Friday, March 30, 2012

The Dark Side Of The Ball

Everyone laughed at the line in "Wedding Crashers" when Luke Wilson jokes about how he lost a lot of good men playing for the Yankees; and they should, its a really funny line. Today's post is not going to be funny, today I'm gonna talk about something that is a serious and frankly. a dark and overlooked aspect of the game.

For most of you, your relationship with baseball is being a fan. And that's perfect - without fans there is no game, y'all are the life blood of baseball. Today I wanted to show you guys a backstage view of the game, and not to cloud your idea of what happens, or take away from the brilliance of the sport in any way, I just think it's worth sharing - and I think that as fans, and friends of players, you will want to read about it.

Today we had our third day in a row of cuts. Three days of watching your friends, your teammates, your family, have their dreams crushed. I'm not going to say that this means the end of the world for them, or that they will never work again, or that they will never be in the big leagues. I will say, that for most of the these guys, this is the end of a very prominent chapter in their lives. Baseball has been present in these guy's lives for 15-20 years and now they'll either have to swallow the fact that its over for them at a professional level, or have to start the uphill to try and get with another team. For players with families, this means a time of uncertainty. For players from other countries, this usually means having to go back home where things usually aren't as good as they are here. For all of them, it means having to pack up their locker, and walk away from a clubhouse into an uncertain future.

It's one thing to see a great like Jorge Posada leave the game after more than a decade in the bigs, knowing that he has money and a pension to fall back on. It's another watching a 22 year old clean out his locker and hold back tears so he doesn't cry in front of his teammates. He gets hugs from his buddies, everyone saying the one of a handful of token phrases. Some players will avoid eye contact, as if by not acknowledging the guy who's leaving, they will escape a similar fate. They walk out the doors, and we stay - putting on the same jersey that just got taken away from them, readying ourselves for another precious day on the diamond.

I know that the fact of the matter is, that he may not have been good enough, or that there are just too many people behind him that need a shot, or that he wasn't healthy enough to do this job at a big league level. But no matter how it happens or why, it's never going to be anything but heartbreaking to see that look of loss in a friends eyes as they walk away from the game for the first time - and not on their own terms. There will no press conference for them. No one will see them tomorrow on ESPN, shedding tears for time passed. They'll be traveling home tomorrow, desperately trying to right the world as it spins faster and faster in front of their eyes.

I'm not trying to say that this shouldn't be a part of the game, or that cuts are absurd, or that the wrong people are getting cut and there has to be something done about it. All I'm trying to do, is honor these fallen soldiers in my own way. They deserve statues. Monuments to their triumph. For years, these men have been perfecting their craft, missing spring break and long weekends to slave under the hot sun at tournaments. They've given up time with friends and family to grind out long nights in cages, working on that perfect swing. They've missed birth days and anniversaries and weddings to long bus trips. Every sacrifice in the hopes of one day stepping onto a big league field. All that work is washed away in one meeting with the head of player development. A handshake, a bidding of good luck and like sand through and open hand - it's gone.

I'm not trying to gain pity for the ballplayer. The opportunity that we are given is unparalleled. Each of us have been given an chance that is unlike any other, I don't mean to bemoan the profession. We get to wake up every day and live not only our dream, but the dream of countless others. We respect that - we honor that. All the sacrifices we made, we made on our own. We know what we were getting ourselves into. Cuts are a part of Spring Training. Some people stay and some people go, and next year the Baseball Reaper will be back again, but no one sees it coming. So when that icy finger taps you on the shoulder, it's like getting that phone call in the middle of the night - it's never good news.

I love my job. And I love my teammates. And I just wanted to do get on my soap box for a bit and give them as close to the 21 gun salute they deserve as I could.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Couple Things I'd Like To Share

Through twitter and this blog I'd like to think that I get across a fairly good sample of how I am and how I think. But today, I was thinking that maybe I haven't been as good at expressing my particular view on the world as I would have liked. I figure since you're reading this that you actually care how it is I do see things, and what I do think about (and that is very good of you) so I've decided to share a bit.

