5.15.2005

Even More Thoughts on My Mind.


The season is more than a month old now, and we're starting to see some pretty impressive rookies out there. The wheat, as they say, is starting to be separated from the chaff, and we're starting to see who's going to stick, as well as who's going to slide.

I have to start first with Rockies rookie Clint Barmes. This kid, a 10th-round pick from Indiana State, is hitting the lights out of the ball in the Mile High. Sure, the ball carries better there...but when you're hitting .389 with 24 RBIs and a .625 slugging percentage, who cares? Remember, it's pronounced bar-mess, like the way a pub looks after Larry Bowa gets "asked" to leave by security personnel. (Haha, Larry, just a little rookie ribbing there! Don't get mad at me. Seriously.)

Other top performers are Gustavo Chacin, one of our favorites around here because he looks...well, not like a nerd, but you get the picture; Jeremy Reed, who can really flash the leather out there in center for the M's; the Twins' Jason Bartlett and the Brewers' J.J. Hardy, who are a couple of other real leather boys at shortshop; and some others whom I hope to write down here before I hit Publish Post.

Everyone knows about rookie hazing in baseball. It made some waves last year when a player was shot while wearing a dress, the specifics of which I will also remember to look up before I publish this article. But from the stories the guys here tell, rookie hazing is just as much a part of baseball as the on-deck circle and Cracker Jack. I guess I'm wondering if these rookies are dealing with the pressure of getting "initiated" into the bigs as well as they are dealing with major league pitching and/or hitting.

I mentioned (JOKINGLY) the idea up there that we have our own little hazing here on the set. Of course, we wouldn't do that to Larry, a great manager and player who does not suffer fools lightly, which is to say he's got a mean streak a mile wide. But HR and I pulled a couple of pranks last year on the Krukenhammer that--well, I'm not supposed to tell tales out of school, but let's just say that the words "early morning wakeup call," "lipstick," and "35-pound Chinook salmon" will always crack me up.

But he got us back, believe you me. Well, he got me back; somehow, HR was always absent when one of Kruk's payback gags went off. Like the day my corned beef sub from Quizno's somehow "magically" ended up with habanero peppers in it, seeds and all -- haha, try pronouncing "Ichiro Suzuki" with second-degree burns on your tongue! That was a good one! -- how did HR know to bring his own lunch from home that day? That guy is like Lucky Seven Samson!

But that wasn't all. Kruk was a big-leaguer for so long that he's got a million of them. And that means I have had the chance to experience what it must be like for rookies. Magazines and pizzas ordered by someone else in your name? Check. Friendly card games that end up in you having to walk home in your Scooby Doo boxers? Check. Take a little nap in the office and wake up with genitalia scrawled on your face in Magic Marker? Oh, yeah, big-time check. Reynolds? The guy gets off scot-free, every time. Eyes in the back of his head!

But hey, I'm not complaining. It has given me a whole new insight into the rookie mindset. Not only are they adjusting to more money, more pressure, and more attention than they've ever gotten in their lives, but they are also learning to deal with other things, like having their entire body forcibly shaven and then slathered with Atomic Balm. (If you thought I seemed a little uncomfortable on last week's Thursday night show...I was! Hahaha! Ha!)

So you'll never hear me pick on a rook on the show. Hey, us guys going through post-traumatic shock disorder at the hands of big muscle-headed unfeeling jocks have a lot in common! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

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