February 2009

Looking Forward to the Weekend…

Tomorrow = two words: pitchers and catchers. WHOOOHOOOO!!! We are finally back to baseball! Sure, they are basically just running and streching, but they are running and streching in preparation for baseball. It is so exciting! How many long, hard months have we been waiting for this? Too many. Way too many.

It’s going to be a tough season for me and all Padres fans. I just read a preview for the Padres and 2009 looks very bleak. It was a depressing article, actually. It seems very likely that Jake Peavy will not end the season with us. We’re not going to win that many games with the team we are planning to put on the field. And I mean, VERY depressing article. But I need to have hope that this team will play above expectations. I mean, who thought the Rockies or the Rays would get to where they went? We can win. I know that. I am dying for my team to prove that they are better than what people expect them to be. I am a Padres fan, and proud of it. We may lose a lot of games this year, we might lose our All-Star, CY Young winner and ace Jake Peavy, but I will stand by my team and I will support them through the good, the bad, and the ugly. It just won’t be easy.

But now, here is the most shocking news of all. You all know that I am super excited about tomorrow, and that the Padres’ 2009 season is finally getting started. But…I am not going to be here! *gasp*! No, I will not be in San Diego, and no, I will not be in Arizona (that would be amazing!!), but I will be up in the mountains with a group from my church. We will be serving a group of about 700 teenagers in a camp up there. We serve them all their meals, but we get some time to ourselves to have Bible studies and stuff too. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and I am really looking forward to it. There is two feet of snow up there right now from the storm last weekend, and there’s another storm coming in today. It is going to be very cold. I’m really hoping that we’ll be able to get up there before it starts snowing. It would be a big hassle to try to drive through the snow and everything. I have never been in falling snow in my life, but I have a pretty good feeling that I will be this weekend. It’s going to be very cold, but I am very thankful that we have heated cabins with bathrooms on the inside. It’s going to be an adventure, that’s for sure. So, if any of you think of it, we would really appreciate prayer as we minister to a lot of hurting teenagers, and also safety on the road with the inclement weather.

We’re leaving this afternoon, and we’ll be back on Monday afternoon. Also, if there’s any big news in the baseball world, feel free to leave me a comment so I can catch up on everything when I get back. Of course, you can also just leave a comment saying how much you miss me :) I’m really going to miss blogging and reading all of your blogs! Hey, you could also post links to entries you write so I can definitely read them when I get back! OK, OK, I do want a lot of comments when I get back :) See you Monday! And GO PADRES!!!

HappyValentinesDay.jpg  (photo credit: longbeachrealestatehome.com)

Spring Training Memories

Spring Training is almost here! All 34 Padres pitchers and their six catchers are reporting to Peoria this Saturday, on Valentine’s Day. How sweet. Anyway, as I look ahead to Spring Training 2009, I can’t help but look back at my first Spring Training in 2008.

I was an upset, slightly recovering young Padres fan, SO ready for baseball. The offseason had been long and hard for me, dealing with the reeling blow of Game 163. But finally, finally, Padres baseball was back, and boy was I starving for it. The first game that was on the radio, I locked myself in my room and listened to the entire thing. It was a noon game. It was so great to hear the voices of Ted Leitner, Jerry Coleman, and Andy Masur, to hear them calling some Padres baseball. I remember “noticing” that the pitchers were not quite to mid-season form yet. It was a high-scoring game. But newcomer Jody Gerut had a few hits, as well as Jim Edmonds (ugh). We lost the game like 8-6.

Now, as most of you know, I was really obsessed with the Padres back then. It was bad. I think I listened to like every Spring Training game that month. I would cram all my schoolwork into the morning and then lock myself in my room for the whole game. I don’t think I will be doing that this year. You know, it will be great to hear Padres baseball again, but I don’t need to be listening to every second of the pre-season games.

Anyway, while I was locked in my room listening to baseball, I would knit. It’s great to sit there and listen to the radio, but sometimes you kind of need something to do with your hands. And no, knitting is not just for old women. It’s actually quite hip for teenagers. So, I found this pattern that was relatively simple, and I made this blanket:

IMG_2870.JPGWhat I did was knitted about 45-50 squares and sewed them all together. It kept me busy all month during the games last year.

