Friday, December 28, 2007

Top 12 of 2007

Everybody does top 10 lists at this time of year. I have so many favorite moments from 2007, I had to expand the list to 12. I was going to present them in order of importance, but really, what's important to me may not be important to you. So I decided to list them alphabetically, starting with the second letter of the third word from each. Very random. Hard to offend that way. But what if an entry only has two words? I'd suddenly be limited, constricted. That wouldn't be fair to me. So, after moments of soul searching and flogging myself with a box of dry noodles (thin Ronzoni linguini), I elected to show my top moments to you on a month by month basis, starting with January and ending with December. We know there are 12 months and my list is 12 strong, so if I use "March" as a header and March is the third month, you should know that it is my third entry. Are we clear? Thought so.

Thus, Jimmy Scott's Top 12 of 2008, presented by the Months of the Year:


My favorite New York franchise signs former Milwaukee outfielder Felipe Lopez to a 7-year, $103 million contract. Felipe goes on to hit an underwhelming 17 home runs, drive in 66 and suffer from the wrath of fans all season long.


My favorite New York franchise is sold to former Manhattan congresswoman Joan Delaney. Mrs. Delaney calls 2007 her "wait and see" season. She waits all season to watch us win and sees we can't when half of the starters, including yours truly, go down with injuries.


On the first day of spring training (sing Twelve Days of Christmas along to this one) our union gave to us, a lecture on how to save cash. (stop singing) We all know that 2008 is the final season under the current labor/management agreement, and with a wee bit of tension on both sides, union leader Howard Phillips felt it prudent to tell us to save our money should there be a lockout or strike at some point in 2008. All I can tell you now is nobody's talking. Not because anybody's mad, but because the current agreement expires on October 31, 2008. I know a meeting is scheduled for the first full week of January in New York. I'll be attending. Hopefully all will be cordial. If not, expect to hear war drums beating from coast to coast on both sides.


Ahh, spring. When Hope blooms for every big league team. Only hope for a certain favorite New York franchise, one in "wait and see" mode, really only lasts up until the first pitch of the season. It was then that the wheels fell off for me, personally and professionally. Home run ball on pitch one. Elbow explosion on pitch two. I never threw a pitch three. Still haven't. We go on to win 77 games in a season in which many "pundits" predicted we'd win 92. My replacements, all five of them, can't come close to the 14 games I was projected to win (they win a combined 6). Unfortunately, they blow away the number of games I was projected to lose (7) by reaching 15. I have surgery on April 12 - my birthday - and can't comb my hair until mid-May. My head rebels and starts to go bald. Not a good year for New York baseball.


Things get worse for my favorite New York franchise before they get better (which doesn't happen until December). Former two-time MVP, third baseman Willie Fernandez, goes down with a knee injury and doesn't play another game all season. Reconstructive surgery spells the end of a career in which Willie hit 375 home runs, won three rings, and got divorced twice. A great teammate with a wonderful wardrobe, Willie will be our third base coach in 2008. Once you're in the game, it's hard to get out.


Continuing unpleasantness surrounds a team that only wins 10 games in April and 12 in May. (On June 15th, we're 27 and 48.) Derek Henderson enters the pre-game locker room on June 15th and makes three mistakes. First, he carries a firearm with him. Second, it's loaded. Third, he discharges it. Nobody is hurt, but a water pipe directly above his head is maimed beyond recognition. Flooded out of the clubhouse for two games, the team is forced to dress in the press room. Henderson is cut on June 18th and doesn't play another big league game all season. Mrs. Delaney uses the flooded locker room as an excuse to begin asking for a new stadium. Apparently, all the new ones have bulletproof piping.


Lyman Gaye gets the game-winning hit in the 13th inning of the 83rd annual All Star game, this one held in Pittsburgh. Lyman, not voted in or chosen but a player by default because five other players ahead of him in the pecking order either suddenly come down with hamstring strains or the need to spend time with "family" in the Dominican, goes on to have a solid season. He hits .305 and wins the Defensive Achievement Award for excellence in right field. Kansas City, his team, wins 59 games and dismantles the club beginning 5 days later. Lyman is the last to go. He claims to have never owned a loaded firearm in his life. Good enough for us, we trade for him in December.


Mrs. Delaney's husband is indicted for tax evasion. Rather than hide, Mrs. Delaney goes on a media offensive. Charges are never dropped, but we suddenly have one of the most vocal owners in the sport. Her "wait and see" attitude wanes and General Manager Roddy McEllroy is fired and replaced by Alvin Kirby, the first black GM in New York baseball, not a big deal until Alvin's wife brings it up in her own media offensive. On November 3rd, Alvin files for divorce.


In an outburst still playing 127,000 times a day on YouTube, now former/then current manager of my favorite New York franchise, Larry Picketts, goes on an obscenity-laced rampage. Unfortunately, he does it during his daily WTEM (You're on The Team!) radio call in show. A frustrating season gets worse. Larry is fired with 10 games remaining in the season...


...And replaced by everybody's favorite New York sports television personality and 1996 MVP runner up, Rick Churches. While Rick has never managed or coached a game in his life, we've known for years that he can talk a good one. A former player with two championship rings, #1 draft choice in 1983 out of Wichita State and that one incredible season in '96 when he hit 25 home runs, drove in 111 and stole 55 bases, the pedigree is there. He just has to put it to good use.


I start my blog. My fatness is exposed (along with the news of my scalp deciding to bare itself to the world). Rather than accept the team's generous contract buyout offer, I opt to play one more season. We get mad at each other and meet in a locker room duel with Derek Henderson serving as referee. We settle our differences somewhat amicably, but the locker room needs a whole new piping system now before opening day.


I haven't spoken on this much, but having a year off, basically, gave me more time to spend with the Jimmy & Vanessa Scott Foundation. We raised more money for M.S. and Lyme Disease in 2007 than we had in 2005 and 2006 combined, over $4 million. Much of that money will go to research, although I may embezzle some to pay for the security system we're putting in around our house to discourage vandalism. It's been quiet on that front for the last week, but all crooks and vandals take the holidays off to "recharge" their batteries. Vandalism Season starts January 2nd. I hope we don't have as good seats as we did last year.

So there you go. My top 12 "happenings' for 2007. Listen to me Friday afternoon around 3:05 on The Team sports radio to discuss my list, my blog, my rehab, and my balding scalp (I'm not fat so much anymore, so I can't complain about that). Charity events this weekend and a quiet New Year's Eve on Monday.

Have a Happy New Year and healthy 2008!

- Jimmy Scott

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Been Busy...

Sorry for the sudden lack of posting. Family is in for the holidays - Vanessa's mother paid a surprise visit. (Keep an eye on your wallets.) My mom & dad decided to spend as much time at our house as possible to compete with the rival grandparent. Meanwhile, both Julia and Grace have taken advantage of all the attention by NOT being at home much at all. No school this week, so the last thing a couple of teens want to do is hang out at a household of people fighting over how many Christmas cookies should be allocated to each guest.

I visited with the team shrink yesterday and, funny thing, he made me sign a non-disclosure agreement before we spoke. In other words, he knows about my blog and is nervous I'll reveal his trade secrets to keeping me sane. So what happens between him and me (or is it he and I?) will have to cut out my new doctor. For example:

Doctor -
Me - Well, it all started when my father, "Red" Scott - you may have heard of him - forced me to spend Father's Day 1977 with my mother while he pitched a third of an inning in Cincinnati and gave up 7 runs on 5 hits, 2 walks and a hit batsman.
Doctor -
Me - You think so?
Doctor -
Me - I never thought of it that way. You're brilliant.
Doctor -
Me - You must write a book about this.

And so on. Not very interesting if you don't hear his advice, which is a cross between Dr. Phil, John Gray and Yanni. Still, we meet again next week. He claims I'll heal faster by talking to him. I told him it's my arm that's the problem, not my head. He laughed and showed me the door. Guess who thinks I'm nuts.

The next three nights are busy with Vanessa and me fulfilling charitable obligations. That means I'm being honored for something. In exchange for my appearance, the respective charity gets to charge people to sit and listen to Vanessa and I banter like Abbott & Costello. Yes, I'm the fat one. But we have the act down pretty good. She talks about something serious. I come on and talk about throwing a ball really fast, then she comes up and disputes everything I've ever said as "sweet nothings." I call her my "sweet little nothing" and then we go on from there. Very funny if you've paid $500 to eat cold, fatty steak and room temperature gazpacho.

We go back to church on Sunday. This is Vanessa's new thing. The family that goes to church together does other things together. She hasn't specified what those other things are. I know it won't be easy to get Julia and Grace out of bed on a weekend before 11:00. Ah, the secret lives of teens.

Andy is back today, so our rehab will be a Thursday, Friday, Saturday schedule, off on Sunday (Andy wants to go to church with us and sing in the choir), only a two-a-day on Monday (New Year's Eve), Tuesday off, then 6 days a week, three times a day through spring training. My wrist is still sore, but it'll get better in a couple more weeks. In the meantime, I'm getting my legs strong, my tummy thin, and my head in the game.