I never really know where to put my sunglasses when I'm not wearing them. I always try to find the perfect place, but each pair is different and I have yet to find a universal place that works for every pair and every occasion. I think in a perfect world I would have a little butler to carry them around for me while I wasn't in the mood to have them on my face. And by "little" I don't mean a midget or a dwarf, I'd want a very small man - like he'd be 3 feet tall and very good at sneaking and keeps very quite and just holds the sh*^ outta those sunglasses. I wouldn't want him putting back on my sunglasses though, cause no one can do that right - not even magical little men.

I kinda want to see a crime show where the detectives never solve a single case. Just no evidence shows up and the trail goes cold - no matter how many times they go to the suspect's house they can't get anything out of them, and at the end of the show it just goes into the "unsolved" pile (I think I just came up with the prequel to Cold Case). I'd want them to get the murders where the killer is no where to be found or a serial killer doesn't decide to kill 98 people the one week that the Criminal Minds team is in town. I always find that really weird, cause I like Criminal Minds a lot, and without fail, every time they're looking for a killer, 7 people have to die in the same 20 minutes before they can finally nab him and save the person that was totally gonna be murdered if they hadn't gotten there in the nick of time.

The guy who invented the little stopper that goes in your Starbucks cup so coffee doesn't spill out when you're driving is going to be way richer than me no matter what I do. I guess I could dedicate the rest of my life to solving a problem that people had but didn't really realize they had, but I think that's way more hit and miss than even the career I picked. Also, I wanna know who that guy is. Is he some really cool inventor/venture capitalist guy who is cutting edge, and it was just a matter of time before he caught his big break and is currently working on solving some more problems? Chances are he's just some dad from Nebraska who was tired of coffee spilling all over this car on the commute to work. And because of this invention, he now has no commute to work. So ironically, the very problem that drove him to make the invention that is now his job rendered the problem he originally tried to fix irrelevant. *That last sentence is for the higher level thinker*

Why isn't there wireless charging? On one hand, it makes sense cause electricity travels through wires and thats how that works. But at the same time, internet used to travel through wires, and look where we are now. I know that we have that little pad deal where you can put stuff and it'll charge that way, but why don't have wireless charging? I mean, I'm pretty sure there's static electricity all around us - why hasn't someone figured out how to channel that into a wireless charging system? I think one of you should do that and then give me 5% of the company.

If I break into Wells Fargo and steal the exact amount of money I already have in my account is that still stealing? I mean, I know it wasn't exactly "my money", but isn't it close enough that I'd just get popped for a breaking and entering rap? Would I still have a bank account? If so - how much would be in it?

If I could have one super power it would be the ability to speak any language. I know that flying or being invisible or reading minds sounds awesome - but I really don't think anything would be cooler than to meet anyone in the world and be able to talk to them in their native tongue fluently without hesitation or concern. Also, the ability for eavesdropping would be unlimited, and I'm a huge fan of listening to the conversations of strangers.

The first thing I would do as king of the world is take away a dog's ability to bark. I like dogs just fine - but barking is the worst thing ever. I understand the counter argument that dog can scare away robbers and save lives with barking to warn people or alert people; but the ratio of dogs barking to help people and dogs barking cause the UPS truck is going down the street just isn't close enough for me to let them have that. ....the second thing I would do is cure cancer.

I'd like to be a lizard. I think a life of being very fast and finding hot rocks to nap on would be very nice. I know that I would have to eat gross foods, but I wonder if they're gross to a lizard. Maybe if I were a lizard I wouldn't care as much that I was eating flies and that. Also my tail would detach and I don't think I would ever get tired of that. I'm not entirely sure how I would feel about not being the top of the food chain, but part of me also thinks it would be sweet to try to evade a hawk or something. Maybe I could raise a lizard army and use or strength in numbers to kill the hawk and have a hawk feast.

This is what happens in my mind on a daily basis. I can't really stop - never really tried to be honest with you. I rather enjoy having a mind that wanders about on me, though it can get in the way from time to time. I hoped you enjoyed your time inside my brain - feel free to stop by any time via my twitter (@C_M_Cook) or shoot me an email to join in on the fun ( Have a good one, and GO TRIBE. We're so close to opening day it's right out there at the end of my fingertips - can't wait to get my hands on that game ball and toe the rubber for the first time.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

First Ever Response to a Reader's Question!!