I think it should be a tradition for me for a while to knit something during Spring Training. I would love to make another one of these blankets, but I don’t know what I would do with it! Plus, the fuzzy yarn is kind of expensive, and that blanket took a lot of yarn! I’m thinking about making pillow covers this year, in that same fuzzy stuff :)

In other Padres news, we traded our number one draft pick from 2004, Matt Bush, to the Toronto Blue Jays for a player to be named later or cash considerations. I hope we get a good player for him. Good riddance. Bush was a troublemaker, plus he couldn’t succeed as a baseball player. He’s got a great arm, there’s no doubt about that. But he’s abusing his talent. It’s pretty sad, actually. But hopefully the cold air in Toronto will cool him down a bit.

Also, Jake Peavy gave an interview for the first time this offseason. I wasn’t able to listen to it yet, but the article on padres.com was very good. He’s going to be with the Padres for at least a part of this season. It’s great news!

One more note: The Padres’ beat writer, Corey Brock, has re-started his blog. This guy is a great writer, and his entries are very entertaining. Plus, I want his job someday :) Check it out: Who’s your Padre?

GO PADRES!!!

(photo credit: ME!!) 

Working at the Ballpark

 
tomjonesbookscom.jpg                                                                   I recently read a book called Working at the Ballpark: The Fascinating Lives of Baseball People- From Peanut Vendors and Broadcasters to Players and Managers by Tom Jones. 

It truly was a fascinating book.Have you ever really thought about what goes on before, during and after a game? No, not just batting practice, the game, and hitting the clubhouse. There are so many elements to a baseball game, it’s almost unbelieveable that so many games go as smoothly as they do. 

First of all, there’s the players and coaches. The amount of preparation that goes on behind the scenes is unbelieveable. Players are doing a lot of workouts, and a lot of studying of pitchers and hitters. All the pitchers have their own thing that they do to prepare to pitch. They also have extensive conditioning and massages. The pitchers and catchers especially have to do ridiculous research and studying of the hitters of the other team. The coaches have to know everything that is going on with their players, if any of them need a day, or how their injuries are doing. Plus they have to learn a lot about the other team as well.

Then you can broaden the spectrum a little, going to the umpires, batboys, and ballgirls. The umpires have to be ready to call a whole game. The batboys have to set up all the player’s equiptment and all the snacks and drinks. 

Then you broaden the spectrum again, to the broadcasters, TV guys, scorekeeper, and scoreboard operator. The broadcasters have to know how to pronounce every player’s name, have all the notes and news from the club, and a lot of information to sprinkle into the broadcast. Same with the TV guys. The scorekeeper needs to be ready with all the information on the players like their numbers, names, and positions. The scoreboard operator has to have interesting facts and strange activities to play in between innings. He has to make sure everything is working as well.

Plus, all the writers and reporters have to be ready to write about the game. They, too, have to have all the latest notes and news from the team, the press releases. They have to attend a little meeting with the manager and try to talk to some players before the game.  

Oh, man, it just goes on and on. There are hundreds of vendors who have to get their food and be ready to go out there and sell. There are lots of food stations all over the ballpark that need to be stocked. There are many, many, ushers that need to know their sections and be able to help people get to their seats. There needs to be someone to throw out the first pitch and sing the National Anthem. I’m sure I’ve missed a TON of things that happen at the ballpark every day. It’s incredible. 

So, to get a better picture of the vast amount of things that happen every day, I would highly recommend this book. It was a great read. I especially enjoyed reading about some of the Padres personnel, like CEO Sandy Alderson, Head Althletic Trainer Todd Hutcherson, and Head Groundskeeper Luke Yoder. It’s a facinating book. As we go into this new season, check out this book. It is a must-read for every baseball fan.

A funny note: New York Jets quarterback Brett Farve says he’s going to retire. Again. Hahahahahahahahaha!!       

(photo credit: tomjonesbooks.com)

A-Rod’s Guilty!