Dinner tonight with the family. Vanessa's ordering in Chinese. It'll be fun watching the grandparents argue over who gets to sit next to the twins while Julia and Grace don't show up to go see Charlie Wilson's War. I think they think it's a Tom Hanks/Julia Roberts romantic comedy. Maybe one day they'll learn to read movie reviews before going out to see a movie about the mujadeen.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The News

Because it was in the fifties yesterday and hit 60 last night, most of the snow melted and I had the sidewalks back when I went running this morning. The moon was full, so it was like running in subdued daylight at 5:45 in the AM time. I wasn't the only one who could see better. The neighborhood paperboys, who all drive their late-1990s minivans with the inside dome light on and Latino hit radio spilling out of their open windows, had good aim today. I was struck on the right thigh by a Wall Street Journal. A New York Times clipped me on my aching right wrist. And a couple Star Ledgers nailed me in the head (but not at the same time). I tell you, these guys must all be pitchers for their Morris County Paperboy softball teams. All they need is some offense and they they'll go all the way. At least they should on paper.

We had our Christmas party Saturday night. If you think an off season party at a big league player's house is filled with other players and their trophy wives and the famous front office personnel, you lose a turn. Unless there is a big team event, like the January caravan to help promote season ticket sales, you don't see baseball players gather together between November 1 and February 14. Half the team lives in other countries and half is spread all around this one. The last thing any of them would want to do is come to my house on a Saturday night and listen to my father talk about the difference between beer from Brooklyn and beer from Wisconsin.

Julia and Grace seemed to have a nice time. They had some friends come over for the shindig. If you think their friends always want to come over to our house so they could get a glimpse of the famous rich dude who pays for the home's heating bill, you lose another turn. By now, and especially after a year of inactivity, I'm not the big time celebrity who can impress people by walking into a room and breathing. Vanessa likes to impress upon me that, as soon as I retire for good, we won't raise as much money as we do now for our foundation. My voice will still work but will be, in effect, silenced as soon as I take that last journey from the pitcher's mound to the locker room. I have my personal services contract and will be a broadcaster soon afterward, but ask my dad (please don't). You can't raise much awareness of issues important to you, like Autism or Lyme Disease, if you're going on and on about the origins of the phrase "can of corn" for the fifth time in three months. You become boring. To Julia and Grace, I have been boring for many years. To their friends, I am now.

We had some help at the party. Three chefs, a four-person crew to clean up. Vanessa's new best friend Connie made six pies and forced most attendees to sample bits of each one. I got out of it by explaining my new diet won't allow me to eat desserts. Of course, Connie saw me eating a handful of Vanessa's Christmas cookies about ten minutes after I'd rejected her. We pretended not to see each other, but the experience stunted my appetite and I returned the uneaten portion of my Russian Teacake to the garbage can where I'd found it. Connie left soon thereafter, saying she wanted to be around when her husband came home. He's a surgeon in the City and works lots of late nights. I think he pulls down around a million a year. There's one guy who deserves that kind of salary.

Vanessa wanted to go to church Sunday, since it was Christmas Sunday, so we attended the 9:00 service in Chatham at the Methodist church. I hadn't been to church since the previous Christmas, but since we're not Catholic, I didn't feel guilty about it. I passed the time during the sermon thinking about what kind of X-Box games Vanessa was going to get me for Christmas. Which led me to think about how Felipe Castro is on the cover of next season's Big League Batter 2008 game. Which led me to say a quiet prayer that they find his mother by today so they can all have a nice Christmas together. I know that's got to be one scared and worried family.

Andy, my personal trainer, flew home to New Orleans on Friday and won't be back up until Thursday, so I'm working out on my own for almost a week. In the meantime, I will be paying a visit on Wednesday with our new team psychiatrist, Dr. Henry Pachtins. Just a little check up from the neck up. I don't expect much since I already blame all of the bad things that have ever happened to me on my father.

Speaking of which, "Red" Scott says the paperboys are after me because I never give them a Christmas tip. I asked how much he tips his paperboy. He said nothing. He reads all of his news on the Internet. Not a bad idea, but just my luck, I'd be running one morning and get clipped on the thigh by a Dell laptop, hurled out of a window by an angry paperboy, now unemployed because of the drop in paper sales.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Miscellaneous Notes

Got word today that Felipe Castro's mother wasn't kidnapped in her home in Venezuela over the weekend. She was kidnapped in Felipe's house. Forced entry. They broke right in through the front door. Also missing is Felipe's gardener. They're not sure if that man is kidnapped or a suspect. Obviously, I haven't been able to speak with Felipe. But I know this has to be a terrible time for him.

My dad, "Red" Scott, said if he could, he'd switch places with Felipe's mother. At first, I was tempted to reach out to Hugo Chavez myself and ask him to broadcast the offer throughout the country with the hopes of an exchange actually taking place. But then I got to thinking, this is exactly what my dad would want. He'd become the kidnapping victim just long enough to establish residency, then he'd escape and become a hero. I'd never hear the end of it. No, Dad, just come over to my house this Christmas and brag about something else you've done. I stopped listening in 1986 anyway.

I saw we traded for Sergio Dunn yesterday. He's an amazing athlete. I just hope he's in one piece when we see him in spring training. To be a tight end for the Dallas Cowboys and play left field for us, there's a lot of ice needed to keep that soreness away. If you think he's good now, how good would he be if he focused on just one sport? I'm just glad I won't be pitching against him this year. He's hit two grand slams off of me over the years. I'm unhappy when that happens.

My personal trainer, who I own, is trying to make me left handed. Since my right wrist is all wrapped up for a few weeks, Andy wants to take advantage and make my left side "stronger than one of those X-Men people." Since the X-Men are mutants (well, they as characters are mutants; real X-Men don't exist), Andy thinks my body will mutate from human to inhuman over the next three weeks with his patent pending Left Side Workout. I told him I should still have a strong right leg. And my right elbow needs the rehab, since it's the thing that was surgically repaired. And my right hip, right tricep, right pectoral, and right ear should all not atrophy just because my wrist reacted badly when I landed on it after slipping in my icy driveway. Andy listened carefully and quickly abandoned his patent pending Left Side Workout. Instead, he had me chasing roosters again. And yes, I am crapping thunder now.

We're having a holiday party at the house tomorrow night. A gaggle of strangers have been inside and outside the house, stringing up lights, greenery... That's really all they've done. But since they've been here for two days, I guess it's a lot of lights and greenery. It's a big house, so that makes sense. Mostly neighbors and family invited. Parents of Julia and Grace's friends. But I'll be keeping my eye open for anything out of the ordinary. I'm thinking the vandals will want to crash and try to learn more about the house and our habits. We've hired some security (Andy) for the bash, so nobody's getting past the door without a full crevice strip search.

I'm thinking Vanessa won't allow this for very long, so hopefully the vandals/party crashers come early. Plus, the food will be fresher too.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Neighborhood Watching

We had our first neighborhood watch meeting last night. Vanessa is great at organizing. She's the chief reason why we've been able to raise more than $35 million through the Jimmy Scott Foundation over the last 20 years. If she had been Secretary of Defense at the time we invaded Iraq, you can bet things would be in a lot better shape than they are now. She'd have been like Shane, remember him, from the movie? He put a stop to the bullying, helped the commonfolk, and rode into a beautiful western sunset.

But I digress.

We've lived in our current residence for the last 11 years, but we don't know our neighbors really well. Let me re-phrase: I don't know them very well. Julia and Grace are friendly with whatever kids live around here and Vanessa pretty much knows everyone too. I don't. I recognized faces tonight. Had no idea what their names were. Maybe I don't pay attention when introduced. It must be that. If you put all my neighbors in a police lineup after meeting with them all for 90 minutes last night, I'd get all their names wrong.

All but one. Connie.

Connie just moved in. She's not a shy woman. And she wants to be friends with Vanessa. Close friends. Not the lesbian kind. Get that out of your mind. I mean the best buddy/we'll be friends forever! kind.

I don't blame her. Vanessa has this thing about her. She's like a beacon in the summer. If you're a bug, you'd choose Vanessa's beacon over someone else's front porch light.

Connie moved in about three weeks ago. Got a good deal on her house, she said, because the market stinks right now. She might have even gotten the house through a foreclosure. But she's been around quite a bit. If she wasn't trying to be Vanessa's friend, I'd consider the woman a stalker. She calls first thing in the morning. She brings by homemade pies by lunch and comes back to pick up the pie dish right during dinner. She's asked Julia to babysit five times already, even though her son is 13. (Grace won't babysit for anyone. She's afraid of the liability.) Connie has tried to become a member of the family over the last 21 days. I met her for the first time last night.

I'm good at not being here when friends or neighbors stop in. By coincidence, I'm usually out at an event or rehabbing (or eating up to two weeks ago) or in my Entertainment Veranda figuring out how to Tivo a show that I already Tivo'd, just to make sure I never lose it and have it forever(!).

But I had to be here last night. My right wrist is wrapped up pretty tightly from my fall on the driveway, caused by the vandals who keep dropping by our house at night. Vanessa says that if I'd been better all along at being here when people drop by, maybe I would have caught the vandals myself and saved myself some pain. She's a funny gal, that wife of mine.

