Spring Training with Graham Knight & Nick Gandy
A Fork on the Road goes to Spring Training! Mark chats with experts Graham Knight and Nick Gandy. Right now is the best time of year for travelers and sports fans: Ice Hockey is heating up, football hangovers are mostly gone and its more than cold enough in the Northern states to justify a trip to someplace warm.
That someplace you seek, is MLB Spring Training. If you’ve never been, or need some help in planning and getting the most out of your trip, here’s my:
2) BRING PLENTY OF $1 BILLS. Speaking as a life-long Cubs fan, I’m an expert at creating distractions during hopeless seasons. Though on paper, this season seems our most hopeful of the last 100 years – 108 years actually – there’s always room for friendly wagering. After years of field testing, here are the TWO BEST BASEBALL PARK GAMBLING GAMES:
MOUNDBALL. Get an empty beer cup – should be simple. Define the group of players, 6 is best. At the top of every half inning, every player puts $1 in the cup. Player #1 holds the cup. At the END of the inning after the final out is made, you’re betting on where the ball used in the play, ends up. If its tossed by the ump or the player and it lands TOUCHING the dirt of the pitcher’s mound, the person holding the cup wins all the money in the cup. If the ball ends up anywhere else, that person loses, every player puts another buck in the cup, and the cup moves to the next player. If there’s money left in the cup at the end of the game, its split evenly.
OUTFIELDER GAME. Six players. Each player selects an outfield position and a team, ex. Cubs Center Fielder. Every time that player does something good, the player who ‘has’ him, wins $1 each from the other 5 players. Every time your player does something bad, you PAY $1 to EACH other player. GOOD THINGS: Walk, Stolen Base, RBI, Run Scored, Hit, Double ($2), Triple ($3) Home run ($6, $4 for the dinger and $1 for the RB, $1 Run scoredI) therefore a Grand Slam pays $10 (4 RBI, 4 bases, $1 clutch bonus) BAD THINGS: Strike out, caught stealing, error. But here’s the best part, to win your money you have to ASK FOR IT BEFORE THE NEXT PITCH, which forces people to pay attention. I don’t know what’s better winning a few buck on a triple, or having some OTHER guy not collect his money because they forgot to ask for it. Ahh, the delights of the game.
And the #1 Spring Training Tip: TALK TO STRANGERS. One of the best things about Baseball is the down time between pitches and innings and cold beer… the perfect recipe for idle chatter with seatmates. Everyone has an opinion on EVERYONE, and you don’t have to be an expert… to be entertaining. Commit to talking to a new person each inning, trust me, it will be at least as entertaining as the game itself.
HILARIOUS BOOING. If you’ve seen Bleacher Bums, the comedic play about the hapless 1970’s Cubs created by Joe Mantegna, Dennis Franz and George Wendt among others, you know the value of the clever grandstand outburst. There’s nothing better than a well-timed, playfully demeaning shout out directed towards an opposing player. HOWEVER, remember that there are kids all over the place, and profanity and truly aggressive outbursts aren’t funny. Pick an opposing player who’s playing exceptionally well against your boys and pile on. Google his high school coach’s name and scream out how the player drove him to drink. Get your new friends to join in, see who can come up with the funniest comment and turn it into a chant. Making fun of Hunter Pence’s pants is always fun, he gets into it. You know you’re the 10th man when the player looks over at you and acknowledges your mastery with a smile or tip of the cap. At that point, he is now your best friend… and you enlist him to benignly harass a new player.
Follow these tips and I guarantee you’ll have the time of your life, and want to do it again every spring. PLAY BALL!