Spring In The Sunshine State

David PhilpAnalyst IFebruary 11, 2008

Friday is spring training day. Even though my team had told me not to appear, that I was on "disciplinary suspension," the arbitrator at the grievance hearing suspended the team's suspension, pending her ruling.

Thus, I can go down to Florida, work hard, get into a full-season mindset, and know my team's management does not want me anywhere near them. It's going to be great.

Sparks were flying at my house this weekend. When the girls were younger, up to about fifth or sixth grade, Vanessa would take them to spring training for the duration. We'd rent a nice little house and spend six weeks in Arizona when I played for Chicago, and then Florida, after the trade to New York.

By the time Alyssa and Grace were in middle school, I'd leave them behind, but not by my choosing. It's just the girls were older and could put up a better fight. They didn't want to leave their friends from mid-February until April 1st. They didn't want to make new ones at a school in The Sunshine State, only to drop them to travel back north.

And Vanessa wasn't so hot on all the packing. She has moved us all, by her estimation, 37 times since we got married. One more and she'd lose her seat on the board of the local Couch Potato Club.

So keeping in mind I am about to head down to a hostile situation in Florida, and my wife and kids have all the reason in the world to want to stay at home, I asked them nicely to spend the next 46 days with me below the Mason Dixon line, where it's warm - 10 degrees in NJ this morning, wind chill below zero.

Unfortunately, I asked them on Saturday when it was 45 degrees. Unfortunately, Alyssa is running into some problems in AP physics class. Unfortunately, Vanessa wasn't sure if she wanted the kids, and her, to get more involved with what's going on between the team and myself. Unfortunately, Grace didn't want to go.

Here's an excerpt of our lively discussion:

Me: Did I mention it's The Sunshine State?
Alyssa: Like five times.
Me: It's a valid sales point.
Vanessa: I'd have so much to do in the next seven days.
Me: Six, actually.
Alyssa: They still get frost in Florida.
Me: But it's the warm kind.
Grace: I'm not going.
Me: Why?
Grace: Work.
Me: You don't have a job. It's just for a short time. It'll build character for you girls. It's make men out of you; put hair on your chests.
Alyssa: Then I'm definitely not going.
Vanessa: One more place to shave.
Me: I'm going to miss you. I'm going to be lonely.
Grace: You're going to play golf all afternoon.
Me: You know I don't play golf.
Grace: Then why do you always bring your clubs with you?
Me: Peer pressure. Like the kind I'm putting on you now.
Alyssa: That's not peer pressure. You're our father.
Me: Oh. Then I'm ordering you to go. Case closed. What do we have next, Rusty?
Rusty: A young fan who wants you to autograph his Nintendo joystick.
Me: Sounds disgusting.
Alyssa: Who's the old guy in the police uniform?

All right, the Rusty part didn't happen, because the girls ran upstairs to their rooms after I gave my orders. Vanessa stayed put because she's mature and, as my wife, knew her place was beside me.

Vanessa: You handled that all wrong.
Me: It takes a real man to know that.
Vanessa: What's that make you?

By dinner Sunday night, the girls had considered forgiving me. I found this out from super agent Jack Perry, who called me asking why Alyssa and Grace had tried to engage him to be their representative during this sensitive negotiation. He didn't take them on because they balked at his fee, but his concern was valid.

Jack: I don't have the capacity to be IMing teenage girls while I'm in the middle of your arbitration hearing.
Me: What did they say to that?
Jack: They told me to drop you as a client.
Me: What did you say to that?
Jack: It was under strong consideration.

No respect. No love. Spring training report date is the day after Valentine's Day. I don't think my family will be giving me any cards this year. No hugs or chocolate either. But I think they'll like their stay in Florida. It is The Sunshine State after all.