The Bullpen: A-Rod looking, acting like a fool
YEAR 2 VOLUME XXVI, AUG. 6, 2013
Whoever is giving Alex Rodriguez his current advice should be fired. We know it’s not Scott Boras because he was already fired by A-Rod. But Alex, sometimes when you surround yourself with people that only tell you what you want to hear, by enablers, you end up looking and acting like a fool and such is the case with your clumsy attempts to plead innocence to being a career cheat.
We know that it’s about the money. We know that you have earned more than $350 million over the course of your career and that a 211-game suspension would cost you around $34 million. But that’s chump change compared to what you’ve earned and what you would have due you when you came back from your season and 49 games away at the start of 2015. Just take the punishment like the others, like a man, not a pink elephant or a unicorn. The fact is you are not going to the Hall of Fame now no matter how this appeal turns out, no matter how many games your suspension is reduced.
There is a difference between A-Rod and Biogenesis and Barry Bonds and BALCO. The difference is that Bonds was pre-2004, before there was mandatory PED testing and at a time there was no penalties, just finger wagging and disappointment towards one of the greatest pure talents of all time. With Rodriguez, the PED rules are there, the testing was there since ’04, so this is no longer about keeping up with the Jonesers. This is about cheating and trying to get away with it and about lying.
In case A-Rod has not been paying attention, the majority of his union brothers want him out of the game if he is guilty, even if at the same time they support the union’s move to defend him in his appeal. If it was them they would want the union to defend them too so don’t misread that support.
A-Rod has listened to the wrong people. Instead of worrying about length of punishment being longer than that of Ryan Braun, he should have been like Ryan Braun and just accepted that he will be forever disgraced and not throw any good karma after bad. Now for A-Rod there is no turning back. By the time he leaves the game, he will be wealthier, but will be the most reviled figure in modern baseball history making Bonds seem like Mother Teresa in terms of long-term perception.
THE LIST – THE DIRTY DOZEN PLUS TWO OF BIOGENESIS
1. 3B Alex Rodriguez — Yankees . . . 211 games
2. OF Ryan Braun — Brewers . . . 65 games
3. OF Nelson Cruz — Rangers . . . 50 games
4. SS Jhonny Peralta — Tigers . . . 50 games
5. SS Everth Cabrera — Padres . . . 50 games
6. C Jesus Montero — M’s . . . 50 games
7. C Francisco Cervelli — Yankees . . . 50 games
8. LHP Antonio Bastardo — Phils . . . 50 games
9. OF Jordany Valdespin — Mets . . . 50 games
10. IF Cesar Puello — Mets . . . 50 games
11. LHP Sergio Escalona – Astros . . . 50 games
12. OF Fernando Martinez – Yankees . . . 50 games
13-RHP Fautino de los Santos – FA . . . 50 games
14-LHP Jordan Norberto – FA . . . 50 games
THE ESSAY — R.A. DICKEY FINDS SALVATION ON THE BANKS OF THE MISSOURI
The firm hand of a concerned Nashville Sounds teammate, Grant Balfour, reached out to help an exhausted, confused, gasping-for-air R.A. Dickey as he finally felt firm ground beneath his feet in the shallow waters of the powerful Missouri River. Dickey had almost died for the sake of a stupid bet made partially out of anger and the despair of where his own life had reached and was headed.
It was a warm summer eve on a swim bound for nowhere, back in 2007. Seconds before he felt the reassuring strength of his teammate’s hand, the then 32-year-old pitcher had been ready to give up the ghost, ready to accept his fate, ready to die, as the combination of a strong downstream current and a deadly undertow had made his bet to his young friends of being able to swim the mighty Missouri River from one bank to the other, seem like nothing but a subconscious death wish.
“Nobody really knew how serious that stage of my life really was,” Dickey said in Oakland last week, describing a period of doubt and self-loathing, the result of circumstances stemming from childhood abuse and adult failure. The depth of that despair is outlined in a stunningly frank autobiography, Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball.
That six-years-ago incident had occurred in Omaha, Neb., on a road trip and the attempt at his interstate swim still makes no sense to Dickey, even in thoughtful hindsight.
What does make sense is that after Balfour had helped pull him to safety, the struggling knuckleballer was eventually able to make some needed decisions about moving forward, about talking with renewed certainty and amazing love to his wife Ann, about changing who he had become. In no uncertain terms, the Balfour act of reaching out a hand to save him represented a lot more.
