Spring training journal – day three – March 26, 2004…

Army Dude actually turned out to be less annoying to bunk above than he was to bunk across from. I’ve also begun to notice something about the locals. Those I’ve seen on the streets or on the busses or just out and about look a bit like dried fruit. They look leathery, wrinkled (often prematurely so) and sort of used up. The impression I get is that the bright sun and heat are drying everyone out like a bunch of apricots.

Second game of my trip today at Tempe Diablo Stadium. It was a much longer ride on the bus to this venue, and it seems to have taken me through the more squalid and depressed parts of Phoenix. The Hope Village Apartments were along Roeser Street, and with a name like that you just know it’s got to government subsidized housing. And well, what do ya know? I seem to have found where the city of Phoenix keeps it’s negroes. It keeps them in row after row of these squat, square, dumpy-looking bungalows that look to be about big enough to be divided into 2 rooms. Each bungalow sits crammed in next to another with just enough space to grow a patch of grass between them. Out front stand young men who look bored and simultaneously ready to pounce on the first person to give them an excuse.

Down the road just a bit lie brand new housing developments of 2, 3 and 5 bedroom homes on reasonable plots of land. So, you just know that little Hope Village is probably not long for this world, regardless of how full it is of people in need of subsidized housing. The trip down Roeser was full of contrasts like this. Government housing vs. new housing developments designed for young new home buyers. Rich Christian high school, whose gym looks like a mini domed stadium, vs. a guy selling shoes out of the back of a van for $10 a pair. At the end of the line stands Diablo Stadium.

I figured the Angels to have a somewhat lesser ballpark than the A’s, but boy was I wrong. Diablo looks like a full-fledged minor league park. Big points were scored in my book for not only offering a wide selection of food at the concession, but also for grilling the hot dogs. What a difference between the Der Wienerschnitzel steamed dogs the Angels sell at their home park in Anaheim.

On the first bus ride of the day, on the Central Line, I was party to a conversation that gives me some hope for the future of this country. Dubya was in Phoenix today and his visit brought with it some pretty significant traffic snafus. The bus driver complained to some of his regular riders about this and one said out loud, “so that’s what that smell was!” to much laughter all around the bus. When a whole busload of folks on their way to work in downtown Phoenix, one of the most conservative and Republican-friendly parts of the country, is openly mocking Dubya and receiving a rousing chorus of laughs I’d say there’s a good chance that George W. is not going to get re-elected.

The game was a good one today, although the company in the stands left a lot to be desired compared to yesterday. This man and his son were behind me who were obviously Padres fans (the hats and jerseys they were wearing were pretty good indicators of that). After a couple of failed attempts at starting up a conversation I gave up. It’s a pretty good bet that someone doesn’t want to talk to you when they glower in your general direction on every attempt.

Vlad Guerrero couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn today, and he made one of the worst throws I’ve ever seen from a professional outfielder. Garrett Anderson’s performance more than made up for Vlad’s poor work though. It was truly a sureal experience to see Ramon Hernandez and Terrance Long suited up in Padres uniforms. Ramon was DH’ing and T. Long started in center field.

Not much else to report from today. Time to sleep.

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