FanPost

What I Did On My Spring Training Vacation

3/9-11, 2007

On Friday the 9th my gate at the airport was full of middle-aged guys wearing Giants-themed Hawaiian shirts. I had my very subtle sports-goth hoodie but it was too subtle for them since nobody asked me how I thought the Gi'nts would do that year or whether I thought Ortiz was worth anything. On the plane my seat was with Giants fans all around, but next to a guy who hated sports and hated spring training the worst. He lived in Phoenix and he said, "Every spring, people from all over invade your town ..." And I said, "That's what living in San Francisco is like all year."

--

My dad and I got to Scottsdale just in time for the Friday game to start at 1. We managed to find miracle parking even with the attendants all scolding us for getting there so late. We dashed in as they were giving the lineups. During that game, against the A's, the girl sitting two seats down from me got hit with a foul ball in the leg. Her boyfriend bought a beer and she sat there with it on her leg and she was very heroic about it. The guy who caught the ball gave it to her, which was good for him because I could see my dad all ready to give the guy a lecture about giving her the ball. Anyway, a couple of innings later, another foul ball came to the same place. She got the hell out of the way and her boyfriend caught it neatly and gave it to her again. So she got two foul balls and one knot on her leg out of the deal. And me without my glove -- in my hurry to get into the park I'd left it in the rental.

--

The weather was scorching hot, up near 90 -- I'd spent the winter in the fog belt and I thought I was going to die. I bought four lemonades and stood in the shade. Every time I got up out of my seat to go stand in the shade, Mike Piazza got a base hit. I was planning to scream at him every time he came to bat. "SIDDOWN, MEAT, YOU'RE A HAS-BEEN, ARE YOU GONNA HAVE A PRESS CONFERENCE IN THE BAY AREA ABOUT THAT? HUH?!" but I seemed to miss him every time. Probably for the best. I didn't bring in the scorecard so I don't know what he did exactly, but he got it done against us. That was our only loss of the trip.

--

Next day we were up in the bleachers and we showed up an hour early to get autographs, which was not early enough. I ended up down at the outfield wall with a San Jose kindergarten teacher who'd borrowed her best friend's cute kid. I had fun with them but by the end of it she was calling "Heeeere, Giant-giant-giant" like you'd call a puppy and I'm like, "... His name is Clay ..." and she'd go "CLAYYYYYYY!" and the kid would go "KAYYYYY!" and Timpner would look but not come over. Another dad taught us a song, that went, "When the Giants come to town it's Bye Bye Baby!" The teacher and I butchered it by making it sound like "Good King Wenceslas." The Giants dad was not amused.

The highlight was when we saw the one Eliezer Alfonzo trotting by and I managed to remember the guy's first name. Instead of "NOTgardo!" I yelled, "Eliezer! We love you!" and he blew a kiss to me and the kindergarten teacher, and the teacher's husband and the other dad and the spare kid. Then he went to stretch with Barry Zito, who was ignoring the universe and had been this whole time.

During the game we sat in front of a pile of loud, obnoxious frat boys. Before I turned around to look at them I heard one say, "Bonds took his roids in the locker room, so he's OK." It came to pass that I was sitting in front of Cole Kuiper, of course, Kuip's kid, and his drunk college buddies. Kuip Jr. was pretty quiet. Right away my dad and him started talking about baseball broadcasting, since my dad had worked with Kuip Sr. a little on the Rockies. I showed him my Flemming hoodie and he said, "That guy is so damn cool."

But the other guys continued loud and grating, one in particular, until my dad had to move seats because he was so irritated. He was amusing me because he kept yelling, in this very high-pitched, drunk voice, "CMONZITOYOUGOTITBABY COMEONYOUGOTITZITOBABY YOUGOTIT" and out of context it just made me laugh. Cole and crew tried to help me keep track of all the changes at the end of the game, but then they gave up and went up to the booth, all except the drunk guy. They ditched him while he was leaning over the outfield wall, with the game going on, talking on his cell phone.