“I don’t want to overdramatize it, but he probably thinks it’s a lot less of a big deal than I did because of all that I had gone through to that point,” Dickey affirmed. “He probably didn’t even know how close I was to drowning. He had the forethought to be able to chase me down the bank. I feel thankful. Fortunate, that there was someone who probably knew that I was in trouble and responded.”
Dickey had started the swim thinking how epic it would be in the annals of minor-league baseball, how his feat would make him a huge story, a legend. By the time he was halfway across, he was also hundreds of yards downstream from where he started. By the time he decided his life was over, by the time he began to try and struggle back to the Nebraska side of the river, he was losing hope and was settling up his accounts with God, apologizing to Him for being about to leave his three children without a father. But Balfour, a young Australian reliever had been there for the save.
“I started to run down the river because I could see that it was going wrong,” Balfour, now the A’s bullpen closer, recalled Wednesday in the home clubhouse at the Oakland Coliseum. “The original plan was (for him) to get out on the other side of the river and he’d gone a little farther than that really quickly. Yeah, I’ve thought about it just because of his book and him bringing it up, but I never really bring it up. It’s just one of those things. It was an instinct to just go help someone.”
Both men since that day have gone on to unexpected success in the big leagues. No matter where their paths lead, they will have that one, hugely human moment, Balfour’s hand reaching out grasping the hand of a struggling friend and pulling Dickey from death and despair, to life and hope.
“Part of that is . . . I think it’s metaphorical in the sense of me grasping his hand, me reaching out in need,” Dickey said in front of his locker less than 100 steps down the hall, but a world away from the man that had helped him live.
“And from that time forward, I needed to be real honest about what I needed as a human. That helped to change me. Rather than feeling like I had it all figured out.
“After that, I was seeing meaning in just about everything. It was a real neat time for me because I felt like I wasn’t so alone because I was seeing everything as a gift. There was some meaning for my life, even in the smallest of things. And he represented that. And he probably to this day thinks ‘no big deal. I was just there.’ But, he was great.”
Balfour certainly understands that something big happened to Dickey that day because he, as a teammate and friend, had the forethought to race down the river bank and cut off the stricken swimmer as he struggled and sputtered back to safety. But it was only after he heard the stories, read the book.
“I don’t know, you see the funny side of it for me,” Balfour said. “But I guess for him it was a panic and not knowing. I don’t know how his perception of it is, but obviously looking back, after, he’s written a book and stuff like that . . . I felt like he was in danger. I was aware that it wasn’t an ideal situation. To be in floating down a river. I never really thought much of it. It’s not like I was in any danger. I felt like if I had to jump in the water and really drag him out, then I’d say maybe. But I didn’t have to really get in the water except to my knees and that was it.”
By the following year, 2008, Dickey’s career was turning around. He found himself back in the majors with the Mariners, posting a 5-8 record and now seeing light at the end of the knuckleball. On Monday, Dickey returned to Seattle with the Jays, working 7.2 strong innings for the win. Every stop, every start for Dickey has a different special meaning moving forward. He can savour every moment.
“It felt very familiar to me,” Dickey said of the mound at Safeco. “Having spent time here, I really enjoyed my time. I think it’s one of the beautiful fields in the league. I’ve always enjoyed pitching here, regardless of results. It’s a nice place to pitch. It’s heavy air. It smells like baseball.”
For Dickey every day smells like life and life, as an accumulation of experiences, is good.
Click here for the full, first-person story of Dickey’s incredible journey link
CONVERSATION WITH ALEX ANTHOPOULOS: AUG. 4, 2013
RICHARD GRIFFIN: How does this get better next year without chasing old money with new money?
ALEX ANTHOPOULOS: Right and that’s a great point. It’s something that we talk about even how to address the rotation going forward and we’ve got some young guys who are coming back. We’ll see how they do and we’re hopeful that guys like Drew (Hutchison) and Kyle (Drabek) maybe have a chance to get up here in September, though we’re not guaranteeing that. Drew is throwing today and they’re both throwing the ball well and their velocity is good. They are two players that, again before they went down, were throwing the ball fairly well. We even think back to Kyle, his command really started to go towards the end and you wonder how much the injury had to play with that. His command seems to be a lot better down there and maybe it’s the fact that he’s finally healthy. But again, two guys like that that could factor, and obviously you get a guy like Brandon Morrow that last year before the oblique looked like he was really emerging into a front of the rotation starter. And then again, I think we’re still going to look outside the organization as well to see if we can do some things.
