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:
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Though prospecting involves looking to the future, Jason uses his time in Arizona to look to his past, as well.
Day 15, 4:40 PM
My roommate (who you are about to meet) is behind the wheel of a 2006 Ford F150 King Ranch Edition, with comfortable leather bucket seats in the front, a spacious leather bench in the back, and enough headroom to support humans of above-average size who have a propensity to wear cowboy hats when they travel. My roommate is not wearing a cowboy hat, nor have I ever seen him wear a cowboy hat, but he is quite tall, standing 6’4’’ with a Texas build and a Texas-sized pinch of smokeless tobacco between his cheek and gum.
My roommate is also named Jason, and aside from the first name, the passion for baseball, the Texas roots, and the love of FIFA on the PlayStation3, one would think we share little else in common; our age gap creates a plane of separation that even baseball struggles to bridge, as he’s almost ten years my junior and didn’t grow up watching classics like Real Genius or Fletch in his formative years. Oh, Patricia, how I love talking about the movies of my youth. I spend most of my time and money trying to recapture feelings that have long escaped me. We all do this, Patricia; even you. I hope you don’t take that the wrong way. Even if you had poor taste in movies and denied yourself the benefits of psychological rediscovery, I’d still like you. This is probably the sweetest thing I’ve ever said and I hope it makes you love me.
With some thoughts on the best pen and paper for the job, Jason shares some scouting notes on Yu Darvish.
Day 5: 4:30 PM
Back from the fields and swollen with stories, Patricia. Thanks for the note you left. I didn’t read it until I was nearing the stadium here in Surprise. Very thoughtful of you to wish me well. Remind me to volley the kindness back to you at a time more convenient for such an act. I’m growing closer to you by the minute. My eyes might only own a few tears, saved up over the years just in case I might need to deploy them in a tear-appropriate situation, but I think I caught a hint of one’s presence after I learned that you had feelings for me. It retreated out of fear and because this desert climate chews moisture like George Lucas chews chocolate. Tears can be such cowards. I’m just assuming you have feelings for me. I’ve only been in Arizona for five days and I’m already lonely. I’m not sure when you will read this, but it’s Friday, March 2nd when I’m writing it. I know you are busy. Read it when you can.
On the way back to the house I was overcome with anticipation as I pored over my scouting notes from the previous week, knowing that the upcoming dictation of these thoughts would reanimate them in my mind. The process I constructed is as follows: Observe the talent on the field, and take notes on the talent using a standard issue soft-cover Finest Selection Gold Fibre notebook from Ampad, with its 80 medium-ruled sheets that are micro-perforated for neat sheet removal and a convenient 5’’ x 8’’ size, which fits neatly into my leather Wenger portfolio, which also houses several varieties of custom made hit and pitch charts, several Pentel EnerGel pens (black), a respectable stack of glossy Baseball Prospectus business cards that bear my name and my contact information, an extra AX725 AccuSplit stopwatch (yellow), and a backup legal pad, which comes as standard issue when you purchase the Wenger portfolio.
Jason can't get out of bed, even though Yu Darvish awaits and fanatical cults haunt his waking dreams.
Day 1: 7:00 AM
I woke up at 7am on the dot, eyes peeled open by the heavy-handed eruption of natural light that permeates the room I occupy in Surprise, Arizona. This is the beginning of my first week of Spring Training, a yearly adventure that shares the distinction of being the most exciting time of my baseball year and the most awkward time of my social experience. I sleep five hours a night and not a minute more. Sleeping dulls the mind. I need to stay sharp. I begin each day with a fifteen-minute focused stare at the ceiling, a surface so white and lifeless that shadows won’t leave their shape upon it. I imagine what shadows I would like to see appear in the sterile void: faces become re