Scenes from Spring Training: Camelback Ranch is pretty darn impressive


Camelback Ranch is a nice joint.  As far as player facilities and overall handsomeness of the place, it may be the best in the entire Cactus League.

Like the Dbacks and Rockies place out at Salt River, Camelback has large buildings behind the left and right field walls for the Dodgers and White Sox, respectively. Inside of each building is everything a training baseball team could want, from meeting rooms to training rooms to a comfortable and well-appointed clubhouse.  The chairs may not be quite as cushy as those in which the Rockies and Dbacks sit, but like I said last week, that may not be an altogether bad thing.

The game doesn’t start for a couple hours so who knows how that rolls yet — and I’m partial to the older, cozy joints for actual in-game experience anyway — but you can’t deny the sheer beauty of this ballpark.  My wife works in the architecture/design industry and this place looks a lot like the covers of the highbrow trade magazines floating around her office. Frank Lloyd Wright-meets-HOK-meets-that nice resort you stayed at in Sedona that year.

But rather than stay in the main part of the park and gawk I strolled over to White Sox Central to see what’s going down. You’ve heard my descriptions of these places all week, so I’ll skew photo tour:

That’s a sorta rare sight: an outfielder — Alejandro De Aza — working out with pitchers Chris Sale and Freddy Dolsi. Usually the pitchers and position players stay pretty separate. Separate lockers, separate stretching groups and everything.

That’s Lucas Harrell getting his pitching in.  I sat and watched him a long damn time. There’s nothing more enjoyable for me than to watch a pitcher throw up close. It’s just satisfying on so many levels. Speaking of throwing, this was overheard a few feet over:

Coach 1: Wait, wasn’t Burls supposed to throw? [meaning Mark Buehrle].

Coach 2: I thought so too, but he came out wearing basketball shoes this morning.

Coach 1: Huh. Guess he ain’t throwin’ this mornin’.

This was fun:

There are approximately 467 workout fields at this joint, but for some reason the Dodgers and White Sox were working out on the same one for a while this morning.  Talking to a guy with the Diamondbacks the other day he said that they see Rockies players so seldomly that he tends to forget they share a home with them.

I probably wasn’t supposed to take this picture — no photos inside the building, the sign says — but I couldn’t resist. The Sox have a long hallway with GIGANTIC photos all up and down it. Photos from the 2005 World Series, Buehrle’s perfecto, and just about anything else you can imagine.  The one in the foreground is a photo of Kenny Williams presenting Obama with a Sox jersey.

This was cool too. It hangs on the wall as you enter the White Sox team offices.  Though I sorta wish it was out someplace in the ballpark.  I bet if you polled 100 fans that only a couple would be able to tell you anything about Charlie Lau, and that’s kind of a shame.  Coaches are probably the most invisible men in baseball history.

Game time — my last game down here this year — is 1PM Mountain time.  I’m gonna go wander.

Starts times of postseason games announced


Every year the playoff schedule is announced, every year people complain. And it’s understandable why they do. After six months of games starting at around 7pm — bam! — the playoffs come and you’re either staying up late or tuning in early to watch your local nine.

Of course, the reason for this is that Major League Baseball has two fundamental problems to deal with when the playoffs come around (a) the country is big; and (b) baseball is local and two-thirds and more of the fans don’t have a local team to root for in the playoffs. As such, baseball has to make a schedule that somehow deals with teams — like the Mets and Dodgers — who have big time differences between their home fan bases while trying to rope in as many national viewers as possible.

This means compromises and weirdness like, say, the first couple of Mets-Dodgers games starting after 9pm Eastern time on Friday and Saturday. Or the Texas Rangers starting a game at what, back home in Texas, will be 11:45AM. Which, admittedly, aren’t great start times, but do we expect Dodgers fans in L.A. to fight Friday rush hour traffic and be home in time to watch a game featuring the local team any earlier than 6pm? Seems like a tall order.

Anyway, the early round schedule was just released and you can see it below. If you are so inclined you can find all manner of inconveniences here. Sure, if you don’t have a job — or if being online and watching baseball all day is your job — Friday’s back-to-back-to-back-to-back playoff games are pretty sweet. But otherwise, just plan accordingly and do the best you can.

And remember: no one gives a rip about these schedule issues about ten minutes after the games start:

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Wild Card, Division series umpires announced

Angel Hernandez

Major League Baseball just released the umpire assignments for the Wild Card Game and the Division Series. As always, the basis for these assignments is a proprietary, scientific calculation undertaken by Major League Baseball, mixing in (a) skill; (b) seniority; and (c) trolling of baseball bloggers who, unlike 99% of the rest of the world actually know the names and track records of various umpires and who are easily riled.

Which is to say that, while we have no Joe West in the early playoff rounds this year — too obvious, perhaps? — we do get an Angel Hernandez.

Here are the assignments. The asterisks represent the crew chief of each unit. Guys with little up arrows next to their names are regular season crew chiefs in their own right. Print this out and keep it near your television so you know who to yell about before the broadcasters tell you who to yell at:

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