Return to OOB homepage

Return to 2005 Spring Training homepage


Tempe, AZ -- One of the reasons we have always preferred Florida to Arizona for the spring training experience is the more antiseptic, sterile feel of many of the Cactus League parks. So we were pleasantly surprised when we arrived at Gene Autry Field at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

Nestled in a slight valley next to two large rock formations was a cozy park where the Angels were hosting the Rangers. On the plus side, Diablo features fan-friendly player access, close bullpens, and a moderately priced gift shop.  On the negative side, most of the journalists are California surfer types.  I was amused at the press luncheon, however, to watch these bleached-blonde west-coasters trying to eat ribs with a fork and knife.  Amateurs.

The Angels have decided to change their name yet again, and have chosen the mouthful “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim” as their official designation. We of course find this ridiculous, but take comfort in knowing they’ll probably change it again in another couple of years.

On the way to this game, we made our picks for the annual contest.  Perkins, Blue and the Lizard all picked the Angels for this inaugural game, so I decided I would take the Rangers.  The Angels had been hot, winning 7 of their last 8, while the Rangers have struggled for victories thus far.  They were due.

Imagine the delight of the others when we arrived and I heard the dreaded news that I knew would condemn my pick: “…And pitching for Texas, number 61, Chan Ho Park.”  The Lizard laughed out loud, and I knew I was going to start the contest 0-1.

Apparently the Angels were having “first nine people in the ballpark get to be in the starting lineup” day, however, as Park gave up just one hit, a bunt single, in four innings of work, retiring 12 of 13 hitters faced.  The Cheshire cat grin on my face was evident as the Rangers carried a 4-1 lead into the eighth.

One player I am interested in following this spring is Richard Hidalgo, the Rangers new right fielder.  Word around camp is that Hidalgo is swinging the bat better that he has in several years, and his early performance supports that line of thinking.  He leads the team with four homers in just 17 ABs. Unfortunately, he was not in the lineup today.

As to the eventual outcome of the game, I am reminded of the Lizard’s sage wisdom as the savvy veteran on these trips.  “Spring games are often decided in the late innings when the kids are in.”

True to form, the Angels youngsters tagged young Rangers pitchers Vlad Nunez and Kameron Lowe and beat the Texas club 10-6.  It’s already going bad for me – I really don’t want to have to buy a steak for Dan Wilson again!

After the game, we headed for the hotel and checked in.  These accommodations are fine, but do not hold a candle to the Orlando time-share. We had invited “Big Jim” Powell again, hoping to enjoy his humorous countrified wisdom and another year in luxurious lodging, but he has his priorities all out of whack and had chosen a skiing trip next week over spring baseball.

We found a restaurant and were done eating by 6:00, so we went looking for some entertainment.  We located an IMAX theater.  Perkins said he had never seen an IMAX film, so we went to check it out.  A wise choice was made, however, as we declined that evening’s screening – four grown men going to see the “Polar Express” together might be considered a little bit odd…

Tempe Diablo Stadium, one of our favorite Arizona destinations, and a great way to start the trip this year.
Chan Ho Park pitched well on this day, and went on to be the Rangers pitcher of the month in April.
The Lizard (left) and Perkins (right) enjoy the Rangers/Angels contest from the concourse at Tempe Diablo Stadium.
"Hank's Homies" were on the road the same week we were (left).  Mark Teixeira prepares for another inning (top).
We moved around the stadium on this day, taking in a variety of viewing locations.  By the end, when the game was coming apart for the Rangers, we settled in the third bace bleachers, got some sun, and enjoyed the end of the game.  (L to R Clayton "Perkins" Pecot, Kenny "The Lizard" Lattin, and Dan "Blue" Wilson.)
What's in the OOB CD Player?
Spring Training 2000 - Girls Only
1st Spring Training Trip - FL '02
3rd Spring Training Trip - FL '04
2nd Spring Training Trip - AZ '03
4th Spring Training Trip - AZ '05
Sports Separated at Birth!
OOB Texas Rangers Page
2005 MLB Uniform Changes
Meet OOB Founder Joshua Best
The Little OOBers: Joel and Jake
Out of Bounds
DFW Sports Newsletter
OOB All-Century Baseball Team
NHL vs. NBA (1999)
Remembering George Harrison
"I want you to know that although I am here, I am fundamentally against this foolishness..."
OOB founder Joshua Best to parking lot attendant at the first interleague game in baseball history - 6/12/1997
Click here to write to OOB
'90-'91 JV Pirates Basketball
New MLB Uniforms 2002
Hank Blalock: Future Star (2002)
Congress Demands New Facility
I am a liar.  I am power-hungry and controlling.  I am a joke.  I look like Janet Reno.
Bud Selig, respected commissioner of Major League Baseball.
The Worthless Rangers Prize Vault!
Every OOB reader is eligible to win a prize from this exciting collection of collectibles.  Ranging from baseball cards to game handouts to memorobilia, the prizes are fun for fans of our north Texas baseball team.  Sign up for OOB and you are eligible to win via the weekly QUIZ or through random drawing, to be held from time to time.  So watch your IN-box and your mailbox - You never know when your collection of valuables will grow with a part of OOB Texas Rangers history from the "Worthless Rangers Prize Vault!"
Dallas Cowboys Football
Dallas Stars Hockey
Texas Rangers Baseball
Houston Astros Baseball
Newberg Minor League Report
Dallas Desperados Arena Football
Dallas Mavericks Basketball
Walt's Sports Sheet
New MLB Uniforms 2004
New NHL rules made easy
OOB Home Page
Classic Baseball Injuries