A Madison policeman was here to explain how to legally put a neighborhood watch program together. He told us all about the vandalism in the area, which has pretty much taken place 100% on my property. He told us to basically keep our eyes open, our outside lights on, our doors locked, our security systems engaged, and our pit bulls underfed. It makes them meaner, he said. (Just kidding about that last part. Although you know the old saying, a mean dog is a hungry dog.)

Connie volunteered to take the night shift watching our house. The very patient cop said that's not how it works. We are to go about our daily, and nocturnal, business like we always do. But if we see anything out of the ordinary, give them a call. I thought I heard Connie whisper something about taking matters into her own hands, but Vanessa said I was making that part up because I don't like her.

It's not that I don't like her. She's very sweet. I just think she's nuts. Where was her husband, the doctor? Apparently in surgery. But I don't believe it. I think he was out just to get away from her. I've seen it so many times. Type A personality wife marries Type A personality husband. Before you know it, Type A personality husband morphs into a Type D kind of guy. He grows long hair, becomes a vegetarian, and takes off with another woman and puts her kids to bed every night, ignoring his own.

Now you might think of me as Type A. I've been a driven athlete, vocal person, sometimes a little hyper. I wear my emotions on my sleeve. And my pant legs too. Nobody ever looks there. But I'm not Type A. I'm a reactor. I love baseball, so I played it so much I became really good at it. My body reacted to my love of the game. My life has been a reaction to being good at it. But if I'd never played baseball, I'd probably be working the stockroom of a Best Buy, out of the way of people and keeping to myself. See, that's why I'm never here when the neighbors are. I like to keep to myself. Grace is like me, although everyone thinks it's Julia who is. But Julia's a Type A like her mother. Grace and I - we're Type B+. We are who we are because of what's around us.

The meeting ended and Connie stayed to help clean up. She suggested we put the plastic ware into the dishwasher to use again. I told her the reason the spork was invented was to throw out half the plastic a person normally would, so, in effect, by supporting the spork we're supporting our environment. We're practically green without trying.

Oh, she laughed. My quip wasn't as humorous as she made it sound. That was a tip off to me. She's nuts and wants to adopt my family. I'm going to keep my eyes on her.

She left around eleven (two hours after the meeting ended) and took four pie plates with her. I surveyed her as she slowly crept down our driveway, her head darting back and forth, as if she was either in danger or was trying to catch the vandals before they struck again. But she saw nothing strange and was eventually on the street and gone.

We had a good night. No bad people came and threw cold water or toilet paper on our land. Shane didn't drift by to save us and kill the lead bad man, dressed in black. And Vanessa didn't secretly fall for Shane while staying with me. No, Connie is our Shane. And she's only armed with pie, not a gun. While she may try to steal my Vanessa from me, she'll never catch the bad guys who've vandalised my property. I have a feeling the bad guys and me will bump into each other one day and surprise the hell out of each other. That will be one interesting final scene before one of us rides off into the sunset, watched by the eyes of our neighborhood friends.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Prayers For Mrs. Castro

Heard the startling news last night that Felipe Castro's mother had been kidnapped from her home in Venezuela over the weekend. I saw Felipe at Mrs. Delaney's party Saturday night and could tell he was worried about her as she hadn't flown in as expected earlier in the day. From what I've heard, he found out very early Sunday morning and took the first flight home.

This is a sad and scary story and one that we hope is not repeated. I know of other teammates from Central America who have basically moved their whole families into the United States for safety reasons. Remember, a hundred dollars here is almost a full year's salary in many developing nations. So imagine what goes through the minds of the bad seeds down there when they hear of ballplayers, like Felipe, pulling down $90 to $100 million.

We haven't heard of any ransom demands and, like you, will be following the events in Venezuela daily. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Castro family today.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Mighty Fall

I can't believe it's still technically autumn and we've already had well over a foot of snow. The temperature hovers in the twenties and thirties. It's dark more than it's light. Maybe spring will come early too.

I kind of wish I could leave for spring training right now. Yes, it's always too long and boring and repetitive. About three weeks of practice leads to a month of games that don't count and then six months of games that do and then, if you're lucky, a month of games that count more than any others you've ever played before. I love it when reporters asked me in championship seasons which post-season was my favorite. That's like asking which heartbeat is my favorite. Pretty much the most recent one. And I'm always glad to get to the next one as well.

Why this longing for sunny Florida now, a week before Christmas? Well, there's no ice in Florida, at least the kind that settles on your driveway overnight. Plus the press coverage isn't as intense as it is here. Although I remember 2004 and how the allegations of gambling hovered over us from Valentine's Day to opening day. You'd have thought we were the Beatles the way the press was EVERYWHERE. I'd go to the bathroom in the house we rented, look out the window, and see cameras aiming right back at us. It's a good thing I rarely snack in the nude.

Back to the ice. Ever since the toilet papering our house has gotten (three so far), I've begun turning on our outside lights before going out for my early morning run. I don't want to be surprised at sunup that I've been awake for almost two hours and just now noticed. I don't know about you, but running makes me have to go to the bathroom. I had a friend once who took toilet paper with her on every jog because she inevitably had to pee about two miles in.

No toilet paper today. A good sign.

I was fully stretched, so I began my run on the walkway. Made it to the driveway, took two strides and AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH! One long sheet of ice. I literally slid about fifty yards, thanks to its slight downhill slope. To cap it off, once my trajectory was complete, my paperboy in his 1996 Caravan did his drive-by and whipped three papers my way. He's such a loser. He only struck me twice.

I sat up, collected myself and surveyed the damage. No bones protruding from flesh. No trail of blood. A sore hip and some wrist pain. Yes, my throwing wrist. Even though I haven't thrown yet. But still, it's the thought that counts.

No ankle pain. That was the best sign. I've sprained ankles before. They heal so slowly. Do it in April and you're not the same until the playoffs, even though by then you're watching somebody else play because you sucked for the last six months because of your crummy ankle that wouldn't heal.

How did this happen? We had the driveway plowed on Sunday. Three times. There was both sand and salt spread out too. The temp never got above freezing yesterday, but there was blacktop there. I could swear it. No chance for there to be ice on the driveway, especially since there was no melting runoff.

Before I stood, somehow my view made its way up to my trees. I thought there had been no toilet paper. But I was wrong. There was just less than before. A lot less. One long strand of toilet paper, generic brand, hung from a low hanging limb, probably about six feet. I don't know how I missed it earlier. I got up and slid over to it. There were check marks on it. Black Magic Marker. Each sheet - and we know a "sheet" of toilet paper is about four inches long and can satisfy (maybe) a mouse's ass - had a hand-written check mark on it. I turned back and took another look at the driveway. The ice was perfect. One solid sheet spreading from the road all the way up to my walkway. Like a stream had frozen right on top of my driveway.

I left the toilet paper there and limped back inside. My hip was starting to shoot a little pain up my back. And my wrist began to ache too much for me to think it was nothing.

I woke up Vanessa and we called the police. They took the toilet paper in for testing. I don't know how they can test toilet paper. Maybe they have some cool technique a local cop developed in his free time while not patrolling the beat and catching killers, of which Madison has none. So he's got a lot of free time I guess.

The one thing that bothered me was the bucket. They found a large bucket, the ones you put a mop in. And water. It was under a pachysandra bush. I'd never seen it before. Neither had Vanessa or the girls. Evidence! Maybe whoever hung their check mark toilet paper left their bucket too. Vanessa told me the bucket was probably used to spread water on the driveway. That made sense. The perfect plan.

But why? Who's playing these little pranks on us? I upset a bunch of divorced ladies yesterday, but they wouldn't come to my house and do something like this. They're too busy trying to turn the media against me.

Grace has seemed to take this the hardest. She's spending more time in her bedroom than ever before. I tell her not to be afraid. These are just harmless pranks that, well, today caused a little harm. My right wrist is sprained. No baseball activity for three weeks. That's unfortunate. I'll work on my legs and core and see if I can find myself a bionic wrist to temporarily replace the throbbing one. It's not awful. I've had worse. I can still type this, although I've needed to rest it five times so far and employ my nose when using the Enter key.

Still, I'd like to know what's going on. We're installing security cameras around the property today and Vanessa is organizing a neighborhood watch program. We'll find the bad boys who've done this. And then I will exact my revenge!

Or I'll just beg them to stop.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Cinderfella Story

I'm still dumbfounded. By now, you've seen or heard about how Vanessa and I made, not just the back pages, but the front pages of both the News and the Post. Let me be the million and sixth cover boy to state emphatically, "It's not what you think." I've heard people use this phrase in movies, on their second or third cell phones (athletes, once they get paid the big bucks, have one cell phone to speak with the wife and their other cell phones for girlfriends), even in the mirror (I do this when starting to feel more balding than the previous day). But when I state emphatically to you that "It's not what you think," you must realize that I'm telling the truth. Because I'm not like other guys (usually used by other guys at strip clubs).

Here's what happened. Vanessa and I got to baseball commissioner Elliott Pollock's townhouse on Saturday evening around 7:15. We weren't trying to be fashionably late. Traffic into Manhattan was ridiculous. It's Christmas. I usually drive us, but we splurged and hired a limo service to ferry us into NYC, from East Side to West Side, and then back home to New Jersey. Our driver was a pleasant man named Maceo. He says hi.

