I didn't plan on attending Fan Fest for a second day—especially after the problems I had on Day 1—but super agent Jack Perry told me Pepsi had a booth there and asked me to stop by and say hello. Apparently I'm Pepsi's new golden boy, standing up against media, management, and the culture in today's sports world of either getting arrested or speaking only in cliches.
So I drove back into NYC and paid my $65. (If you didn't buy a combined Day 1/Day2 ticket for $50, you had to pay $65 for Day 2 only.) I waited in line with some fans who couldn't believe I was 1) waiting in line with them and 2) actually buying a ticket. I told them I didn't think Rick would let me in unless I paid. And besides, Pepsi was going to reimburse me for parking and gas. What's one more $65 expense?
I got inside and enjoyed the fans who swarmed around me. No interns for "security." No agent or agent's wife to hold my hand and lead me through the little people who spent $65 for the privilege of buying wet $5 hot dogs served on soft, cold buns.
I felt like the Pied Piper as I made my way to the Pepsi booth, which was not where I was told it would be. Twenty minutes, 200 fans, and one frankfurter later I found it. It was set up so kids, or older fans, could stand at a home plate and hit hard plastic balls shot through a hole in a screen that showed video of me, Kai Goto, and the rest of the team's pitchers go through our motions and fire away.
I had a blast when it was my turn to bat against myself. I struck myself out on three pitches.
But Jimmy, what about your elbow?
It doesn't hurt when I bat. Weird. Truthfully, it doesn't hurt at all anymore. It's been a week since the scar tissue was discovered and I was told to take it easy. So my three-a-days were scaled back a bit. I will start throwing again tomorrow.
By the way, it's only eight days until spring training. Normally, I'd be excited to go. But this stuff with my manager and GM, occasionally supplemented by interference from our owner, Mrs. Joan Delaney, has soured me a bit. But as sour as I was, standing in and around so many fans today was incredible.
The support I got, the pats on the back (a few hurt because the guys patting my back were like 10 feet tall Sumo wrestlers or something), the handshakes and shouts of "Go, Jimmy, go!" were pretty cool. It kind of wiped the slate clean for me and made me feel good again. So thanks to all of you.
As an aside, I did not see Rick there. I understand he was counseling the custodial staff on the proper way to use their brooms. I hope the man is as intense about whether or not to double-switch for me in the eighth inning come September. I have a feeling he doesn't think I'll be on a mound then, at least for him. But I've made a deal with myself to make it happen. I'm going to be a factor for the team this year. I'm going to make those fans who supported me today proud.
And maybe next year I can play for free. There's got to be a way to lower the price of a ballpark hot dog. I'll do my part. You keep doing yours.