RG : Are the internal options a contending rotation? I mean those guys coming back.
AA : I think a lot . . . I think Brandon is too. I think he’s already proven that he can do it. He’s done it here. Two years ago he threw 180 innings and last year before the oblique was throwing the ball really well. The other two guys, again, it was a short look and they did well the two months that they were. But, again, we’ll continue to see and see how they look when they come back here. That doesn’t mean that we won’t look outside the organization, as well, to do things.
RG : What can you do about Melky? You’re a better defensive team without him in left field and you’ve got him for another year. You talked about a study that you guys did of free agents two years . . .
AA : Well, it wasn’t free agents . . .
RG : Well guys coming back from suspensions . . .
AA : No, it was a study of guys that have been linked. Have been linked to it. So, again, there’s been players that have been linked that haven’t necessarily for various reasons there weren’t suspensions or things like that. Again, I think we’ll find out tomorrow from what it sounds like. It sounds like there’s going to be other players that there will be suspensions that will come, just from everything you read. Those players it sounds like there may not have been failed tests and there may have been some things going on and some of them have been productive players. But I would say defensively, I thought Melky early in spring training looked good and we noticed it at the end of spring training. I thought it was about the last 10 days or so. So when his hamstrings started to tighten up. He continued to battle through it, especially now, it looks like there’s obviously some issues with his knees. He’s 28 years old. We definitely expect him to come back and be a much better defensive player. We don’t know for certain but I think a lot of the issues he had with his mobility and so on were directly related to just being banged up. It happened at the end of spring. In hindsight, if we had given him a month or two to just completely rest and get healthy. He wanted to battle through it, he wanted to play through it, we wanted to keep his bat in the lineup and it didn’t work out.
RG : Are you happy with your catching going into 2014?
AA : I think J.P. would be the first one to tell you he can improve in a lot of areas. I can point to, and I don’t want to single anybody out but I can point to so many areas on the club that we could stand to get better in so many spots. We can always make evaluations at the all-star Break or four months in, two months from now things will change fast. I’ve used these examples before, you look at Lind and Colby two years ago they were great numbers at the all-star break and then they fell off towards the end so the evaluation changed. So, whereas you get some other guys that really emerged at the end of the year where you got a little excited about them. Brandon Morrow was that guy three years ago. He struggled through the season and was really good at the end and carried it over into the next year. I just don’t want to get too far ahead with two months left on trying to make final evaluations on players.
RG : Did you undervalue defence in the off-season?
AA : Oh no. Obviously we haven’t played well defensively, so . . . I don’t know from that standpoint. I don’t know how much of an impact not having, maybe, the shortstop and the third baseman on there the entire time. You look at last year, Brett played the bulk of the year, did miss a little bit of time at the end. Obviously Yunel was out there for the bulk of the time at short. And, again, I think Colby’s been better in centre. I just think it’s been a combination of things. So, I would say this. In light of the year that we’re having, I think we’re going to evaluate (defence) even more than we have. I don’t think we’ve ever undervalued it. It’s always been important. There’s some guys that haven’t played as well defensively as we thought they would. So that’s probably been the most surprising part is that maybe expect certain guys to be better defensively. I don’t know that we ever lost value in it, but I can say that going forward we’re probably going to have even more value on it.
RG : At the trade deadline you talked about middle infield and a starting pitcher and said there were conversations moving forward that could be picked up again. Are those going to be the positions that you pursue? And middle infield being second base?
AA : I think so. I think they’re definitely the most important areas, there are other areas that we can improve in. I definitely think those are the most important areas. I think the rotation more than anything else. Some of it might be internal, but again, I haven’t looked in the last few days, but when you’re second to last in starter’s ERA that has to improve. It’s hard to get to .500, to contend if the starting rotation ERA is where it is. It obviously ends up putting a strain on the bullpen, it puts a strain on the offence when you’re down that many runs. Everyone trying to do a little bit too much. It starts on the mound for us and even some of the sloppy play against Oakland, we still pitched well and we won the games.
RG : Do you still have faith in Dickey as a top of the rotation guy?