Last weekend, a report came out of Sports Illustrated that Yankee Alex Rodriguez had taken steroids during his time with the Rangers from 2001-2003. The sports world has been buzzing with the news, which was a pretty big shock. Yesterday, A-Rod appeared on ESPN and confessed all. Yes, he did take steroids during his time with the Rangers, when he won the MVP. No, he didn’t really know what he was taking, but he was taking it. And yes, he has been clean since 2004…or so he says.

I think he did the right thing in taking care of this situation as soon as possible. Hey, two days after the report came out, he was on TV confessing. I think that was a really good move on his part. He certainly handled this better than Clemens did last year. I think it was great that he didn’t allow this to fester for too long. I mean, we had two days to dicuss this, get upset, and build it up. But it was very good that he came out as fast as he did.

While it’s a great thing that he came out and confessed so quickly, it should not pardon any punishment. He did something that was very wrong, and he should not have done it. Sure, he was young, stupid, and naive, but that doesn’t excuse that he cheated in the game of baseball. He cheated against baseball, his fans, his club, and himself. Actions have consequences. He needs like a big fine, plus a big apology to the Texas Rangers in addition to the New York Yankees, plus some “time off”. I think he should be suspended for a year. Tough punishment? Oh yeah. Too tough? I don’t know. I know he’s learned his lesson, and that he probably won’t ever take steroids again, but there have got to be consequences. I think he should lose this year, as well as his salary for this season.

But a punishment is not just for him. It’s gotta show the kids in the minor leagues who want a little boost that taking ‘roids is not worth it. Maybe A-Rod will only get a few months. What does that tell the kids in the minors? No. A-Rod’s got to have a rather large punishment. And not just for the kids in the minor leagues, but also kids in high school or Little League, and all his young fans. They need to see that even their hero has to take the blame for what he did, and all that comes with it. Baseball fans also need to see A-Rod get punishment. We need to see that our sport can deal with these problems in the best way possible. If they don’t give him a big enough punishment, it’s going to be a shame on baseball. This is a very risky situation.

Remember when you were a kid? Or if you are a parent. If the kid confesses that he broke the lamp, you aren’t going to be as mad at him because he confessed it and didn’t try to lie to you. But he still broke it, and there are going to be consequences. But if your kid lies about how it broke (a monster came in here and knocked it down!), he’s probably going to be in double trouble. That idea applies to this situation. Since A-Rod confessed, and didn’t deny it, he’s going to be dealt with better than if he had lied. Think Barry Bonds and Rodger Clemens. Look at the trouble they are in right now because they aren’t telling the truth. Now, that’s not saying that Bonds or Clemens did take steroids, but there is evidence against them.

Swimmer Michael Phelps has been banned from swimming for three months because he smoked pot. Because of the way his sport is scheduled, this is going to be a huge blow to him. He got this because he has been so huge in the media since the Olympics. There are a  ton of people out there who watched him win all those metals, and he built up a huge fan base. They had to suspend him because there are a lot of kids out there who adore him. What would that tell the kids if he got away with that? It couldn’t happen, so now he is paying for his actions.

A-Rod has to pay for his actions. He’s one of the most popular Yankee players right now. There are thousands of kids who love watching him play, and he’s their favorite player. He must accept the circumstances that come with his actions. I just hope baseball doesn’t mess this up.

alex-rodriguez-picture-1.jpgSan Diego weather note: It rained a lot last night, but I woke up this morning to clear skies…and frost on the trampoline. It’s going to be cold, but there’s not a cloud in the sky. San Diego is so funny.

(photo credit: askmen.com)        

Patiently Desperate

I’m back! Well, I didn’t go anywhere, but I was so busy enjoying all this rain that I didn’t get to blogging this weekend. It’s been raining since Thursday here, and I think we’re on the third storm right now. It’s been raining so much that even some of the people who love rain are starting to get sick of it. Not me, though. I don’t think I could live in a world that rained constantly, but this is a lot of fun. We haven’t had this great of a rain in a long time. We are getting very well watered. So funny how I was able to write an entry about summer last week!

In baseball news, of course there’s the A-Rod thing. I don’t want to talk about it. Just go read Julia’s letter to Bud Selig and sign it. Oh, A-Rod…

In Padres news, there are going to be 34 pitchers in Spring Training! How exciting. Actually, it is, since pitchers and catchers report THIS WEEKEND!!! I think we’re going to make it!!

