So I thought ... who better to ask about the most burning questions this Spring Training than the "Answer Man" himself?
I had the pleasure of asking David Brown from Yahoo! Sports and Big League Stew, 10 questions regarding everyone's favourite late winter pastime, Major League Baseball's Spring Training.
1.) There has been some controversy across the blogosphere over the new designs for the Spring Training caps and uniforms. What are your thoughts in particular on the new batting practice caps?
It’s funny to care about batting practice *caps* when, in batting practice, we only usually pay attention to the guy swinging in the cage -- who is wearing a helmet.2.) With the addition of Twitter to the beat reporter's arsenal, what used to take days or even weeks to report has now become instantaneous. How has Twitter changed the game of reporting from Spring Training?
That said, I appreciate baseball fashionistas. If the things are ugly enough, the players will complain, and people won’t buy them, and they’ll change the design for next year.
Aside for my love for the Montreal Expos old paneled caps, I tend to like simplicity. When you try to do too much, as these caps seem to do, it gets hard to look at.
Someone commented that the White Sox have the only sharp-looking batting practice cap, and I would add the Tigers and Yankees to that. But you’re already talking about classic, simple logos to begin with.
We’re still finding out. It is so much easier to be wrong when publishing something -- and tweets count as “publishing.” I do think it’s a positive for a good reporter who’s able to be “first” with a brief tweet and then can take a little extra time to post a detailed blog of the subject that has its facts straight. But Twitter is even more exciting as a reporter’s tool (I said “tool”, huh-huh).3.) In your opinion, what is the most over-used Spring Training cliche? And on the flip side, which Spring Training cliche would you like to hear more of?
Communicating with other reporters and fans, seeing what people are talking about. It makes for being better-informed more quickly. As we all get used to the medium and more join, it will get even better.
It’s also great advertising. Maybe first and foremost, it’s a great way just to let people know you’ve published something. That goes for professional journalists, bloggers who do this on the side, whatever.
If it’s not Rogers Hornsby looking at a calendar or out the window or whatever it is, I’d have to say it’s “best shape of his career” thing. I’m not saying we get rid of it because, sometimes, a guy WILL actually show up and be in the best shape of his career and maybe it’s news-worthy. Just gotta take it all with a grain of salt -- speaking of cliches.4.) I'm sure you've visited many Spring Training facilities over the years - out of all of them, which is your favourite ballpark?
The second question is tricky. This isn’t only germane to spring training but I hate it when someone writes, for example, “Casey Janssen threw *off* the mound today.” The reporters mean to say he threw *on* the mound. Yes, he threw the ball off the mound to the catcher, but he was standing *on* the mound when he did. Just write: “He threw *from* the mound” to eliminate the confusion that it seems only I experience.
This is actually only my second spring training, and as I write I have yet to see Arizona at all. But the best park I’ve visited so far, hands down, is Joker Marchant in Lakeland. Just gorgeous and it seems to give the Tigers whatever they need.5.) You are starting off in Florida covering the Grapefruit League teams and then heading west to Arizona to take in some Cactus League action. Is there one league you prefer over the other?
I also like Pirate City in East Bradenton -- which isn’t a stadium but it’s where they train and some of the players stay. It looks like a high-end La Quinta with half a dozen baseball fields attached. Inside, there's a game room with pool tables and artwork of famous Pirates (not including Blackbeard).
I grew up an American League fan, I think the DH makes sense and the best teams are in the AL. But I like the National League for some reason. Maybe it’s just the overall personalities of the players and managers? I’ve never added up why, but I’ve noticed it about myself. I’ve been covering baseball since 1998, so if it’s cyclical, it’s been long-ass cycle.6.) What do you think is the most compelling storyline coming out of Blue Jays Spring Training camp?
I just finished the Jays preview, so I am knee-deep in this right now. Big-picture, it’s if AA is the right guy to lead the organization but maybe more specifically, will ownership enable him to do it?7.) Can you give us one name on the Blue Jays roster that will keep the flame of eternal hope burning this season?
I like most of the moves he’s made so far, considering his position, and I just get feel a confidence about him that wasn’t the cockiness that J.P. had (I thought).
Short-term, it’s Randy Ruiz. At 32, can he make his first opening day roster, get playing time, do well, make himself stick and hit 25 homers and .300 as a rookie? That would be just awesome if he could.
Aaron Hill is a great Jay in the Gruber, McGriff, Moseby tradition. He’s 28, so there’s a chance he’ll still be around when the team is good again.8.) I noticed that the Blue Jays and Phillies Spring Training facilities are only 3 miles apart. Do you think there is any possibility the Blue Jays try will try to kidnap Roy Halladay in the middle of the night and bring him back to Dunedin?
I like this question; someone should make a Youtube drama of it. I actually wish I had asked someone this question down there, even though the answers probably wouldn’t have been as witty.9.) Is there one player in particular (Blue Jay or otherwise) that has impressed you the most so far this Spring Training?
Even if they managed to sneak him into Dunedin, once they try to get him over the border into Toronto, they’ve got some major issues. I mean, look at those missionaries in Haiti who stole those kids.
Phillies’ rookie Domonic Brown is going to be a star. It’s too bad the Jays couldn’t have squeezed him out of Ruben Amaro too.10.) Last year, the most inventive Spring Training autograph surfaced on Big League Stew known as the "Tacograph". Which food item do you see as being then next big "edible autograph"?
I would like to see Randy Ruiz sign a McRib, which is back for a limited time at Florida McDonalds.Big League Stew's "Spring Swing", and be sure to follow him on Twitter as "AnswerDave".