This is a delightful book that will resonate with any baseball fan for a variety of reasons. Once I picked it up, it was hard to put down. Kevin Cook is a former senior editor at Sports Illustrated whose father, Art, was a former minor league pitcher. As noted on the book’s website, in Art’s later years, Kevin phoned him almost every night to talk baseball but ultimately came to realize that the conversations ranged well beyond the game. The way that some fathers and sons talk about baseball can be a way of talking about everything: courage, fear, fun, family, morality, mortality, and how it’s not whether you win or lose that counts, it’s how you share the game. My father died two months ago at age 95, and every time I called him somehow or another he would work the Phillies into our conversation. Particularly after he moved to Queens in the backyard of Shea Stadium about 30 years ago, lamenting about how all the media coverage was on the Mets or Yankees, I became his conduit to news about our home team – the team of our youth.
Miriam and I met up with Nick (aka “Nicky”) Jannis at Salt River Fields today, our main purpose being to get to say hi to his son Mickey about whom I blogged yesterday.
As we talked about the game, Nick beamed with pride at how Mickey was able to re-invent himself as a knuckleballer, to become fondly known among friends as “R.A. Mickey”, a nickname I wish that I could have taken credit for! We chatted about Mickey’s odyssey and his chances, and agreed that the way to evaluate his performance as he progresses was probably not through traditional measures. There may be a sabermetric profile that does him justice, but it could be that his value in inducing ground balls and keeping hitters off balance may required a unique set of what I’ll call “Mickey’s Metrics”.
The start of the game was delayed due to field conditions, and Mickey wasn’t pitching – which contributed to his charting of the game and holding a radar gun behind home plate. If you didn’t know him, you’d never guess who he was. In street clothes he’s still very much “a regular guy”. It gave me a warm feeling to watch the connectedness that Mickey and Nick shared during their own version of The Dad Report.
The Phillies have had my unwavering loyalty as a fan, but Mickey – still very unassuming about the attention he’s beginning to garner – smiled as he said: “Maybe we can make you a Mets fan”.