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Quick Thoughts from the Pacific Northwest

I’m driving all over the place, so transmissions will be few and far between this week. Here’s a brief recap of the story so far:

Day 1: San Diego to Sacramento

  • We tried taking I-15 to avoid LA traffic. It didn’t work, but at least we saw different things while crawling along on the freeway.
  • In ‘N’ Out at Newhall. Can I get an amen?
  • Neko Case and Snow Patrol provided the tunes.
  • I can tell I’m getting too old for these long drives because I become even more disagreeable than usual by the time we reach our destination.
  • We arrived at Raley Field about 15 minutes before first pitch. The ticket line was long, and we ended up spending a lot… for great seats behind the plate. Still, including tri-tip sandwich and Newcastle on draft, I spent more at one RiverCats game than I spend on the Padres in a month.
  • We sat behind the guys charting pitches for the visiting Salt Lake Bees. I’ve talked about this experience and it never gets old. Triple-A teams have a bigger budget than A-ball teams. The pitcher doing the actual charting used a touchscreen computer instead of pencil and paper.
  • I had no rooting interest in this game, so I cheered for players I’d seen at Lake Elsinore. That meant second baseman Eric Sogard for the home team (he singled, hit two deep fly ball outs, and committed a throwing error) and Paul McAnulty for the visitors (he had an RBI single and came in to play third base after we left).
  • We took off after the seventh inning on account of having to leave town early the next morning. I’m told that the postgame fireworks started a half hour after I fell asleep, so good call there.

Day 2: Sacramento to Eugene

  • We woke up at 4:30 a.m. and got out of Sacramento an hour later, running on Cliff Bars and Diet Mountain Dew… Breakfast of Champions.
  • I shall never tire of watching Mt. Shasta peak through the clouds.
  • We arrived at PK Park in Eugene about 5 minutes before first pitch. I need to allow for more lead time when planning these things.
  • Eugene definitely needed an upgrade. The new facility is modern and comfortable, but still has the charm of an old ballpark.
  • The game was… a bit sloppy. The Emeralds came from behind to win basically because Vancouver couldn’t turn a double play or three.
  • The Ems are incredibly young, even by Northwest League standards. A lot of the international signings from 2008 are there, so we’re talking 17- and 18-year-olds.
  • Right-hander Adys Portillo made his season debut. I couldn’t see any radar guns (we sat in the second row off to the third base side, right next to the visitors on-deck circle), but guys were late on his fastball and the mitt was popping. He looked like a pitcher, if a tad wild. Portillo walked three, plunked a guy in the back, and uncorked two wild pitches. I wouldn’t want to face that.
  • Jedd Gyorko (pronounced JER-ko) knocked four singles: one up the middle, two to right, one to left, all line drives. He was drafted as a second baseman but played third base on Sunday. He’s got tree trunk legs… no clue how that’s going to work on the middle of the diamond.
  • Rymer Liriano had trouble with high fastballs… also low breaking balls. That doesn’t leave a lot, but he’s young.
  • A steady drizzle fell throughout the game. After that drive, it was refreshing… and I wasn’t inclined to yield my seat for anything. The beer was a local honey ale on draft whose name escapes me at the moment… mmm, tasty.

Day 3: Eugene to Portland

  • Finally, a short drive… two hours.
  • We ate lunch at Deschutes Brewery… Pork ribs and Cascade Ale (I’d had the Black Butte Porter at dinner the previous night… trying to mix it up a little).
  • We met my friend Timm for dinner and then headed over to PGE Park for a ballgame.
  • Josh Geer tossed a complete game shutout, allowing only four hits. Say wha’? Seriously, I saw it with my own two eyes. We cheered him like crazy.
  • Everth Cabrera started his rehab assignment and looked fine. He didn’t do much to test the hamstring but almost made a terrific diving catch of a line drive… dropped it on making impact with the ground. He also got to show off the arm once or twice. Fun stuff.
  • The baseball situation in Portland is very, very sad. That park was deader than Eugene’s. PGE is going to soccer-only next year and the Beavers may cease to exist, but yikes… You would think a town the size of Portland could support a Triple-A team.

Well, this no longer qualifies as brief so I’d better stop now. I will pop back in when I have a chance, which will be… at some future date. Enjoy!