For the first time ever, I got an email from one of y'all that read my blog, and also for the first time ever, I'm gonna answer that question for today's post. 

The question from Bob H. is as follows, "What [do] you think about on the mound when you pitch?  Are you always thinking of the batter and the pitch you’ll throw or does your mind ever wander…say to the cutie in the 3rd row or what you can draw next with DrawSomething?   Do you ever go all Bill “spaceman” Lee?"

It's a great question and deserves as close to a great answer as I can muster. 

When I'm on the mound in a game, I try to keep my mind as blank as possible. I don't mean to say that I think about nothing, but I try to keep it clear of mental traffic. I don't want to be thinking about the last pitch, or next hitter, or what my ERA will be after this inning. I want to be clear, focused, and present in the moment and for that pitch. This is easier said than done, and yes - I mess it up all the time. But every so often you hear about a pitcher or a player saying that when they are doing best it seems like the body just takes over and they don't even have to think about what is going on. I believe that this feeling comes from a mind that is clear, at rest, and available in the moment (pardon me while I get a little hippy dippy on you - its the Cali Boy in me). 

To more directly answer your question, I do think about the hitter, getting him out is always the main concern. Obviously there are going to be external things that need to be dealt with as well, but it is important to remember that when you have the baseball you are controlling the game, and if things get too sped up - you can always slow the game down by just stepping off and taking a second to collect yourself. The batter in the box is, for me, something that can be used to my advantage. I like to think about attacking the hitter, and forcing him to take action (hopefully on my terms) so he makes a mistake. A perfect game for me is when I keep sending guys back to the dugout talking about how they missed me by "this much". Doesn't matter if you miss it by and inch or a foot, if I make you miss - I did my job. 

As far as the cutie in the 3rd row - might as well be an empty seat. This may sound a little far fetched, but I promise, I don't notice people. I have actually gotten into tiffs with girlfriends over this very thing, I just will not notice people in the stands. Actually - thats a lie. The only person that I notice in the stands and that has the ability to get in my head, is my Dad. I have actually told him that he can't sit behind the plate when I throw because I see him and I start to get nervous and anxious based off his reactions to the game. He has to sit over the first base dugout where he's behind me and I don't have to be distracted by the person who's opinion matters most to me. Beyond that, I don't really see people. I may notice someone as I walk off the mound to the dugout, but as far as "cuties" go - pitching is not the tame to get distracted by cute girls. 

Finally, I don't know what going "all Bill Lee" means. I'm sorry to let you down - I'd love to have a snappy retort to this one, or maybe a sincere answer, but lets not get our hopes up. 

The fact of the matter is, that when I'm on the bump its the only thing that matters in my life. It's part of the reason that I love the game so much. It gives me a respite from the entire rest of the world. I get to forget about any off field troubles or concerns I have. For however long I'm pitching that baseball, I get to be myself, and doing something I love. 

Thanks, Bob, for the question and I hope I was able to answer it in a somewhat satisfactory way. Please keep the questions coming - I really do like having the opportunity to check in with you guys and answer any questions that come to mind (even the silly ones). 

As always, follow me on twitter (@C_M_Cook) I'm trying to make it to 1000 followers before I break camp. And if you have any questions or comments or hate mail or pictures of your cat, email me at

Only a handful of short days till opening day! Let's make 2012 count! GO TRIBE. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Week In Review

Been a while since I've had the time to sit down and write a blog, and I wanna say that I'm sorry to both of you that really like the blog and look forward to it daily.

