They’re Back. The Boys of Summer

Baseball is back. The opening weekend of Spring Training for the Cactus League is finally here. Tucson once hosted Cleveland Indians now Guardians, Chicago White Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Colorado Rockies. Now all have gone north to be in the greater Phoenix area, a larger spectator base and less travel time between each of the fifteen Cactus League teams. The weather has been a little iffy.

Friday was in the 40s with clouds, Saturday climbed into the 60s with clouds and Sunday started with rain showers and overcast skies in the 50s for the day. That may not sound cold to those in the midwest or on the east coast who are experiencing freezes now but to a Tucsonan like me, being below 80 is considered a freeze.

Our daughter and grandson braved the frigid temps to attend a Cubs vs Dodgers game on Sunday – Dodgers won 9-4. The Dodgers this year are so weighted with talent, they may be a bit top heavy. On paper they are a slam dunk (basketball) – a monster outta-the-park grand slam cinch to be in the World Series; but time and the baseball gods can make those paper predictions just so much shredded confetti. The rules are different this year, one I applaud – the limited field shifts (that was out of control); two I’m skeptical of – the 15-second pitch clock and bigger bases. We’ll see if they improve a nearly perfect game.

Since my favorite players have done the musical bases game and switched teams over and over, I now have no favorite teams. I just root for my players. The big advantage to that is I am rarely disappointed in the outcome of a game because somebody I like is nearly always on the winning side.

Besides the opening of baseball in Arizona, Tucson hosted La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros this week, a nine-day celebration of everything cowboy. It started as a three-day competition back in 1925 so we are in year 98 of the Festival. It is a big deal in Tucson. The kids are out of school on Thursday and Friday for rodeo week. Historically the Festival attracts cowboys, Indians, calvary, horses, steers, and bulls from all over the country. Each year there is a parade on Thursday. It is the longest non-mechanized parade in the country, 2.5 miles with over 200 entries. Sunday was the culmination of the competitions. Cowboys and cowgirls of all ages enter. Muttin’ Bustin’ and Junior Rodeo are for those 5 to 13. The reigning rodeo king, Trevor Brazile who has won eight All-Around Titles and numerous championships was here. He didn’t do so well this time around. The official results were not announced at the time of this post. Prizes amount to over $300,000. The Tucson rodeo was featured in several movies including, The Lusty Men, 8 Seconds, and Ruby Jean and Joe.

As a side note Tiger Woods was here in Tucson for a Match Play game this week and the Encantada Gem show, a part of our Gem and Mineral extravaganza, was this week. The G&M Show starts the first week of February and this was the final weekend. Buyers and dealers from all over the world gather to compare rocks.

This week my co-authors and I will participate in the Festival of Books on the campus of the University of Arizona, Saturday, March 4th from 10 am to 1 pm in the Indie Author Tent.  It is the third largest book festival in the U.S.  We have book signings at both Barnes and Noble stores, Broadway on March 3rd, 1 pm – 3 pm, and Foothills Mall on March 5th, 1 pm-3 pm.

Tucson is a Happenin’ Place.

Queen of Baseball

My major passion aside from my family is Baseball, America’s game. I LOVE baseball. My mother told me it was inevitable because the only cool place in Wichita during the hot summer of ‘45 was the baseball park, so she watched a lot of baseball when she was pregnant with me. I was a September baby. That used to be playoff time. A lot has changed in seventy-seven years.

Over the years I watched evolutions of players, rules, and decorum on the field and off. Can’t say I’m impressed by it all that much. So disappointed in the Astros cheating a couple of years ago. But my excitement and loyalty for the game never wavered. I sincerely hope the talk of robo-umps, an automated strike zone governed by computer, is quashed. I love homeplate umpires, human and fallible, they provide an added element of suspense to the game.


To me, baseball is a combination of bullfighting (mostly bloodless) and ballet. It is an individual sport played as a team. Each player is highlighted when their skill is required. Pitchers on the mound are the bulls, powerful and potentially deadly with missiles sometimes topping 100 mph. The batter is the matador – sidestepping the bull’s charge until it is time to thrust the final blow and send the ball soaring through the air. That is when the ballet begins. Infielders and outfielders race, leap, spin, twirl through the air with nearly impossible physical grace to catch a ball coming toward them and then with equal style turn and twist to deftly throw the ball to the proper place to consummate a play.

