Now that I am no longer in training for Fantasy Camp, so to speak, I want to throw some scattered thoughts out there. Some may see several complaints instead of suggestions, and they would be partly right.
I am certain that none of these notions of mine are original and that the Yankee organization has either tried them or stricken the possibility out of hand. No problem, I’m gonna throw them to the masses anyway. I have probably neglected a few…
· Swap Team Night and Family Night. It makes more sense to have the Family Night the evening before the Greats game and eventual departure.
· During the Family Day and the Greats Games, open at least one concession, even with a limited menu. Members of my entourage were dying for a hotdog and a beer.
· Have a “Largest Entourage” award. Details don’t matter at this point, but I would have won this one, hands down. Maybe.
· Serving Mac and Cheese at lunch is a mistake I have had nightmares about. C’mon, man! Have it for dinner, too! Seriously, the chow was excellent, hot and plentiful. The dining accommodations were outstanding, and the staff was fast and efficient. God Bless ‘em.
· The swag was awesome, as was the hallway store at discount pricing. There were a few real treasures in there, and I found a couple myself.
· Rules are rules. There was a strange inconsistency to them, from sliding, to the infield fly, to abusing, IMHO, staffers as catchers and runners. Have one document, share it with all players, coaches, and umpires before the first game, and then stick to it without deviation.
· There were two females at camp, which is ridiculous. One was an excellent ballplayer, but that’s not the point. There’s a Ladies Camp and a Family Camp and I pray that the Yankees aren’t going too woke or I may start watching the NBA. I am sure there is an understandable reason complete with tears and violins and legal concerns, and maybe one lady was an old girlfriend of Mickey Mantle’s, but… guys only, please.
· Kudos to the camper who caught every inning of every game for his team. He was probably very close to my age, and he told me he was going to get his money’s worth. I caught a little less than six each contest, and I get the shakes now just looking at my catcher’s glove. Respect to him.
· I mentioned early on there was a presentation to the son of a late camper at the first Kangaroo Court that was handled with appropriate dignity and respect, and was sincerely emotional. At the Closing Ceremony, however, there were two more presentations to the lad, who at around 30 years old was not some orphan from the ghetto. I understand the group angst, and the son’s grief, but he looked a little embarrassed IMHO at this point. Certainly the son was grateful, but it begs the question: what do you guys do the next time someone passes on?
· There were no “ugly moments” that I witnessed or heard of, which speaks to both the professionalism of the staff, the tolerance of the Greats, and the genial comportment of the campers. Heck, even the umps were super-friendly.
BUT I have two anecdotes that were about other players on other teams’ misbehavior.
Ace threw nasty stuff and a lot of campers bailed or hacked, but they grinned and bore it. One camper, I’ll call him “Slouch,” was called out on strikes, after taking too many pitches and being given a gift of a couple called balls that were clearly in the zone (I never smack talk to an ump. I believe good-sport capital with those guys pays more dividends than being argumentative).
Slouch started a cussing tirade directed at the ump without looking at him while walking away. Not a good sport at all. I turned to the ump, who had a big smile, and he winked at me. Ace never threw another called ball that inning.
The second incident involved a team that was, at that point, beating us by more than 5 runs. Hitters toss or drop the bat after hitting the ball, and sometimes the catcher touches it in case there’s a play at the plate. One camper, I’ll call him “Slob,” came up to the plate and the previous hitter’s bat was sitting on it. Slob picked it up and heaved it an unimpressive 2 feet, then turns to me and says, “Little help?’ To me.
I try to be the collegial type and willing to help those in need. But for a team that is husbanding a five-run lead I will not be your batboy. I ignored the Slob’s whiny request. The on-deck batter jogged up and dragged the bat away. Slob hit a routine grounder and was quickly out, even though there was a staff runner. There are just some people you can’t like, and Slob will forever be in that category for me.
And Slob’s team would wind up losing that game to us, the Bombers. That ain’t just Karma, sports fans.
In closing, I highly recommend doing Fantasy Camp with the Yankees. SIgn up as soon as you can, as there is a waiting list. I guess you can tell from my 10,000+ word series that I am consumed by the experience. The management of each day, from setting expectations to exceeding them, was first-rate and in a word, outstanding. Each cog of the wheel was in perfect synchronicity, at least to me, and I am a real grouch.
On a personal note, this is as close to a group of military veterans that I have ever been associated with, guys who break chops constantly, capable of outrageous fun, boundless generosity, and menacing violence if provoked.
Real Yankee fans.
I came away believing I can never replicate the delights and surprises and sheer awe at every step of the Camp, whether the locker room, carousing with pro ballplayers, the dining hall, the staff assistance, and especially on the field. It’s why I am one and done. I shared that sentiment with the Bombers and I believe they understand, at least I hope so.
I shall never forget the good stuff, the funny stuff, the silent-in-my-own-head stuff, having a catch with a teammate, and just being in Yankee pinstripes and walking alone on the grass…
Thank you, all. Peace. Out.