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
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