Today I was itch’n for some batting practice.
Unfortunately the design of Peoria Sports Complex (in my experience) isn’t exactly a Ballhawk’s dream.
I know nothing of the ins and outs of the Peoria Sports Complex. All I can do is tell you about what happened on “this” particular day. It started out great, Mike and I showed up early and the Rockies were out on the field taking batting practice. For about 10 minutes it was only Mike and I watching and I kept thinking “How cool is this, it’s just us”. Seconds after that thought, Mike and I were approached by Security and were told that this was a “private” batting practice and we were in a restricted area.
I knew it was too good to be true. What sucks is it wasn’t posted anywhere that we couldn’t be there, no signs.
What Security didn’t know is Mike and I each had snagged a ball before they showed up.
After a quick departure I kept exploring and stumbled across a row of what seemed to be deserted batting cages. They looked like they were accessible to the public as there were no signs stating otherwise. I spotted a few “easter eggs” on the ground so my happy ass wandered in there.
As I was bending over to pick up the “easter egg” I over heard some guy carrying a leaf blower say “Hey, are you supposed to be back here”.
I replied “Am I not supposed to be back here?”
Leaf blower dude says “You can’t just walk back here and pick up baseballs.”
At this point I’m embarrassed and getting irked so I said “You can wander all of the spring train facilities and pick up loose baseballs, that’s exactly what I’m doing until you just informed me I wasn’t supposed to be here.”
Leafblower dude agreed, backed off me and I continued to wander, just not by the batting cages. Had I not stopped and tried to pick up the baseball, Leaf blower dude probably would have ignored me and kept blowing…My eager bad.
Peoria…If you don’t want me in there exploring…PUT UP A SIGN.
We continued our search for batting practice and all we found were locked gates.
Look at this spot. If the gate were unlocked you could snag baseballs from both fields.
Nope big lock on there. Same with the next one. What a beautiful spot, wasted.
At this point it’s over an hour before game time and we’re forced to stand and hope for foul balls.
Sorry Peoria but that’s lame. We knew for a fact there would be no batting practice inside so the one ball I managed to snag from the Rockies “private” batting practice would be the only one of the day. I hate that 😦
On a very cool note, we ran into Huston Street and he autographed a ball and posed for a picture.
Time to head into the Stadium.
Here’s Mike the Rox Addict proving he’s a rebel.
Still bummed at the lack of batting practice Mike and I decided to take our chances at the pitching cages.
I call this set “Been caught stealing”
Still determined to take another baseball home from this place I gave this bad boy a shot.
It wouldn’t budge and I couldn’t find a crow bar.
Eventually I wandered over to the Rockies dugout. The first player out to warm-up was “The Duece”
Duece warmed up for a few minutes then exited without signing for anyone. That didn’t faze me, what fazed me was a few minutes later Duece came out and signed for everyone in the front row including me, on the sweet spot.
Here’s a few pictures of the Rockies pregame.
Here’s Pacheco and EY Jr flashing the Ranter sign.
Again this game I didn’t take any action shots in hopes of catching a game home run. In hindsight, I should have taken the pictures.
Check out the Rox Addict’s blog if you’d like to see some of the action shots.
Rockies lose to the Padres 10-6.
So the day was a bust. Well not totally, look what I managed to snag. I looked but I didn’t see a sign saying I couldn’t take it.
We left it parked at the In n Out Burger.
Damn good burger.
I’m “D” The Ranter and maybe it’s just me but Peoria seemed kinda stingy with their baseballs.
Part of this Spring Training adventure was spent camping at Lake Pleasant. This is a beautiful lake, with lots camping sites and more importantly showers and electricity.
Mike and I each had our own tents and the combination of 50 mph winds and torrential rains that started on Saturday night really put a kink in our Arizona camping experience.
Saturday night was a nightmare weather-wise and everything Mike and I had in our tents got drenched.
Props to my buddy Dan(thank you) for hooking us up with a coupon for a room at the Talking Stick Resort near Salt River Fields. This was a really nice hotel and after our bout with the rain this was a little slice of heaven. We spent Sunday and Monday night at the Hotel and by doing that we avoided the snow and hail that visited our campsite.
Brewers vs Rangers
Maryvale Baseball Park holds a special place for me. It was here I snagged my first live game home run ball.