AA : I do and I know he hasn’t put together that type of year. He’s put together some of those starts that have shown us the ability to do that. If you look there are a lot of similarities to last year, velocity is the same, ground ball rate is down some, not as good as it was last year. Home runs allowed obviously are higher, and obviously the walks are up a little bit as well. That can correct itself, but we’ve seen some outings, whether it’s Canada Day against Detroit and a great lineup, we’ve seen some outings where he’s been really good, it just hasn’t been consistent the entire time. He is giving us a chance to win each time. It could be, I don’t know that these are the reasons but it could be whether it’s World Baseball Classic, getting ready to throw five innings a lot earlier, the injury, him battling through that early in the year. I can’t say from a definitive standpoint those are the reasons the performance maybe isn’t what he’s had the last few years, but it would not surprise me that next year he comes in and has a great year.
RG : Do you have an internal goal for the rest of the season, like getting back to .500 or maybe just being better than 73?
AA : Just winning as many games as we can and playing well. You’re looking, any time you want to win games. It doesn’t matter, at any point of the season you want to win games. Everybody in there wants to win games and play better and hopefully see some improvement from some guys that you know are going to be here going forward.
RG : Your own organization. You see a guy like Syndergaard go over to the Mets then all of a sudden he’s starting the Futures Game, he’s at Double-A. Do you second-guess yourself at all in the way that you nurture your own minor-league pitchers?
AA : No, because he started in high-A and that’s where he would have started for us and even, I mean you’ve seen some guys move up, whether it was Drabek or Hutchison. Hutchison was in Lansing, went to Dunedin and ended the season in New Hampshire all in one season. Or Mark Rzepczynski, the same way. He flew through as well. Obviously we loved all those guys and we really liked all those guys but we know that with young starters, they can get up here, like we’ve had a lot of guys come up here before whether it’s a Drabek or a Drew Hutchison, to get them where they’re throwing 200 innings and they stay healthy and they become mainstays in the rotation going forward it takes a little bit of time. The tough part about trading a guy like Noah and things like that is that while you’re getting a guy who’s won a Cy Young, who’s thrown over 200 innings three years in a row and it times better with your current club. You can’t get players for free and you have to trade talent away and I think it’s a credit to the scouts and the development staff that we had guys like that that we could draft and develop them to put them in trades. Ideally you’d like to hang on to all of them and sign free agents and not have to give anybody up. Some of those players, like I said, may end up being multiple all stars, Hall of Fame, some may not pan out, some might get hurt, I mean that’s just part of it. But again, maybe by the time they become the mainstays, some of the current core will either be at the last year of their contracts or free agents or at the end of their careers. It was as much about us trying to move it forward, timing it with the current team.
BLUE JAYS CORNER
THE WEEK THAT WAS (2-1 at A’s; 1-3 at Angels; 1-0 at M’s)
The current road trip has seemed like a struggle for the Jays merely to keep their heads above water, but with two game remaining on the 10-game west coast swing, the Jays found themselves at 4-4, with one more win than they had managed on the disastrous 10-game homestand that for all practical purposes, coming out of the all-star break, had ended their faintest hopes of contending for a wild-card.
Highlights of the A’s series: For the second Monday in a row, the Jays embarrassed themselves in a loss, this one by a score of 9-4 with Esmil Rogers on the hill, making just one official error but playing the game like they didn’t care anymore. There is pride in the clubhouse, but sometimes that doesn’t translate to play on the field.
The next day was Mark Buehrle to the rescue, evening his record at 7-7 with a 5-0 victory and running his consecutive scoreless innings to 20, just five shy of his personal best. The always candid Buehrle suggested that the heavy air in Oakland allowed him to get away with a could of mistakes that ended up being just long fly balls that might have been homers elsewhere.
In the rubber game Wednesday, the Jays had trouble with the high sky, dropping popups at third base in foul territory, at second base for a run and behind the mound as Brett Lawrie tripped over R.A. Dickey who had tripped over the rosin bag. Somehow the Jays got it to extras and scored three in the 10th keyed by a hard Jose Bautista double just inside the first-base bag.
Highlights of the Angels series:
The Angels were coming off three straight walk-off losses in Texas and had dropped six decisions in a row as they hosted the Jays in a four-game set.
In Game 1, Josh Johnson was behind 4-0 before retiring the side in the first inning. He is making a habit of that and has a start in Seattle on Tuesday to try and turn it around.
