Tuesday, March 30, 2010

George's Final Spring Training

My first trip of more than a day in almost 6 years ...

Seattle Mariners 6
Cincinnatti Reds 5
Peoria Sports Complex

Okay, first of all it was really, really, really cold and wet the evening before at the SSFC opener at Qwest and the next day I am sitting in the sun lathering up in sunscreen and in shorts. I understand snowbirds on a completely different level now. We did not get tickets to this game in advance, instead going to the box office since our plane may have been late. It was a good choice as there were still seats and we pulled into the parking lot at 12:45, so there was not a lot of room for error.

Then, we saw one of the coolest moments I have ever witnessed in sports, let alone baseball. Junior comes to the plate with the bases juices, one out, and down three runs in the bottom of the 9th. People have left. The guy next to me laughs when I suggest it might happen. Ball one. Ball two. Ball three. A swing and miss at what could have been ball four. Let's face it, he's a double play if he is on first. Swing and a miss at what would have been ball four again. Full count. Then, the noise you hear when bat hits ball in a special way. Really? Ball flies to right center. Sign reads 410. Ball flies over fence. Holy $#!+ ... walk off Grand Slam!

Seattle Mariners 1
Los Angeles Dodgers 3
Camelback Ranch

Got to meet Tom Lasorda, and man he was not happy with our line. Got a kick out of his grouchiness though. Also, the same ball was signed by Sweet Lou Johnson and current Dodger 1B James Loney. Very cool.

The M's potential offensive woes were evident, in that the only run they got was a rocket from Matt Tuiasosopo to lead off the top of the 9th. Fun game and all, and the M's had some base runners in later innings, but stranding those guys happened all weekend. They really do need another bat.

Oh, and this game set a single game Cactus League attendance mark that would not last 24 hours ...

Seattle Mariners 0
Chicago Cubs 1
Peoria Sports Complex

The previous day saw an attendance record and so did Sunday as the Cubs and M's broke it 24 hours later. Back to back days with record attendance at really cool little ball parks is awesome.

Ryan Rowland-Smith pitched a gem, only giving up a single run on a sacrifice fly. However, with the M's getting the bases loaded and no outs and then striking out three straight times that sinking feeling about their offense from earlier in the weekend felt like a real problem.

Also, we managed to get to a fun little country bar on the second night, after an epic fail of trying to find it on the first night. We had planned to go to a hockey game, but it turned out to be a mixed blessing as my bro got really sick from the heat and that would have happened in the arena.

Phoenix is an easy town to get around in, and we had a great time.

I ran into Union players and coaches at the airport Friday AM ... I was wearing a SSFC jersey and they would not even look at me. I did tell Seba he was welcome here any time and he very politely nodded and said, "Thanks." Nowak shook my hand and we chatted for a few moments, I told him that his team would get there at some point and he was gracious about it but I got the impression he knew I was just being nice because they were awful.

Plus we ran into other friends at the airport on their way to Hawaii ... nice!

The pic of the Cardinals' stadium has smoke above it because the fireworks at the start of Wrestlemania had just gone off and the event was starting as we were heading to the airport after the Cubs game.

And now there is only ONE major league team for me to see play in person ... the Houston Astros.