Here’s a link to that blog entry back in 2009:
This would be my first time back to Maryvale since 2009 and I had visions of another home run snag, however this time I wanted to catch it on the fly. The weather was sketchy at best with the sky clear in some areas and pouring rain in other.
I hardly took any pictures at this game as my focus was a home run ball.
If you want to see some game pictures check out the Rox Addicts blog entry on this game.
I did try to get a good one of Brad Hawpe for Queen Geri..Here’s the best I could do Queen, just know I was think’n of ya 🙂
Although not in the best neighborhood Maryvale Baseball Park is my favorite little spring training stadium. I love the vibe here. Nobody messes with you, the food is reasonably priced and this park has a fantastic berm.
Here’s a few shots of this little gem.
Look at the flags in the above picture. The wind was blowing and it wasn’t one of those warm desert winds. This was a chill you to the bone cold wind.
This park is Happy Youngster stomping grounds and I was on the lookout for that bright yellow shirt. Unfortunately I didn’t run into my friend Nick.
Due to the rain this game was called before it got to the 5th inning, so in the end this game really wasn’t a game.
I’m “D” The Ranter and I’ll be back Maryvale, my ticket is good for two years.
Dodgers vs Rockies…Salt River Fields
“D” in the Desert
This day started out exactly the way I like it. We showed up early and were greeted with two Diamondback batting practices.
As I said there were two BP’s today and during the second one it was just Mike, Dan and I snagg’n. It was game on and I snagged eight baseballs.
I live for days like that.
Behind where we were snagg’n baseballs was a six foot fence lined with barbed wire. Several of the BP homers hit bounced on the road and landed on the other side of the fence. I looked but couldn’t see a way to get over the fence and snag those baseballs so I forgot about them.
Next thing I know I see Mike walking up to me with a handful of baseballs. Mike found a weak spot in the fence and was able to get through it and snag those stranded baseballs. He also found a couple of balls that were missed hidden in the bushes.
For that bit of top-notch snagging I think Mike deserves an award.
I’m awarding Mike the first annual:
“Robert Harmon Award for Creative Ballhawking”
To quote Robert “Baseballs do grow on trees”. Mike proved that.
The Rockies decided to take their BP in the cages…it figures.
Here’s “The Deuce”, caged and protected from his adoring fans.
Chris Nelson was kind enough to sign a baseball for me.
Here are some inside the stadium pictures pre-game.
I headed over to the Dodgers side to try to get Mark Ellis to sign the live game ball he tossed me last season but I never saw Mark on the field pre-game. As the Usher was scooting us away after the National Anthem Andre Ethier walked up to the edge of the dugout and started signing for folks.
I waited and Andre signed my baseball last.
He signed it on the sweet spot for me, I didn’t even have to ask.
When I see Captain Earthman I know all is as it should be as far as baseball is concerned.
The crew out on the berm. Check out Mikes hat.
Former Rockie Mark Ellis.
In the sixth inning Wilin Rosario hit foul ball along the first base line. The new owner of that baseball was none other than my partner in crime down here in Phoenix…Mike the Rox Addict.
Mike gave away his first ever game ball to Mary the Usher because it was her birthday.
Here’s Mike pictured with Mary on TV…Classy move Mike 🙂
As much as we wanted a win to cap off one hell of a day it wasn’t happening.
Padres get the win over the Rockies 9-6.
I’m “D” The Ranter, feel’n fine but running a bit behind.
Next blog entry…Rangers vs Brewers Maryvale Baseball Park.
Rockies vs Reds… Goodyear Stadium
I’m not sure what this mascot is and after a very small amount of thought I decided I didn’t want to know.
I looked but I didn’t see a “Practice” stamped on the outside of it anywhere on it so as far as flat baseballs go it must be the real deal.
Spring training for me has always been a test.
Not a test of my intelligence(thank god), more a test of my patience. Each time I’m down here I try to learn a little more about each facility.This trip has been no different.
Show up a half hour late and you miss batting practice. Think batting practice is going to be one place and you find out it’s at another.
It’s fun yet frustrating at the same time.
Mike and I have yet to experience the joys of a batting practice taking place inside of a stadium. It’s more common to stumble across batting practice occurring discretely out in back of the stadium. That’s exactly what happened today. We were lucky and managed to stumble across some Reds BP taking place in one of the back fields.
Baseballs here are hard to catch on the fly because you only see the ball just as it’s cresting the fence. Despite that annoyance I snagged two baseballs. One on the fly and one was scooped as it was rolling.