It's been a big week around camp - we started games on Friday and that means that, in my mind, the race has officially begun. There's a level of excitement, even in ST games, that just isn't present at any other time. When you toe the rubber and you have a hitter 60 and half feet away - you get to another level. I live for that feeling, it's exactly the reason that I do all the work. While I do love my job more than anything, it can be a grind, and I am able to get through that grind because I am addicted to the feeling of pitching in a game. For any athlete out there reading this, you know the feeling I'm talking about. There's something so carnal and invigorating about putting yourself up against another person and testing yourself in that way. It doesn't matter if you come out winning or losing - you're gonna learn something about yourself that you didn't know earlier. And you can feed off that at bat, or shot, or kick, or pass for a good long time before you're lucky enough to get out there and do it all again.

In other news - I miss my beard. Above, you will notice there is a picture of me wearing sunglass while I am inside. This is because I have a beard and when you have a beard this is nothing that you can do that is wrong. It is said that the reason Chuck Norris doesn't need to learn math is because when you have a beard 2+2 can equal a roundhouse to the chin. Given, this entire paragraph is completely without purpose, but I was perusing the photos I have on my phone and saw this one and it made me miss my beard. Plus those shades are dope magope. (Dope Magope is trademarked by Cole Cook Industries and cannot be used with the written consent of Major League Baseball. Any duplication of this broadcast can and will be used against you in a court of law. Luke, I am your father.)

Finally, this. I don't even know what to think about the whole Peyton Manning deal; my friend Brittany Mollis (@BirdsIVue) hit it on the head when she tweeted, "Peyton Manning in another uniform? Now I know how kids of broken families feel when dad starts dating again. #awkward"  Given, this may not be the most sensitive tweet of all time, but I think she got the feeling across pretty well. I didn't really have a dog in this fight, and usually I could care less which team this mega free agents go to (Pujols landing in an Angel uniform was amazing though). But I'm such a fan of Peyton Manning, I think he is one of the best examples of what a Superstar Athlete can and should be, and I think if he had joined the 49ers that would have been awesome. Finally, I just wish he had made a different move, and even though I have nothing against the Broncos, I don't think I'll really be able to cheat for them. Furthermore, ESPN basically ruined this whole process for me. They kept reporting on it day to day (and 7 times a day) and each time the headline on Sports Center would be, "Sources Say Manning Works Out With ______". I'm sorry ESPN, by "sources" do you mean "He's there right now, people can see him"? That's not a source - that's common knowledge. That's like saying "Sources say Sage Steel is on TV right now." Stop reporting this like it's an inside scoop, and stop saying that whatever team he's currently with is the frontrunner. Stop making up news - y'all haven't looked this bad since Lebron did his stupid "The Decision" thing. 

Sorry this entry has been kind of all over the place - I wanted to check in, but full disclosure, I didn't have anything in mind to write about. Next time I'll do better, I promise. Who knows - some of you may have liked this brief respite to read a little something something (it's no Hunger Games, but at least it's reading). I'm gonna go do chores that I've been putting off for far too long - have a good day and Go Tribe. Remember to follow me on twitter (@C_M_Cook) and shoot me an email if you have anything to say (

Goodnight. And Good Luck.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

iPhone Apps - A Written Timeline

This is my (and probably some of y'alls) relationship to every app that has ever taken over our lives.

STEP 1 - You See Someone Play It
Either everyone, or just one cool person, is playing a game you've never seen before and because they're evil they play it like someone just gave them an Xbox after only playing that wheel and stick game people played in the old days. Anyway - their joy while playing is so potent that now you know about the game, but you're not near your phone and you don't download it right away.

STEP 2 - This Game Is Stupid
Either because everyone is telling you to do it, and you hate being told what to do, OR because no one invited you when they started playing it last week, you claim that "that game is stupid". This assertion is based on nothing because you've never played it before, you're just angry - kinda the same reason my brother hates Zooey Deschanel. No reason, and he liked her in "Elf", but he won't watch "New Girl"; whatever, his loss - I'm gonna stop calling him every Tuesday night at 7:56. 

