It is now official. I am hooked on baseball gaming. Real baseball has yet to take a hold of me, but it’s getting there.
Let’s start with gaming: playing a game or two of Ken Griffey Jr. Presents MLB is now part of my daily routine. My quest to bring the Expos back to a domination which they never really had is not that successful. I am third in my division, six games away from the top. Moises Alou has developed into a great home run hitter, but Larry Walker is a real deception. However, Marquis Grissom is being just as awesome as his name, producing RBI with inhuman regularity. I am developing a talent for stretching singles into doubles, which has brought me victory in extra innings more than once. Yes, I am starting to be good, and it’s much easier to like playing when that is the case.
As for real baseball, I’m still not following any real team, except for the fact that I am trying to stay keep up with the career of my fellow Quebecer Russel Martin. He’s doing quite well from what I have seen.
Since watching real games has not really been that fun for me, I have decided to sign up with my friends for a softball tournament. We are registered under the name “The Late Great Montreal Expos”, and we are representing my friend’s working place. I will be playing first base, something which I have not done in about 5 years. Hopefully I will still be able to catch anything sent to me, and maybe even do a split to reach out for a far away throw, but I am not holding my breath for the latter.
Ladies, I am sorry to say that I will be wearing shorts and not butt-tight baseball pants. Better luck next time.
Finally, I have been reading on the history of various baseball stadiums over the past few days after someone mentioned Fenway Park’s Green Monster to me. The history behind it is fascinating, and it really makes me wish I could go to Boston before someone decides to take it down like Yankee Stadium. One of my colleagues made the trip to New York last year to see one of the last games at that stadium, and he says it was nothing less than magical. Despite my hatred for the Bruins, I have always had an affinity for the city of Boston. I like the atmosphere and the people. When I visited it two years ago, I didn’t have enough time to go to Fenway Park, and I was totally uninterested by baseball back then. You can be sure that if I go back, I will go out of my way to see this storied stadium.
Chasing 85: My Year With the Kansas City Royals
Here in Kansas City, there is a little game we like to play. It’s called “Zack Being Zack.” The way it is played is simple: each participant tells some outlandish story about Zack Greinke being eccentric and the other participants say “That’s Zack being Zack!” Everyone laughs. Truth is, I do not care about what Zack, or any other player, does off the field, as long as they are not hurting themselves or others. Thing is, the Zack Greinke situation is different.
It is hard for me to know how much to tell, since I have a feeling Zack is not well known outside of Kansas City. His story is something like this. Kid plays baseball. Kid loves to hit home runs. Kid discovers he is a good pitcher. Coaches discover kid is great pitcher. A transcendent talent. Kid is discouraged from hitting and encouraged to pitch full time. Kid hits the majors.
So, there is Zack Greinke, a kid who wants to hit home runs, pitching in the Major Leagues. Zack suffered through a horrific 5-17 season and almost quit baseball. Hot high school prospect washes out. That could have been the Zack Greinke story. Then, he came back.
Zack was a good pitcher last year. Talented, difficult to hit, impossible to out-guess; he was a tornado of very good and very bad starts. That was last year.
This year, Zack has started the season 6-0. That number alone is amazing. Zack Greinke is 6-0 with the Kansas City Royals. No pitcher has done that with the Royals since Jose Lima won his first 7 of 2003 and Bret Saberhagen won his first 6 back in 1987. Thing is, Zack did it with an ERA of 0.40, a WHIP of 0.84, and 54 strikeouts. He has pitched 3 complete games, out of 6 starts. Did I mention he has averaged more than one strikeout per inning? We are talking pre-WWII kinds of numbers.
Thing is, people around here have a hard time reckoning the pitcher Zack from the person Zack. The pitcher Zack is quiet, subdued, even in the face of adversity. He almost looks vacant as he pitches. The person Zack has a reputation for being fragile and human in a sport that, despite it’s fair share of kooks, encourages a rugged individualism that is hard to rectify with a shy young man trying to get treatment for a serious mental disorder. I think that is why people play “Zack Being Zack,” to come to terms with Zack the athlete and Zack the man.
All I know is this, I hope that Zack Greinke can keep doing what he is doing, on and off the diamond. Good luck, Z.