Day 3: Monday March 10, 2003
Phoenix, AZ - We left Tucson in the late AM and headed northwest up I-10
to the Phoenix area for the one o'clock game featuring the Rangers and
Giants in Scottsdale. We had been anxious to see our "home team," as
several up-and-comers will likely
be featured this season.
Both Hank Blalock and Kevin
Mench broke in last season
following monster springs in Port
Charlotte, though Mench fared
much better. (Did you know
Mench wears a size eight hat? He
has the biggest head in the league
and has earned the nickname
"Shrek.") Both should play the
majority of the Rangers games
this season and are expected to
quickly develop into star-quality
News from this year's camp,
however, centers on young
switch-hitting 3B/1B Mark Teixeira. Scouting reports say the slugger has an identical swing from both sides of the plate, and he is considered the number one hitting prospect in baseball. The Rangers want him to spend a year at AAA, but Teixeira is working to make that decision as hard as possible.
All the spring facilities in Arizona seem to be outdrawing their Florida counterparts, probably due to the fact that there is nothing else to do in the middle of the desert. The Giants are near the top of that list, averaging over 14,000, an amusing figure considering their spring attendance is higher than the Marlins, Expos, and Devil Ray's regular season averages.
We have also noticed that most of the Cactus League ballparks look the
same, featuring sand-colored facades and open-air concourses; they simply
do not have the character and the history of those in the Grapefruit
League. These parks are very intimate, however, featuring seating quite
close to the playing fields and very little foul territory.
This will probably come as a big shock to Rangers fans, but the game was
a high-scoring affair, as pitchers struggled to record outs. Texas
eventually pulled out a 10-9 win in a game that featured many lead
and key chain. Both Pecot and I are tall, big guys that look far more like linemen than baseball players. As Hawaiian-style shirt, the excitedly pointed out that I "That is a giant Hawaiian
and all I could keep the self-deprecating humor to a minimum, but all agreed this should make the update and the newspaper back home, as it was hilarious.)
After that entertaining contest, we crossed Phoenix to take
in a night game between the Angels and Padres. Our first
order of business was to have our picture made with the San
Diego Padre. We ended up with an shot of all of us with what
is perhaps the goofiest looking mascot in pro sports.
Arrival at our excellent seats at the end of third base dugout
found us among an even mix of Padres and Angels fans.
Since both cities are fairly close to Phoenix, this was not a
Benji Gil, former error-prone Rangers shortstop, started for the Angels and we really let him have it. The merciless booing continued until he left the game, proving entirely false the old adage "they don't boo nobodies."
Our amusement was short-lived, however, as we all realized Benji Gil has a World Series ring, something Rangers players are going to do without for a long, long time.