"Each wash brings him one step closer to dying. That's what makes the T-shirt such a tragic figure."
By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
Went on a little hike in the White Tanks with Indians iTrac vision coordinator Jason Stein, known both here on flat ground and up in mountainous terrain as “The Master of Self-Promotion,” during yesterday’s off day.
Lo and behold, an argument erupted, as it usually does.
I had come straight from the gym and was wearing my usual workout apparel, which consists of running shoes, shorts and a ratty old t-shirt. Stein, a minion in an increasingly vain society, found my shirt offensive.
Consider Stein a fitness fashionista. He’s one of those people who is willing to plop down 30 bucks for a T-shirt billed as “performance gear,” falling for the sales pitch promising an “ergonomic fit” and “higher efficiency output.”
In reality, of course, a workout shirt is just a workout shirt. All you’re doing is wearing it while you run and lift and sweat. When Rocky Balboa was drinking egg yolk, jumping rope, chasing chickens, hustling up the steps of the art museum and punching raw meat, he was wearing your standard-issue cotton tank-top, not a “compression sleeveless T with accelerated moisture transport.”
Stein, of course, disagrees. He says if you’re going to a fitness facility, you better look the part. New shoes, new shirt, microbe-reducing socks with scent suppression. In our debate, he actually used the verb form of the word “wick,” which had previously only been used by Under Armour pitchmen. (Job well done, fellas.)
I countered by saying that if looking the part is so necessary, why weren’t we walking the mountain trail in buckskin jackets and carrying a canteen?
My readers — most of them, anyway — are sane, rational people, and I assured Stein they would side with me on this one.
Make me proud, folks.
ADDENDUM: Stein would like me to include in here his “golf course analogy,” which goes as follows: Being the guy in the fitness center with holes in his shirt is like being the guy on the golf course in jean shorts. I’m not sure if that strengthens his case, but there you go.
ADDENDUM No. 2: The most rational response to this comes from Stein’s girlfriend, Liz: “There’s no difference,” she said, “unless you’re trying to pick up women.”
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- The rotation battle is a little more complicated than previously expected (or reported). Carlos Carrasco has really made an impression on the new coaching staff, and pitching coach Tim Belcher told me Carrasco is officially a contender for one of the last two rotation spots. Though Belcher didn’t say so directly, Mitch Talbot seems to have won a job. Meanwhile, the inconsistent outings from David Huff and Aaron Laffey (who looked really good today), combined with two superb outings from Carrasco his last two times out, appear to have made it a three-way battle for the last spot. Here’s the full story on Indians.com.
- I mentioned to Belcher that perhaps all the attention that’s place on the starting battle is a bit overblown, considering it could be a revolving door in the rotation this season. “Now what would make you believe that?” he said with a wry smile.
- That being said, Belcher seems to feel better about the rotation than he did a month ago, thanks to the spring performance of Jake Westbrook and Fausto Carmona. “They’re right on track,” Belcher said. “Justin [Masterson] has been a little up and down. But there’s still time for him to get where he needs to be.” Belcher mentioned Jeanmar Gomez, Hector Rondon and Yohan Pino as three guys he’ll be paying close attention to at Columbus this season.
- Masterson had trouble finding the strike zone in a Minors game against Triple-A Columbus (he was pitching for Double-A Akron) on the off day. He went five innings, allowing two runs on three hits with five walks and two strikeouts.
- Today’s lineup might have been an Opening Day preview — SS Cabrera, CF Sizemore, RF Choo, DH Hafner, 3B Peralta, 1B LaPorta, 2B Valbuena, C Marson, LF Brantley. The wild card, of course, is the Russell Branyan situation and how it pertains to Brantley. (Branyan took soft toss today and was actually in the dugout for the game… that’s a start.) Manny Acta had said he wanted to get his regulars together for the last week to 10 days of spring camp, and we’ve reached that point.
- The Indians had three recently signed members of their Dominican Summer League squad test positive for steroids. All three had their contracts (which were not yet finalized) voided, at no cost to the club. But John Mirabelli, the Tribe’s assistant GM in charge of scouting, said the team is close to doing its own drug testing prior to international players signing a contract. This is one way the Indians hope to combat a deceptive culture in the Dominican. DNA testing, which the Indians decided to initiate in the wake of the Wally Bryan/Jose Ozoria situation, is another.
- But Mirabelli said it’s going to take a true overhaul of the scouting and signing system to make the situation more tolerable for teams. MLB recently rehired Sandy Alderson to oversee reform efforts in the Dominican. “You’ve got a culture now,” Mirabelli said. “This is a rampant part of their culture. It’s dog-eat-dog and very short-term thinking down there. That’s how it’s evolved. Until you change the culture and we make some very, deep changes in how you conduct business down there [it will remain this way].”
- What changes can be made? The establishment of an MLB academy would help, Mirabelli said. “You’re almost going to need a clearinghouse,” he said. “Players are going to have to be cleared and vetted by Major League Baseball so we know they are who they say they are, they’ve been drug-tested and these are the guys eligible to be signed right now.” Mirabelli said he’d also like to see the Dominican government get involved to register player agents (known as “buscones”) and penalize them when their clients test positive for performance-enhancing drugs or misidentify themselves.
- Saul Rivera (0.00 ERA in six innings) and Jamey Wright (1.04 ERA in 8 2/3 innings) both seem deserving of a bullpen spot, though their fates could be tied to what the Indians do with the remaining combatants from the rotation race. Belcher has been impressed with Rivera and Wright, two veterans who have been durable in the past. “They’re nice options to have to be considered for the bullpen, because they can give you length multiple times a week,” Belcher said. “Saul looks like he can pitch every day. He’s so effortless and there’s not any overthrowing in his delivery. Both those guys have experience, too. It’s just a matter of finding a way to keep one or both.”
- The Indians (4,267) and Reds (4,220) had the two lowest average attendance totals in the Cactus League, entering today.
- The deck of cards sitting in the middle of the Tribe locker room this morning was a promotional item from the 2004 season, with members of that team on each card. The ace of spades was Jason Davis. Wow.
- Plain Dealer columnist Terry Pluto demanded that my minutiae today include mention of his invention of “The Pluto” at a nearby QuikTrip gas station this morning. He took unsweetened iced tea, added a little bit of peach iced tea and a splash of lemon. Voila… “The Pluto.” Even by minutia standards, this bit of info qualifies as minutia.