Baseball is on the way!

I made the ultimate sacrifice in 2016: I skipped Spring Training in Arizona. OK maybe it’s not the ULTIMATE sacrifice, but I’ve traveled to Arizona every year since 2012 so missing out feels like taking a line drive to the heart.

It had to be done, though. I have some apartment redecorating to do, and despite my best attempts at fuzzy math I couldn’t get my financial conscience to go along with paying for both. But don’t worry, I’m not crying because as everybody knows… THERE’S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!

2014 Spring Training: Day One Was a Dust Up

It’s that time of year again: Major League Baseball Spring Training in Arizona. The new season brings a new camera lens for me, which is proving a little unwieldy so far. For starters, when it’s attached to my camera the entire ensemble weights more than six pounds. I got cramps in my arm, and a blister on my zooming thumb. Tomorrow I’ll rub some desert grit on it, and get back in the mix.

It was a beautiful Scottsdale day: hot of course, with breezes that kept us cool while kicking up a lot of dust. Unfortunately, it wasn’t pretty for the San Francisco Giants — or Matt Cain who gave up seven runs to the Oakland Athletics. The Giants lost 8-1.

Brandon Belt

I Made My Bed, Now I’m Blogging In It

Day two of Spring Training was much less eventful than day one.  The only drama I experienced occurred when housekeeping forgot to clean my room.  I returned at around 5 p.m. after watching the San Francisco Giants play the Chicago Cubs, and realized that it hadn’t been touched.  At about 5:30, the very nice head of housekeeping realized her mistake, and stopped by to tidy up — but by then I’d already made the bed myself.  Seriously.  As discussed, I am a neatnik so I think you can guess my position on unmade beds.

It was fun to soak up the lackadaisical vibe at today’s game.  To start, the lineup was written on a white board near one of the entrances.  Anyone with a dry erase pen could have wreaked havoc by putting Sandoval at catcher, or something.  Lucky for Pablo, most fans do not show up at baseball games with whiteboard pens.

On my way out I double-checked – somebody had updated the whiteboard throughout the game, keeping it accurate.  Nothing fancy, but it got the job done.

The game was packed, maybe even a sell out, and I had a really terrible seat in the bleachers. It was hot, and we were all squished hip-to-hip.  My neighbors were nice, though, and everywhere I looked I saw sweet little boys sitting with their dads, sporting oversized ball caps and new baseball gloves.  They were so excited!

Buster Posey caught for four innings, to lusty applause.  Brandon Crawford looked a little sloppy.   Brandon Belt and Aubrey Huff signed autographs during warm up.  (The former smiled as he signed, the latter did not.)  Madison Bumgarner pitched pretty well – better than the score would suggest.

When I left during the seventh inning stretch to visit the dugout store, the Cubbies were leading 5 -1.  At some point in the final two innings, the Giants managed to score three more runs to nearly tie things up.  In other words, as San Francisco was showing their only offense of the day… I was busy buying one more Giants cap, and one more Giants t-shirt, that I don’t need.

It’s difficult to get too anxious, or too excited, about anyone’s performance in Spring Training.  Pitchers are tweaking their mechanics and testing new pitches.  Every inning or two, players get switched in/out of the game.   Of course, for some players Spring Training is a tryout that could determine whether they start the season in San Francisco, or in Fresno.  But it’s hard to get a sense of who is faring well in tryouts, unless you attend all the Spring Training games.

Tomorrow the Giants will play the Cleveland Indians, so it will be a day of divided loyalties.  Not yet sure which cap I’ll wear to the game – I brought one of each.  I don’t often get an opportunity to support the Tribe in person, so I am leaning that way.  Add to this the fact that my red Indians cap is a better match with the last clean shirt I have in my suitcase.   Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets.

Meanwhile, I’ll have to sleep on it.  Good night, all!

Spring Training: Day One, The Bizarro World

I love baseball, so I am not sure why I have never gone to Spring Training in Arizona before. Phoenix is a two-hour flight from San Francisco, the weather is phenomenal, and so far I am having a blast.  I just left my hotel bar, where I had cocktails and dinner outside in front of a fire while staring up at stars in a fogless sky.  I did not need fleece to stay warm.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the Bay Area… but I could get used to this.

Day one of Spring Training started out great.  I arrived at SFO early, and landed in Phoenix right on time.  I called Hertz from baggage claim – there was a reservation in my name, right?  Confirmed!

I arrived at the rental car terminal to find a long line. After a few minutes two men stormed away from the Hertz counter yelling, “They have no more cars!”  What does that even mean?  I was about to find out.

Apparently Seinfeld was not a sitcom.  It was, in fact, a reality show.  Remember the season three episode in which Jerry reserved a rental car, but he and Elaine arrived to find that there were no cars available? It was one of the best Seinfeld episodes ever.  Today I lived that episode.  Hertz was out of cars.

The “waiting list” for those of us with reservations was approximately 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, I had a ticket for a Cleveland Indians game and I was already late.  Serenity Now!  When pressed, Hertz offered each affected customer a $5 food voucher at a wrap kiosk in the building.  My wrap plus a drink cost $9, so I was not exactly left feeling whole.

When my name was finally called, I looked at the paperwork and pointed out, “There’s no mention of a GPS here. I preordered it.  Will this car have GPS? “  I was assured there would be a GPS.

There was no GPS in my car.

I headed back to the service counter.   It was mobbed with irate customers who had been directed to parking spaces that not only had no GPS – they contained no cars.  They were empty. I felt kind of guilty complaining about the lack of a GPS, since at least I had a car.  But I held my ground because it’s no use having a car if you have no idea where to drive it.

Two men in their 60’s nearly got into a fist fight over who deserved the next available car more.  (The Greatest Generation, keeping it classy.)  I was so stressed by the time my car (with GPS) arrived, I would have left my suitcase on the curb were it not for a kind, quick-thinking fellow Hertz victim I had been commiserating with, who chased me down as I started to drive away.

Nevertheless, I arrived at the Goodyear Ballpark in time for the ninth inning of the Indians vs. Diamondbacks game.  The entrance to the parking lot was already closed, but the security man reopened it – just for me – and let me park for free.  And the cute guy at the entrance to the park couldn’t scan my ticket, but let me in anyway.  “You are already so late!”  I somehow doubt this would have happened at AT&T Park.

The vibe was relaxed.  The Indians won.  I picked up a lot of Spring Training swag at the Team Shop, and thus am way out in front of holiday stocking-stuffer shopping for my family.

Tomorrow I will see the San Francisco Giants play the Chicago Cubbies in Scottsdale.  I can walk there so I’ll be early enough for photos and soft serve ice cream from the Mister Softee truck.

Did I mention that I love Spring Training?