Saturday, March 24, 2012
Three Ancient Jocks Attempt to Conquer Spring Training in Phoenix – Post #3
We Actually Saw Some Baseball
Amidst the disorientation, forgetfulness, old-men-driving-in-a-strange-town-antics, and just general tomfoolery that all went on during our time in Arizona, we actually saw some baseball!
In fact, all three games that we took in were good baseball games other than the scores, which in two cases at least, could have been different. The first game we saw featured the Giants hosting the Cubs in Scottsdale. The good guys (Giants, of course) scored first but ended up losing the game, 8-6.
We sat behind a boisterous group of Cub fans who were enjoying the 85-degree temps with us, and who normally would be happy to be away from the friendly confines at this time of the year, but the temps in Chicago were not far behind – very abnormally in the 60’s. A gal, who obviously knew her baseball and who also was not afraid to speak her mind, began raving about the Cubs reorganization and their new president, youthful phenom Theo Epstein.
Unfortunately, the Cubs, again this year, are not figured to go anywhere in the NL Central – not with St. Louis, Milwaukee and even Cincinnati in that same division. The gal yakked on and on about Epstein, so finally I asked her, “What’s so good about him so far?” (the Cubs haven’t made many changes in the time he’s been with them).
Her answer: “He’s cute.”
About then the Cubbies rallied for a few runs and all the Cub fans came to life. I was born in Chicago, so I’m not exactly a Cub-hater. But the best part of this game, for me, was that I think sitting in the hot sun for several hours put the nail in the coffin of the bad chest cold I had had for a couple of weeks previous.
The second game we saw was against the Cleveland Indians, again in Scottsdale. But this time our seats were down the right field line – Giants territory. In spite of that, we happened to sit behind a young couple who were from the Cleveland area but who had recently moved to Kentucky so the man could attend seminary. They were Cleveland fans.
He was a married Roman Catholic who was planning to enter the Diaconate (new to me) of the Church and eventually assist a priest in a local parish. He was a knowledgeable baseball fan as well as a smart seminary student, and so he, Joe and I had a wonderful discussion about the church, his mission – and baseball.
He may be one of the most interesting young men – if not one of the most dedicated – I’ve ever encountered. Dwight and his wife talked family dynamics (wives serve equally in the Diaconate) and kids (they had two young children). Another excellent game, which, incidentally, ended up tied at 6. They don’t go into extra innings in Spring Training.
The final game – Giants against my hometown Seattle Mariners in the Mariners stadium in Peoria – turned out to be the best game of all (pic above shows M's stretching and warming up before the game -- #20 is hard hitting Mike Carp). Giants bats finally came to life in this one, and they pretty much sewed up the game early, although the M’s came on late to get within a couple runs. Final score, if I remember correctly, was 8-6 Giants.
But the interesting thing was how beautiful the Mariners stadium complex was in comparison to the Giants’. The M’s are in a farther-out suburb of Phoenix and share the complex with the San Diego Padres; however, there is a beautiful new stadium, ample parking and a slew of restaurants and shopping across the street.
The Giants, on the other hand, play in downtown Scottsdale in an older park with uncomfortable seating and totally inadequate parking (see first post). The Giants facility is fine overall, but it’s obvious the newer complexes have many fan advantages.
I’d have a photo of the three of us normally in this post. Dwight had a lady take one on his FILM camera (he’s techno-challenged) but she somehow didn’t click the shutter correctly. So when he got home and developed the film, nothing was there but the shots he took.
He told me yesterday he’s looking at an iPhone. Guaranteed more interesting stories if he gets one. :-)