Elliott's party was fun. Great food. Many officials from the league and their families. I was the only player at first, which made Vanessa the only player's wife in attendance at first. There was dancing. So we danced a bit. I looked down at Vanessa's watch and it was 9:30. We had to leave to make it to Mrs. Delaney's party across town. Since Vanessa danced without her shoes, we spent twenty minutes looking for them. We found one. I could tell it was hers because it was made of glass and hers was the only foot in the kingdom that fit. We married three hours later, accompanied by a fairy godmother and a band of mice with Brooklyn accents.

The second shoe was lost, so we left, hopped into the Maceo Mobile, and sped toward a shoe store (name escapes me; college football was on the radio). Vanessa hopped out, bought a pair of pumps, and dove back in. We made it to Mrs. Delaney's by 10:45.

Needless to say, Mrs. Delaney was slightly miffed that we were three hours and fifteen minutes tardy for her party. I explained about the shoe, the mice and the bitter stepmother. She nodded and led us into her grand chalet. Beautiful place. Her townhouse is the size of Staten Island, only it wasn't built on top of industrial waste.

Kai Goto was there. We exchanged bows and we let some photographers take pictures of us pretending to Indian leg wrestle. Felipe Castro was there with his wife, Celia. His mother missed her plane from Venezuela, apparently, so she couldn't be there. Felipe was a little distressed, but Kai and I helped sooth him by helping him count the money in his wallet.

Around midnight, I started to list a bit. The wall held me up, but my tiredness remained. I grabbed Vanessa and made mention of Maceo turning into a lizard and his limo transforming back into a Dodge Dart if we didn't leave immediately. She was sympathetic, but wanted to head back to Elliott's to find her shoe. We bid Mrs. Delaney and other guests an adieu, told her her party was the best New York had to offer, and made a beeline for the car.

If you recall, the weather was pretty crappy Saturday night into Sunday. A mix of snow and freezing rain was falling when we asked Maceo to take us back to Elliott's. He sped through Central Park, hydroplaning only when the road wasn't in a straight line.

Back inside Elliott's, the party was jamming. It was about 12:40 or so. Vanessa searched for her shoe and I saw 4 or 5 retired players milling about. I'm not going to reveal their names because they specifically asked that I not tell anyone they'd been there. I asked if the other 65 people in attendance had also signed their confidentiality agreement. Humorless, they withdrew into the crowd and used Elliott's drapes as substitutes for napkins.

Somehow, Vanessa and I found ourselves dancing again. The D.J. was really good. But for the record, I do not wish that I had Jesse's girl. I have a woman like that. Unfortunately, Vanessa lost one of her new shoes. I swear, Elliott's place is like a washing machine/dryer combo that takes your pairs of socks and only returns one. At least Vanessa was back to owning a pair of shoes, one of which was in Maceo's possession in the limo.

Here's where it got a little strange. We left Elliott's after 40 minutes or so and made it downstairs. Vanessa told me not to let go of her as she hopped around. I responded emphatically that I would never do such a thing. The doorman winked at me as he opened the door. Outside, about twenty reporters with cameras, both the still and video kinds, were waiting. Out of surprise, I instantly dropped Vanessa's arm and she fell to the snowy, slippery sidewalk. People yelled things at us, mostly questions, and I helped her up. She snapped something at me pertaining to how she'd never ask me to hold a fishing pole while she tied the bait to the hook. I've never fished. Just because she did as a kid every Saturday with her dad doesn't make her better than me. So I told her I was sorry for dropping her to the snowy, slippery sidewalk, but if she had put GPS units into her shoes like I had suggested, she never would have needed me to hold her up in the first place. As she told me how ridiculous I sounded (I made the part of about suggesting she put GPS units into her shoes), Maceo pulled up. We slipped inside and drove off.

But wait. There's more.

The reporters were there because they'd been tipped off Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were in the building for an event. Totally serious. I never saw them at Elliott's and apparently the reporters never saw them outside. Thus, rather than write off their stalk as pointless, they used their photo of Vanessa on the sidewalk and me looking down at her. Her face is of pain (it was cold, snowy and icy down there). Mine is of "Uh oh, I'm in trouble," which can look angry to passers-by with cameras, both the still and video kind. This photo eventually accompanied a special Sunday front page headline: Another Scott Down For The Count. This, of course, was in reference to when I spent the better part of last April 2nd on the grass in front of the pitcher's mound, writhing in pain after my angry elbow showed off its anger.

And if you think the photos made us look bad, I'm sure you read the accompanying articles which did not paint a flattering picture either. I swear, both the Post and News must employ the same reporters because both articles were basically the same thing. They told of how fat I'd gotten, how unhappy I was, and how witnesses at Elliott's party saw me talking to shadowy figures, probably female, near Elliott's drapery.

None of it was really a big deal, until I received a call directly from Mrs. Delaney around 11:00 AM Sunday morning asking what happened, how it happened, and what was I thinking. I explained the story to her, but she was still upset. At that point, I apologized for being late to her party and not going home from there but instead going to a rival party on the other side of town. I swore to her, and swear to her now as she actually reads this filth I call truth, that we only went back to Elliott's to find Vanessa's shoe. And so I could have one more little baked brie. Those things were really good.

I thought all was well until I received a call Sunday night from super agent Jack Perry. The team was asking me to apologize to a women's rights group which felt I had made fun of them by allowing my woman, who's my wife, to fall to a snowy, slippery sidewalk in the snowy, freezing rain on a very early Sunday morning. I explained to Jack that women fall all the time. Does Brad have to apologize to the plumbers and pipe fitters union every time Angelina slips in her tub? Jack said all I had to do was write a brief statement and he'd release it. I shook my head and told him I'd write a brief statement.

Here it is: Go away.

I am a team player, as Mrs. Delaney knows. I'll do anything to help my team win. But don't ask me to pander to a bunch of divorced women who focus their energies on the imaginary problems of others instead of focusing on their own. In the end, it will be they who shall apologize to me.

Fairy godmother was right. We should have just gone home at midnight.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I Am Santa

If you saw the news last night, you saw me dressed in full Santa Claus attire for the team holiday party, which had a sole purpose of celebrating area kids and their accomplishments. It's always fun to see a large group of 8 years olds laughing and singing, especially when they have no idea who we are. I could bet you $10 worth of team merchandise that 95% of the kids there never heard of Rick Churches, 96% have never gone to one of our games, and 97% don't like baseball. It's nothing against them. They're only eight years old. They got a free meal and their happy faces on TV. They sang and laughed, so they definitely had fun. But I question what the point is if we mean nothing to them. Do we invite these kids purely for the PR benefit? Do their school principals "know" someone in our organization well enough to get kids from their school invited, thus making the principal look good in the eyes of district parents and the superintendent? Could we have instead invited high school kids who may have been more impressed, more affected by a visit, but just don't happen to be as camera-cute as a bunch of inner city eight year olds in school uniforms? I guess it's none of my business. I show up, dress like Santa and try to pick caramel out of my molars with my tongue. I just think we could do a more targeted job of bringing joy to people. Eighteen year olds who would be more incentivized to go to our holiday party because they know they could meet members of the the team seem to be a better group, as they'd care and, therefore, you could get them to do positive things that would qualify them to see me lick my own mouth live and in person. It doesn't matter what I think. I'm just another cynical boy who thinks he knows everything every once in a while.

In other news, I got to have a nice lengthy sit-down with our new manager, Rick Churches, before we were introduced. He was a little upset that I was Santa and he was "my" elf. Because elves work for Santa, he felt the arrangement gave off the impression that he worked for me. Yes, he said this to me. I told him he was the only person in the entire borough of Manhattan who thought like that. He went on and on about how he's always been a lonely thinker and look where it's gotten him. I told him in that case not to look in a mirror. He'd be upset to see he was wearing a goofy beanie and silly green vest. I assumed he had tights on, but didn't want to bother him any more than he was. It's not good to have unhappy employees.

It was a pleasure to finally meet "The Jimmy Scott of Japan," Kai Goto. He was an elf and he didn't complain once. I think it's pretty clear to both of us that he's got a lot more left in the tank than I do, especially since he has a 6-year contract and mine is for one. So no lack of self-confidence there. He speaks a little bit of English, but we'll teach him all the finer points of the language in the clubhouse once spring training rolls around.

Felipe Castro also made a surprise appearance. I hadn't spoken to Felipe in a number of months and was happy to share a bear hug and ask how construction on his new house in Long Island is going. It's supposed to be something like 7500 square feet, this place. I told him his house will be nicer than our stadium, although he said he'd never invite 50,000 screaming strangers over to see.

And speaking of which, I chatted briefly with our owner, Mrs. Joan Delaney, who's campaigning very hard to get us a new stadium. She read of my conundrum in being invited to two parties tomorrow night, hers and commissioner Elliott Pollock's. She said not to worry, Vanessa and I can just go to Elliott's and have a great time. She was seeing me today. Because I have a mother who majored in guilt trips in college, I realized immediately that Vanessa and I should spend about 10 minutes at Elliott's party before rushing over to Mrs. Delaney's townhouse. Kai promised he'd sing karaoke. And Felipe was bringing his mother. Boy, that's going to be some shindig. I only hope Rick isn't too upset when we arrive and I ask him to hang up our jackets. Don't worry, Rick. We'll tip on the way out.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Setting The Record Straight

Vanessa spent some time yesterday reading through my blog entries and came away - what was the word she use? Ah. Unfulfilled. Not the first time she's used that word as it pertains to our relations. But back on point, the general consensus she came up with was that much of the information I have conveyed in my blog has been either full of "factual errors," whatever that means, or "highly glossed over truths." I asked her nicely to put her English degree away and give it to me straight.

