Today is my last day off before the start of spring training. The report date for pitchers and catchers is tomorrow. The family flies down to Orlando today around noon and then we take the drive to Fort Pierce. The girls are still furious that they're going to spend the next six weeks in Florida schools instead of at home, but them's the breaks when your dad loves you.
It's been one of the more eventful off seasons I can remember in which my team did not win a world championship. The last big one like this in a bad team year was after the 1994 season, when I was traded from Chicago to New York and then I signed that huge (at the time) 5 year, $30 million contract. While the money is gone, long ago spent on products to stop my premature balding, I'm still with New York, about to start my 14th spring training with the team.
I met with team psychiatrist Henry Cochegans yesterday to talk about this busy off season. It was our seventh meeting since December. Due to the nature of the non-disclosure agreement he forced me to sign (not at gunpoint; rather, he threatened to make me blame all my problems on myself instead of my parents), I cannot reveal anything he said during our meeting. I can, however, let you know what I said.
Me: There's no thread that connects all the stuff that happened to me this off season.
Me: Say that to my face.
Me: I know, I was just kidding. But seriously, the only, uh, controversial stuff that happened was my contract dispute with the team, my occasional flareup with my brand new favorite manager Rick Churches...
Me: Yes, I was being facetious. May I continue?
Me: You're funny when you're sarcastic. But getting back to me, there wasn't much more controversy than what I just said. Oh, maybe the stuff that happened that made me not speak with the media anymore and just blog instead. And...Um... Also when the team fined me $500,000 for the content of those blogs. Oh! There was my bad, then good, then bad again rehabilitation from the elbow injury. Uh, I had a little tiff with teammate Corey Belle before his arrest. And our home was vandalized three times.
Me: Nope. The bad people are still on the loose.
Me: How do you think that makes me feel? I'm happy for them.
Me: You're funny when you're sarcastic. Back to me, redux. I guess the last two issues from the off season were my dad, "Red" Scott coming back into my life to be one of the team's TV broadcasters and then, I guess, needing an arbitrator to settle another dispute I had with the team. I'm going to win that, by the way.
Me: Whatever. Is there a conflict of interest here, since team management wants me gone, you work for the team, and I tell you all of my personal, most innermost thoughts?
Quite frankly, I spaced out during the doctor's response. He went on and on about professional courtesy, patient/doctor privacy issues, etc. When I awoke, he asked me again if my off season issues had any common thread.
Me: Bitter, angry conflict with authority figures?
He rang a big bell with a large metal pipe, which made me think I was right. But then I remembered that was his way of telling patients their sessions are over.
Is there a common thread? Was I right? I don't know. It doesn't matter. Those conflicts happened. I can't take any of them back. If I could, I don't know if I'd want to. It would have been a pretty boring New Jersey off season if all I did was watch Scooby Doo reruns morning, noon, and night. No, this was the way to end it. My final off season, my final winter vacation. Starting next October, I'll probably be done for good. Then, every day will be a vacation.
I just hope it comes with a little less conflict.