Spring training is here and spring training is like no other sports tradition. I am talking about Arizona. I don't know about Florida.
When Roger Craig was managing the Giants, he would meet the beat writers after spring games and play pickup basketball at a nearby playground. His wife Carolyn brought the beer.
Bruce Bochy plays poker with the writers.
When Frank Robinson was managing the Giants, he and I had a standing date — one night every spring at a bar and I could ask any question I wanted about his team, not that he always answered.
Marty Lurie and I would have dinner with Art Howe and, after him, Ken Macha and talk and talk.
I even went out with Sandy Alderson one spring night and he filled me in on the A's. That was a long time ago.
Mark McGwire once waited for me at a picnic table at the A's minor-league complex and we talked ball.
Will Clark stayed late in the clubhouse one afternoon and gave me his recipe for gumbo.
You can come to Arizona this week and you will see Brian Sabean walking around the stands. Thinking. When games start he sits quietly in the stands. Watching.
Billy Beane is all over the place, greeting people, appearing happy. Always wears shorts and sandals like he's about to enter a gin rummy tournament at the country club.