Vanessa: It's horseshit.

So today I have decided to clean up some inconsistencies and bring you up to date on all of the details of my life, sponsored by The Boring Foundation: Putting Americans To Sleeps Since 1968.


It did get sticky and threats of lawsuits did fly by night, but here's the deal on my deal (Special thanks to super agent Jack Perry's special assistant to the president, Ryan, for letting me know how much money I'll be making this year.): $16 million player option opted, by me, this past November. Subsequent Team and Player (moi) restructuring led to my $7 million salary in 2008 and $5 million paid out over 10 years beginning in 2010, with interest. $4 million personal services contract over 3 years beginning in 2009. However, this option to be superceded by mutual Team/Player (moi) $10 million 2009 playing option, in which case the 2009 personal services option will be delayed until 2010. Full no trade clause. Personal trainer and personal chef thrown in for the helluvit.

In other words... Let's just say I'm playing in 2008, maybe 2009, but no matter what, I'm on the TV or radio team the first season I'm no longer an active player.


Andy, my team-paid personal trainer, does not make me chase Monique the rooster around a YMCA gym with my ankles tied. It's a rubber chicken. And his name's Jerome.


I love Vanessa. I love Vanessa. I love Vanessa. I love Vanessa.


Rick has been around the game a long time and I believe he'll make some lucky team a wonderful manager someday.


"Red" is my father.


Fine. To be honest, he missed most of my childhood. He was a ballplayer, like me now, and then a broadcaster. But he never got hurt and therefore got to spend a full year with me the way I've been able to do with my kids since my injury. What I have with them now is something he'll never have with me. And that's probably something we'll both always (secretly) regret.


What I wrote about this was almost all true. Except Grace has since opted out. She says she'll be too busy. So Julia and I will film this the first week of January.


Watch me in my first post-game, post-shower press conference. You'll see the large gap between the top of my eyebrow and tip of my hairline. Then tell me I'm crazy.


It's going better than I've reported. I've lost 6 pounds since Thanksgiving and need to lose another 10. At 39, it's harder to lose 16 pounds than it was when I was... Wait. I've never had to lose 16 pounds before. So, in general, it is a difficult thing. But I'm running 5 days a week, about 45 minutes per run. I'm working out with Andy 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. I'm eating better and have become more self-conscious of my receding hairline than one-time expanding waistline. I'm not throwing yet because I don't really need to. There's no pain in my elbow or shoulder and both areas are getting stronger after 7 months of inactivity I like to call "rest." I will toss off flat ground January 1 (going to do it at 12:01 AM - bring your cameras!) and should be throwing off a mound by February 1. I'll be a little behind in spring training, but barring any setbacks, should be game-ready by mid-April or May 1.

One final note: Last week, I mentioned how my local paperboy threw three newspapers at me. At the time, I wrote how two were New York Times papers and one was a Newark Star Ledger. I lied. One was a Morristown Daily Record. Since it's more local than the others, I didn't think it featured the pedigree of a Times or Ledger, which used to get lots of play in The Sopranos. My apologies to you, the staff of the Daily Record, the people of Morristown, and my paperboy, who thinks I'm a cheap holiday tipper.

There you have it. All the news that's fit to type, right in front of you. Let me know if you have any questions. I'll be glad to have Vanessa answer them for you.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Power of The Media

I was working out with Andy today when he began to sing. Here I am, ankles tied together with a 24-inch piece of rope, chasing a rooster in a back corner of the YMCA gym, when Andy breaks out into some bluesy number having to do with his sister and no rent and his baby and drinking and ladies and, basically, a total lack of income to support all of these women. I put my cock down and asked him why. Why does he insist on vocalizing every 45 minutes? Is it out of boredom? Is he trying to prove he's a better singer than me? Is it to distract me so I can re-learn how to focus on what's in front of me?

Andy sat down and pet Monique (the rooster). He began to tear up. It is rare that you see a monstrosity of a man who could pass as a middle linebacker for the Giants allow himself to be so emotionally naked. I didn't sit. The ropes were burning one of my Achilles tendons and I tried to get them off of me while Andy spoke.

Andy: I just want to sing.
Me: Do you have something sharp, like a knife?
Andy: That's all I've ever wanted to do.
Me: Or a shard of glass?
Andy: If only I could get people to listen.
Me: Soap could work; maybe I could slip out.

He complained for another 10 minutes before telling me to hit the showers. We were done for the day.

Let me tell you, I felt like a kid in school just let out early by the teacher. Some of Andy's training methods are strange (I don't believe bobbing for apples helps my core as much as he says it does), but they're all hard. When he told me we were stopping two hours early, I jumped up for joy and fell. The ropes were still burning.

The shower room at the Y is a steamy place. Don't take that the wrong way. The water is hot and creates a lot of steam. I like it because the steam can act like a natural camouflage and disguise my binge-laden fatness from anyone else who may decide to soap up. Probably three and a half minutes into my shampoo, it started again. The singing, I mean. Andy was somewhere in the shower with me. The good thing was he didn't try to share the same head. He's so big, I'd have had to rinse the soap from my semi-balding scalp in a toilet bowl.

Andy: My woman don't understand, she don't think I'm no a man.
Me: (clearing my throat, clearly uncomfortable)
Andy: She won't smile for a hundred miles, even though I think she can.
Me: You just stepped on my foot.

In the locker room I sat blow drying my towel. I hate to pack wet things in my duffel bag. Andy sat down next to me. The bench shook for a moment; I think a 7.6 on the Richter scale. He spoke.

Andy: Can you help me?
Me: Yes, your pants don't match your shirt.
Andy: I mean getting me a gig.

I had thought I was Andy's gig. But what he meant was that he really, truly wants to be a singer. For a job. It's in his blood, he said, in his DNA. If you ask me, he does have a good voice and he is an interesting looking dude. But could he make a living at it? And how was I supposed to help him?

Me: How am I supposed to help you?
Andy: Use your influence with the media.
Me: You mean go on ESPN and talk about your vibrato?
Andy: No. Your blog.

So the following is for Andy. This is my influential, media-savvy blog letting the world know I have a personal trainer who really likes working out with me, but would really really love to sing for you. He's free most nights, except Sundays (he's a big Simpsons fan). If you need a voice for your bachelor party or office Christmas party or as a form of communication between you and your girlfriend, then I have the guy for you. He's a very, very large man, so leave enough space in the living room for both he and his voice. And he's great with animals, so no need to lock the dog and cat in the bedroom. He'll work almost for free, but you need to pay him a little bit. I'm getting 15%, and 15% of nothing won't pay my landscapers. We can start at $200 and work up from there.

In the meantime, I'm looking for some scissors or something. I can't seem to get these ropes off of my ankles.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Tale Of Two Parties

Two invitations found there way into our mailbox today. One from Mrs. Joan Delaney, owner of my beloved New York baseball franchise. The other from Elliott Pollock, commissioner of my beloved game of baseball. Both invitations were for "holiday" parties. Both requested my presence this coming Saturday. And both were for 8PM.


Being that ownership and labor has had a history of often cantankerous relations, better lately, but still skating on ice that never really gets thick enough for the Zamboni to clean, I found it interesting that both owner, who employs commissioners, and commissioner, employed by owners, invited me, a member of labor, to their upcoming soirees. Being that both are New York-based, one would also wonder how many people were invited to both, and why neither invited the other to their individual soiree. Don't these people communicate with each other? And why are they inviting me 4 days before their New York-based soirees?


When I was in the sixth grade, I couldn't wait to be invited to "holiday" parties. I remember going to a bunch one year. Loved them all. Each would end with Donna Summer's "Dim All The Lights" playing and each of us trying to pair up with a member of the opposite sex. 1980 seems a long time ago.

But now, I wish I'd been invited to neither of these. Too much politics. Obviously, there's some strained blood going on between Mrs. Delaney and Elliott (I can use his first name because I'm older than he is). I'm sure they know of the competing soirees the other is hosting. Maybe it's a big game of chicken for them and they're waiting to see who will postpone first. Otherwise, there will be lots of people running around from East Side to West Side in New York City this Saturday trying to appease the warring factions.

Counsel is appropriate in times like these. Vanessa thought we (I keep saying "I" but she'd of course come along with me since she's my spousal equivalent) should go to Elliott's first, hang out for an hour or so, then go to Mrs. Delaney's and stay until the sun rose. She is the one, after all, who ultimately signs my checks.

I called Jack Perry, agent who descended from the heavens and is the spawn of Miraculous, the Greek God of renegotiation. Jack said to do the opposite. In his opinion, and he was invited to neither, Elliott has consolidated more power than the last three commissioners combined. If he wanted me at his party, I should spend the bulk of my Saturday night there, bowing down to the man and telling him how nice the second coat of lead paint looks on his dining room walls.

