February 7, 2001
The Daily Prospectus
Baseball in February? Si!
I grew up in New York City, so February to me has always meant cold, hockey, my birthday and cold, not necessarily in that order. As a young player, February wasn't a time for baseball. Hell, some Aprils weren't a time for baseball. And even though I now live in Southern California, where Little League seasons begin right about now, the idea of playing or watching the game before Valentine's Day seems a bit odd.
So it was a cheap thrill to finally sit down and seek out Fox Sports World's coverage of the Caribbean World Series on Tuesday afternoon. (Odder still, I might add, to see ESPN's graphics package on a Fox telecast. But I digress.) On my screen, the sun was shining, many of the names were familiar and there wasn't a puck or a three-point line to be found. Joy.
I can't say I watched the game as an analyst. What you're going to pick up from seven innings of a game like this isn't much anyway, and I was, frankly, just thrilled at the idea that I was watching BASEBALL for the first time in three months. It was kind of like finding money.
What I was getting was actually day-old coverage, so the Puerto Rico/Dominican Republic game had actually been played Monday. I was lucky: this may have been the best game of the weeklong series, as Puerto Rico fought back from a 3-0 deficit, capping the comeback with a three-run home run by Carlos Beltran in the bottom of the eighth. In the ninth, the Dominican Republic assembled a three-run rally of their own to steal the game, 6-4. Mexico would go on to win the nightcap over Venezuela, leaving all four teams tied at 2-2 after four games.
As I said, I didn't watch the game with an analyst's eye, so what sticks in my mind are two things. Hector Villanueva, and whatever person he ate. Villanueva, never lithe during his major-league days, now looks like a beer-league softball player. He can still hit, but he looks terribly out of place on the field and his inability to run helped kill a rally by Puerto Rico in the sixth inning (sorry, Paul). He sure is fun to watch, though.
If you're one of the lucky few who gets Fox Sports World--especially those of you in the storm-ravaged Northeast--treat yourself to a game or two in the next couple of days. Maybe it won't change the calendar, but you can pretend it's summer for a few hours.
On a different note, I want to indulge in the new tradition--popularized by an infinitely more popular writer--of baseball columnists highlighting local musical talent. Last night, here in Orange County, I had the pleasure of catching the debut of singer/songwriter Josh O'Connor. O'Connor wowed a small crowd at the One-Eyed Parrot in Huntington Beach with his set. O'Connor's debut CD should be released this summer, and if you have a chance to catch him live, I highly recommend it.
Finally, if BP contest winner James Bernstein is reading this, could he please drop us an e-mail? Thanks.
Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Contact him by clicking here.