STEP 3 - You Download It
This was bound happen. When you saw people playing it, you knew that the new Facebook wasn't gonna hold you forever and that one level of Angry Birds will never get 3 stars (yes, you know someone who did it - but you're pretty sure they're a horrible cheater). So you download it, usually not telling anyone, or playing someone that isn't part of the crowd you're currently hanging out with, "Oh yea, random person I haven't talked to since 4th grade before I moved to Indianapolis because my dad was the strong man in the circus but the tent burned down and he had to start working at the toothpaste plant which I thought was a huge plant that grew toothpaste, lets share really bad drawings and reconnect." (I like to give my imaginary characters a little background)

STEP 4 - Crack
Someone sign you up for "Strange Addictions". You've cut a million watermelons in fruit ninja, but you don't have every achievement yet, so you won't sleep for a week. The only way your girl or boyfriend is going to be able to talk to you is if they message you in the game of Words With Friends you two have going. Your called one of the interns into your office cause you heard they unlocked the football player in Temple Run, and you hear he slides funny, and you wanna see it. 

STEP 5 - Recruitment/Promotion
You feel like the guys in "Independence Day", just firing everything you got at this indestructible-mothership-app. Facebook status updates, tweets, emails, a bbm, two instragram posts, you got a vanity plate and you even put a message in a bottle and threw it into your own pool. Everyone must know three things 1) You're amazing at this game. 2) You're "totally addicted. lol. :). PLAY ME NOW". 3) *Fill Name In Here* is totally a cheater cause there's no way they guessed 'entanglement' with only one balloon gone.  

STEP 5 - App Hangover
Apparently all your friends have now gotten to Step 4 and it's not classy. Gimme like 5 or 10 seconds before you draw me right back, and PS - how did you possibly draw Lionel Richie that fast? You've been inundated, and just like the great Tony Montana, you have grown too far too fast, and can't keep up with your own app monster. But unlike Tony Montana, you have no little friend, cause you haven't talked to a real human in two weeks.

STEP 6 - Cold Turkey
You eat a lot of cold turkey, it's delicious.

STEP 7 - You Stop Playing The App
You can't take it anymore, you're unscrambling your ceiling when you're trying to go sleep at night, you would totally guess "taco" if someone drew a purple bell and a dog, you blocked your mom for calling you during a game of Temple Run. You don't unistall the app just yet, you just put it in a little box with Doodle Jump and Tetris Lite. But that box is on your 6th screen and that's like the attic - you only go up there if your dad makes you get the Christmas lights. 

STEP 8 - There's A New App
OHMYGOD!! Are you super serious!! You JUST quit that other app! You don't care how much fun it looks, you're totally never gonna download that, it looks totally stupid....wait a minute. 

Basically this is what happens to me every time I see a new app - yes I have a problem, but I've addressed it and that means I only have 11 steps left (I wonder if sarcasm is a step?). I'm sure some of y'all can relate to this, and hopefully one or two got a chuckle from this. 

I'm loving the Arizona warmth, but the dryness is getting to me a little bit (I miss my ocean breezes). Have a good day out there, follow me on Twitter (@C_M_Cook) and tweet at me or email if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for the blog ( Over and out from Goodyear - GO TRIBE. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Pros and Cons of Writing at Starbucks

Yes, it is pretentious. Yes, it's annoying. Yes, its absurd. But writing is Starbucks is so just damn easy that I find myself doing it all the time. I have no idea why going to a coffee shop to write is more conducive to my writing style than sitting at my desk, but it it, and I'm not gonna fight it. Any writer (like any athlete) will tell you, once you find something that works - don't question it, and just stick with what works. 

Getting more to the point, there are certain pros and cons associated with writing here, and I'll try to break them for you now...


This is good if, say, you're writing a blog and you want to, say, post it. This is gonna be integral in that process. And furthermore, if, say, the hotel that you're currently staying at, say, during Spring Training,  doesn't have any internet, this added bonus is top notch. I have a solid amount of patience (my job and LA traffic has helped develop this) but I refuse to wait for more than a minute for google to load. I will become violent and throw the nearest non expensive thing I can find (sorry books, but y'all don't break). 

YouTube. Facebook. Twitter. FunnyOrDie. Also every other internet site. Writing is the easiest way to get caught in procrastination station (which is not a real place, but a made-up thing I created instead of writing). Anyone who has ever written even a thank-you-email can attest to this. Step one of writing is usually opening your computer, and that's where they get ya. After accomplishing such a titanic feat, you deserve a break will now spend 50 minutes finding that Tosh.0 clip you don't know the name of, and watching every related video.  


