I'll start with a grumpy rant. Almost lost my breakfast this morning, when I saw the smug face of D.Baxter grinning inanely from the front of The Rep. Inside, there was a guide to what to do at Bank One Ballpark, apart from watch the game. Oh, yes, that's what we need: more people who confuse a ballpark with a theme-park. Here's my suggestion: stay the hell at home. That way, you won't have to pay $100+ bucks, by the time you include tickets for your rugrrats, parking your SUV and filling your overweight family up with tooth-rotting treats, to attend a game you don't want to see. Meanwhile, we genuine baseball fans won't have to put up with inanities like the wave. Thankyouverymuch.
Onto lighter, more pleasant things. A very enjoyable afternoon at Phoenix Muni yesterday, watching the A's take out the Brewers 6-1 in their spring training encounter. First time I've been to that stadium. Had a little difficulty finding it - we initially headed South off the 202, but turned round when we saw we were hitting Tempe... Had even more difficulty finding a parking lot that didn't say, "No baseball traffic", or have a clipboard-wielding stormtrooper at its entrance.
Had good seats - there didn't seem much demand for an A's-Brewers matchup, so we were about 18 rows back, fractionally to the right of home plate. Zito, the only one left of their heroic trio from the past few seasons, was starting for the A's and despite giving up an early home-run, was snapping off his curveball very nicely. The A's came back, to our mild pleasure, since we were Oakland fans for the day: the visiting cousin was a big A's fan, I had dragged out my "Mulder" shirt (acquired on a previous road trip), and we bought Chris an A's cap.
Mind you, loyalties were somewhat split, with ex-AZ on both sides. Would have been nice to see a few more Brewerbacks (Spivey, Moeller, Capuano or de la Rosa), but cheered Durazo and Overbay when they came up. Both ex-D'back first basemen - and both may well hit better than our current incumbent this season. Durazo responded by hitting a home run, while Overbay had a couple of hits. Mind you, Durazo was also thrown out, by about 89 feet, trying to steal second: dude, there's a reason you DH: you go up, you hit, you sit down. That's all we want.
The stadium is nicer than I expected: not perhaps as pretty as Maryvale, but not bad, though the lack of lawn seats beyond the outfield wall is perplexing. Had a Polish dog (average) and two Fat Tires (very pleasant), and the afternoon went past swimmingly. It was a quick game, over before 3:30pm too, so we beat the rush-hour traffic away from the stadium. It's very relaxing to go to a game every now and again, in which you have absolutely no emotional involvement at all. After a spell where we thought we might not go to any games this year, we may take in a day contest or two.
Speaking of the A's, check out Athletics Nation and Blez's Spring Training Report. He got to interview some of the A's, including Huston Street, and his reaction on learning Street reads AN is priceless: "The first thing out of my mouth before I can stop it, is, "Shut up! You do not." Nice, I just told the most pleasant person I think I've ever come in contact with to shut up. Real good, dude." Brilliant stuff. Someday, I too, hope I get the chance to tell, oh, someone like Chad Tracy, to "Shut Up!". :-)
Think it's safe to say I had a better time at Phoenix Muni, than I would have had at the actual Diamondbacks game down in Tucson, where we got our asses kicked by the White Sox, 14-0. Not really what we wanted from our #1 starter in his last game before Opening Day. Five innings, nine hits, five walks, nine earned runs for him, then Choate allowed four runs on five hits in the sixth, while our offense got out-hit 18-4.
Bright spots were hard to find, but Lyon had another perfect innings, fanning two, while Hairston went 2-for-2, leaving a nice final impression when the rest of the team decamps to head for Phoenix today. He finishes spring with a .405 average. One wonders exactly how much better than McCracken, Hairston would have needed to be to stay on the roster. Clearly 155 points of batting average wasn't enough...
The D'backs have announced changes to their autograph sessions for next year. They'll no longer be down by the railings (reading between the lines, there may have been a threat of an ADA lawsuit if they tried that again), but at four locations on the concourse, plus one on the Infiniti Diamond level for the rich basta...sorry, I mean suite holders. :-) They'll be 20 minute sessions on Tuesday and Saturday, but I imagine demand will still exceed supply.