This morning I was fortunate enough to attend the 2008 Cactus League Breakfast, held over here at the Peoria Sports Complex. Basically, it was a gathering of MLB personnel and executives, various city constituents, myself, and bagels. It served as an introduction to the start of spring training, and a representative from each team within the Cactus League stood up to say a few words about the upcoming season.
There were a few actual general managers there -- most notably the Cubs’ Jim Hendry and Doug Melvin of the Brewers -- but most of the other speakers were assistant GMs or directors of player personnel. (Pfffttt.) It was pretty cool to sit there and listen to actual baseball guys talk about their actual teams, even if what they were actually saying was fairly insignificant. In fact, there seemed to be a bit of a pattern:
If your team was bad last year: (A's, Giants, Rangers, White Sox, Royals)
1) Thank everyone for everything: And I can’t say enough about the eggs this morning…delicious! Let’s give a hand to the catering crew as well!
2) Make self-depreciating joke about how bad your team was last year
3) Insist the team is making progress in 2008, say the word “young” several times
4) Mention a few players’ names
5) Thank everyone for everything
If your team was good last year: (Angels, Brewers, Cubs, D-Backs, Rockies)
1) Thank everyone for everything: And Bill, our equipment guy…Bill, where are you? Stand up Bill! Bill? Does anybody know where Bill went? Is that him? There he is! Let’s give Bill a round of applause!
2) Make humble remark about the successes of your team last year, expressing your disbelief about how it happened, considering the greatness of the other teams represented at this breakfast
3) Mention a few players’ names
4) Thank everyone for everything
When it was time for the Royals’ representative to stand up and speak, I joked with my coworker that he was just going to stand up, wave, make one of those rolling hand gestures as if to say, “You all know the situation, so there’s no need to bother,” and sit back down. He didn’t do that. But ya’ know what? After listening to him, I don’t think the Royals are gonna be half bad this year! Seriously! They have Jose Guillen! What could go wrong? I mean, besides his already-imposed suspension? (Which was curiously not mentioned, by the way.)
The event was emceed by the Seattle Mariners’ broadcasting due of Rick Rizzs and Dave Niehuas, who seem exactly like the Yankees’ John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman, except the complete opposite, in that they consistently made sense throughout, and somehow managed to avoid crying. But the coolest part of the morning was the fact that the Los Angeles Angels (alright, alright…”of Anaheim’s”) owner Arte Moreno was in attendance. For those who don’t know, he’s one of the richest and most popular owners in sports, and he’s the first Hispanic owner in MLB history. Anyway, I got to shake his hand on the way out, and now I am never going to wash my hand again!
Until lunch of course. I mean, I brought a sandwich, and that would be disgusting.