Man, what a whirlwind 60 hours!!!
Duke, CJ and I set out at 5AM on Friday morning. We each had our required reading...Duke was reading Dostoevsky's Devil, CJ had the 2005 Media Guide and I was brushing up on the 2002 Team.
The flight over revealed some pretty interesting info to brush up on.
I love how Giambi and Damon are making 32 million a year combined and the two players we got for them, Blanton and Swisher are making a nifty 600+k.
The Izzy draft picks haven't panned out, Fritz and Obenchain are not quite Blanton or Swisher.
Did you know that the A's lost over 28 games in July of 1916? Talk about rebuilding!?!?!
The flight was smooth and before I knew it we were in the rental car and off to the park, well, if we could find it!!! Luckily my trusty 2003 Media Guide had the address of the ST facility and after seeing most of Phoenix and stopping off at McDuffy's for some grub and watching CJ pound a Guinness in 2 seconds flat we were rolling up to the park.
AHHHHH!!!! 75 degrees and not a cloud in the sky!!!
Our seats were in the 1st row of the A's pen which proved an A-MAzing seat as the pitchers warmed up, litterally 6 feet in front of us all day.
Blanton was on the mound and he was throwing some serious SMOKE!!!
It was definitely a day for nothing but fast balls as he didn't even warm up the curve. He only threw about 3 in the pen.
Two things caught me off guard before game time.
One, A group of people were gathered around the batting cage on the practice field taking hacks of a pitcher. It turns out that it was none other than Rich Harden throwing to live batters.
He looked pretty bad. Aside from a few pitches that were classic Harden his mechanics were off and his follow through was very inconsistent. I noticed that his left arm was just flapping down instead of tucking and balancing his delivery or gliding down and pushing as he is known to. It looked like the shoulder may actually be a bit stiff or just uncomfortable at this point.
In the cage were Brown and a player whom I suspected was Mike Rouse.
The Mike Rouse guy, who had a stance a lot like DJ's, actually drove a few of Harden's pitches. He turned out to be Cliff Pennington.
There was no way I could recognize him. His legs and body were a lot larger than I'd imagined and I didn't even realize it was him until he was done signing autographs RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME FOR TEN MINUTES!!!
* Rule to ST, buy a media guide as soon as you enter. Especially if you go early in the Camp when all of the youngsters are out there.
The pitchers I was most impressed with outside of Smokin' Joe were Dan Meyer and Alex Santos.
Dan Meyer was lights out!!! His fastball was humming and his hammer (Curveball) were sharp.
He looked every bit the prospect that we were supposed to be getting last year. If he continues this kind of work then Zito's money will be spread around next year and Meyer will be up in 2007.
Alex Santos has a very unothodox delivery in which he litterally runs down the mound after releasing the ball. And man does his whiplike delivery cause some major movement. His stuff was rediculous.
Then there was Mac Suzuki...Or Mac Daddy, the name he responds to. He is a junk baller extreme and he was willing to bring the high hard one after Crosby got brushed back by a Brewer pitcher!!!
In the field Freddie Bynum looked Fan-Tastic. he also looked great at the plate (Saturday) and on the bases. It's too bad that there is no room for him this year because he will be picked up by someone else without a doubt. It's a shame that we won't be able to use him as a PR for the Big Hurt in the late innings, or any of our other three toed crab walking sloths (DJ anyone).
The vets look like they're utterly bored, really. Just getting thier work in.
There was a quiet confidence amoungst this group that was new to me.
I must say, although I am exhausted I am equally excited to see this team play for the next 5 years. It is as solid a group as any in the bigs and hopefully once in the next 5 years the stars will allign and Beane-Ball will mean, WS Champion Ball!!!
Let's Go A's!!!