“…Where’d Ya Get Them PEE- PERS?!”

Many National League batters will be getting their first glimpse of K-Rod very soon.  But besides watching him intently to see if he’s tipping his pitches, players and coaching staff may also be taking a double-take at the Mets’ new closer for an arresting facial feature:  his eyes.

Francisco Rodriguez succeeded in making his already newsworthy arrival at camp even more eye-catching (ouch!), sporting red contact lenses.

According to the New York Post, Rodriguez claims that the special lenses help in reducing glare and that wearing the lenses negates his needing to wear his signature glasses.

Hearing how daunting those in camp found his scarlet gaze, I wondered if the lenses might serve a dual purpose:  reducing glare and instilling fear in the opposing batter.

I often enjoy thinking of similarities in the world of sports and my own professional world:  classical music.

Toscanini.jpgAlthough the days of the autocratic music director who used fear, public humiliation and threat of termination to get his desired result are essentially over (Thankfully, musicians are unionized as well.), the age of tyrants of the podium is not actually that far in the musical past.

In fact, only several days ago in the New York Times‘ TimesTraveler Blog feature, a story ran in the Times 100 years ago that day was featured.  The story announced Gustav Mahler as having been engaged as the next conductor of the New York Philharmonic.  A prolific composer as well as a fine conductor, this was indeed a coup for the ensemble.

But what really caught my eye was this quote: 

“The present cooperative system will be abolished, and the orchestra will be under the absolute control of the conductor and the Board of Directors,” today’s report says.

No cooperation?  Absolute control?  Sounds like a dictatorship!

In fact, older musicians I know who either played under or know someone who played under the likes of Arturo Toscanini, Erich Leinsdorf, and Fritz Reiner, to name a few daunting maestros that era, have told me stories of personal abuse and humiliation that certainly support that description.

A recent biography of Fritz Reiner, former conductor of the Chicago Symphony, is even entitled Fritz Reiner, Maestro and Martinet.

Above, I imagined what the notoriously volatile and quick-tempered Italian maestro, Arturo Toscanini, might do with the option of staring down his subservient players with red eyes.

Thankfully, most of the conductors I have played under have been absolute gentlemen (or ladies) and have been able to achieve their interpretive goals in cooperation with our orchestra and without the use of intimidation.

However, if our closer happens to come across as menacing in his attempt to simply reduce sun glare, I say why NOT take the red-eye flight to the game’s finish?! 



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