Free-Floating Hostility

Friday, March 25, 2005

Fun at Spring Training

I returned this morning from a three-day tour of the Oakland A's camp, spending time watching the wonder that is terrible late-inning spring baseball and suffering a terrible sunburn. Here's the blow-by-blow in highlight form.

--Catch a 6:30 a.m. flight from Sacramento to Phoenix. Deciding that it's better to sleep an extra few minutes than jockey for plane position, I draw a C pass on Southwest Airlines. That means I am among the last to board, squeezing into a middle seat between two large men who sleep the whole way down. I have bought three newspapers and despite using subway fold, don't make any friends.
--We arrive at the A's complex about 10 a.m., just as the players are stretching. Papago Park, Oakland's minor league complex, is beautiful. Given that Oakland is one of the poor teams, I can only imagine what the Yankees have, probably solid gold lockers and towels that are actually $100 bills stitched together.
--Realize that I have stupidly forgotten sunscreen.
--Watch Barry Bonds press conference where he blames media for injuries. Feel surge of power course through my body.
--Radio Voice of Triple A team tells story about players forcing him to take batting practice. His response to them was, "Great. I'm glad making me feel bad about myself makes you happy." This sets the tone for the running joke of the trip.
--Spot Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball. He is writing a sequel to the book and hanging around the minor league games. His shirt is open one button too far and everything just feels awkward.
--Meet series of Sacramento-are radio guys and understand why they are on the radio.
--Go to dinner with radio voice of the triple-A affiliate and brand new PR guy. We eat at fancy sushi place, though I order generic pad thai. We comment on the way women who live in warm climates seem to walk around naked all the time. Since all three of us are in long-term committed relationships, we comfort ourselves by referring to all women in Arizona as "trogs."

--Attend major league camp, but receive credential that has no clubhouse access.
--A's manager Ken Macha and ESPN's Peter Gammons are discussing Texas starter Chris Young, who is 6-10 and played basketball at Princeton. I try to join conversation with cutting remark about Princeton's academic standards for basketball and am ignored.
--George Will is there as well.
--Have following exchange in press box.
Voice of River Cats: (walks over with recording equipment) Can I put this stuff down here?
Me: Sure. Watching your stuff makes me happy.
VORC: Thanks, that makes me happy.
Me: No. Making you happy makes me happy.
VORC: See, that makes me happy.
Operator of's gamecast: Hey, why don't you guys just have a fight over who is happier?
We proceed to mock this person for both his attitude and the size of his nose for the rest of the trip.
--File stories and consider going out for dinner.
--Order room service, remove pants at 7:15 MT, do not put them on against for rest of the evening.

--Meet and interview Billy Beane. Immediately cease preparing for fantasy draft as I'm sure his karma will rub off on me.
--Watch low-key minor league intersquad game. Am briefly taken by female photographer and then realize that she is Tabitha Soren, formerly of MTV News. Soren is married to Michael Lewis.
--Manage to avoid sun for most of the morning.
--Eat delicious pizza lunch in downtown Scottsdale. Find myself growing impressed with life in Arizona.
--File stories in time for media dinner.

--Am dropped off at 5:45 for 7:45 a.m. flight. Phoenix airport is decent, but there is nothing to eat.
--Arrive home at 9:30 and am greeted with largely deserted town because kids are spring break, likely in Arizona. I love that.

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