February 2009

March Madness

Lion.jpg“March is the month of expectation,
The things we do not know,
The Persons of Prognostication
Are coming now.
We try to sham becoming firmness,
But pompous joy
Betrays us, as his first betrothal
Betrays a boy.”
–   Emily Dickinson, XLVIII

I write this from the Palm Beach airport, awaiting a flight that will return to a New York under a Winter Storm Watch…sigh.

Not only that, in order to facilitate my timely arrival, I had to forego the last day of our family’s Spring Training escape and will now miss tomorrow’s game at Tradition Field. 

I do not know if the “prognosticators” are correct about eight inches of snow, but my family and I decided not to take our chances and perhaps be stranded where I sit now for up to two full days.

As I sit here, slightly worried about the weather forecast and the fact that each of the members of our family will likely sit separately on this flight, I’m finding it hard not to think about a potentially bigger worry surrounding “things we do not know”: 

I’m referring to the condition of Johann Santana’s elbow.

Having seen two promising games at Port St. Lucie, I can’t help but feel “pompous joy” about my team.  But something like Santana requiring surgery would turn that joy to sorry and anxiety.

I hope the New York weather forecasters and the gnawing worry about Santana are both proven wrong.




Sixth Grade Science

Alowres.jpgPort St. Lucie, FL–February 27, 2009

Perhaps it was the realization that Ms. Scilieri’s sixth grade science class was convening as we sat in the stands at Tradition Field, fifty feet away from Carlos Delgado.  Whatever it was that prompted it, my daughter–absent from school but very present in yesterday’s Mets Home Opener at Tradition Field–perked up her ears at my husband and I mentioning how intrigued we were with Jerry Manuel’s “experiment”.

Following the lessons learned back home at Leonia Middle School, my daughter asked us what Jerry’s “hypothesis” was.

“Would the Mets score more runs with Luis Castillo leading off in the Number One spot and with Jose Reyes moved down to third in the batting order?” was our response.

Jerry’s–and our–“scientific observations” seemed to happily support the hypothesis.  Although he only played the first couple of innings, the noticeably slimmer Castillo get on base several times and looked like he was moving well.

And, as far as Reyes getting runs in, a grand slam batting left and a home run later in the game batting right-handed were equally positive results supporting the hypothesis.

That’s all for now.  The family is departing for Tradition Field to collect more observations…


The Promised Land

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I’m making my pilgrimage one week from today!!

“Jeepers, Creepers…”

“…Where’d Ya Get Them PEE- PERS?!”

Many National League batters will be getting their first glimpse of K-Rod very soon.  But besides watching him intently to see if he’s tipping his pitches, players and coaching staff may also be taking a double-take at the Mets’ new closer for an arresting facial feature:  his eyes.

Francisco Rodriguez succeeded in making his already newsworthy arrival at camp even more eye-catching (ouch!), sporting red contact lenses.

According to the New York Post, Rodriguez claims that the special lenses help in reducing glare and that wearing the lenses negates his needing to wear his signature glasses.

Hearing how daunting those in camp found his scarlet gaze, I wondered if the lenses might serve a dual purpose:  reducing glare and instilling fear in the opposing batter.

I often enjoy thinking of similarities in the world of sports and my own professional world:  classical music.

Toscanini.jpgAlthough the days of the autocratic music director who used fear, public humiliation and threat of termination to get his desired result are essentially over (Thankfully, musicians are unionized as well.), the age of tyrants of the podium is not actually that far in the musical past.

In fact, only several days ago in the New York Times‘ TimesTraveler Blog feature, a story ran in the Times 100 years ago that day was featured.  The story announced Gustav Mahler as having been engaged as the next conductor of the New York Philharmonic.  A prolific composer as well as a fine conductor, this was indeed a coup for the ensemble.

But what really caught my eye was this quote: 

“The present cooperative system will be abolished, and the orchestra will be under the absolute control of the conductor and the Board of Directors,” today’s report says.

No cooperation?  Absolute control?  Sounds like a dictatorship!

In fact, older musicians I know who either played under or know someone who played under the likes of Arturo Toscanini, Erich Leinsdorf, and Fritz Reiner, to name a few daunting maestros that era, have told me stories of personal abuse and humiliation that certainly support that description.

A recent biography of Fritz Reiner, former conductor of the Chicago Symphony, is even entitled Fritz Reiner, Maestro and Martinet.

Above, I imagined what the notoriously volatile and quick-tempered Italian maestro, Arturo Toscanini, might do with the option of staring down his subservient players with red eyes.

Thankfully, most of the conductors I have played under have been absolute gentlemen (or ladies) and have been able to achieve their interpretive goals in cooperation with our orchestra and without the use of intimidation.

However, if our closer happens to come across as menacing in his attempt to simply reduce sun glare, I say why NOT take the red-eye flight to the game’s finish?! 



Hasn’t it all been said before?