Friday, February 16, 2007

Play Ball!

It's baseball season. Well, that is, if you discount the 9oF temperature outside and the ice-encrusted snow drifts that had the dogs thoroughly confused and unpleasantly surprised with every paw-step that cracked the deceptively thin and treacherously slippery sheen of ice caked over the five inches of snow on the football field last evening. Step, crack!, leg sinks into the snow, step, crack! leg sinks into the snow … repeat times four, each step, for each dog, and times two, each step, for my own bad self and … damn tiring work. Anyway …

Spring training complexes across Florida and Arizona are emerging from their offseason cocoons, which means we will be talking baseball more and more during the coming weeks and months.

Baseball lends itself to discussion. After all, who says baseball players aren’t just like you and me? Take former Pirates pitcher Jon Lieber, for example. The 37-year-old Lieber, now with the Phillies, has been the subject of trade talk much of the offseason. As noted in the Philadelphia Daily News, Lieber is coming off a poor year and is projected as the Phillies’ sixth starter in a five-man rotation.

None of this seems to be of much concern to Lieber, however, as he drove up to the Phillies’ spring-training complex in a brand new Ford F-650 pickup truck with six doors, a satellite dish and $210,000 worth of accoutrements.

Ford’s off-the-factory-line pickups are F-150, F-250 and F-350, meaning the F-150 will carry a one-and-a-half ton truckload, the F-250 a two-and-a-half ton truckload, etc. So, by extrapolation, Lieber’s F-650 will carry six-and-a-half tons, or 13,000 pounds, in its bed alone, and who knows what it will tow (drag) behind it.

A little ostentatious? Hey, he’s a blue-collar guy, right? He probably needs it to haul stuff around on weekends, mulch and tree limbs and the like. It’s not like he can afford to hire people to do that kind of work or anything, y'know? And it's not like he's trying to compensate for, well, whatever.

Still, lamentably, Lieber has his critics, such as the fine writer at Bugs and Cranks:

“A Ford F650 SuperTruck. 6-Doors, 45-inch wheels(!), seating for seven, a satellite dish and customized leather interior. Now that’s gaudy! I mean, you could theoretically invite six friends over to your truck to watch football games every Sunday. It looks like a Transformer for chirssakes. This is like the Maybach for Iowa farm boys. Kudos, Jon Lieber. A truly ostentatious purchase worthy of VH1’s 'Fabulous Life of …" Again, sorry."

And this, from one of the B&C commenters, BlueMoonModem:

"And the rest of the world hates us because …”


So much for Mr. Lieber and his Tonka Toy.

We’ll be following the escapades of not just the Pirates, but all of baseball during the next few months. Over at McCovey Chronicles, for example, you can expect to routinely find highly entertaining writing such as …

“When the Marlins were offering nude photos of (team owner) Wayne Huizenga for (reliever Armando) Benitez and several million dollars, I was hoping the Giants would jump on the offer.”

There’s plenty more where that came from, and many fine Pirates-related blogs to enrich our lives as the weather turns from winter to spring and summer.

Yet another reason to live.