Still Remembering Rocky and Believing in Spring

March 14, 2014

Greetings from Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the weather is Spring-like but the sports are all of the Winter variety.  Even on the ski slopes, however, the icons of MLB remain constant.  My official B.A.B.E.S. visual survey recorded numerous skiers wearing NYY and BOS caps despite the fact that those cities are each over 2,000 miles away.  There were also many people sporting TEX hats, but that is to be expected when over 90% of the skiers are from Texas.  The only HOU hat to be seen was on my head, a historical artifact from the ancient time of the now extinct Killer B’s.

Of course, I would have rather been in AZ or FL watching Cactus or Grapefruit League games, but exhibition baseball is not my family’s idea of a Spring Break vacation – or any vacation, unfortunately, even if the games aren’t exhibitions.  So I was content to enjoy the beautiful scenery, be thankful that I still remember how to ski after a long hiatus (kids!), and begin to ponder my B.A.B.E.S. picks for the 2014 MLB season.  That annual Spring task, of course, reminded me of B.A.B.E.S. c0-founder, James “Rocky” Walker, who passed away during Spring Training two years ago.  The memory of our annual Spring selection luncheon was made even stronger this year since I am in his adopted hometown where he spent his retirement days.

I know that if Rocky were still with us he would enjoy talking about the upcoming season, comment on how every team was currently tied for first and encourage me not to be embarrassed by the fact that all 3 of my children finished ahead me in the 2013 competition.  He would probably also remind me that I am and forever will be a B.A.B.E.S. champion (I won the inaugural competition in 2008 when it included just me, Rocky and Steve Jacobs).  As I have written here before, Rocky lived his life as if it were always Spring Training, always optimistic about the future.  Therefore it is doubly appropriate that we all now compete for a trophy that bears his name and his nickname – the James L. Walker Award, a/k/a “The Rocky.”

So, consider this your two-week warning for submission of your 19 selections.  We have several new Society members this year and perhaps the “Rocky” will once again be claimed by a rookie.  (Another round of congratulations to 2013 champion Jeff Hamilton who won in his first year.)  Deadline for submissions this year will be March 30, the day before the domestic opener.  As I wrote on the homepage a few days ago, we won’t consider the opening games being played in Autumn in Australia as the legitimate start to MLB 2014.

© JSR 2014