Spring: A time for rejuvenation and a little lounging | TheUnion.com

Spring: A time for rejuvenation and a little lounging

Dave Schmall

The rites of spring are upon us. Spring is a time for renewal, rejuvenation and new growth. Trees are budding, flowers are blooming, allergies are kicking into high gear, and pharmaceutical companies are making bank.

For many, it's a time for spring cleaning or hitting the driving range or planting gardens and bulbs. At minimum, it's moving our clocks ahead an hour. For me, it's the return of baseball. This year, I began what I plan to be a new annual initiative to use major league baseball's spring training as my own personal nudge to get back into shape after a sedentary season of winter. From now on, when pitchers and catchers report to training camp each February, it will be time for me to get off the couch.

It's not that I plan to be "buff" by any means, but since I signed up to play for our company softball team, I need to be able to run to first base without taking an embarrassing breather halfway down the baseline.

Years ago, John Kruk, a colorful, bearded, long-haired and slightly overweight first baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies was accosted by an unknown woman for not living up to the role model of an athlete. Kruk replied, "I ain't an athlete lady, I'm a baseball player."

So if I do need a break on my way to first base, I'll have Kruk to blame.

When I was a kid, I lived on the west side of Chicago and began going to the Cubs' opening day at Wrigley Field as a fifth-grader. Where you grow up in Chicago determines whether you are a Cubs or White Sox fan. You really don't get a choice, and you definitely can't be both.

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I should mention the Chicago Cubs have not won a World Series in 104 years, the longest championship drought of any major North American professional sports team. When you become a die-hard Cubs fan, you soon realize everything else in life is up from there. The Cubs have provided me with more heartbreak than all my teenage girlfriends combined. And for that, I'm convinced there are no Cubs in heaven! Dogs and cats, maybe, but definitely no Cubs.

During the baseball "off-season," my favorite pastime is live music, and over the past six months, I've got my fix off the ever-evolving music lineup at The Center for the Arts in downtown Grass Valley. I've seen at least a half-dozen shows put on by The Center since I arrived here last summer.

The Union has been a longstanding sponsor of The Center for the Arts. Like all our partnerships, each year we get together to review the previous year and talk about sponsorship renewal for the next year. This year seemed to be no different, when Executive Director Julie Baker and "her people" sat down with me and "my posse" to hash out yet another annual agreement.

We discussed what we liked and what we didn't, which resulted in very few changes or modifications to the previous agreement. It was all fairly routine, and except that I was the new guy with far too many questions, it was all but rubber-stamped. Just before the plume of white smoke left the chimney high upon the rooftop of The Union building, I asked, "What's the name of your lounge in the Main Stage Theater?"

"It doesn't have one," Julie replied. "When I make stage announcements, I just refer to it as the red-light district and point in the direction of the red lights hanging overhead."

"Can we call it the Prospector Lounge?" I inquired.

"What's the benefit to The Center?" Julie immediately asked.

"Let's keep talking," I said.

Back at The Union, we had already been planning to reinvigorate the Prospector brand, so it seemed a natural fit to align it with the Main Stage Theater at The Center for the Arts. Prospector and The Center for the Arts are growing brands with arts and entertainment missions, not to mention both recently and almost simultaneously introduced new logos. So we moved and removed some of the current assets within our old agreement, threw in a spoonful of sugar and made room for the naming rights to the lounge in this year's sponsorship agreement.

As one idea grows from another, a collateral component that will shake out of this Prospector Lounge venture will be a new feature called "View from the Lounge." It will be an off-the-cuff conversation about personal experiences at recent Main Stage show performances that will run occasionally inside the pages of Prospector.

Baseball and live music, so it seems, occupy my interest, and this time of year is primetime for both. Yes, I'm a happy man.

"It's just a spring clean for the May queen," Robert Plant wrote in the song "Stairway to Heaven." I have no clue what he was talking about, but it's likely he was referring to spring and new beginnings. So for now, I'm going to appreciate the new beginnings of this spring, especially the new Prospector Lounge. Perhaps we can install a flat screen to keep an eye on Cubs games during intermissions. That sounds like heaven on earth to me.

Dave Schmall is Publisher of The Union. He can be contacted at 530-477-4299 or by email at dschmall@theunion.com

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