Monday, February 28, 2005

How I Spent My Spring Vacation

A week in Arizona - almost all expenses paid - who could pass up such an awesome offer? Especially in February! Through some very fortuitous circumstances, my wife and I were given the opportunity to stay at the Boulders Resort in Carefree, Arizona. I won't carry on about how awesome the resort is - but check out the website. If you ever want to spend a week in the desert - and money is no object - then the Boulders is mostly highly recommended.

Last Friday, we all piled into a rental car and headed for Peoria. After one wrong turn on 101 that took us all the way to Chandler, we got turned around and headed in the right direction. After a pleasant ride, we arrived at the Peoria Sports Complex around 10am. For those of your who have not had the pleasure of visiting, the complex is quite beautiful and expansive. We stopped in at the souvenir shop and picked up a couple of ST balls and a program. Then it was off to the practice fields. My guess is that there were about 300 fans watching practice. As we walked up to field one, the first person we spotted was Ichiro! hanging out in RF. The infielders were going through a pop-up drill. Lots of emphasis was being placed on calling the ball by the coaching staff. Also heard Boone admonishing somebody - "you gotta call it if it's your ball!!".

All four practice fields were in use - as well as the bullpen. I spent the next couple of hours wandering from field to field - trying to absorb as much as I could. I have quite a few impressions from those 2 hours - how big Sexson is - how big Morse is - how Beltre handled every ball that was anywhere close to him - how hard Felix throws - how big Bucky is - how intimidating Mike Hargrove can be when he feels the need - how effortlessly Ichiro! puts the bat on the ball.

After practice, we stood in line by the RF gate to get some autographs. In no particular order, we got signatures from Bobby Madritsch, Felix Hernandez, Dan Wilson, Clint Nageotte, Joel Pineiro, Gil Mesch, Greg Dobbs, Mike Hargrove, Bryan Price, and Ryan Franklin. We walked over to the gate at the Player's parking lot - didn't get any sigs, but did get to see Jay Buhner. Oh, and by the way, the best drink in Peoria is the Freckled Lemonade at Red Robin - just in case you were wondering!

As a fan, it was a most enjoyable morning. Getting a chance to see the players up close with relatively unfettered access is so refreshing. The atmosphere was much like what one would encounter at a minor league park - lots of friendly people - some players who went out of their way to make sure the fans were having a good time - and some insight into how much hard work the players put in to get ready for the regular season. The PSC is an awesome facility. My recommendation - go!!!

The Peoria Sports Complex

Bobby signs while Felix brings up the rear

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Vacation's End

Got back yesterday evening from an awesome week in the desert. A complete post concerning last Friday's visit to Peoria (with pictures) will happen either tomorrow or Tuesday. I'm tired (remember the old line about needing a vacation from my vacation?) - but I promise to have the piece written not later than Tuesday.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Let The Games Begin!

Ah, Spring Training is finally underway! Amazing how one's mood can change so dramatically by the mere mention of ST. The gloom is gone - the sun is out - and there's a bright future on the horizon.

Not sure what day next week that I will visit the Peoria Sports Complex, but I plan to get as many pictures (and autographs) as possible. Will post the pics and thoughts concerning the team upon return to Washington.

Piniero and Guardado both looked pretty good on the evening news last night. If they both are sound, it will certainly take some of the pressure off of the pitching staff. Also encouraging to note that 14 position players are already in Peoria.

Friday, February 11, 2005

The Last Waltz

According to the Times, Rich Waltz will be calling games for the Marlins in 2005. Good luck Rich.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Will ST Ever Start?

Yeah, it's another one of those "I can't believe how boring it is while waiting for Spring Training to start!!" posts. Cool piece in the Times today that discusses some changes that the M's have decided on down in Peoria this spring. Apparently the fields that the Major Leaguers have used in the past will be unavailable, so they will be using other fields that may (according to the Times) allow greater fan access to the players. Your intrepid reporter will be there - and will be back with the scoop on 2/28.

By the way, if you have not checked out the National Baseball Hall of Fame website, you should do so - immediately!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Please Read

I have not plugged Management By Baseball lately. Check out the article - some really great thoughts on what happened to Sammy Sosa.

Various and Sundry

Check out Lookout Landing, the newly revamped web page that was previously known as Leone For Third. Nice look guys.

Nellie is back. I'm pleased to see the club make this move - it vindicates everyone (including Nellie) who complained before regarding the M's lack of action directed toward making the team better. I'm not sure that he will actually be a contributor for the 2005 campaign, but having another veteran around for Spring Training won't hurt.

I'm going to be in Scottsdale the week of 21 Feb - should get a chance to at least run over to Peoria and take a look around. Full reports to follow.