Wow, this offseason has actually gone by pretty quickly! It’s amazing. Suddenly, we’re only a few days away from Spring Training. I think it helped that I didn’t keep a countdown this year. Last year I started a countdown the day after Game 163 from like 250 days or so. That was a really long offseason. But this year, I didn’t do a countdown at all and it practically flew by. But the thing that really got me through this offseason was this blog and this blogosphere. I just want to thank all you guys for blogging and commenting all offseason, for supporting me through all the Padres’ tough moves. It was a long, hard offseason for a lot of fans, but we made it. Thank you!!

It’s going to be a very interesting season. I am so excited to see how the Padres can do this year. I hope they can exceed their very low expectations. It’s just going to be amazing to have baseball back. I am very desperate for baseball, but I can wait. It’s almost here :)   

The Skipper

Today I wanted to write an entry on the Padres’ manager, Harry Ralston “Bud” Black. Buddy doesn’t get that much publicity, maybe because he’s not a firery guy like a Lou Pinella. But he’s a great guy and a great manager.
cache.daylife.jpg

Buddy was a pitcher in the Major Leagues for 15 years. He played with the Mariners, the Royals, the Indians, the Blue Jays, and the Giants. He was with the 1985 World Champion Kansas City Royals. After he was done pitching, he worked for the Royals as Special Assitant to the GM. After that, he spent seven years as pitching coach for the Anahiem Angels.

He is going into his third year as the Padres’ manager. His “rookie” season as a manager in 2007 was a very good one; he led the team to within one game of the playoffs. But 2008 was not so great. In no way do I blame him, though. He did the best he could with the few pieces he had. I believe that Buddy can lead a team to the World Series if he had the talent and players available to him. We saw what he did in 2007. He couldn’t control that Trevor blew the two saves at the end of the season. Sure, he could have taken Trevor out of the game in Game 163, but why should he have? That was the all-time saves leader out there. He should have been able to get the job done.

I really don’t think you can blame a manager for what’s going on with his team, unless it’s an obvious mistake on his part. What could Buddy have done last season? We didn’t have the money to get the players he needed. A bunch of his best players were getting hurt with freak injuries, like getting hit in the nose with a batted ball. There’s no way you can blame that bad season on your manager.

He’s a great manager. He doesn’t yell, he doesn’t get boiling mad at his players. Sometimes that might be a bad thing if the manager doesn’t fire up the team. But he can get very hot if he wants to. If there’s a bad play called against his players, he will go out there and calmly talk over it with the umpires. The burden of being a manager is huge, but Buddy takes is very well. He talks with the press almost every night, and he’s a great mentor to his players. He knows his pitching very well also, as he was a pitcher and a pitching coach. He knows what he’s doing out there.

This year is going to be a challenge for him. He’s going to have clubhouse full of rookies and young players. He will have a few veterans like Cliff Floyd, Brian Giles (real great role model), and Jody Gerut. But he won’t have Trevor Hoffman or Khalil Greene, or even Greg Maddux for that matter. It’s going to be a long year, but Buddy’s strong enough to handle this terrible team. And hopefully he will be able to get them up again. In a few years, with our new owner coming in, we might be able to get more money. With more money, we can get Buddy some better players. And maybe, someday soon, he will be able to lead us to our World Series.

(photo credit: cache.daylife.com)     

#36

In the Lastest Leaders yesterday, (wow, was it only yesterday?) I got #36. Definitely not my best, but not my worst either. As I can’t think of any Padres who wore the number 36 in recent years, I decided to dedicate my number to a Padres minor league player. I didn’t even have to research it though. Big thanks and shoutout to Carl of Crystal Baseball, who found me a player before I could. So, my dedication this week goes to #36, Robert Woodard!

robert woodard.jpgI don’t expect any of you to know who on earth this guy is, I didn’t until yesterday. But I’m probably going to watch him through the system after this :)

Anyway, Woodard is a pitcher, currently with the the Padres’ Single-A affiliate, Lake Elsinore Storm. But he might move up or down sometime after Spring Training. Looks like he’s been up and down the Padres system a bit. He’s been in Fort Wayne, Portland, and Lake Elsinore. We signed him out of the University of North Carolina in 2007 after the draft.

