February 27-March 1, 2014
BDBL Weekend 2014:
By Mike Glander
PHOENIX, AZ - The largest turnout at a
BDBL Weekend since 2007 -- eight BDBL members, plus two non-members --
descended upon the Phoenix, Arizona region for the start of the 2014 MLB
Spring Training season. Myself, Ryan, Greg, Matt, Kerry, Jeff,
Chris, Scot, Tony C. and Tony's dad took in three spring training games at
three different ballparks, consumed a ton of junk food and gallons of
beer, soaked in the warmth and sunshine, made a few trades, played a few
games, and (as per BDBL Weekend tradition) poked fun at Jim Doyle.
excursion began with a trip to Surprise, Arizona. We enjoyed a
pre-game feast of ballpark fare (except for Ryan, who opted to starve,
as he couldn't find any chicken fingers or pizza), and then settled into
our seats in the second row behind the Royals' dugout. We watched
in awe as Salem Cowtippers stud Bruce Chen mowed down the Texas Rangers
with a one-two-three first inning.
For the opposing Rangers, Yu Darvish
appeared to be in mid-season form. Through two innings, he whiffed
four batters without allowing a walk or a run.
In general, it was a sloppy game,
highlighted by NINE errors, a balk and a passed ball. The two
teams racked up 25 hits and 18 runs between them, with Texas winning by
a score of 11-7. The highlight of the game was an appearance by
the BDBL's single-season saves record holder, Cory Wade, who was rocked
for five runs in just one inning of relief.
the game, we all headed back to Phoenix, to the newly-built Twin Peaks
bar and grill, which is a wholesome family establishment. Our
friendly waitress (pictured at right) convinced most of us to try
the "dirty blonde" beer brewed by the house, which we found to be as
delightful as her. We pigged out on nachos, fried pickles,
mozzarella, boneless wings and other healthy food that would cause
Michelle Obama to faint.
We then headed back to the hotel, where we played a friendly game of cornhole. In a double-elimination tournament, the Griffin Division
team of Greg and Jeff kicked everyone's ass, and won the final game
(over the all-Glander team) by a score of 21-0.
The following morning, we all hopped
into the Weinermobile (pictured above) and headed to our favorite
Arizona ballpark, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. It is, by
far, the most impressive of all the spring training facilities. It
features wide concourses, comfortable seats, a full menu of beer and
food, and is surrounded by an amazing assortment of training sites.
Among those sites is a tiny field that is used solely for bunting
practice, and another area dedicated to catchers fielding pitches in the
Another tremendous feature
of the park (aside from its free sunscreen stations) are the expansive
sections of berm, which line both left and right field. As
pictured above, a few of us took advantage of this feature by tossing a
ball around before the game. Incredibly, no one was injured.
had seats in the second row along the third base foul line, directly
next to the Diamondbacks' bullpen. However, with the unrelenting
sun beating down upon us, several of us opted to watch the game from the
comfort of the shade.
The game began slowly, and
the Rockies clung to a 2-0 lead against the Diamondbacks after four
innings of play. But the game quickly became a laugher when
Colorado tacked on five runs in the fifth inning en route to an eventual
11-0 win. Pat Corbin, who was the subject of trade rumors
throughout the weekend, tossed four innings, and allowed two runs.
There were three homers hit by players no one had ever heard of, and the
game's biggest star, Troy Tulowitzki, went 0-for-2.
During the game, we were
met by Matt Clemm's wife, Kerry, who strolled into her seat
with a large beer, just moments before last call. Matt suggested
that we spend the evening in Scottsdale, and we spent the better part of
the evening engaging in what has become a long-held and cherished BDBL
Weekend tradition: wandering aimlessly around the streets with no clue
where we are or where we're heading.
attempting to secure a table for ten at a few locations,
we finally settled into a couple of booths at a Mexican dive -- and I
don't mean to insult any true dives by referring to this place as a
dive. While we ordered (bad) food, (bad) Margaritas, and an entire
pitcher of Coke for Ryan (which he sipped from a straw), some of
the guys engaged in an impromptu darts tournament, where Greg Newgard
once again dominated and emerged as the champion. Given how
many division titles he has lost over the years, it was refreshing to
see Greg win something.
