honest, I feel I can announce to the interwebs that I tried to go to that BBQ, managed to get lost, and never got there. Its my fault for zoning out while driving through the barren west valley and not noticing that I missed a turn till I hit the next highway. Sounds like I missed a good time, but I was getting cranky and took one for the team and headed home. And I was wearing my favorite shandals.

Apr 03, 2012 16:24 PM
rating: 0
 
lawmaker

Mitch Hedberg anybody?

Apr 03, 2012 18:25 PM
rating: 0
 
SJLedet

Sorry, after the first two, really couldn't read anymore. I'm not criticizing your writing skills or imagination. In fact, when I was younger, I'm sure I would have enjoyed it more. Now that I'm an old man, other people's flights of fancy just don't do much for me. It's not what I want from BP. Just my opinion. Good luck with your career.

Apr 03, 2012 21:15 PM
rating: 0
 
John Carter

My guess is that the dog drugging was not random - just some sicko who didn't like Becky and/or her dog.

Apr 04, 2012 11:55 AM
rating: 0
 
Lespaul1

I was assuming they drugged the dog so they could safely crawl through the doggie door and more easily rob young Becky.....

Apr 04, 2012 18:48 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

When I tried to rob young Becky, all I found were REO Speedwagon tapes and a package of Fun Dip. Pretty good score.

Apr 04, 2012 18:56 PM
 
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