There’s not that much info on him out there, but he had a 3.77 ERA last year with the three levels. He seems like a pretty good pitcher, and maybe we’ll see him with the big league club in a few years.

In other news, the Padres have signed DH Cliff Floyd and pitcher Scott Patterson. Patterson had three scoreless appearances with us last year, but had to be shut down due to an injury. Floyd will be our left-handed bat off the bench, as well as DH during interleague play. I think these are very interesting signings, and hopefully they will be good for the team. But guess what? The Padres are going to have 35 pitchers in Spring Training this year. Wow. It’s going to be very interesting…

(photo credit: flickr.com)    

We’re Saved!

 
jeff moorad.jpgYesterday, the Padres announced that current owner John Moores has agreed to sell the team to Jeff Moorad. Moorad will only buy one-third of it for now, but over the course of five or so years, he will eventually get majority control. Moores will stay in an ownership postion until Moorad takes full control. Moorad will become the CEO once the deal gets done. Current CEO Sandy Alderson will then step down.

This is pretty much the best Padres news we’ve had this off-season. Like I’ve said before, a new owner equals new hope for Padres fans. We now have a new person who is gaining control. He will do things differently from Moores. He will have different and hopefully better ways of doing things. The way he helped the Diamondbacks was amazing. I mean, he could really help us out of this pit. I truly think that with him here, we will eventually get our payroll up, and that we will have a winning ballclub here. Within five years, I think we will be very competitive. We’re going to be building from bottom up. Our best prospects are starting to come up. As the years go on, more and more of our highest prospects are going to be coming up here and making a difference. This is so exciting!

And I do want to give credit to John Moores, Sandy Alderson, and Kevin Towers, though. Moores did a lot for this club, some good, some bad. He got us into Petco Park, and that was huge. But he drove Trevor out of San Diego. That was not good. But these guys did a lot for the Padres, though everything fell apart at the end. Moores will still be around the organization, but Alderson will be stepping down. I don’t know what KT will be doing, but he will probably stick around for a while.

Most Padres seem very happy about this. I know I am. Some of them are wary because Moores will still be around, but this is just great. We are taking a big step in the right direction. I am very excited. Padres fans have hope for the future. It’s going to be great!

I got #36 today in the Latest Leaders. I don’t think I’ll be able to find a prominent Padres player who had 36…so I dedicate it to whoever wears 36 in our minor league system! Haha, I’ll do more research on that…   

(Photo credit: padres.com)

Padres Fan Day

I just found out that the Padres will be having a Fan Day at Petco Park on Sunday, April 5. It will be very similar to the FriarFests of years past, with autograph sessions and other activities. Even sounds like you’d be able to watch a special workout the players will be doing! This year, due to the economic situation, this one-day event will replace the two-day FriarFests that had taken place for the last three years. In addition, this event will be FREE. Last year, tickets were $5. “But it’s not free!” my dad objects. “There’s the cost of gas, parking, time…” OK, that is true. But just think of those $5 you would save! I’m sure it will be a very fun event, especially since it’s the day before Opening Day.

But I doubt I will be able to go. For one thing, it’s on a Sunday, and we don’t generally venture that far on Sundays. But it is Sunday afternoon…”Didn’t we do that last year?” My dad again. “Do we need to do it again?” OK, it’s not essential to life to go. But there are a bunch of new players, and it’s cool to get some new autographs. Plus, I haven’t been to the ballpark for six months. That’s torture for a fan like me! I need to get out there.

I’m keeping it open. If I get the chance to go, then great, I’ll have a blast. But if we don’t get to go, I’ll be OK with that. It’s just seems like a waste of a great opportunity. I mean, autographs, pictures, meeting famous baseball players, maybe even meeting some fellow baseball fans. We’ll see how it goes. 

