Via about 12 different reporters in my Twitter feed a few minutes ago, we hear that the Athletics have announced they’re in negotiations to move their Spring Training operations from Phoenix Municipal Stadium to HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona. HoHoKam will be empty starting in the spring of 2013 because the Cubs are vacating it for a megaplex elsewhere in Mesa.
This disturbs me a little bit. Why? Because this is Phoenix Municipal, where the A’s reside in February and March, and which I had the privilege of visiting last spring training:
To your less-than sophisticated eye it may appear to you as some random 1960s public stadium, but it is so much more. Note the poured concrete facade. Note the proletarian seating You can’t see it in the pic, but I assure you, there is speckled tile flooring and painted cinderblock walls all over that joint.
Now, this may be off-putting to you — it may put you in mind of some government building in Brasilia or something — but I not-so-secretly love buildings like this. Yes, they can be hideous in their Brutalism, but they’re comforting to me. They remind me of my elementary school. They remind me of Denney Hall on the Ohio State campus, where I probably spent most of my in-class time as an undergrad. They remind me of the state office building I used to work in. I have good memories of those places, as rotten with 1960s-70s poor design choices and asbestos and stuff as they are.
Put simply: I really liked Phoenix Municipal. It probably fails on just about every level from the perspective of a team wanting to make the most out of the spring training experience. And I’m sure if I spent more than two days there I’d have my own complaints. But selfishly speaking, I’d be sad if the A’s moved out and no one else moved in.
As per tradition, towards the end of the regular season, veterans on baseball’s various clubs haze the rookies by making them dress up and do something a bit embarrassing. That used to include things like making rookies dress up like women and carry pink backpacks, but Major League Baseball banned that practice, so veterans had to get marginally more creative.
The Phillies had their rookies — including Rhys Hoskins, J.P. Crawford, and Nick Williams — dress up like characters in Grease and perform “Greased Lightning” at their hotel in Atlanta on Friday night. Not only did the Phils’ vets and other members of the crew get a free show, but so did employees of the hotel and nearby hotel patrons.
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As MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki explains, Hoskins was the inspiration for the gag as he has earned the nickname “Rhys Lightning.” (Rhys, for the uninitiated, rhymes with “Grease.”) Hoskins said, “You always hear about team chemistry. I think stuff like that let’s you get to know guys on a different level, when you’re not at the field. You just become more personable with people. The better relationships you have, there’s a different level of playing for each other. And I think that’s usually a sign of a good team.”
The Twins also had some fun at the rookies’ expense:
Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge went yard twice in Sunday afternoon’s 9-5 loss to the Blue Jays, bringing his season total up to 48. That leaves him just one home run shy of tying the single-season rookie record set by Mark McGwire with the Athletics in 1987.
After Sunday’s performance, Judge is hitting .281/.416/.610 with 48 home runs, 105 RBI, and 122 runs scored in 651 plate appearances. He has the AL Rookie of the Year Award on lock and is neck-and-neck with the Astros’ Jose Altuve, Chris Sale of the Red Sox, and the Indians’ Corey Kluber in the AL MVP Award race.