--

As for the game, we kicked butt against Texas scrubbini. Seriously nobody on the entire Rangers team that we were playing was going to be up in the big show this year. Bonds hit one out, Molina hit one out, more people got hits and HRs, and I got to watch Eugenio Velez and Freddie Lewis run like the g.d. wind.

--

After the game we hung out very briefly where the players went to their cars. We saw three girls who looked about 15 in short-shorts follow Kevin Frandsen to his Hummer. Another guy told me it was actually Noah Lowry but no. That was Frandsy.

Rayray was there in his civvies, a bright-blue shirt with a crazy patterns. There was a group of women all wearing the same t-shirt hovering about him, and then this very old woman calls out, "Ray Durham! GET THAT BODY OVER HERE." He looked vaguely alarmed but smiling, you know how people do? And she went over to him and kissed him on the cheek. I stood five feet from him and took pictures. He looked kind of humiliated.

--

The next day I insisted we go EARLY, really early, not just an hour early. We had somehow acclimated to the weather so even 90 at 10 a.m. wasn't too bad. The first thing that happened was we saw Fleas, Linden, and more regulars getting into a bus to go away. So much for them.

Watched the Mariners take BP and I got a backup catcher's autograph, Josh Clement, or something Clement, on my scorecard. He was extremely polite. Then I left my dad talking to some perennial spring training sunbirds and went over to the dugout where people seemed to be actually getting autographs.

Right away I spotted my ex-coworker from The Examiner, Jeff Chiu. I knew he was working at the AP but I didn't know he would be there. I leaned over the fence and called his name and he looked at me like "who the hell?" and then he said "Holy Shit, Tasha!" So we talked for a little bit. I told him he had a dream job and he said he was incredibly lucky. I remember working with Jeff at the Ex and while the other photographers were kind of prima-donna, "Don't crop my photo like that" types, Jeff never was -- and here's where he is now. He said they only had to stay until Benitez pitched because that's what the national wire wanted -- pictures of Mando.

--

Over the top of the dugout was the place to be. There were kids with balls, dads with baseball cards, girls with low-cut tank tops, and me with my scorebook. First I got Figueroa's autograph, then Steve Kline's. When Kline passed my scorebook back to me I asked him if he had written in my lineups for me. Then a bunch of the starters came out and it was a free-for-all. I tossed my scorebook over the top of the dugout where everyone else was throwing their stuff -- didn't get any signatures -- but I also couldn't get my scorebook back without climbing on top of the dugout which I was not prepared to do. Someone tried to help me with her backpack, but that just pushed it further away. Trauma, what to do! Noah Lowry popped out of the dugout and I said, in desperation, "Hey Noah! Can you just pass me my scorebook, I can't reach ..." and he slid it back to me (without signing) and I said thanks, and he winked and said "No problem." I took some photos with the ancient Canon and went back to my seat.

--

We won that one too, and after the game we hauled it back to the airport where I stood in a security line behind a girl who was from Chicago. She'd come down to see Spring Training, but she'd been partying so hard the night before each game that she just didn't quite make it. My plane was full of the same people I flew in with, but since it was 9 at night and we were all sunburned within an inch of our lives, nobody was talking. And then it was back to the fog belt.

--

Notes: bring more sunscreen, bring more film, bring something to sign -- something that can be retracted easily so I don't have to ask a busy left-hander to get it for me. Bring a business card to exchange with the badass AP photographer. Bring a pencil for all the changes to the lineups because there's no way I spelled some of those Texas relievers' names right. Bring cash for the lemonade. Get tickets early. And in 50 years, I too can bring the attitude to tell Rayray to "Get that body over here." Can't wait.

This FanPost is reader-generated, and it does not necessarily reflect the views of McCovey Chronicles. If the author uses filler to achieve the minimum word requirement, a moderator may edit the FanPost for his or her own amusement.

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