Also, I wonder how many games I’ll be able to go to this year. I think the Padres are lowering ticket prices in some sections, which will hopefully be a big help. But I guess we’ll have to see. Last year, I went to one game purely on a close friend’s generosity. The other two games we went to were with friends. My whole family together only went to one game. We live about 45 minutes away from downtown San Diego, so it is a big commitment of time and gas to go to a game. We’ve found ways to get out there, though. The Padres will be doing their 2-for-1 days again this year, so maybe we can catch a few of those. They are usually day games where you can get two tickets for the price of one. Still pretty expensive, but better than what it could be. Last year we discovered the “Beach”. It’s an area right beyond the center field field, with sand and bleachers. It’s a really cool place, mostly because it’s field level and you can see the outfielders really closely. You also have the chance of catching a home run, and you can see the bullpen off to the side. Probably the best of all, it’s only $10 per ticket. Not as good as the $5 Park in the Park, but the Beach is much more enjoyable.

So, I guess we’ll just have to see what turns up. Who knows, I might meet Jake Peavy in a chance encounter and he gives me season tickets or something. Well, maybe not, but you know what I mean. I need to get out there a few times this season, and I am confident that a way will be provided for me to catch some games. I especially want to go to a game in the Brewers series at the end of September. But I will be thankful for any games I can go to.

Baseball is soooooo close!! I can’t wait!! GO PADRES!! 

Summer

Today felt like a summer day in San Diego. It’ s about 80 degrees outside, but with a bit of a breeze. The air is so clear and clean, it’s just a beautiful day. A day like this got me thinking about summer, as baseball is coming up.

I love summer, but I hate the heat. I mean, summer is all about heat, but I don’t like it boiling hot, just warm. In fact, I would rather freeze than boil to death. But anyways, though I don’t like summer because of the heat, I do love summertime. I love the smell of barbeques, eating hamburgers that aren’t like the ones at a fast food place but so much better. I love it being light later, like when the sun goes down around 7:30 pm. What I love about San Diego weather is that no matter how hot it is during the day, it will always cool down at night. Today is 80 degrees, but it’s going to be very cold tonight. If I go outside, I’m going to need a jacket. I love that about San Diego.

But the best thing about summer is baseball. To me, the perfect summer evening is eating grilled hamburgers and sweet watermelon or fresh strawberries, settling down as the day cools off, and listening to some Padres baseball on the radio. Just relaxing and listening to the voices of Jerry Coleman, Ted Leitner, and Andy Masur, as they call all the action from Petco Park. That’s what my summer evenings have been like for the last two years. I remember a long time ago, way before I became a Padres fan, my parents would have the game on during summer evenings. That will always be a part of some of my earliest memories of summer. It’s a wonderful season, it really is.

Our summer last year was pretty mild. We got the worst of it in September, I think. It really wasn’t that hot. Though I don’t like the heat, summer = baseball. You have got to love that.

Now, I guess I should mention football. I threw around the old pigskin with a bunch of friends earlier. We were out in the 80 degree heat, but it was lot of fun. Usually I’m not one to play with the football, since I’m still on my football hate thing right now, but today I gave in and it was really fun. I hate big, hard balls, though. We were actually throwing around three different balls, and my favorite was the tiny one that was slightly deflating. Anyways, on one throw to me the biggest, hardest ball came up and hit me pretty badly in the finger. It is not broken, but it hurts. I am not quite sure why I mentioned that, maybe because it has something to do with sports and it’s bugging me right now.

I guess I should also mention something about the Super Bowl. I will not be watching it, but I will be keeping track of the score. I think I am going for the Cardinals. I just kind of decided that this morning. I think Pittsburgh will win, but they knocked off the Chargers, plus all my friends are going for Arizona. I know, bad way to choose your team, but it makes sense. So, go Cardinals!

Oh yeah, in Mark’s latest J-Blog School, he said that contractions should be spelled out. While that’s a great tip for journalism, I don’t think I can handle eliminating them on my blog. Contractions make my blog more personal and casual, and that’s what I want my blog to be. So, if it starts bugging anyone, I apologize in advance. I don’t want my blog to be perfect and stiff. I want it to be personal. I want it to sound like I’m a human and not a robot. When I get into a professional writing career, that tip will be most helpful. Thanks, Mark!    

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