Friday, March 16, 2007
Spring Training 2007 - Barry Bonds & Global Warming
I left at 10:30 this morning to make sure I got to Scottsdale Stadium in plenty of time. My worry is always parking.
Since I was there two years ago, they seem to have shifted the parking around. There is no longer a general lot on grass right across from the stadium; it's now reserved for pass holders (season ticket holders, I presume). So I had to go around the block...and discovered a parking building, for free, right next to the stadium. Going more than two hours early got me a parking space on the top of the building. Within 15 minutes, I'm sure, all the spaces were gone.
It was a very hot day today. News reports have the high at 93 degrees, but I swear it was closer to 100. (News reports later put the temp at 98.) I could take three innings of sitting in my seat, but no more. I spent a lot of time in the tunnel where some of the concession stands are, just to keep cool. I discovered that if I can hear the blood rushing to my head, I should seek shade right away....and so I did.
But I got to watch a hitting fest. There were 5 homeruns by the Giants and the Rockies, including a very high one by Barry Bonds in right center, and he didn't even get all of it. Matt Cain certainly looked like he needed more time in spring training.
There was some autographing on the sides of the stadium. The only nice thing, I think, about Scottsdale is that the fences are lower on both the right and left field sides. Phoenix Muni, on the other hand, is not as accessible, meaning, it's harder to get an autograph because you can't reach the player.
This was my 3rd day here, and I had yet to see the A's play. But that was about to change. I got to my second game of the day a few hours early, and most of the field was in the shade -- it was still warm, but pleasantly so.
Ten minutes before game time, the A's players ran onto the field, one by one, and then suddenly a spurt of rookies and veterans. Those who expected to play did wind sprints in front of us: Nick Swisher, Milton Bradley, Shannon Stewart. Triple A players who were asked to come to spring training -- the likes of Daric Barton, Travis Buck, and Kurt Suzuki, talked with each other on the side and laughed a lot, pleased to be here.
A night game! I didn't think I'd like a night spring training game (because what do you do in the daytime?), but I loved it! The weather was balmy, and I actually enjoyed sitting there, watching plays develop. It didn't hurt that Candi gave me cool box seats, right off 1st base and Dan Johnson. Nice.
Joe Blanton had a tough time of it. He gave up 4 runs in the 1st inning alone, did well in the 2nd, but never fully found his command. On the other side, Diamondback Enrique Gonzalez only allowed one hit in four innings -- the hit went to Piazza.
Mike Piazza showed up after everyone else, and quickly sauntered over to my side of the fence (the only low spot in the complex) and signed an autograph or two. Then he went back to producing -- I swear, the man is a hitting machine. The adjustment to the American League will not be difficult for this future hall-of-famer.
Nick Swisher looked ready for prime time, offensively as well as defensively. But if there's anyone who looked like he was clueless, it was Eric Chavez. Let's hope he finds his stroke. He still has his defensive powers, as he led the guys into a much-needed double play early in the game.
Seeing the veteran and new talent this close up is a real thrill, a real hint at what's to come in 2007. I can't wait.