In attendance for BP today were Dan, Mike, Amy and Emily.
Everyone snagged at least one baseball. Good job all!!
My first official “Hoser” pic of the season.
Here’s some Rockies pics pre-game.
One of my favorite players Chris Nelson.
While Mike and I were walking the concourse Mike was sure he spotted former Colorado Governor Bill Owens talking to another guy about twenty feet away from us. Upon closer inspection Mike was correct. We wanted to introduce ourselves but neither of us had the testicular fortitude.
So Mike had a great idea.
His idea was to get Amy to break the ice with the Governor. She’s young and not scared of going up to people cold turkey. Amy pulled it off, we met Governor Owens, chatted a bit, shook his hand, and then the Governor signed their ticket stubs and my program and ticket.
The Governor mentioned he had read my blog and before our brief encounter was over in true Ranter style I slipped him my Ranter card. Great guy Governor Owens, friendly and easy to talk to, and loves baseball.
Thank you Sir!!
Here’s the ticket and program the Governor signed for me.
Now some game pictures.
Jon at bat.
Cargo out at second.
I didn’t take as many pictures as usual. That’s because I was lingering in the outfield hoping to catch a home run ball. That’s difficult to do with a camera in your face.
Rockies tried hard in the 9th inning scoring three runs but it was too little too late. Reds take this one with a final score of 4-3.
After the game there was a small fireworks show. Nothing special but kinda cool.
I’m “D” The Ranter and every day is an adventure down here at Spring Training.
Wonder who I’ll meet next…”D”
This day started out way too early. Although ballons crossing the road in front of you on your drive to the ballpark is pretty damn cool.
I love the desert.
Last night I managed to get a solid 7 hours sleep and I needed it becasue I hadn’t slept at all from the previous days road trip.
Mike and I had two games on the agenda today.
The first one was the A’s vs Rangers at Surprise Stadium.
This is a cool little stadium with a really neat backfield area set up just for fans. We saw players walking all over and they were stopping and taking time to chat with the fans.
For me this is enemy territory but it was cool seeing how the other side rolls. The Rockies could take a few notes from these fellas on how to interact with fans who drive a long way to see them.
We thought we arrived early but it turns out we had already missed batting practice.
We walked the back fields a bit then headed inside to see what this place was like.
No ballpark is complete without it’s merry-go-round.
Today was much hotter than this mountain boy is used to and by the start of the game I was close to cooked. That’s not exactly how you want to start a two game day.
While cruising the outfield area I stumbled across the Budweiser Home Run Party deck.
In reality it wasn’t much of a party and no home runs were hit inside, but for a small fee I upgraded my ticked and I enjoyed the rest of the game shaded with all I could eat 🙂
That worked out perfectly beacause at this point my well cooked ass was hot and hungry.
Here’s a few game pics. You might remember this guy Rockies fans.
Here’s Seth Smith at bat with Torealba catching.
A’s win this game 11-7.
As soon as this game ended we quickly headed out to the Peoria Sports Complex, home of the Mariners and the Padres.
We met up with Rantic Amy to watch the Mariners vs the Giants.
As soon as we entered we headed over to the Giants dugout for position so we could try and score a few autographs as today was a total bust for batting practice.
I snagged nine baseballs yesterday at Salt River Fields so getting shutout today sucked.
Here’s a few game pictures.
Rox Addict and Amy on the berm.
Giants get the win over the Mariners 7-5.
By the time we got back to the campsite I was done.Peoria’s a cool stadium but it’s no Salt River Fields.
I”m “D” The Ranter and the Spring Training Road Trip continues…
First off let me thank all of you who took the time to submit pictures for my Photo Contest, in my eyes you’re all winners.
Secondly I couldn’t in all fairness judge the photo entries myself so a huge Thank You goes out to Tom Helmer of ROOT SPORTS for taking time out of his busy schedule to judge the photos for this contest.
These are your first, second and third place photos as judged by Tom Helmer along with his comments.
The double rainbow over Coors field. “It’s a double rainbow man!, Maybe it will double the number of wins at Coors Field next year.
3 Amigos. “I know it’s not intimidating to see your bullpen with pink backpacks and holding hands but it makes for a heck of a photo”.
Fist Bump “I don’t care if it’s the Reds or any other team rolling through. A fist bump from a player to a little fan is always cool”.
Katerina, Nicolle and Michael Congratulations!!!!
Katerina wins the Carlos Gonzalez figurine.
