A Spring Training Report from Toots Delvecchio

It is with some frequency that we as baseball fans are made privy to a prospect’s hit tool via an all-too-familiar allusion, that annoyingly vague reference to the distinct sonic quality of said prospect’s bat against a recently pitched ball.

“The ball just sounds different coming off his bat,” we are told.

“When the ball comes off his bat, it just sounds different,” we hear.

“Different, is what the ball sounds like off his bat,” our ears pick up.

In an effort to better understand the qualitative nature of this allegedly singular sound, French financier Carson Cistulli recently dispatched ace informant Toots Delvecchio to Spring Training with one specific assignment: “Bring me back some nachos, and a Coke with ice.”

In the meantime, Toots filed this report.

FLORIDA, The State Of — Being an ace informant, I began my ace informanting by watching Phillies prospect Boomer Buchanan take a few hacks in BP. And let me tell you, Toots-style, that the rumors are true: The ball does sound different coming off that guy’s bat. How different? Put it this way: It sounded exactly like the time when Joey Bullets put a .38 into Tommy the Tongue. Or so I hear.

Next I traveled south, to Bradenton, to watch Pirates prospect Stroker Strokowski take a few cuts. And man, let me tell you like only Toots can tell you, it sounded exactly like that time when Odious Tony crammed Surprisingly Flexible Jimmy into a 3×3 floor safe and then slammed the steel door shut. Or so they tell me.

Next, down in Sarasota, I looked on as O’s Triple-A outfielder Bruiser McBane went deep on some leftie Tigers mope. I forget his name, but it don’t matter. What does matter is that the sound was exactly – and I mean exactly – like the sound Vinny the Snitch’s ’74 Cadillac made when it went ka-boooooooooom, courtesy of Frankie the Detonator. At least that’s what I heard on the Discovery Channel or whatever.

Up in Port St. Lucie then, I saw Mets prospect Brawny Braunstein go yard on this Sox cugine and wow! – yeah, lemme tell you, it was just like the time when Cheatin’ Vito’s wife, Not-At-All-Clueless Vicki, slapped the absolute bejeebers out of the guy right there in the elevator of his goomah’s building. I think her name was Blistery Sue, but I really don’t recall. What I do recall, oh man, is that slap echoing all the way up to the eighth floor – smmmaccckkk! – where I might or might not have watched Frankie the Detonator build the timer.

Farther north in Kissimmee, I saw Yankees prospect Bulky Delvecchio (no relation) take some Astros mook deep, and I mean deep, like Surprisingly Flexible Jimmy-in-a-safe-at-the-bottom-of-the-friggin’-Atlantic deep, or so I hear, and I’ll just say that the sound was absolutely identical to a thunderclap during a late-August storm in the Nevada desert when you’re burying Tommy the Tongue. I imagine.




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John, who has also written under the pseudonym "Azure Texan," writes for both The Hardball Times and NotGraphs.


17 Responses to “A Spring Training Report from Toots Delvecchio”

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  1. dgrussel says:

    I read that entire thing in a Jersey Italian accent.

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    • John Paschal says:

      Not coincidentally, I wrote the entire thing — well, not the entire thing, just the part where Mr. Delvecchio chimed in — in a Jersey Italian accent. Which wasn’t easy, given that I talk like Nolan Ryan channeling J.R. Ewing channeling Lyndon Baines Johnson.

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  2. Luke says:

    Toots Delvecchio must be Tony Delvecchio from the Backyard Baseball series all grown up

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    • John Paschal says:

      Or maybe Tony simply embraced the name “Toots” when he entered the Witness Protection Program. (Nobody ever said he’s bright.)

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    • KB says:

      Or maybe it’s Angela Delvecchio all grown up. She was pretty tough. A good pitcher too.

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  3. Mike Green says:

    Here north of the border, Delvecchio means Alex, aka Fats. Fats and Toots would make a good brother team.

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  4. ezdruid says:

    waste of time

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    • John Paschal says:

      Keep in mind that scientists have long acknowledged an interwoven continuum that combines the four dimensions into a single manifold. What I’m saying is that this is also a waste of space.

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  5. ljc says:

    But did Carson ever get his nachos and Coke with ice?

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  6. AynRand'ssocialsecurity# says:

    When will these Italian-American baseball scout stereotypes stop ruining the image of so many great men in the profession. We’re going to see the same thing that happened to all the Native American florists where they all just leave the industry for something you close minded Neanderthals find more “suitable” for them.

    Oh wait, he was meant to be from Jersey? Yeah, those people are grease balls.

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  7. WhiteSox16 says:

    I’d like it better if basically every writer on this site didn’t pretend to be Carson Cistulli…

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    • John Paschal says:

      I’m not quite smart enough to understand your comment. Are you referencing the fact that Mr. Cistulli helps us with our homework each night, or that he is a high-ranking member of La Cosa Nostra?

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  8. The name Toots Delvecchuo has been repeating in my head non-stop like a bad pop song since yesterday.

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    • John Paschal says:

      That’s the whole point of this exercise, Zach. That’s how I get in. Ever seen “The Manchurian Candidate”? Next week at this time you’ll be robbing trains for me, and possibly doing my dishes.

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