In the second game, the Jays actually clung to a one-run lead in the eighth, with all-star Steve Delabar on the hill. He allowed a leadoff double and then, with the tying run at second and expecting a bunt because of a sharp decoy by the Angels third-base coach, he laid a pitch over the heart of the plate and J.B. Shuck turned on it and drilled a triple to the alley. The next batter, rookie Kole Calhoun laced his first major-league home run and the Jays were losers again. The next day Delabar was placed on the disabled list with inflammation of the right shoulder. He first felt it just before the break.
Once again, in Game 3 of the series, the Jays put themselves behind the eight-ball early allowing three runs in the first, with Rogers starting again. By the fifth inning, the Jays were down 7-1 and it was pretty much over, with a chance to be swept in a matinee on Sunday afternoon.
All day, it looked like the Angels would complete the sweep, but the Angels were playing horribly and it caught up with them as the Jays scored two in the eighth and two more in the ninth on back-to-back RBI singles by Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion for a 6-5 win. A beleaguered Mike Scioscia used seven pitchers to record the last nine outs. This used to be a top flight bullpen.
On Monday, it was R.A. Dickey, but it was really Brett Lawrie and his many thousands of friends that he brought down with him from British Columbia. They took over Seattle and took over Safeco Field, from the national anthems right through the three hits of Lawrie and the eventual, comeback 3-1 win. Good times were back, at least for the moment.
BLUE JAYS DOWN ON THE FARM
The Jays’ minor-league system is a combined five games above .500, despite the Lansing Lugnuts being 15 games below the break-even mark.
The youngest two starters among the Top 5 pitchers in starts are Ricky Romero (28) 3-5, 5.67 ERA and Thad Weber (28) 5-4, 2.64 ERA.
AA-NEW HAMPSHIRE (54-58)
The youngest two starters among the Top 5 pitchers in starts are Marcus Stroman (22) 6-2, 2.96 ERA and Sean Nolin (23) 7-3, 2.94 ERA..
The youngest two starters among the Top 5 pitchers in starts are Aaron Sanchez (20) 2-4, 3.66 ERA and Jesse Hernandez (24) 5-10, 3.72 ERA..
The youngest two starters among the Top 5 pitchers in starts are Daniel Norris (20) 1-7, 5.13 ERA and Alonzo Gonzalez (21) 2-9, 5.56 ERA.
The youngest two starters among the Top 5 pitchers in starts are Jeremy Gabryszwski (20) 4-1, 2.25 ERA and Colton Turner(22) 3-3, 2.15 ERA.
The youngest two starters among the Top 5 pitchers in starts are Alberto Tirado (18) 2-0, 1.72 ERA and Adonys Cardona (19) 0-2, 6.75 ERA.
Rk-GULF COAST JAYS (16-22)
The youngest two starters among the Top 5 pitchers in starts are Jesus Tinoco (18) 0-3, 3.86 ERA and Alejandro Solarte (18) 1-0, 3.00 ERA.
DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE JAYS (29-22)
The youngest two starters among the Top 5 pitchers in starts are Dalton Rodriguez (16) 2-1, 1.51 ERA and Miguel Castro (18) 4-2, 1.50 ERA.
THIS DATE IN BASEBALL HISTORY:
Aug. 6:1952 — The great Negro League star Satchel Paige at 47 becomes the oldest pitcher to throw a complete game, working 12 innings in a 1-0 win over Virgil Trucks and the Tigers . . . 1988 Jose Canseco of the A’s steals his 30th base to go with 31 homers becoming the earliest of the 11 players in history to join the 30-30 club.
Aug. 7: 1992 — The Giants announce that they have sold the franchise to interests in Florida and the team will move to St. Petersburg in 1993. That move is overturned in November at an owners meeting and approval for a new stadium in downtown San Francisco is ramped up . . . 1956 – The 51-year oldSatchel Paige attracts a minor-league crowd of 57,000 to the Orange Bowl in Miami for an International League game between Miami and Columbus.
Aug. 8: 1920 — Howar Ehmke of the Detroit Tigers tosses a 1-0 shutout of the Yankees in an hour and 13 minutes, the fastest game in AL history. CF Ty Cobb goes 2-for-3 and scores the only run. On a Rip Collins wild pitch . . . 1877 – Mike Dorgan of the Cardinals becomes the Jacques Plante of baseball becoming the first catcher to go behind the plate wearing a mask after teammate John Clapp had his face broken by a foul tip. Charlie O’Brien takes credit.
