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.
Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.
The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.
For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.
Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.
The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.
Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.
It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.