Spring Training Bloggy Blogg (Day 1)

Day 1: The A's are evil.

There’s nothing better than spending a week in Scottsdale legally stalking the Giants.

Well, watching the Giants win while you stalk them might be better. But that wasn’t the case yesterday against the A’s. That wasn’t the case at all.

The Game
Spring Training games don’t count, right? Right?

Well, in the greater scheme of things, no, they don’t. But as for bragging rights, especially against the lime-colored, shoulder-chipped Athletics from across the Bay, they count a lot. And yesterday’s five-million-to-three loss didn’t feel so much good, especially when the A’s fans streamed gaudily from Phoenix Muni like a pack of stomping elephants, all the while chanting “1989” at anything orange and moving.

I had managed to convince some of my buddies who are Cubs fans to skip out on their team’s game all the way out at Surprise and watch the G Men instead. I realized this was a mistake as soon as they began to openly mock Jason Schmidt.

We bought standing-room only tickets from a scalper who clearly didn’t enjoy the process of haggling, and we proceeded directly behind home plate, where we saw Peter Gammons sauntering up the aisle clad in glossy press passes and some finely-rimmed gold glasses.

My Cubs fan friend turned to me and said, “Hey, I bet if you got Gammons to sign a twenty dollar bill, it’d be worth fifty on Ebay.”

I then skulked up to Gammons and began jabbering. “Ah, hi, yeah, do me a favor in your next column, huh? How ‘bout an elegy on the Great Hunter S. Thompson? And hey, you know someone’s gotta take his place.” I then raised my eyebrows at Gammons in a manner that might have been misinterpreted, and he laughed mercifully and proceeded on.

Then off to the Giants bullpen and Jason Schmidt’s warmup tosses, where I yelled “Little Cat” repeatedly at Yorvit Torrealba, and where Schmidty couldn’t locate a pitch below the knees.

Schmidt is a tall, wide-jawed athlete of a man, and a scowl of disbelief began to spread across his face with each floating changeup and high fastball, until, as the loudspeaker blasted with the chatter of a surreal diamond ring promotion, Schmidty let one fly over Torrealba’s head, nearly braining the young girls preparing to sing the national anthem.

He didn’t throw another warmup, stomping off the mound as the magnanimous Mark Gardner nodded sympathetically.

And the game…some random details:

Jason Ellison is both smaller and faster in person than the loathsome and wheedling medium of T.V. had represented him. But he proceeded to use this speed to get picked off in the first right as Pedro Feliz was preparing to, I swear to god, hit a bomb.

The stands at Phoenix were dead silent, and maybe I’m a little warped from the raucous experience of University of Hawaii baseball games, but when I yelled at A’s third-base coach Ron Washington to “Get in the Box!” it was as if I had spit in church.

Todd Linden is a very big man. How on earth can someone who switch hits, hits with power, has speed, and stands a head over Jason Ellison not be a successful major leaguer. The answer: pitchers like Barry Zito.

Zito’s breaking pitch is like a Whiffle Ball half-wrapped in ductape. Filthy. And so slow. And heavy, even wobbly. He abused Pedro Feliz in a way that would have made Shawon Dunston weep with remembrance of Eric Gagne.

We snuck behind home plate toward the end, and Octavio Dotel looked nasty, but not as nasty as I imagined Octavio Dotel would look, from directly behind the dish. Brian Dallimore just missed a low and in slider, popping it up. Ellison slapped a nice extra-base hit inside the bag at first. I’m telling you, the more beers you drink, the faster that guy looks.

And one more detail on Ellison. When things got ugly and Schmidt looked like a bad reincarnation of Mike Lacoss, Bobby Kielty hit a long drive to left-center. The ball was clearly gone, but here comes Ellison, streaking all the way from what seemed like right field, where he was playing Kielty to pull, and as the home run clears the fence, Ellison scales the wall and throws half of his body over the edge, trying to snare it. Amazing. This guy should banish the memories of the recent defense replacement from last year, who we must never speak of again.

The Scene
We ate dinner at a place called My Big Fat Greek Restaurant, a scene which got awkward when my one friend kept reminding the beautiful waitress that he was in “Law School.”

“Which you like another drink?”

“Sure, how about some wine. That’s we all drink, you know, in Law School.”

The Cubs fans we were with began mocking me for a comment I’d made at the game. I’d said that Barry Bonds was a very intelligent man. Actually, I’d called him “brilliant.”

So every thing they saw, they’d say, “That’s brilliant. But not as brilliant as Barry Bonds of course. He is the most brilliant.”

We went to a place called Salty’s that had a tiled bar and empty bottles of Jagermeister. A’s fans were everywhere, in packs of threes, clad in that weird light yellow they all seem to be wearing, like some stupid color of dead grass.

I offended a group of them by claiming that, at this time of year, Mount Davis was beautiful for snowboarding.

The evening turned a little lime from there. We drifted to a faux club that was filled with Giants fans. A Guns ‘n Roses cover band was rocking out to “Sweet Child of Mine,” and I said “Go Giants” to a tattooed guy in a home jersey.

He said, “I’m starting a mosh pit on the next song. You should get in on it.”

“Yeah,” I said. “I’ll be, um, right behind you guys.”

On the way home, my crazy cousin dodged the attack of a 250-pound man-bear we call Wyrwich, a guy from Chicago who dove head first into the gravel and then opened his palms to us, claiming that the stigmata had graced him. This meant it was time to go home and dream about the Giants avenging their humiliating loss to the A’s, which, I swear to the baseball gods, didn’t count at all. Sigh.
*
Today we’re off to Scottsdale Stadium for the rematch. We were bursed tickets buy a friend named Tommy who often works for the Giants, who has a heart purer than the gold that lines the letters of the G-Men’s practice jerseys. More on this game, and the scene following, in the next installment of Bloggy Blogg World.

“It’s a blog, it’s a blog, it’s a bloggy blogg world…You got the key!”

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