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Big Daddy Baseball League

O F F I C I A L   S I T E   O F   T H E   B I G   D A D D Y   B A S E B A L L   L E A G U E
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February 27-March 1, 2014

BDBL Weekend 2014: Arizona

By Mike Glander
BDBL Staff

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.

Our 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.

After 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 dirt.

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.

We 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.

After unsuccessfully 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 paraphrasing.)

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.

By 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 actual ballgame 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.