Hello from Hohokam Park


I landed in Phoenix just before 9:30 AM Mountain time, took the seemingly interminable bus ride to the rental car place and was met with an opportunity to see if NBC really appreciates me:



I asked if I could take the upgrade. So far no one has responded. I assume they’re still thinking it over.

On to my hotel in Tempe to drop off my stuff and then grab some food at a little diner:



I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that, on doctor’s orders, I’ve gone on a mostly carb-free diet. This place makes pancakes with bacon-infused batter. I was kinda good in that I got some veggie breakfast burrito and didn’t eat all of the tortilla, but yeah, I’m probably gonna die in this place at some point over the next ten days.

On to Hohokam Park to check out the Dodgers and Cubs.

Today was sort of a lost day as far as real baseball reporter-like activity goes, as I wasn’t able to get to the park at my usual 8 AM arrival time. This kept me from (a) getting into the clubhouse when the players were just hanging out; and (b) kept me from getting a good seat in the press box. This would be my view of the game if I sat up here for it:



No, I will not be sitting inside for it. Think I’m going to go camp out in the sun someplace and enjoy the game like God and Nature intended. By the way: that guy in front of me is Eric Stephen of True Blue LA.  We bloggers are taking over, yo.

Out into this beautiful park:



The Cubs are abandoning it for new digs next year. The Athletics will be taking it over. The Brewers, rumor has it, will then move into the A’s place at Phoenix Municipal. The wheel goes round and round and each time it stops another old school spring training park goes down. At least if you consider Maryvale old school. I dunno. I’ll say more about it when I’m there next week, but I like Maryvale and I don’t care if it’s in a neighborhood a lot of folks don’t like to go to.

In other news, I’d like to hire these guys to do my yard work:



I used to make fun of my dad for being so obsessive about his lawn that he’d go pick specks out of it. These guys have freakin’ Dustbusters. They’re green, too. Cool.

Hey, Edwin Jackson! Can I have an autograph?



As soon as this picture was taken Jackson was traded three more times for reasons that are unclear.

Back inside where one learns that, even in spring training, major league prices reign supreme:



Those are total ripoffs. Everyone knows that foam fingers are cooler than foam claws. The pricing should be reversed.

Oh, and there is a ballgame today. Starts in a few short minutes. The lineups:


Nick Punto: designated hitter. Yup, it’s spring training.

Talk at you later, y’all. There’s baseball to watch.

Nationals fire reigning Manager of the Year Matt Williams

Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams looks on from the dugout during a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, May 2, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

Matt Williams was voted the National League Manager of the Year on November 11, 2014, receiving 18 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers Association of America members.

Today the Nationals fired him following a season full of disappointment, reports of clubhouse discontent, and Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper in the dugout.

Williams went 179-145 (.552) in two seasons in Washington, which is an excellent winning percentage, but when you take over a stacked team the expectations are extremely high and there was seemingly nothing anyone could point to about his actual managing that suggested he was doing a good job.

His in-game tactics and particularly his rigid bullpen usage patterns infuriated fans. His dealings with the local media became increasingly antagonistic. And even setting aside two players literally fighting in the dugout there’s ample evidence that Williams lost the clubhouse a long time ago.

Williams was far from the only thing wrong with the Nationals this season and he’s hardly the primary person to blame for their disappointing record, but it’s also hard to make a strong case for his sticking around–meaningless, beat writer-voted award or not–and general manager Mike Rizzo predictably acted quickly to move on.

Now we’ll see who gets to take the next crack at managing the Nationals to play up to expectations.

Dan Haren plans to retire after the playoffs are over

Dan Haren
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Dan Haren, who said two months ago that he was leaning toward retiring after the season, reiterated those plans following the Cubs’ regular season finale Sunday.

At age 34 he started 32 games for the Marlins and Cubs with a 3.60 ERA and 132/38 K/BB ratio in 187 innings, so Haren would have no problem finding work and a solid paycheck for 2016.

However, he’s not expected to part of the Cubs’ playoff roster and told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago:

That was it for me. If I have to pitch in the postseason, I’ll be ready for sure. Happy the way the last few starts have gone. Being able to contribute to this amazing team. I’m just thankful to be a part of it. If I don’t pitch in the postseason, that’s it. It’s been fun. Hopefully there’s a lot more games to go. … If my name is called, I’ll be ready.

Injuries has lessened Haren’s overall effectiveness in recent years, but he’s remained a solid mid-rotation starter and has pitched 13 seasons in the big leagues with a 3.75 ERA in 2,419 innings. He made three All-Star teams and earned more than $80 million.