Posted on: March 5, 2012 1:38 pm
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Dirt.
As a catcher, you wallow in it.
As a catcher who hails from Punxsutawney, Pa., home of the esteemed groundhog ... well, how perfect is that?
Rookie Devin Mesoraco, on deck to become the Reds' backstop this season, is just the seventh major-leaguer to emerge from Punxsutawney, where the country turns its eyes each Feb. 2 to see how much longer winter will last. (Well, perhaps not the entire country. ...).
He family home, in fact is only about a half-mile from Gobbler's Knob, where Punxsutawney Phil makes his annual prognostication in a sacred ceremony. (Well, perhaps maybe not exactly sacred. ...).
"I went one time," Mesoraco says. "My brother goes almost every year. He seems to enjoy it.
"The rest of my family ... I don't know if my dad has ever been."
Mesoraco was Cincinnati's first-round pick in the 2007 draft out of Punxsutawney High School -- yep, home of the Chucks.
"He's around," Mesoraco says of the city's celebrity groundhog. "He comes to school with his handler. He probably gets treated better than any other groundhog in the world.
"If a groundhog could smell good, it would be him."
Odd thing is, both big leaguers to come from Punxsutawney since 1960 have played behind the dish: John Mizerock, who who caught for the Astros and Braves in the 1980s, and Mesoraco.
Who knew that, in addition to being Groundhog World Headquarters, Punxsutawney would become a cradle of catchers?
Also from Punxsutawney, a town of some 6,000 people, according to Baseball-Reference.com: Billy Hunter, an infielder for the St. Louis Browns, Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees, Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians in the 1950s (he also managed the Rangers in 1977-1978); pitcher Al Verdel (Phillies, 1944); outfielder Nick Goulish (Phillies, 1944-1945); outfielder Wilbur Good (Yankees, Indians, Boston Rustlers, Cubs, Phillies and White Sox from 1905-1918); and shortstop Hutch Campbell (Pirates, 1907).
Don't ask Mesocaro, 23, if he saw any of the Bill Murray classic Groundhog Day being filmed. For one thing, the move came out in 1993, when he was just 5. For another, it wasn't even filmed in Punxsutawney -- it was made in Woodstock, Ill.
But he didn't need the movie. He's had plenty of his own Punxsutawney Phil encounters of his own.
"He's a big deal," Mesocaro says. "They bring him around in a big cage. At the library, he's on display 24/7. It's in the main park. He lives in what's called the Groundhog's Den. You can see him all the time. Him and his wife, Phyllis.
"I don't know what they do when they want some private time."
Sunblock day? Overcast skies in the desert today. They promised temperatures in the 80s. It's not even close. Some of these weather folks around here need to be replaced. I know where they can find a few groundhogs to do the job. ...
Likes: This passage from near the end of Rosanne Cash's terrific memoir, Composed: "We all need art and music like we need blood and oxygen. The more exploitative, numbing, and assaulting popular culture becomes, the more we need the truth of a beautifully phrased song, dredged from a real person's depth of experience, delivered in an honest voice; the more we need the simplicity of paint on canvas, or the arc of a lonely body in the air, or the photographer's unflinching eye." ... Great Michigan State-Ohio State game Sunday. The good guys didn't win, but it was terrific to watch. The Big 10 is the best conference in the country. ... Slickables, Home of the $2 ice cream sandwich. Great new discovery on Mill Ave. in the Arizona State University district. Freshly baked homemade cookies, you pick your two and which kind of ice cream you want between them. Everything from Snickerdoodles (by far, by the way, the most underrated cookie in the country) to chocolate chip to mint chip cookies. ... Grimaldi's Coal Brick-Oven Pizza. Heard great things about it and it didn't disappoint. The meatball pizza was delicious, but the pepperoni and mushroom was even better.
Dislikes: Still haven't picked up a copy of Leonard Cohen's new disc Old Ideas. Soon, soon.
Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"You gave me light when I was blind
"You bring peace into my heart
"You drove me back to my beliefs
"And today I’m home again
"There must be a kind of light
"Lighting down you, from so far
"And wherever you go, it will follow you
"‘Cause you, my darling, you were made to shine"
-- Ilo Ferreira, Home Again
Tags: Al Verdel, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Bill Murray, Billy Hunter, Boston Rustlers, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Devin Mesoraco, Grimaldi's, Houston Astros, Hutch Campbell, Ilo Ferreira, John Mizerock, Kansas City Royals, New York Yankees, Nick Goulish, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Punxsutawney Phil, Slickables, Wilbur Good
Posted on: October 22, 2008 8:55 pm
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Classic opening to the first World Series game ever here inside Tropicana Field: During the pre-game festivities, they played a clip from the underrated movie Meatballs on the scoreboard.
It was the scene in which camp counselor Bill Murray exhorts his collection of misfits before a competition with the rich, snotty summer campers from across the lake. Those of you who recall the movie will remember that the scene culminates with Murray yelling, "It just doesn't matter! It just doesn't matter!" And the kids all start chanting that.
The denizens inside the ballpark were a little slow on the uptake -- nobody really started chanting along with the movie clip.
But the point was clear, and it was kind of cute. Little ol' Tampa Bay, second-lowest payroll in the majors, landing in the big time.
Also, as is always the case at these things, the field was swarming with media during batting practice, an incredible crowd congregating behind the plate and from dugout to dugout.
I asked Tampa Bay outfielder Rocco Baldelli when the last time was that he saw so many people standing on the field here.
"The boat show," he quipped.
Posted on: August 18, 2008 3:11 pm
Slow past month for Bull Pennings, largely because I was having some significant computer issues that essentially kept one hand tied behind my back. It was all I could do to get my laptop to cooperate enough to get my regular columns written, let alone blogs and other things.
Now that I'm cruising along on my new laptop, and before the summer heat dissipates, I want to make sure to pass these comments along from … singer Emmylou Harris?
You bet. Not only does she have an incredible voice and a new disc out this summer (All I Intended To Be), not only is she still amazing at 61, but, best of all … she's all this and a passionate baseball fan.
While talking summer tour with the San Diego Union-Tribune a few weeks ago, she was absolutely charming on the subject of baseball.
"How could you not be a baseball fan?" she asked. "It's such a great game. All I do during baseball season is watch games. I was so pumped the other night when Greg Maddux stole a base! My team is the Braves, but they don't stand much of a chance."
Harris has sung the national anthem at numerous games, and she sang God Bless America at the 2001 World Series. She's a National League fan, is rooting for the Cubs this summer and, from the sounds of it, could use a few more baseball fans in her band (Red Dirt Boys) and traveling entourage.
"We don't really have any baseball fans, except for my stage manager, who is a Cubs fan, and my road manager, who is a Red Sox fan," she said. "Unfortunately for the guys in my band, they have to sit and watch the games. As soon as the show is over, I get on the (tour) bus and watch Baseball Tonight."
Likes: The dog days of August, with fewer than 40 games to play, the stretch run right around the corner and kickoff to the college football season on deck. … The AL Central race, and the total contrast between the home run-dependent Chicago White Sox and the pesky, little-power Minnesota Twins. … I haven't heard their music yet, but I sure do like the idea of The Baseball Project. … The Brewers in a short, post-season series with CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets. … Meatballs, on DVD. A blast from the past, but Bill Murray is a crack-up. … Looking forward to seeing the HBO special on Helen Thomas, Thank You, Mr. President. … Jamba Juice.
Dislikes: "Back-to-School" this and "Back-to-School" that. We need to figure out how to implement that title to the old Beach Boys album, Endless Summer. … The AFLAC goose. Or duck. Or whatever that annoying, flea-ridden bird is.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"I used to rule the world
-- Coldplay, Viva La Vida