For a writer this can be exactly what you need, maybe it's a guy that comes in and sits down wearing bedazzled cowboy boots and swim trunks with a sports coat. Maybe it's one side of a phone conversation that you have the privilege of overhearing because the person next to you hasn't heard of inside voices or going outside. People are fantastic for kickstarting your way out of writer's block.

First and foremost, hot girls are able to kill such a steady train of thought its scary. It's one of their many super powers. Along with the ability to make you answer the phone at weird hours of the night, drive way too far out of the way, and not eat meat cause, "you're totally up for trying to be a vegetarian". Hot girls are very prevalent in Starbucks, though not as prevalent as they are in Panera Bread which I believe to be their mothership. 
Second thing you have to look out for is the Chatty Kathy. These kinds of people always show up when you're in no mood to talk to anyone; they're most commonly seen on airplanes, busses, bars during happy hour, and any time you hate everyone. A Chatty Kathy can absolutely ruin a good writing streak, and unless you're extra snappy, there's just no way to stop them (even head phones don't work, because they're all masters of charade-type sign language). 


I can't really think of a clear pro for this one, but it has to be addressed. Im not sure about everywhere else, but in the great city of Los Angeles, Starbucks is the place to go if you want to publicly show people that you're not unemployed, but instead, you're an aspiring writer. It's bad. It's like the guy who keeps tweeting, "Going to the gym", and then tweets "WOW!! I feel like so good after a workout" like 15 minutes later. So ya, writing at Starbucks does have a bit of a stigma attached to it, but I'm telling y'all - it works! It's a great place to study, or read, or do some work, or even write. It's not as stuffy and horribly boring as a library, and it's not your desk (where no one works, they just use it as a kitchen table/storage unit for any paper that you've ever gotten). 

Read the above thing. It's all con -- are you just skimming this?

Alright, that's all I have for you guys today - hope you liked it, and thanks for checking in. Got my first outting facing hitters tomorrow, pretty excited about it. Follow me on twitter (@C_M_Cook) and tweet at me or email me ( with any questions or comments or suggestions for the blog. Have a good one and Go Tribe!!

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Art Of The Walkout Song

For those of you that are unaware, a "walkout" is the song that plays when a hitter comes up to the plate or when a pitcher warms up for the first time. It's equally as important as if you wear your pants up or down, the number on your jersey, or what color the tape on your wrists SUPER important. Picking a good song is an art from, cause there are a lot of things that are involved in the selection and if you mess one of them up, a walkout can go from really well thought out and memorable to really bad and forgotten. 

My friend and teammate Nick Bartolone had one of the best I've ever heard this past year; he was walking to "Last Friday Night"by Kati Perry. Some of y'all might think this is campy or not enough of a "pump up" song to be a good walkout, but that's exactly what made it so perfect. A walkout needs to be a good representation of who you are, and what kind of player you are, and if you can come up with a song that does this and is out of the ordinary then you've stumbled upon walk out gold. 

When I was at Pepperdine, my first baseman Ryan Heroy, walked out to "King Kong" by Jibbs. This is still the best walkout I've ever heard. Heroy is 6'6" and probably 300 pounds, he would walk to the mound with a 34" bat in his hands that he had made look like a toothpick with "King Kong" bumping in the background. Perfection. He would be walking up the plate and on more than one occasion the opposing pitcher would be bobbing his head with the beat. 

In picking a walkout you want to come up with a song that gets you going and hopefully will get a few heads nodding in the crowd. I try to pick songs that people will remember and therefore associate with me from then on; that is what Nick was able to do with "Last Friday Night". He still gets tweeted at with people saying that they just heard the song and they can't wait for season to start - Nick literally turned that song into a baseball anthem for some fans of Lake County simply by having it play for about 10 seconds while he walked from the on-deck circle to the batter's box. 

