"Pitchers and catchers." Those three little words mean just as much to obsessive baseball fans as those other"three little words everyone knows about. I'm talking about "bacon and bourbon", of course.
We've hit February, and February is the month that pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, and baseball begins anew. We are less the three weeks away. I can see February 19th on my calendar. I can see it! It's coming!
And I can't wait.
In the meantime, here's a little story about a good-guy outfielder with a history of some bad game. Except for his exceptional arm in right field and the extraordinary optimism about his own talents. His name is Jeff Francoeur, nickname "Frenchy", and he plays for the Kansas City Royals. Last year, he had his finest year in the bigs since his out-of-the-blue rookie season in 2005 for his hometown Atlanta Braves. The expectations many had for him after that excellent rookie season have largely gone down the drain along with his high strikeout rates and low OBP skills. Yet, he keeps trying. And teams keep giving him chances. He still doesn't know how to take a walk, but he hit for average and power last year. All while playing an excellent RF.
That story should bring a smile to anyone who enjoys baseball. And bacon, for that matter. Yes, bacon is involved. Oddly. And I actually watched the second game in the story last year, for one reason or another. I remember because the play described in the last sentence is one of the defensive highlights of the past year. Something you rarely see, but something you always wish would happen. Very cool stuff.
Oh, and Frenchy has long been a favorite of mine and a favorite of others. Even with his lack of truly exceptional skills. Joe Posnanski wrote about him last spring. If you liked that first story, you should read Joe Poz' take on him as well. Great stuff.
You might just become a fan of Frenchy after reading both of those. You should become a fan of his. Because he's one of the good ones. Even for occasional baseball cynics like me.