Notes from Peoria

I’m back. There is an overwhelming amount of information for me to process, so we’ll just go with bullet points of things learned or rediscovered along the way:

  • The late Jeff Buckley was a musical genius.
  • The parking situation at Phoenix Municipal Stadium stinks. How a parking lot cannot prepare itself to accommodate actual cars is beyond me.
  • There are some pretty smart A’s fans out there; we were fortunate enough to chat with some of them on Friday and even more fortunate to run into them again on Saturday.
  • Oscar Robles can handle the bat. He did a nice job on a few hit-and-run plays, and generally made a nuisance of himself at the plate in a Dave Roberts kind of way.
  • Andrew Brown looks like a project to me. Rich Campbell has concerns about Brown as well.
  • Haus Murphys features excellent German food, beer, and one particularly feisty and hilarious waitress.
  • Russell Branyan is unbelievably strong. He hit two absolute bombs this weekend. Both were foul balls, but the one on Saturday against Milwaukee at Maryvale cleared the stadium. The one on Sunday was off his front foot on a pitch that fooled him.
  • Jake Peavy is nibbling again. It’s only one spring training start, and maybe he was working on some things, but I’d like to see Peavy get a little more aggressive when he’s ahead in the count this year.
  • The ball comes off the bat real fast. You may have heard about Kevin Towers’ accident on Saturday. Didi and I were sitting directly behind him, and SD Padres Gal was just a few seats to his left. Scary stuff.
  • Brian Giles still knows how to work a count. He had a great at-bat Saturday against lefty Chris Capuano. After falling behind 0-2, Giles fouled off some tough pitches and eventually worked a walk.
  • Speaking of SD Padres Gal, it was great to meet her, SD Padres Guy, and Steve C. and family at the game in Maryvale. You know what else was great? Being at a road game and hearing Padres fans outnumber the opposition. That’s a twist.
  • I don’t know anything about Tim Brown, but he absolutely crushed a Derrick Turnbow fastball for a three-run homer. Even in spring training, if you crush a Turnbow fastball, you get my attention.
  • Saturday evening, SD Padres Gal, SD Padres Guy, LynchMob, and friend, lovespooh2 (sorry ’bout that!), Didi, and I all met up at Dillon’s for outstanding barbecue and conversation.
  • Peoria Sports Complex is huge. There are 12 fields in addition to the stadium, and if you park on the Mariners side of the complex, you are in for a very long walk to the Padres practice fields.
  • Bruce Bochy in a Giants uniform is just wrong.
  • Adrian Gonzalez can hit a baseball. He homered to right-center on Sunday and hit another high off the batters’ eye in center at Peoria that would have gone out in just about any big-league ballpark.
  • Cla Meredith, Heath Bell, and Scott Strickland all pitched well on Sunday. Meredith’s line isn’t great, but everyone he faced hit the ball on the ground.
  • The drive back seems a lot longer than the drive out, especially when you don’t get started till 4:30 p.m., after having baked in the Arizona sun for several hours.

Other Stuff

  • I’m working on getting photos posted. Some are already up; the rest will be there soon.
  • Thanks to Billfer at Baseblogging for the kind review and Q&A of the Ducksnorts 2007 Baseball Annual. Thanks also to everyone for buying it and for providing feedback. Once you’ve read the book, if you’d consider rating and/or reviewing it over at Lulu.com, I’d appreciate it. And keep the comments coming; I’m already planning for 2008. :-)
  • Some encouraging words in this piece in the U-T on clubhouse chemistry: “Veteran infielder Geoff Blum said it appears that Black is a tad less oriented to veteran players than was his predecessor, Bruce Bochy, and that Black has done more to involve the younger players.”
  • Sports Illustrated is adding blogs to their coverage (very cool!). Right now they’re running a poll to determine folks’ favorite team blogs. Ducksnorts is getting smoked; go fix that, would ya?

That’s all for now. Tonight’s game against the Royals will be televised on Channel 4SD. We’ll have the IGD up and running around 6 p.m. PT.