My big brother famously (at least at my high school) walked out to "Sexual Healing" by Marvin Gaye. Now that is the kinda thing I wanna come up with for myself, a song that people wouldn't usually think would make for a good walkout song but when it comes on and I start firing balls to the catcher you realize you're bobbing your head and the songs works perfectly. The problem with going in this direction is that it's easy to miss, but what's life without a little bit of danger? 

I haven't been able to pick one out just yet for myself, so far the frontrunners for me are R. Kelly's "Bump N' Grind" or "Ghetto Superstar" by Mya and Wyclef Jean. I'm waiting for that one song where when I hear I'll know instantly - I guess it's like finding love. I'm open to suggestions if y'all have any, feel free to tweet them at me (@C_M_Cook) or email me ( Till then it's a lot of listening the radio and keeping my iPod on shuffle. Thanks for tuning in and Go Tribe. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

First Day Of Camp

Today was our first day of actually working out. Monday was full of arrivals and hugs and handshakes and retelling of old inside jokes. Tuesday was an early wake up call and a long morning of getting poked and prodded and otherwise completely checked by a herd of medical professionals....and also more retelling of the same, old, inside jokes.

But today we were on the field! Back to the beautiful mixture of green grass and red dirt, the dark and light lines of the outfield grass criss-crossing each other and telling tales of a mower that had come even before we had. We stretch in long lines, a herky-jerk ballet of 200 minor league pitchers and catchers getting ready to go back to work after almost 5 months off.

We've basically been getting ready for this as soon as we ended our seasons last year. Maybe there was a week where our minds would let us think about things other than baseball, but then it was back to turning double plays in our heads and replaying that perfectly thrown curveball that seemed to just disappear at the last moment - dipping under the bat. By January most of us had started getting our bodies back to baseball shape, taking cuts in backyard batting cages, indoor facilities, at the college we attended, or simply throwing what was once a perfectly good baseball against a brick wall that has turned that ball into what looked like a very well used chew toy.

We are men, perpetually at play, and we are back to the job that lets us do that.

After a good stretch, we break into groups and partner-up to throw. Those that don't already have someone to play catch with remedy the situation simply by a upwards nod at a teammate, or a shaking of a baseball. Some brave souls even speak, "Got a partner?"

For about ten minutes we are just kids in our back yard (maybe with slightly more of a purpose and definitely less ball chasing) but still, we are doing the same thing that our dad's taught us to do all those years ago; the stuff of old home videos.

The sound of fifteen balls hitting fifteen gloves at shortly separated intervals is one of my favorite sounds ever. Just like bacon has that tell-tale crackle, and anyone can recognize the sound of popcorn being made - this 'pop pop pop' of balls and gloves lets me know that it's baseball time. 

Today was a short one for us, after we threw we split into drills. We spent half an hour fielding bunts, covering bases, practicing pickoffs, and fielding come-backers. Then it's off the outfield to shag. We stand out there like trees in a barren forrest, moving around sloppily from ball to ball, then reforming groups of two or three to talk about the offseason, girlfriends, lack of girlfriends and what's to come. Everyone is thinking about the end of camp, not because they're ready to leave, but because they're ready for games to start. Everyone wants to know what team they'll be shipped off with. Everyone's hoping that this year is better than last year, and that maybe this year it all clicks, and you get that famous phone call to the Big Leauges.

But today is just day one. We have about 30 more - and every one counts, and every one brings with it it's own excitement, and it's own challenges. Tomorrow I'll be up with the sun, and heading to the field in the cold desert morning to suite up for another beautiful day on the diamond. 

Wish me luck....the boys of summer are coming. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

How I Planned To Use Yoga To Pick Up Girls, And How It Might Be The Best Thing For Me

Ya - so there it is, I first thought about going to yoga to meet women, sue me. I figured, I'm an athlete, I'm pretty strong, I should be able to impress some cute girls and walk away from this like the breeze that it is.

That was at about 11:22. By 1:05, when the class was over, you can go ahead and color me disappointed. It turns out, being strong in a weight room has almost nothing to do with being good at yoga, and nothing is as pathetic as being the guy falling out of tree pose and just laying on his matt until he catches his breath again.  Safe to say no women were interested in me at all, and I actually took the next day off of lifting with my trainer.