Aug. 9: 1998 — RHP Dennis Martinez of the Braves wins his 244th career game passing Hall-of-Famer Juan Marichal for the all-time lead for a Latin American pitcher. The native of Nicaragua came back for one final season in ‘98 then retired at the end of the year . . . 1981 – Baseball returns after the great strike of ’81 with the all-star game in Cleveland. Expos owner Charles Bronfman sends his jet down carrying catcher Gary Carter who slams two homers and is named ASG MVP in a 5-4 NL win.
Aug. 10: 1944 — RHP Red Barrett of the Boston Braves throws just 58 pitches in a nine-inning complete game to beat the Reds 2-0. Barrett had no walks and no strikeouts. Jocko Conlan was the plate umpire and the game was played in 1:15.
Aug. 11: 1970 — RHP Jim Bunning of the Phils beats the Cardinals 6-5 for his 100th National League win. He is the first pitcher since Cy Young to win at least 100 games in each major league.
MLB POWER RANKINGS (as of Aug. 5)
TEAM, (Last Week, start of spring)
1. Boston Red Sox 2-16
2. Tampa Bay Rays 1-10
3. Pittsburgh Pirates 6-28
4. Atlanta Braves 5-2
5. Detroit Tigers 7-7
6. St. Louis Cardinals 3-13
7. Baltimore Orioles 8-11
8. Oakland A’s 4-8
9. Los Angeles Dodgers 9-5
10. Cleveland Indians 12-20
11. Cincinnati Reds 10-9
12. Texas Rangers 11-6
13. Kansas City Royals 13-18
14. Arizona Diamondbacks 14-17
15. New York Yankees 15-14
16. Washington Nationals 16-4
17. Los Angeles Angels 23-12
18. Seattle Mariners 17-21
19. Toronto Blue Jays 18-3
20. Colorado Rockies 19-25
21. New York Mets 20-27
22. Philadelphia Phillies 22-15
23. San Diego Padres 24-23
24. San Francisco Giants 26-1
25. Chicago Cubs 21-24
26. Minnesota Twins 25-26
27. Milwaukee Brewers 27-22
28. Miami Marlins 28-29
29. Chicago White Sox 29-19
30. Houston Astros 30-30
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Cross-country flights are never fun, but last Sunday became a tres tight connection in Chicago due to a delay out of Pearson. By the time the flight arrived in San Francisco it was time to hunker down for the Monday morning Bullpen. Don’t be confused about the city because on Jays trips to Oakland, nobody actually stays in Oakland. San Francisco is always the destination of choice usually at a hotel near Market St. about a 10-minute walk from the Giants home ballpark, but just a 30-minute trip via BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) under the bay over to Oakland. By the way, I forget what my last ballpark rankings were in the winter, but if I ever said Tropicana Field was the worst then I apologize because the Oakland Coliseum takes that hands down.
After the A’s we flew to John Wayne Airport in Orange County following the day game Wednesday. Then on Thursday in the late morning drove down for lunch to beautiful Laguna Beach with Scott MacArthur (TSN Radio) and Mike Wilner (The Fan). Great weather, great beach town.
Laguna would be where I want to live when I grow up. But that ain’t gonna happen. There’s a place, a cantina up on the hill overlooking the beach called Las Brisas and I’ve been going there since the late-’80s, usually with the Expos on the drive up between playing the Padres and the Dodgers.
One evening after a couple of Las Brisas beers, Larry Walker, Expos pitcher Mark Gardner and I stopped there for dinner and then in the dark made our way down to the beach and out onto a giant black rock squatting down looking for seals or some other reason that escapes me. As the tension seeped down and out my fingertips and the quiet of the moment swept over me, so did a giant wave that somehow missed the two ballplayers right next to me. I did not make a sound as I fought quietly for my breath and breathed salt water and sea urchins out through my nostrils.
When we emerged back into the light above the beach headed for the car, Walker and Gardner were bone dry and suddenly realized that I looked like a drowned flack with sea weed sticking haphazardly out the front of my shirt, looking for all the world like I had picked a fight with Neptune. Hilarity ensued. I have been back to Laguna often, but not out onto that rock, which I pointed out to my travel companions. Note to self: Before planning a move to Laguna, must find a job that pays more.
Finally, on Monday morning it was up the coast to Seattle and to one of the finer ballparks in the majors. The cab driver’s proudest I’m-your-tour-guide moment was telling me where there was a corner where you could see four different Starbucks from one spot. Is that what it’s come to?