Nicolle wins the Jason Giambi autographed Rockies Card
Michael wins the Carlos Gonzalez autographed baseball card.
Winners please email me so I can arrange to get your prizes delivered.
Thanks again to Gary X for donating the Giambi and Cargo autographed cards.
I’m the Ranter and I think I’ll roll with this Photo Contest next year.
The Birth of Vanny Castilla…The Mobile Blogging Unit
Love em or hate em, it’s almost always a conversation starter when you see VW bus roll by.
I’ve been fascinated by all types of vans since I was a kid. My admiration for the VW bus in particular hit me in my late 20’s. At the time I was single and I dreamed of owning a bus because to me a bus represented independence and adventure and it meant never being stuck without a place to sleep.
The innovative idea of the Mobile Blogging Unit was brought to life in my second year of MLBlogging. The original MBU was a 28 foot camper which was my father-in-laws. He graciously let a buddy and I (Andy from Spring Training), use it for the nine days we were in Tucson in 2009.
It worked great for our time down there and the built-in shower was handy to have, but when the trip was all over I realized I didn’t need anything nearly that big.
(Not so funny story, the original MBU burned to the ground from a refrigerator fire last year..On the plus side, nobody was injured. This is not the actual fire it’s a prop used for dramatic effect).
That’s when I started to ponder a VW Camper bus as my MBU. I used to have a 1973 VW bus(transporter) back in the day before I met my wife Krista. I owned it for about a year and it was my daily driver. When it started to go have major engine troubles I had to let it go and get something more reliable as I had a rather long commute to work.
This time around the bus would not be a daily driver. The purpose of this bus would be for family road trips, Rockies games, Broncos tailgating and for the most looked forward to of all baseball events….Spring Training.
See folks when your gig is taking pictures it’s not about how fast you can get to where you’re going. It’s ALL about what I mentioned earlier, the adventure and having fun along the way. If speed is your thing believe me you don’t want any part of a VW bus.
Vanny Castilla will have a built-in computer for blogging , internet connection and cable. I removed the pop-top because I think a Rag-top is the only way to go. When he’s totally finished Vanny will be a tribute to Colorado Sports.(That will be a work in progress).
A little background on Vanny..I had purchased another VW bus about four years ago from a friend. The plan was to restore it but it never happened and I wound up trading it to another friend for a running Toyota 4-Runner(which by the way still runs). Great trade but a big loss to the family.
Early this Spring I started searching for my new MBU. My search led me to a little town in northern Wyoming. After a couple weeks of emailing and exchanging pictures with the owner I knew I had my found my bus. Mike…The Rox Addict used his truck and I rented a car trailer and we both made the voyage north to pick up the future MBU.
A 1969 VW Campmobile…Here’s the bus about a week after I got it home and its first snow in Colorado.
At that point the bus had no name…Just an extremely proud new owner with a dream.
The previous owner of the bus is the X-husband of a local Denver TV celebrity…I won’t mention who she is on here but if you ask me in person I’ll tell you. The previous owner sharing that little bit of information with me left me driving home with a good feeling about my new bus. Props to Mike for making the trek with me.
The road trip was spur of the moment and he’s a great traveling buddy.
Here’s a little VW blast from the past for you.
And my personal favorite.
I really like this VW Commercial.
This is a clip from “That 70’s Show” when Kelso’s vintage VW bus gets destroyed.
My wife thought the bus should be called Ivy. There was a slightly heated discussion about this because I wanted to call the bus Vinny Castilla as this bus is most definitely a dude.
In the end my man Gary X suggested Vanny Castilla and it was such a cool name it stuck.
With the help my friend Robert Harmon for the engine stuff the MBU will be mobile Spring Training 2012. Vanny will be the same color until summer 2012 when he’ll be painted none other than OD Green baby. With personalized RANTER plates Vanny Castilla will be the most recognized VW bus in America.
My goal is to get a picture of Vinny Castilla in front of Vanny Castilla or if I’m lucky get Vinny doing the Running Man pose for the Rox Addict.
Rockies postseason or not…MLBlogs look out…I’m on the way back up…I know you missed me. Sometimes you’ve gotta put things on the back-burner to make your dreams come true…and besides..
You can’t keep the Original F’kn Ranter down 🙂
You’re running out of time to send in your picture for the Photo Contest. Get off your duff and send me your best.
Got a VW story…I’d love to hear it…D