90 minutes in a little second floor yoga studio off 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, and I've learned one very important lesson - I will have to practice a lot more to be able to pick up women doing yoga.

In retrospect, I may have completely missed the lesson that was to be learned form that experience.

Flash forward almost two years and I'm now I'm about as bought-in as you possibly can be to yoga. I think it may just be the best thing out for your body, and you can bet I'll be doing it every other day throughout the season and 3 or 4 times a week during the offseason. I literally have not come across a better whole better workout that is better at strengthening muscles in what I believe is the right way, and also centering someone so completely. I ADORE the feeling that you get after doing even a quick 5 minute yoga stretch.

Yes, I do realize I'm coming off as one of those crazy Californians that can't stop blabbering about yoga, and how good it is for you, and the next thing you know I'll have you try some of my whole grain, nonfat, all natural, wheet grass and tofu birthday cake that I made for my pet turtle who happens to be a rescue. Trust me, it's not gonna get that far - I'm just sharing a point of view, and using a little bit of a personal anecdote as the jumping off point, that is all. That's what this whole blog is about people - just me saying things and hopefully you reading them. And then even more hopefully, you enjoying them

So far, I've gotten better at down dog, and my offseason yoga goal of finally finding that pose to be relaxing is basically achieved (I say basically, cause it's really not, but I'm getting better). I do some day wanna be one of those people that are just so impressive to watch that you really do just wanna spend the entire class in child's pose and watch them while they seamlessly transition from pose to pose like some kind of half muscle, half water, yoga-creature that apparently isn't following the same rules of physics and body movement that you are.

Till then, I'll keep rolling out my pink matt (ya, it's pink, what about it?) and ending in Namaste till the day that I'm finally impressive in a studio. And until that day comes, I will keep watching the video I posted below in complete wonder and awe and pray that one day I'll be half this good (kinda the same way I am when I watch old videos of Clemens pitch).

Have a good one y'all, follow me on twitter (@C_M_Cook) and feel free to email with any questions or comments or whatever ( Wishing you a good day from Goodyear. Go Tribe!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Spring Training 2012

It's officially here people - Spring Training has started and almost everyone has shown up. The big leaguers have been here for a while (games started yesterday), minor league pitchers and catcher s start tomorrow (that includes me) and as always - hitters will be showing up fashionably late (they report the 9th). Baseball is in the air again and the worst part of the year (after the Superbowl and before Spring Training) is officially over. Finally there's baseball back on TV and everything seems better. The immortal question of, 'What comes first, baseball or the sun?' will once-again be pondered by every fan of the double play and the gap double.

Like I said a couple months ago - my blog is once again gonna be updated now that baseball is back and I have some kind of structure in my life. I'll try to get the blogs up by the early afternoon here so that the east coast people can read it before it gets too late (I do know my target audience, after all), and I'll try to update it 4 or 5 times a week so y'all have something to do when you're "working". 

For those of y'all that are super perceptive (or actually even just good at memory and reading), I did indeed change the name of the blog - it's now Cole Cook's Dugout Chatter. I feel that's much more fitting and I also did that always brilliant thing of where I work a baseball-type saying into the title of my blog so it's kind of a play on words and people just assume there will be more of that high-brow twisting of language in the pros to come and they simply cannot keep themselves from reading on. Also, it makes sense cause if you've ever been to a game where I'm not playing you will hear me loud and clear across the diamond chirping at my teammates. 

There's not much to report so far here. I've been here since Monday, just getting my feet wet, throwing and lifting at the facility - making sure I'm as ready as possible for the next month in head of you. I feel really good right now, had a very successful offseason in my eyes - got stronger, looked after my arm, did some traveling, soaked up that life-giving SoCal sun and now I have my eye's on the prize. 

Thanks for tuning in for my grand re-opening as it were, more to come I promise you. Follow me on twitter, @C_M_Cook, shoot me an email with questions or comments, or comment of the blog itself. Have a good weekend, and Go Tribe!