WEAK IN PREVIEW: Baseball in the hot corner

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Randy Hill

Veteran columnist Randy Hill is a frequent contributor to FOXSports.com.
After weeks of gruesome and comprehensive physical preparation, it's time for the agents to take over. Right, the masking agents. If you've already deduced that the lead item in this episode of The Weak in Preview is Major League Baseball, remain seated and prepare for another season of hemorrhoid rage. If you jumped to a football conclusion, sit down and keep quiet until we all can see the first wave of Mel Kiper Jr.'s hair. Anyway, with Daytona the threatened topic of a column for later in the week, today's focus is your official reminder that the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues are lurking around a hotter corner. Because they have an early date in Japan, the Seattle began spilling into Peoria, Ariz. last weekend.
  • The New York ' open Tuesday in Tampa, where owner George Steinbrenner will be on a pitch-a-fit count. One of George's off-season irritation issues was dapper shortstop , who upset the boss by becoming MVP of the party central division. Jeter accepted this scolding, then assured New York writers he still plans several summer trips into the winners' and gossip columns. And while exiled slugger Jose Canseco searches for a publisher, a Hollywood producer has purchased the movie rights to Derek's black book. But Jeter and his position-playing cronies won't be appearing for a few more days. Until then, baseball writers must attempt to rip stories from the tight jaws of pitchers and catchers.
  • In National League camps, catchers will be given a two-day squatting exemption as stand-up preparation for pitching to San Francisco slugger . Bonds, who renewed his consider bulk while backstroking from Alcatraz to the Golden Gate Bridge with 's contract strapped to his back, will prepare for the season by walking to the ' camp in Scottsdale. Just in case she can conjure an unexpected reconciliation with estranged hubby , actress Tawny Kitaen will begin Tae-bo workouts.
  • By the way, a martial arts regimen has been credited with providing greater mental and physical focus for Arizona right-hander . Schilling spent a considerable chunk of his off-season perfecting the fluid semaphores of a Korean discipline called Tang Soo Do. As a Soo Do intellectual, I could have told Curt that similar results are possible through implementation of a program endorsed by Kent. Kent, who now is employed by the Houston , developed hand-eye coordination and mental focus using the "wax-on, wax-off" truck-detailing method. But the practitioner must be careful. Jeff fell off the truck during a workout last spring, and subsequent injuries were remarkably consistent with those incurred by a man tumbling off a wheelie-popping motorcycle.
  • I'm not sure when big-league umpires begin polishing their strike zones, although Bruce Froemming has been busy with spring sensitivity training. Bruce is the rascal who chewed off a bases-covering slur aimed at a high-ranking MLB official. Froemming's slur was modified into creation when it became sandwiched between a word used to describe this woman as not smart and another that rhymes with ditch. Bruce apologized and claimed no anti-Semitism had been intended. Maybe he only meant to say this MLB employee was not smart and worthy of the other word that rhymes with ditch. And these guys wonder why dirt is kicked on their shoes. The rest of the weak in preview may (Bud Selig help us) will unfold like so:


  • Two days after matching the point total of L.A.'s Westchester High, Akron high school hoops legend LeBron James tells a reporter that his cell-phone plan includes 300 free monthly minutes. Reacting swiftly, the Ohio High School Association terminates his eligibility. It's a shame, too, because LeBron and his St. Vincent-St. Mary teammates are only two telecasts shy of syndication.
  • 's latest endorsement deal is snagged when consumer guinea pigs decide that tea is not a flattering flavor for Gatorade.


  • The NBA players' union — which will accept a best-of-seven, first-round playoff format in exchange for erasing three grueling training-camp workouts — formally thanks chief negotiator .
  • One hour into the marquee event at Madison Square Garden, season-ticket-holder Woody Allen realizes he's been watching the finals of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.


  • Nike takes back any mean things it might have been thinking about Phil Mickelson, who — the company assumed — had said mean things about Nike golf gear. A week after Phil suggested that Tiger Woods is forced to drive with "inferior equipment," a Nike spokesperson said, "We should have known he was referring to Buick."
  • During another routine inspection, United Nations bloodhound Hans Blix discovers a country called Context, where he finds thousands of words taken from athletes.


  • Based on the excruciatingly uninspired level of play in the Got Milk? Rookie Challenge, the NBA announces a sponsorship change. To the relief of its TV audience, next year's youth showdown during All-Star Weekend will be known as the Got Jack Daniels? Rookie Challenge.
  • NBA sanctioning secretary Stu Jackson, after reviewing tapes of 's dribble off of 's forehead, announces that this maneuver will be referred to as a "crossing-over-the-line dribble."
    The Big Ticket
    After pouring out more of his heart than we really need to process, it's appropriate that Pat Riley be involved in one of the NBA's dozen long-stemmed Valentine's Day dates. Pat's Miami will be in Houston to take on , Joaquin Hawkins, and the . Their first date this season occurred in Miami, where the 's attempt to make Yao feel welcome included handing out fortune cookies to ticket-holding fans. The , I predict, will counter with an equally pleasing and socially awkward gift to salute Miami's rookie Butlers, Caron and Rasual. I just wonder where the Houston franchise is going to find more than 10,000 souvenir hand bells.


  • After hits another last-second jumper to push the Washington to victory in Utah, fans root for MJ to follow through on his retirement promise (for more Valentine's Day NBA love, please locate the Big Ticket item on this page).


  • Seeking additional revenue streams for her NFL franchise, St. Louis owner Georgia Frontiere promises to initiate a fantasy camp. If that works, the may supplement that with a fantasy mini-camp.


  • With a six-pack of Miller Lite waiting for every live witness to his conditional victory, NASCAR ace Rusty Wallace puts on a demonstration of superb driving at Daytona. Unfortunately, thanks to mandatory use of smaller fuel cells, the mantra for Rusty's embattled pit crew becomes "more filling, tastes great." Randy Hill is a regular contributor to the FOX Funhouse and can be reached at his e-mail address: rhill@foxsports.com.
  • Tagged: Rams, Giants, Cavaliers, Warriors, Rockets, Lakers, Heat, Knicks, Jazz, Wizards, Jason Richardson, Steve Francis, Shaquille O'Neal, Yankees, Athletics, Mariners, Astros, Cardinals, Giants, Diamondbacks, Derek Jeter, Carlos Boozer, Yao Ming

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