‘I Just Wanted To Watch Some Baseball’: Mom of the Year Gets Kicked Out of Fake Spring Training By A Jerk Named Tony

As a mom of the year candidate every year, there are certain things that I do that go above and beyond the call of duty. One of those is to go check out baseball fields where ever they happen to be on behalf of my son, Sean.

Today, my assignment for OTBB was to go check out the “spring training camp” for unsigned free agents.  This sounded like a sweet gig- I’d get to go outside in near perfect weather and watch some baseball practice. I’m in!

Now I know this doesn’t sound like fun to most moms but that is why I am mom the year.

Unfortunately, watching baseball didn’t turn out to be as simple as it sounded.

Here’s my day:

I send a tweet that I am off and happily skip out the door. When I arrive at the traffic light just before IMG (the baseball facility), I am reminded of how as a young girl growing up in this town, a man named Nick Bolleterri would teach tennis lessons. He was so good at coaching, in fact, that many talented folks from all the over the world came to our town to learn from him. I sat at the light thinking, ‘man, Bolleterri’s Tennis Academy is really grown up.’  It has been IMG for some time now and is really growing.  However, Mr. Boletteri is still around and I still see him occasionally out and about.  The last time I was checking out the expansion, the baseball fields were just being put in.

Today, I pulled up to the entrance and a nice young man at the gate asked me why I was there. I was fully prepared with my Off the Bench Baseball business card and story as to why I was there.  But when I said I was there to see baseball, he said okay and opened the gate. I drove through slowly, not sure which way the fields were as the campus is ridiculously huge. I went straight.

I drove up to the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (on the campus) and looked around for the telltale signs of the ball field lights.  There were lights everywhere!   Soccer fields, upon soccer fields upon football fields and stadiums. No baseball fields to be seen.  As I finally figured out where the baseball fields had been moved, in and among this vastness of broken dreams and promises called IMG, I saw a golf cart approach.

The man rode up to me and began to very aggressively question who I was and what I was doing there.  His manner was just so aggressive. It was worse than the time I was actually questioned by the secret service on the University of Tennessee one day when Al Gore was on campus in the building next to me. I mean…even the guards at the White House and the Capitol building in DC treated me nicer than this guy.  Jerk.

Initially, I tried very hard to engage him in a delightful conversation as to how big the campus has gotten, etc., etc. and explain to him who I was and what I was doing there. I pulled out my card.  He drove his golf cart around behind my car and took out his walkie-talkie.  He was obviously doing some posturing, but I was not impressed.  In fact, I was just thinking to myself that he must feel threatened by the actual security and cameras that I know for a fact are everywhere.

He then pulled around to the other side of my car and began his pathetic attempt at a very stern lecture and told me that he was going to “escort me off the premises.”

At that point, I asked the man why he was being so rude and that this could and should be a much more friendly conversation, but he was not going to allow that to happen. He postured more in his little cart with his security stickers on it and proclaimed that once again he was going to escort me out.  He then very rudely announced that his name was Tony and that I could call whomever I wanted,  but I had to leave, that he was going to follow me and whoever let me in the gate was to be fired! (He did not actually say “whom”, proper English would have been asking too much).

Then, he went behind my car again to really get a good look at my license plate number. I chuckled. This dude, I think,  doesn’t know that a) I drove at Bristol Motor Speedway AND at Talladega,  and b)  I have access to a blog and a twitter with a large following. (Editor’s note: I am an editor, not a fact checker.)

As I drove back to the gate I’d just gone through, the kid manning the entrance looked confused as to why I was back so soon. I tell him I got kicked out.  Now he is really confused. I said ‘apparently, I am not allowed to watch baseball and you are going get fired for letting me in.’  He shakes his head.

Bringing up the rear like an old Don Mattingly limping home, Tony and his decked out security cart come rolling in. He is sweaty. He is mad. The gate keeper and I exchange looks.

‘Sorry’ I say.  He opens the gate.

Baseball is supposed to be a nice, easy sport.  With each first day of spring training camp, whether it be signed players or unsigned free agents, hope springs!  At least it should be that way.  This offseason has not been easy for the players union and the league.  It seems to me like it shouldn’t be this hard for players who want to play baseball to play and for moms like me, who want to watch baseball,  to do so. You treat people right, and you get better results.

Each spring, the return of the sun encourages flowers to push through the hard soil to bring us something beautiful.  It is almost effortless. Baseball should be just as easy for people. It should bring people out of their hibernation and into the warmth of the sun.  So, I say, lighten up baseball owners and players, and stop being such a douche, Tony.  It’s time for baseball for God’s sake.


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