Howard Phillips, union head who rarely leaves his office before three PM for lunch, said the best course of action was to call both, thank them for their invitations, and fly to Venezuela for the weekend to buy an oil farm.

So many conflicting opinions. I decided to get one more from my two-headed monster I call twin daughters, Julia and Grace.

It's not easy to get them in a room together. It's like asking Simon & Garfunkel to make one more record just for the fun of it. My girls like each other enough, but they say their powers of twin-dom allow them to know what the other is thinking far too easily. As a result, they don't get enough privacy. When they graduate high school, they each want to go away to college in a foreign country, like Indiana, where they can complete their educations following their own agendas. I fully support them in whatever they want to do, as long as I don't need to obtain a passport to visit them.

I told Julia to come down to my Entertainment Veranda to give me a concert of the latest songs she's written. She plays her acoustic guitar constantly and prefers to sing rather than speak, stating speaking is a Cro Mag Non form of communication and singing virtually Renaissance. I was never a good history student and the music room back in high school was replaced with a men's weight room, so I tell her to stick to her principals, whatever the hell they mean.

Grace was harder to get down. Since this third papering, she's been pretty distant. Yes, it's only been a day, but she locked herself in her room last night, went to school today and locked herself in her room when she got home. The only way we could communicate with her was to text message her on her cell. I found it humorous how one daughter will only sing and the other will only type. Which, I wondered, was more advanced in terms of human development? I lost my train of thought pretty quickly on that one, so typed to Grace (it only took an hour to type a stupid text message) that if she didn't come downstairs immediately I'd have her phone sent to the Smithsonian for the 21st Century Modern Woman exhibit. She was down in a flash.

I laid out for both of them my quandary: Two parties, same time, different places, both equally important to the industry I like to call baseball.

They agreed that both parties should be attended. They also agreed that Mrs. Delaney should get the bulk of our time because she not only signs my checks, she also, allegedly, really likes me. She once stated of this blog, "It's so cute. If you ever write anything badly of me you'll regret you were ever born." She's a great woman. Did I ever mention that?

So as Julia strummed along with a Pepsi commercial that came on the TV (we are endorsers, after all) and Grace ran back up to her locked up room, I called Jack's assistant and told him to RSVP for Vanessa and me. We'd be going to both parties. We'll see if we have any fun.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Crank Calls And Steven Spielberg

The first call came Friday night. I was setting up the X-Box someone at Microsoft sent to me (just in case I wanted to "be involved" in some of their game marketing) when the phone rang. I waited for another member of my family to pick up, remembered I was alone in the house, and did the dirty work myself.

Me: Hello.
Guy: (large intake of breath)!

My first thought was that the caller was a representative of Morristown Memorial's ER unit, about to ask for a donation. It would have been an animated way to get my attention. My first thought was incorrect.

Me: We kind of have a wing named after us in Chicago at -
Guy: Jimmy Scott!

My first thought at hearing my name called out, exclamation mark attached, was that the guy from Microsoft wanted his game back. Jeez, I hadn't even called customer service yet to demand they send an installer over or they could kiss their marketing scheme goodbye. My first thought was incorrect.

Me: I don't even like video games. My mom once bought us this Atari knock-off -
Guy: Look outside.


The male voice, one that failed to identify itself like polite people do on the phone, didn't frighten me. I've been harassed by fans before. That's who this was. One more fan excited to get the object of their affection on the horn. If they catch me, they usually have little to say that I can understand. They don't know it, but I get how they feel. A few years ago I had the chance to meet one of my heroes, Steven Spielberg, at a game in LA. He shook my hand. We had a picture together. I'm still not sure if I used verbs or not when I spoke to him, and I'll never know, having deleted the file from my brain. Short of just bringing this up to you, I've successfully pretended my meeting with Mr. Spielberg never happened and there's still a shot for him to give me a cameo in the next Indiana Jones prequel. The male voice that spoke to me on the phone, albeit briefly, was just an excitable boy who had a few unchaperoned moments with his hero. It's happened before and will happen again.

They don't usually ask me to do anything as simple as looking outside. If they have the confidence to speak full sentences to me, they usually want money or my "influence" (of which I have none pretty much in every category) to help them attain some goal, like a job in baseball or an appearance for their local charity or a signing of their boobs with a Magic Marker. But to just look outside? Interesting.

I was in my Entertainment Veranda. Switching on some outside lights, I was able to get a good view of the backyard. Nothing interesting. Just a few brown leaves hanging onto trees for dear life and lots of grass that would not be green again for four months.

I shook my head and went back to my X-Box. What's a USB cable? And what's a USB port? Totally confused (I tried to follow the directions in Spanish at first, but that challenge lasted no further than "Hola." I wasn't a very good student of Western European foreign languages.), I lifted up the phone to call Microsoft. But instead of getting a dial tone, I got a voice. The same one as before.

Guy: You didn't look outside.
Me: How'd you...? The phone didn't ring. And I did look outside.
Guy: Kizmet. And the backyard doesn't count.
Me: You weren't specific.
Guy: Look outside.
Me: Meaning the front, right? That's a given here?


I dropped the X-Box box onto the Davenport and trounced upstairs. My mood was quickly turning sour, as Mr. Spielberg's did when I may have mentioned to him Munich was a real downer and I hoped he could make something with a happy ending again, like another Schindler's List. I was free to do a screen-test between October 31st and February 14th. And just to get my point totally across, I asked for his home phone number, "in case we want to continue this dialog lots more and stuff." His PR person was able to stand in front of me at that very moment. When I got back into position, Mr. Spielberg was gone.

The front door was closed, as it should be. Safety first is my motto when I begin to feel stalked by a telephone. I unlocked the door, pulled it open, and was astonished at the sight. More toilet paper! It was everywhere. This was, by far, the worst papering we'd had of the three. I can't begin to describe the budget these vandals had, but it was pretty hefty compared to what I would spend on a prank like this.

The ringing phone called me back inside.

I shut the door, locked it, and lifted up the receiver.

Guy: You see what we did?
Me: A-Ha! So you admit to it.


Furious, I dialed the first person who I thought could help, someone with a mind that could read through B.S. and get to the point. What made me even more furious was the person I was calling was my father, "Red" Scott. He picked up on the first ring. This is one guy who loves it when fans call his house. I swear, he must put his phone number in a Yellow Pages ad he enjoys the spotlight so much.

"Red" Scott: "Red" Scott.

Even he uses the quotation marks when he says his first name.

Me: Dad, it's me.
"Red" Scott: Mrs. Jackson?
Me: No. It's -
"Red" Scott: Hey, Jimmy, remember when the Army called for your brother, and they got you on the phone instead, and they thought you were a girl because your voice didn't change until you were 17.
Me: Now I do.
"Red" Scott: That was funny. You have any more stories like that? I want to use them next time you pitch.
Me: I should have retired.
"Red" Scott: So far, every time I've called one of your games, I've been able to distance our father/son connection -
Me: Something I've been trying to do for years.
"Red" Scott: ...but I think since I'll be calling all of your games this coming season, the fans want more from "Red" Scott. Don't you think?
Me: I don't think you should refer to yourself in the third person. That's very nineties.
"Red" Scott: Just leave the announcing to "Red," okay my boy? Any you were a boy for a long time, weren't ya? When I was your age, you were just having your first wet dream while I'd been shaving for 3 years and getting laid -
Me: Okay. Bye.
"Red" Scott: Bye.


My mood was even worse now. The man could ruin the greatest moment of anybody's life - birth of a child, wedding day, saving a bushel German Shepherds from a burning dog kennel - by simply showing up. Is it wrong for a father to compete with his children? I remember, when I was with Chicago, we had the two Gambles playing side by side in the same outfield for one "magical" September, father and son. You'd think, and the writers did, about what a great story this was. Father wants to extend his career, play as long as possible, so he can play next to his son in the same outfield. Only in this case, father wanted to play as long as possible because he just didn't want to stop playing. I don't think he really cared about who played next to him, as long as he was still in that outfield catching flies (both kinds - it is a summer game) and living The Life.

We know the story after that. Father was cut in October, now is a roving instructor for St. Louis while son is still playing for Chicago, having broken all the records his father ever set years ago. It is my assumption that Mr. Gamble and Mr. "Red" Scott would have a lot in common if one of them ever had the capacity to listen to what someone else had to say.

Around this time, Vanessa and the girls got home. They'd seen the mess outside and were slightly unnerved. We'd have to reach into the girls' college funds once again to pay for landscapers to clean everything up.

Vanessa called the police. The first two paperings seemed like your typical neighborhood vandalism. This one, with the crank calls, had increased the tension. We needed professionals.

Julia was pretty good about it. But Grace really took it hard. She stared straight ahead when I explained all about my X-Box debacle and the content of the crank calls, then excused herself and quickly ran upstairs to her room. She's always been the sensitive daughter. Julia has a little "Red" Scott in her, even though I remind them both to keep their distance from each other, not easy when a grandfather and granddaughter are so fond of one another.

