I just arrived in Viera, hard by the Indian River, where several Nationals pitchers have already settled in at the team’s complex for the spring. By the count of the team’s p.r. staff, more than 20 players have shown up. Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard came today, joining, among others, Edwin Jackson, Jordan Zimmermann, Brad Lidge, Ian Desmond, Roger Bernadina, Chien-Ming Wang, Ross Detwiler and John Lannan. (Bryce Harper, the man of the moment, seems set to at least travel here tomorrow.)
I don’t have any updates from today; the action at Space Coast Stadium was long over by the time my rented Jeep Patriot rolled by. Until I start writing about baseball players doing baseball things, we’ve got plenty to hold you over.
Boz, fired up as ever, says this year it’s different, and everyone knows it.
Sheinin takes a look at the major storylines around baseball.
The updates here should start flowing tomorrow and Sunday. Other than that, here’s a fitting excerpt, with a couple modifications, from Tom Wolfe’s “The Right Stuff”. Enjoy.
Viera was in Florida, but not any part of Florida you would write home about, except on one of those old Tichnor Brothers postcards on which there is a drawing of two grinning dogs positioned in front of a lamp post, each with a hind leg hoisted, and a caption that says: THIS IS A WONDERFUL PLACE… JUST BETWEEN YOU AND ME AND THE LAMP POST! No, Viera was not Miami Beach or Palm Beach or even Key West. Viera was Cocoa Beach. That was the resort town at Viera. Cocoa Beach was the resort town for all the Low Rent folk who couldn’t afford the beach towns farther south. Cocoa Beach was so Low Rent that nothing on this earth could ever change it. The vacation houses at Cocoa Beach were little boxes with front porches or “verandas” nailed onto them and a 1952 De Soto coupe with Venetian bunds in the rear window rusting in the salt air out back by the septic tank.
Even the beach at Cocoa Beach was Low Rent. It was about three hundred feet wide at high tide and hard as a brick. It was so hard that the youth of postwar Florida used to go to the stock-car races at Daytona Beach, and then, their brains inflamed with dreams of racing glory, they would head for Cocoa Beach and drive their cars right out on that hardtack strand and race their gourds off, while the poor sods who were vacationing there gathered up their children and their Scotch-plaid picnic coolers, and ran for cover. At night some sort of prehistoric chiggers or fire ants — it was hard to say, since you could never see them — rose up from out of the sand and the palmetto grass and went for the ankles with a bite more vicious than a mink’s. There was no such thing as “first-class accommodations” or “red-carpet treatment” in Cocoa Beach. The red carpet, had anyone ever tried to lay one down, would have been devoured in midair by the No See’um bugs, as they were called, before it ever touched the implacable hardcracker ground.
And that was one reason why the boys loved it!