After dinner, Matt, Kerry,
Greg, Jeff, Ryan and I went bowling. Once again, Greg Newgard
emerged as the champion in the first game, completing the rare BDBL
Weekend Trifecta. In the second game, however, Jeff emerged with
the highest score of the night.
The following morning, our
group gathered around the breakfast table at our hotel and exchanged a
few ideas for how to improve the BDBL. As per league tradition,
Jeff Paulson suggested we expand the farm club to twenty -- a suggestion
that was immediately shot down. Other topics of debate included
radical realignment, contraction, renaming our divisions, continued tinkering with our
end-of-year penalties and rewards, and continued tinkering with our
mid-season trading VORP cap.
By far, the idea that was
best received was creating a TV reality show in the same vein as "Bar
Rescue" or "Restaurant Impossible", where a hired expert (let's say Tom
DiStefano) would take over a struggling franchise (let's say the New
York Giants) for a chapter, or even a full year. Those in
attendance voted unanimously to green-light this project for the first
production company who steps forward.
Another equally important
breakthrough at that historic breakfast meeting was Jeff Paulson's brave
and bold admission that Obamacare has been an absolutely horrific piece
of legislation that has had disastrous consequences for the country, and
must be repealed if we are ever to move forward as a nation. (I'm
Our third and final game
day destination was Peoria, where we were supposed to see the Angels
play the Mariners. Upon arriving, however, we were greeted with a
torrential downpour. We sprinted (well, loped) through the parking
lot toward the shelter of the stadium, and waited patiently for Matt and
Kerry to finish their In-and-Out burgers, as they held all our tickets.
the time they arrived, the rain had pretty much ended. We made our
way inside and grabbed some food. Greg opted for the "Ruthian"
sausage (pictured at right), which was loaded with cheese and chili.
Lucky for me, I not only got to sit next to him as he digested this
meal, but I also rode shotgun as he drove us back to the airport.
Eventually, we took our
seats, which were three rows behind the first base line, and mere yards
away from BDBL legend Alfredo Griffin (for whom the Griffin Division is
named.) C.J. Wilson was hammered around a bit, which was nice to
see. Robinson Cano went 2-for-3, which was painful to watch.
And rising young Cowtipper Justin Smoak was an impressive 2-for-2 with a
walk and a blast to deep center field that smacked off the 50-foot wall
and would have been a homer it had been hit just a yard to the left.
Throughout the game, we
were all distracted by Matt's endless mind games. One of the more
annoying games was called "Let's name 400 Houston
Astros." We spent several innings naming the most
obscure Houston Astros we could possibly recall. Anyone who has ever
been to a BDBL Weekend event can relate to this particular nightmare.
The highlight of the
was an appearance by the New York Giants' Face of the Future, Jesus
Montero. After waddling to the plate late in the game, Montero
whiffed in his only plate appearance, eliciting a hearty round of
applause from our section. Shortly after his pathetic performance,
the skies opened once again, and a torrential rain flooded the ballpark,
bringing an end to the festivities.
On our way out of the
park, we stumbled upon one of the world's greatest mysteries: the hidden
location of Nestle's Field. As pictured above, the
right field fence is a mere ten feet behind first base, and the left
field fence is not only much, much further away, but also features a
30-foot high brick wall. This discovery ranks right up there with
Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.
As we all scurried to our
cars at the end of the game, the rain pelted down upon us. In the
midst of that torrential downpour, Matt Clemm stopped to ask a vendor if
he could have his leftover churros. While Jeff and the Clemms went
their separate way (probably to the In-and-Out), the rest of us ended up at the Half Moon Cafe,
where we enjoyed more junky bar food. I was also able to reconnect with
some old friends that I hadn't seen in more than 20 years, who happened
to be in the area.
For the first time since
2004, there will be two BDBL Weekends this year. The next one is
tentatively set in Toronto during the weekend of July 19th. I look
forward to doing it all over again.