When I was eighteen or nineteen one of the issues that bothered me was the players’ incessant need to adjust their cups. They looked so uncomfortable. I told my husband I recognized an employment opportunity for myself – MLB Cup Adjustor. I saw a chance to help those boys be more comfortable as they stepped up to the plate. Alas, it never came to pass. I think the equipment has been improved because I don’t notice as much adjusting these days.

Now as a matron, a senior woman of wisdom, I decided the role for me is Queen of Baseball. No compensation is required, only the acknowledgment and respect the position warrants.

These are a few of the rules that would be issued under my reign:

  1. No spitting during a game
  2. No cursing during a game
  3. No tattoos above the neck until retired from active playing
  4. No silly pitcher posturing – PITCH the ball – don’t look like a bird taking flight, a chicken laying an egg, or a little leaguer elbow-sighting the ball.
  5. No sidearm or submarine pitching – again if you can’t pitch the ball overhand as it is meant to be pitched, find another job.
  6. No extreme player shifts in the field – I think they got that message and it is being rectified.
  7. No sissy bunting – hit the darn ball, hard or soft but HIT it like a man.
  8. All commentators MUST be former major league players. They know what baseball is all about and can coherently share information and perspective with spectators. That means NO women as commentators. It may sound sexist but I’ve never heard a woman be as insightful as a former player when calling a game. If you haven’t been up to the plate facing a ball thrown 100 mph directly at you, stay in the spectator seats where you belong cheering for the boys on the field. That would make me the ONLY woman in baseball – as Queen. I admit that I am very blessed to have a former professional player for a husband. He explains clearly any action on the field that I don’t understand.

As to the 40-man roster of the Queen’s team, I confess it may not be weighted the same as the rosters of major league teams, pitchers to catchers to fielders, but these are my favorite players and I know they can do the job. The list, of course, changes season to season but many of these players are long-standing on the roster. These are not listed in any particular order of preference except Ohtani who is #1 in everything.  I am adjusting to the universal DH concept and would find those among the players listed.

  • Pitchers
    • Shohei Ohtani- unequivocally MVP
    • Gerrit Cole
    • Adam Ottavino
    • Clayton Kershaw
    • Joe Kelly
    • David Price
    • Julio Urias
    • Dallas Keuchel
    • Justin Verlander
    • Kenley Jansen
    • Max Scherzer
  • Catchers – Captains of the game
    • Buster Posey
    • Will Smith
    • Carson Kelly
    • Yadier Molina
  • Infield
    • Freddie Freeman
    • Paul Goldschmidt
    • Anthony Rizzo
    • Nolan Arenado – a tiger at 3rd
    • Rafie Devers
    • Eduardo Escobar
    • Xander Bogaerts
    • Freddie Galvis
    • Bo Bichette
    • Bobby Dalbec
    • Carlos Correa
    • Dansby Swanson
    • Joey Votto
    • Jose Altuve
    • Justin Turner
    • Chris Owings
  •  Outfield
    • A.J. Pollock
    • George Springer
    • Charlie Blackmon
    • J.D. Martinez
    • Aaron Judge
    • Joc Pederson
    • Mike Trout
    • Joey Gallo
    • Mookie Betts

I use a criterion not dissimilar to that of the Miss America pageant to choose my players. They must be well-rounded in every facet of baseball.

  1. Must look good in the uniform – no baggy butts or paunchy bellies
  2. Must have a good character, be courteous to fans, and a plus to their community, no whiners, kibitzers or pouters allowed. (Manny Machado is eliminated by this criteria). It’s a game, folks. Freddie Freeman is the perennial Mr. Congeniality. I love to watch him greet opposing guests on first base. – always with a smile.
  3. MUST be talented – have outstanding skills on the field and always play to win.

This baseball season is coming to a close.  It is impossible to root for just one team because MY players are dispersed among many teams so I root for the player. It gets kind of wicky-wacky when a favorite pitcher is confronting a favorite batter, or a favorite batter hits a fly ball that soars directly toward a favorite outfielder. Dilemmas I must deal with as a fan the Queen of Baseball.