The police said they'd step up neighborhood patrols. I thanked them but got a little worried when Vanessa started talking about what happened to Val and Aaron Daly, he late of the Pittsburgh franchise before breaking his leg (and ending his career) while running after a bunch of kids one Halloween who had "accidentally" (according to their lawyers) pelted his SUV with more than two dozen cage-free brown organic-style eggs. The first rule of being in the public eye is to never attack kids. Rule two is, if you ignore rule one, be sure to get away quickly so you can have the maximum allowable time to create an alibi. Or call you agent and let him do it. Aaron fell on his retreat, breaking his leg. The kids had been ready. When the police and ambulance came, he literally had egg on his face.

I promised I wouldn't pull an Aaron Daly on anyone, even though all the kids these days are obese because they only play video games, thus making them more easily catchable than in '96. Still, my blood boiled at the thought of being a victim of toilet paper all over again. One day, I would enact my revenge. Until then, I'd wait for Microsoft to send their guy over to set up my X-Box so I can play the new Steven Spielberg Presents: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull game before the rest of the world. Or at least before any kids armed with eggs, cell phones and my phone number.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Papered Again

While running early this morning, the paperboy in his '96 Voyager hit me twice, once with a Ledger and once with a Times. The Friday Times, especially thick, grazed my forehead and threw me off stride. Almost slipped off the sidewalk. But I didn't. Because I'm so damn great. He also missed 10 times. Ten for twelve is a damn good batting average.

Lots of debate in the papers about our pitching staff now. I especially liked the picture in the Post with Kai Goto's head on my body and vice versa. I would make a very attractive Japanese man. Kai, however, looked a little out of shape.

Speaking of which, there was an anonymous quote by a "source close to the team" that "internal discussions" were going on about whether I would come back as a starting pitcher or a relief pitcher. Of course, that was one of the hot topics on the radio today as well. And on a football Friday no less. I threw two pitches all last year and can still command Tony for Staten Island to claim I'm not only a bum, but a rich one. Tony - you're right. Where's the problem?

Disconcerting was the amount of toilet paper strewn about my property today. Volleyball season is done. So is high school football season. Thus, "friends" of Julia and Grace would not do this because there's no reason to. Is it a copycat paperer? The worst part was the poor quality of toilet tissue. Last time's two-ply Charmin was replaced with single-ply store brand. So the copycats did more with less quality. Sounds like how my 2008 season's expected to go.

Big workout session with Andy today. He wants me to swim. Vanessa stayed up all night sewing my initials onto my designer life-preserver. I'm not a strong swimmer, so keep your eyes on the headlines. I may show up missing at sea.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

8 Weeks

Too snowy and icy to run this morning and too early to go anywhere to work out (Andy, as strong in mind and body as he is, took an oath many years ago to never rise before or during an hour that begins with a 6), I put an old tape into the VHS player and tried that out. It was a workout tape called "8 Minute Abs." I am under no illusion that I can make my abs look like the host's abs in 8 minutes. I'm pushing for 8 weeks. That would be the start of spring training. In Florida. Where's it's not snowy and icy.

The music sounded like it was transferred from a porn film. The two actors working out with the host sported funny hair and clothes. I looked at the box and saw the tape came out in 1991. I hit pause, found a photo album, and looked for a picture of myself from 1991. There I was at Christmas time. I had more hair then. I remember the style was called a "ledge." My barber, Pete, said it was all the rage. I liked it so much that when I went back 8 weeks later to have my head re-ledged, Pete said the rage was over and he wouldn't cut another ledge, unless the rage came back. Now look at me. If the rage came back, I wouldn't have enough hair to be retro-ledged. Quite upsetting.

I finished the abs video and went upstairs. The rest of the house was still asleep. Actually, the occupants were asleep. A house cannot sleep because it is not a living being. Like barbers and 8 minute ab actors. Went into the kitchen and peered into the fridge. There was some good stuff there. Why?

Not only did the team get me a personal trainer, but they got me a personal chef as well.

There, I said it. One person's sole job for the next 8 weeks is to build up my body. Another person's sole job is to feed it. Tomorrow I go to the team psychiatrist. He's not my personal one, however. I'm not afraid to share.

I grabbed an avocado stuffed with ricotta cheese and flipped on the kitchen TV. ESPN was somewhere. The remote was somewhere too, but I couldn't find it, so I had to flip the stations from 2 to 36 by hand. I think it's lazy of TV manufacturers to not build TVs that change channels on verbal command. Why should I have to get off of my stool and reach over to flip a channel. Not fair.

Made it to ESPN and saw two major headlines.


Wow. I sleep for 7.28 hours and look what happens. We give the team's second biggest contract of all time to The Jimmy Scott of Japan and then trade for the batter Jimmy Scott - me - was throwing to when his (my) elbow suddenly decided to have an out of arm experience. Overnight, we're a better team. I don't know Lyman very well. I know about his supposed baggage, but the man sure can hit and field. I think he had 20+ home runs last year for the 4th year in a row. And they (scouts, not computer guys) predict Kai to win at least 15 games. (The computer guys say he'll win 14.4 games.)

I swallowed my mouthful of cheese and looked around for someone to share my thoughts with. It was 5:56 AM. The house was as quiet as a mouse, aside from the TV, my clicking jaw, and a hair voluntarily falling out of my head and parachuting to the floor. Good things are starting to happen again. My only wish is that I could share my feelings with someone. We'll see what my personal team psychiatrist says about that tomorrow. He'll hopefully give me some good advice that gets me through the next 8 weeks, or at least lasts longer than my next haircut.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I'm A P-U-S-S-Y

A very sore me was up and running this morning, my feet on the pavement by 5:29. Still dark. Very dark. I need to remember to wear something white or reflective, maybe a miners helmet. My local paperboy, driving around his '98 Voyager, nearly hit me four times with newspapers. But, one excruciatingly long day of working out with my new very, very large African-American personal trainer, Andy, has loosened me up. The first paper, a heavy (since it's Wednesday) NY Times, shot right past my chest. I was able to pull away before impact. I'm lithe, you know. The second paper, still a NY Times (I can tell by the blue plastic covering), almost got me in the head. I ducked quickly, like a duck sticking his head into a pond for raw fish (would ducks like sushi?). I'm a nimble S.O.B. The third and fourth papers, yellow plastic so I think Star Ledgers, were jumpers. They met my destination on their downward trajectory, so my feet needed to lift off the ground with the quickness of a cat, but not a house cat. More like a wildcat (not the High School Musical kind, either). Like a bobcat. Yes. A bobcat. With the quickness of a mountain bobcat, my feet leaped off of the ground, narrowly avoiding a midair collision with two separate yellow plastic-clad Star Ledgers. I'm speedy. I'm wry. (I don't know what "wry" means.) I am a M-A-N.

I haven't worked out in public for a long time. The gym Andy took me to yesterday was a simple YMCA, although our YMCA was recently remodeled and appeared to have every piece of equipment (including fresh juice bar) known to ever have any positive affect on human biology. People stared, of course. I'm a famous person. I'm not being narcissistic when I say they want to be like me. The reason they want to be like me is because I play baseball, earn a ton of money, own a huge house, and am married to a beautiful woman who, in eighth grade, won the coveted Miss Yell position on her cheerleading squad. However, the number of people who want to be me took a hit yesterday when they saw me at the gym. I no longer have a Superman physique. My hair is thinning to the point that I'm constantly trying to make comb overs with my fingers. And, apparently, I am a pussy. Point number three alone was enough to make some heads shake and some onlookers pray for me. If a stranger looks at you in a public gym and, as a result, pulls out their rosary beads and quietly begins to move their lips while still looking at you, chances are they're thanking their lucky stars they don't have to submit themselves to public ridicule by being called a pussy by a very, very large African-American man who sports a booming voice and 30-inch triceps.

In high school, we'd lift in a former music room across from the gym that had been turned into a weight room. We'd do curls and presses and squats. And we'd take turns spotting each other, especially for the bench press. I remember laying (or is it lying?) on my back, lifting the barbells off the holder and pushing up, pulling down, pushing up and pulling down. Maybe I had to do 10 reps. Could have been 25. I don't recall. I usually had 2 or 3 to go before my spotter, usually another kid like me who used Clearasil the way Michael Jackson used makeup, would start yelling at me. Pussy! Wussy! Pussenheimer! Well, nobody ever called me a pussenheimer. But still, I'd get yelled at. It didn't work. Just because I can't lift 150 pounds a 24th time doesn't make me a pussy. Most adults can't lift it once. Instead, I used my superior mind skills to create conflicts. The zit-faced spotter was blocked out (like his zits - Thanks Clearasil!), replaced by my desire to get signed to a big league contract or to win the heart of a senior girl who was dating a football player. (In my high school, football players who were future UPS drivers were higher on the social scale than baseball players who would eventually earn millions of dollars playing baseball. The football players thought we were pussies.) I usually bench pressed that 25th rep. Sometimes I even got to 26. Such was the power of a strong mind.

Andy thinks I'm weak in both mind and body. He always asks me questions. "Do you really want to do this? Why don't you just quit? You suck." The last wasn't a question. It was more a declarative statement. Doesn't sting like pussy, but it's still a present-day truth.

Andy wants to build me back up in mind, body and spirit. I asked him what the difference is between mind and spirit. He quoted a former Navajo warrior. Unfortunately, he did his quote in Navajo, so I still don't know the answer. I'll check later on Wikipedia to see if he even spoke in Navajo or if it was just pig Navajo.

