Taking advantage of what will likely be a one-time quirk in our schedules, team grp headed out this week for a western swing of baseball and national parks. By chance, it also turned out to be an opportunity to watch the good guys as well as have an early look at the Sox 2011 meth-up opponent - the Dodgers. (Hey, get that $$$ into hsa!)
Turns out that fans can arrive as early as 9am to watch the activities on any of several back diamonds behind the stadium. No admission fee for this by the way. One diamond had cut-off drills going on, another had just two guys in catcher's gear firing the ball to each other between home and 2nd base. This odd snap came from a sequence that I took watching Paulie demonstrating the footwork involved with fielding a one-hopper backhanded and then firing the ball to second base. Joey Cora hit about a dozen hard ones and Kong handled every one cleanly. Adam Dunn - not so much,
I'm sure that most SSS know by now that the Glendale facility is a pristine campus of baseball. The Sox and Dodger halves of the facility are split by a small pond with lots of area to picnic. More than a few senior citizens with lawn chairs and baloney w/ cheese sandwiches could be found at each of the diamonds. It's what they do.
Another of the back diamonds, this one supposedly built to the exact dimensions of the Cell, was the site of a so-called "B" game between lots of guys with numbers in the 60's from the Sox versus lots of guys with numbers in the 60's from the Indians . Yes, that is Mark Teahan playing 3rd base for the Sox, hmm.
It cost $15 to get a reserved seat for the game but we happened upon something called the "Legends Deck" which was open to the public for the day. It gave a us a great upper deck view of the game from seats that were reminiscent of the great upper deck boxes of old Comiskey. Once the game started, John Danks didn't have any trouble at all with what turned out to be a split-squad Dodger lineup. I don't remember one hard hit ball against him in five innings.
The White Sox offense featured several hard hit balls off Hiroki Kuroda. Q! crushed a pitch to left-center for a homerun, Paulie hit 2 long doubles, Lastings Milledge hit a 410 ft out to center field but the biggest thrill for the White Sox fans and the entire team was Omar Vizquel's flyball into the right field bullpen. He got a really nice ovation, Ozzie just couldn't wait for him to get back to the dugout. Really cool.
All right, time for completely random trivia. What do Paul Konerko and Davy Lopes have in common?
That's right! They were both born in Rhode Island. (If I can cleverly photoshop Rocco Baldelli into the picture then I'd really have something.)
Well, time to head off to some meteor crater, so in closing if you ever can make it down here for some spring training games, do it. Things are really laid back, you get to watch a lot of baseball in beautiful surroundings, gets tons of autographs for the kids, meet lots of Sox fans and simply enjoy some great weather in the 80's. (The locals did tell us that early March is in the 70's while things will get above 90 by the end of spring training.) Can't wait for opening day!