November 11, 2009

A Salute to the Veterans and a Hot Stove Update

My father was a career Marine. He gave nearly thirty years of his life to serving this great country and he was honored to do so. He did two tours in Vietnam, spending a year away from his family each time; once when I was seven and then again when I was twelve.

When a soldier goes away to serve, his family stays behind to do the same. Soldiers and their families both make sacrifices. So on this Veteran’s Day, I’d like to thank the men and women who are serving at home and abroad and I’d also like to thank their families as well.

Back when my father went to Vietnam, the world was a bigger place and news traveled much slower than today. The internet wasn’t around and staying in touch was difficult. The best way to stay in touch was by writing letters; something I did regularly when I was 12. What does a kid write to his dad about? I used to send him the scores from ball games with updates on team standings. Keeping up with sports was something we shared through the years.

I really don’t think my dad was a fan of any one team. He was sort of a Detroit Tigers fan and definitely admired Mickey Lolich, a left handed pitcher. I seem to remember him also being a fan of Wilbur Wood a knuckle ball pitcher with the Chicago White Sox. Wood was most likely the inspiration for his teaching me how to throw a knuckler. Something I never even thought of until writing this blog.

When I think about it, my dad was basically a fan of any team I was a fan of. It’s funny, it’s usually the other way around for many fathers and sons, but that wasn’t the case for us. We always rooted for the same team. You could say, we were always on the same team and I'm glad that was the case.

I lost my dad to cancer in 2007 and I miss him dearly. I miss a lot of things about him; including talking baseball. I probably did most of the talking though, as my dad basically followed the game through me. He loved to hear about Cheryl and my trips to Spring Training and to other stadiums around the country. He took pleasure in knowing we were doing something we enjoyed together. The day he passed away, the Angels were in the midst of sweeping the Los Angeles Dodgers in an inter-league series. I’m sure he would have enjoyed that a great deal.

I guess it’s only natural that on this day; Veteran’s Day, I think about my dad. Truth is I think about him all the time, but today is special. My dad served his country to make sure I would have the freedom to enjoy things like baseball. When I think back, I don’t think I ever thanked him enough for that. Thank you father. I miss you.

Well, at least I can thank those men and women currently serving in the armed forces. Thank you for your courage and your dedication. Thank you for making it possible for all of us to enjoy great traditions like America’s favorite pastime. I will never take you for granted.

This past season, we had the pleasure of sitting next to a young couple who had Angels season tickets for the first time. There names are Bobby and Ashley. Bobby just completed his tour of duty with the U.S. Marines. Bobby, if you’re reading this… Thank you for your service! I know I’ve thanked you before, but I don’t think I can do that nearly enough. And thank you Ashley for your role in serving as well.

During the season we also got to meet some other young marines who would come to games when Bobby and Ashley could not. They were all outstanding individuals and great baseball fans. Heck, one of them was even a Yankee fan! Thanks again to all of you. I'm sure the stadium was a nice refuge far away from some of the places you've been to during your tours of duty.

Bobby and Ashley are expecting their first child any day now. They’re going to have a little girl and that child has a very blessed future. She’s going to grow up in the freest country in the world. She’s also going to have great parents and will come to know baseball. Every kid should be so lucky to get to experience baseball. We can’t wait to meet her next season, if not before.

So again, on this Veteran’s Day, I thank those who are serving here and abroad. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart - Thank you.

Hot Stove Update:

Joel Sherman of the New York Post doesn’t get it. He’s reporting that the Angels have shown a real lack of interest in John Lackey. I don’t think Sherman plays poker. He’s probably used to going all in – since he covers the Yankees. The Angels have a history of playing their cards close to the vest. I am guessing they’ll let Lackey field offers from any number of teams and then decide if they’re going to match. As long as the dollar amount isn’t totally insane, I believe they have an excellent chance of keeping him.

Negotiating with Lackey now is pointless. He’s going to test the market. No sense in bidding against themselves. Also, making it look as if they’re not interested could also be a nice ploy. If GM’s are nervous about the prospect of signing Lackey because they believe the Angels aren’t trying to sign him for reasons only they know; that’s a good thing. Let them think that.

Don’t count the Angels out of the John Lackey sweepstakes and don’t believe everything Sherman writes; at least when it comes to the Angels. Unofficial word is that Sherman found some left over champagne in a shoe of Nick Swisher’s from the Yankees celebration and was having some when he wrote that piece about Lackey. Eww.

More on Figgins. Joel Sherman is at it again. According to Sherman, the Mets are "absolutely" in on Figgins. One problem... The Mets would have to unload Luis Castillo and the $12 million he has left on his contract. According to the article, other options have Figgins in left field. Apparently, Mets GM Omar Minaya met with Figgy's agent Seth Levinson recently.

I think the Mets have bigger issues with their pitching staff, among other areas. If Figgins likes winning as much as he says he does, he'll stay clear of the Mets. They're a long ways away from being good and don't have much of a plan to change any of that, in my opinion.

Late Update:

Scott Miller of CBS Sports confirms that the Angels have made both Chone Figgins and John Lackey high priorities. Reagins confirmed discussions with both camps.

This makes more sense than the notion that the Angels have not made a significant offer to Lackey.

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