The Baltimore Orioles may have fired him as their manager at the end of last season, but Mike Hargrove still doesn't think that city is for the birds. Heck, he liked the people, his rented condo on the Inner Harbor, even the surrounding countryside.
But the former Indians player and manager didn't cry into his black baseball jersey when he moved back here late last year to take a job as senior adviser with the Tribe. Instead, he was looking forward to once again enjoying he things he missed most while away.
1. Reading Bill Livingston's columns in The Plain Dealer instead of having them read to him over the phone. "Every now and then, I would get a call from a friend in Cleveland saying, 'You're not going to believe what Bill wrote about you this time,' " explains Hargrove, who describes the sports columnist's criticisms of him as "a dig here and there."
2. Pestering longtime Indians employee Barb Lessman, now Larry Dolan's secretary. "I try to embarrass her as much as I possibly can, any way I can think of. She blushes real easily."
3. Working on that first heart attack at Schoop's, a hamburger joint in Winter Haven, Fla., during spring training. "They make the biggest, greasiest burgers around."
4. Continuing the effort in town by ordering veal scallopini at at at Johnny's Downtown. "I've known the owners, Joe Santosuosso and Paul Anthony, for a long, long time, and it's a great restaurant -- the food, the ambiance, the service, the whole 9 yards."
5. Driving on Interstate 77, believe it or not. "If it's the wrong time of day, you're in trouble," he admits. "But the Baltimore-Washington Parkway is the worst. I don't know that I've ever seen traffic consistently congested the way it is on [I-295]."
6. Restocking the humidor with Hoyo de Monterrey cigars (the ones with a Maduro wrap) at the Cousin's Cigar location in downtown Cleveland.
7. The chance to play an occasional round of golf with Tribe bench coach Buddy Bell without having to fly to Bell's Chandler, Ariz., home during the off-season to do it. "A lot of people have the misconception that we play golf all the time. But we don't."
8.Teeing it up at Westfield Country Club. "It's nice and quiet, a beautiful complex," Hargrove enthuses. "My favorite hole is No. 10 on the South Course. It's a pretty view off the tee, and it's challenging. If you hit a good tee shot, you're rewarded for it, and if you don't, you're in trouble."
9. His own back yard. "The only thing I didn't like about the condo was that I couldn't cook out." Now, he can fire up the grill and burn the supermarket catch or kill of the day without generating an ominous cloud of smoke on his 23rd-floor balcony or incurring the condominium association's wrath.
10. His first grandchild. "When she's not crying, I hold her and I feed her some," Hargrove says of 5 1/2-month-old Madison Marie, who lives in Akron with daughter Melissa and her husband, Mike Dies. That, however, is the extent of Grandpa Hargrove's child-care contribution. "I changed my first diaper in 14 years last week, and I hope it's another 14 years before I change another one. That's why she's got a grandmother."