While I may be a pussy who sucks, I have seen a slight change in my habits. I woke up this morning at 5:17 without a kick to the intestines by Miss Yell. After a half-mile or so of running, the soreness crept away. And my mountain bobcat body was able to avoid the shrapnel of paperboy cannon fire. I'm far from the guy who won 24 games three years ago. But I'm closer to him than the guy who spent hours crying in a hospital room last April because my elbow had fallen off of the rest of my arm. I'm all sewn up and getting back to the shape I need to be in to compete.

I'm just hoping the pimple on my chin goes away before opening day. 10% benzoil peroxide doesn't do the trick anymore when you're knocking on the gates of 40.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I'm A M-A-N

The doorbell rang pretty early yesterday morning. It was almost noon. I'd been so busy since I'd fallen out of bed, like with breakfast and stuff, that I hadn't been able to change out of my pajamas. Vanessa had a strange look on her face when she told me to see who was there. I grumbled something about missing the end of Good Times on my Tivo (it was a pre-Janet Jackson episode, so it hadn't jumped the shark yet) as I trudged to the door. She grumbled something about how I looked like I'd fallen right back into my bad habits. I twisted the doorknob in silent denial. It was just jet lag. It is a 3-hour flight home from Florida, after all. I pulled on the door.

A large - very, very large in every way- African-American man stood in front of me. He was smiling. No offense, but I don't live in a neighborhood filled with many smiling and very, very large African-American men. My life passed before my eyes.

And then he began to sing.

Very, Very Large African-American Man: Now when I was a little boy, at the age of five...

My eyes were closed. I could sense a large blunt object was going to strike me across the head. His voice struck me first. It was very good.

Very, Very Large African-American Man: I had somethin in my pocket, keep a lot of folks alive...

My life was still flirting by. I had just reached my early-twenties. He kept on singing.

Very, Very Large African-American Man: Now I'm a man, made twenty-one, you know baby, we can have a lot of fun.

I opened my eyes to see his looking right back into mine. It hit me - not the blunt object - but the realization that he wasn't there to rape and pillage me. I could tell because Vanessa had joined me at the door. She was laughing. The Very, Very Large African-American Man kept on singing.

Very, Very Large African-American Man: I'm a man, I spell M... A child. That mannish boy.
Me: Excuse me.
Very, Very Large African-American Man: I'm a rolling stone.
Me: Hi.
Very, Very Large African-American Man: I'm a roly-poly man.
Me: Do you speak or just sing?
Very, Very Large African-American Man: I'm a hoochie-coochie man.
Me: I'm becoming an annoyed man.

He suddenly stopped. I turned to Vanessa, who had tears in her eyes from her laughter. There was a joke being played, and since I was a little more than clueless, I could tell it was being played on me. I decided to be cool about it all.

Me: This isn't funny! We don't know who this guy is! You need to take life a little more seriously, Vanessa.

What a lovely woman. She patted me on the shoulder, smiled at the man, and retreated to another room. No doubt, she was muttering something about her devotion to me as she disappeared.

The man remained.

Me: What?
Very, Very Large African-American Man: I'm you're new personal trainer.
Me: I didn't hire you.
Very, Very Large African-American Man: Surprise!

I don't get surprised very often. And although I'd never heard of a singing personal trainer-gram, my immediate assumption was this man should have at least jumped out of a cake. Which made me hungry for lunch. I asked him in, told him I could fire up the oven and we could stuff a couple of personal pizzas in our mouths. He declined for both of us. All he said was "Get dressed." He waited in the front hall while I reluctantly went upstairs to change.

Vanessa was in the bedroom.

Me: Did you know about this?
Vanessa: Yes.
Me: Who arranged this whole thing?
Vanessa: The team that's going to pay you millions of dollars this coming season.
Me: They don't have the right.

Vanessa smiled and sat me down on the bed. I felt a little vulnerable as I hadn't finished changing yet. My underpants were all that separated my manhood from the dressing-down I was about to receive.

She said something like this: Jimmy, I love you. Your family loves you. Your team... doesn't love you the way we do. But they expect you to act a certain way. One of those ways they want you to act is like an athlete, a professional one. They'd like you to be prepared to earn the money they want to pay you. They'd like you to try to be a competitive person again. They'd also like you to see a psychiatrist to treat you for this depression.

I asked if it was the team or her that wanted me to see the psychiatrist. She patted me on the shoulder again and told me it didn't matter.

The point is, the team just signed The Jimmy Scott of Japan because The Jimmy Scott of America no longer exists.

Her: You need a kick in the ass.
Me: I need a stiff drink.
Her: No you don't. Your vice is bad television.
Me: Yeah, but you can't get drunk off of it.

I nodded my head, found some workout pants and pulled them on. She watched me, but not with the eyes of the 20 year old young lady I met and courted way back when Vanessa was 20 years old. No, her eyes now were the disappointed kind. I'd won championships, awards, set records, made millions upon millions of dollars...

And my wife was still disappointed in me.

Men don't cry. But they can sure swallow their pride when their backs are to the wall.

Me: I get it. See you later. I'm going to work out now.

Downstairs, the very, very large African-American Man stood waiting for me. I told him I was ready. Let's go.

For the next six hours, my diet consisted of nothing but carbohydrates and water while my body sweated in places I didn't think had pores. You know what? It felt pretty damn good.

Oh, my new personal trainer is named Andy. He's housebroken. I think we're keeping him.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Subconscious Flight Home

There was no getting up early this morning, not after 10 hours of delays flying home yesterday from Florida and my body hitting the sheets after 3AM Monday. Had a nightmare flight, a delay that can only rival the wait at a local DMV to get a new driver's license, and, of course, some good news.

We'll start with the good.

We won the bidding for Kai Goto, so it looks like, if we can get him signed now, we'll be a team with a pitching staff that includes Jimmy Scott (me) and "The Jimmy Scott of Japan." It'll be like having two of me on one team. I mentioned this to Rick Churches.

Rick: No it won't.
Me: Yes it will. If you move him to the bullpen, after 8 innings I can relieve myself.
Rick: Always trying to piss me off, huh?

It was only upon reflection while en route home that I realized if Rick had been joking, he would have made an amusing remark, you know, referring to the whole urination... Forget it. Anyway, he was not joking. I still giggled a little bit in anticipation of passing along his subconscious humor. He was a broadcaster for 10 years. He's got to be at least a little funny, right?

Jack, my agent, is Kai's agent. I've tried to get in touch with him (Jack - did I mention he was my agent first?) but he's been busy negotiating with the team (I'm hearing Kai wants 6 years and $96 million) and preparing for the GM meetings which begin today in Florida. So Jack hasn't taken Jimmy Scott's calls because he's working on a big deal for my Japanese clone. No reason for me to be jealous, right? I feel I was very mature on my last call to Jack's office:

Me: Is Jack there?
Voice: To speak with Jack Perry, press 2, to speak with another agent, press...
Me: Hello? Where are you?
Voice: return to the main menu, press star. If...
Me: Screw you, Jack!
Voice: ...repeat your options, press the pound sign or hang up.

I hung up. I had a plane to catch, after all.

Mini Minicamp was good. Because of its being unsanctioned by the union, we weren't allowed to pick up baseballs and throw them. I got there and remembered this from previous Mini Minicamps. I was glad I'd only brought 6 gloves with me instead of the 12 I like to travel with (8 for on field use, 3 for luck, one because it smells real nice). I met with our doctor, Carl Russo, who gave me a good once-over from neck down. He asked how my arm felt. I said the shoulder felt great. He said fine. What about the part of the arm he'd operated on. I told him my elbow was fine. He said fine. Then he performed a few stretching exercises on me that, well, my ears are still ringing from the screams. Doc Russo said this was just scar tissue stretching and breaking. Had I been following his rehab regimen? I told him no. It was no use lying, since he'd read this blog (everybody in the organization has read this blog) and knew exactly where I was in my rehab: At the beginning. I told him I'm better off than he thought. I'm a quick healer. He laughed, told me I was probably at 75% strength, and I should lose some weight and hit the gym.

Walking out, I wondered why he had laughed. A voice said, "Because you can't fool doctors." It was Rick. Apparently, I'd done my wondering aloud.

Rick: You can't fool me either.
Me: Not even a little?
Rick: No.

This from the guy whose nickname in the minors was Hot Foot because he never realized a pack of matches had been stuck under his foot and lit on fire until the 100th time it had been done to him.

Me: Wanna go for a beer?
Rick: No.
Me: Good. I don't drink.
Rick: Why did you ask me then?
Me: I don't know.

I didn't. I think I know now. It was my nervous subconscious speaking out. Rick is my new manager, thus, my new boss. If at any other job I had underperformed this much, I'd have been fired. Lucky for me, my track record is such that the team knows a Jimmy Scott at 75% is better than lots of other guys at 75%. I can already hear Rick's response out loud to that:

Rick Speaking Out Loud, Probably Alone In His Dark Bedroom In White Plains: You still can't pitch in a game at 75%.

In other words, I'm not helping him or the team by being only at 75%. I've got about 10 weeks to increase that 75% to 85%. I usually show up at spring training around 92.73%, so I'll be 7.73% off my normal pace. I can make that up by April 1st. As I told Doc Russo, I'm a quick healer.