Pitchers and catchers report to spring training this week! And if that isn't enough good news, I ran into an old dear friend, Teny Ymota, while waiting on line late last week to see on a movie theatre screen in Greenwich Village the acclaimed film "Roma". (Netflix is streaming this film but I recommend getting the full experience on a big screen.)
Teny like me is a big Orioles fan and a lover of the game far and wide. We shed a tear and shared our memories of the great Frank Robinson who was the final piece of the Baltimore World Series championship teams of 1966 and 1970 that also won pennants in 1969 and 1971.
Frank was not easy to get to know but he exuded the will to win in every pore. Not many superstars who desired to manage would go to Puerto Rico to get experience but F. Robby did. Teny Ymota saw him down there winning titles for the Santurce Crabbers and marveled at his leadership skills.
In 1975 Frank Robinson became the first black MLB manager for the Cleveland Indians. Still active as a DH in the second year of the AL's innovation, he homered to win his first game.
Loving his Orioles experience above all others, he later went down to Rochester to manage its Triple A affiliate the Red Wings.
He resurfaced as the SF Giants manager in the early 1980s and took over as Orioles skipper early in the 1988 season after the team under Cal Ripken Sr. lost its first 6 games. They would lose 15 more in a row - a dubious record of 21 losses to start a season. Yet his 1989 Birds contended for the pennant until the last weekend of the season.
Robinson was never long without a job. He always was in demand for his no-nonsense evaluation skills and leadership abilities. He managed the Montreal Expos in its last years and came with the franchise to skipper the Washington Nationals in its first years.
He epitomized the baseball-rich area of Oakland, California as well as anyone. He played baseball at McClymonds High under coach George Powles, who had served in Mississippi during World War II and had seen the deprivation of black people in the Deep South.
Frank Robinson's HS baseball teammates included future MLB standouts Vada Pinson and Tommy Harper and a basketball teammate was future basketball Hall of Famer Bill Russell. He was 83 at the time of his death.
TIME FOR THE MOVIE REVIEW:
I didn't know what to expect from "Roma", but Teny Ymota and another dear friend had recommended it highly. I wasn't disappointed because the film is really an epic view of the world as seen through the eyes of one family whose man of the house abruptly departs.
A great film or novel creates a world that the viewer/reader gets immediately swept into. So it happened for me (despite sitting in a cramped theater with excruciating knee pain and a boorish guy in front of me who sang the praises of Trump when he couldn't get to his seat as fast as he wanted).
"Roma" is set in the Mexico City neighborhood of Roma in 1971. I found myself quickly drawn into the world of the mother, her children, and especially her servant. Deservedly both the mother (Marina da Taviro) and servant (Yalitza Aparicio, a newcomer to film who I don't think is related to Hall of Fame shortstop Luis Aparicio) are both nominated for Oscars.
So is director Alfonso Cuaron who directed Oscar-winner"Gravity". Guaron's camera is far-ranging. You viscerally gasp at the crowded streets of Mexico City and get soothed by the ocean waters outside the city. Nominated for 10 Oscars, "Roma" deserves a lot of them. The music from the car radios deserves kudos and adds to the film's relentless forward motion.
After we shared our exhilaration at the movie, I asked Teny Ymota for his baseball views. Unlike me, he has seen a lot of the world, especially Latin America. He's glad that after years of indifference to the international market the Birds are making more of a commitment to scouting regions outside the United States.
Like me, though, he isn't optimistic that Baltimore can become a contender any time soon.
It will take time to develop the contacts and commitment to the local Latin American areas that give them a better chance of landing promising talent.
Teny Ymota is a fairly elusive fellow and when i asked when we might meet again and inquired if that was his real name, he was non-committal. He shrugged his shoulders to both questions.
Well, I'll keep asking and you keep reading because I hope to get the answers real soon.
In the meantime always remember: Take it easy but take it!