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Hello from Hohokam Park

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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?

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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:

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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:

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

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

Marlins defeat the Mets, then pay their respects to Jose Fernandez on the pitcher’s mound

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 26: Miami Marlins players all wearing jerseys bearing the number 16 and name Fernandez honor the late Jose Fernandez before the game against the New York Mets at Marlins Park on September 26, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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The Marlins were somehow able to muster up the strength not only to play Monday night’s game against the Mets, but also win it convincingly one day after losing Jose Fernandez in a tragic boating accident. The Marlins and Mets helped pay tribute to Fernandez prior to the start of the game as outlined here.

When the game started, the Marlins came out of the gate with a bang. Dee Gordon homered in his first at-bat, then the club hung a four-spot in the second inning. They tacked on two more in the third inning to chase starter Bartolo Colon and take a commanding 7-0 lead. The Mets chipped away for two runs in the fifth on an Asdrubal Cabrera two-run homer and tacked on one more in the eighth, but ultimately fell short by a 7-3 margin.

Gordon finished 4-for-5 with the homer and two RBI. Justin Bour went 3-for-3 with a single, double, triple, and a walk along with an RBI and two runs scored.

A.J. Ramos, who closed out the win, placed the ball on the pitcher’s mound for Fernandez. The Marlins huddled around the mound and said a prayer. The players huddled closer to the rubber on the mound, then left their hats behind as they retreated to the clubhouse as fans at Marlins Park chanted, “Jose, Jose, Jose.”

In a post-game interview, Gordon called his first-inning home run “the best moment of my life,” as NBC 6 Sports reports.

Indians defeat Tigers, clinch AL Central for first division title since 2007

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 7: Roberto Perez #55 of the Cleveland Indians hits an RBI single during the second inning against the Houston Astros at Progressive Field on September 7, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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The Indians beat the Tigers 7-4 at Comerica Park on Monday night, clinching the AL Central for their first division title since 2007. Starter Corey Kluber lasted only four innings before exiting with right groin tightness, but the Indians were able to overcome the adversity.

Coco Crisp gave the Indians their first two runs with a two-run home run in the second inning off of starter Buck Farmer. The Tigers would promptly tie the game on a two-run homer by J.D. Martinez in the bottom half of the inning.

In the fifth, an RBI double by Jason Kipnis and a sacrifice fly by Mike Napoli put the Tribe back on top 4-2. The Tigers answered once again with a Miguel Cabrera RBI single in the bottom half to make it 4-3.

Roberto Perez homered for the Indians in the top of the top of the seventh, and Cabrera answered with another RBI single in the bottom half to keep it within one run at 5-4.

The Indians tacked on another insurance run in the eighth on three consecutive two-out singles by Crisp, Rajai Davis, and Perez. Carlos Santana then hit what should have been the final out of the eighth inning, but J.D. Martinez botched the catch, allowing the Indians’ seventh run to score.

Cody Allen shut the Tigers down in the bottom of the ninth, protecting the 7-4 lead for his 30th save of the season.

The last time the Indians won the AL Central, their starting lineup featured a 28-year-old Victor Martinez, a 25-year-old Jhonny Peralta, a 24-year-old Grady Sizemore, and a 26-year-old CC Sabathia. It’s been a long time.

The American League playoff picture still isn’t set yet, so the Indians will be intently watching the final week of the season to see who will be their playoff opponent.