Spring training journal – day five – March 28, 2004…

Today could best be described as suffering from Cactus League burnout. As I sit here at Scottsdale Stadium, waiting for the Giants/Angels game to start, I can’t seem to muster the enthusiasm for being here that I’ve felt at the rest of the games this week.

Some of what I’m feeling probably has to do with my attitude towards the Giants themselves. Before they built Pac Bell Park (now called SBC Park) I enjoyed going to Giants games as much as I did A’s games. Giants were scrappy, resource starved and played in one of the worst facilities for baseball on the planet. Giants fans were people I could relate to and the best of them would stick out an extra inning game in the chill winds of Candlestick Park because they loved their team. Since they moved to the new ballpark Giants fans tend to be a lot more affluent and a lot less interested in baseball. They’re seen constantly talking on cellphones or busying themselves with obtaining as much overpriced boutique food as they can.

Scottsdale Stadium is like a kind of mini Pac Bell Park. The architecture is very similar and so is the vibe of the place. Hester often says that the problem with the Giants is that they aren’t any fun. They play baseball with a studied seriousness that not only seems inappropriate for a kid’s game, but seems stuffy, dry and not a lot of fun to watch. This ballpark has a lot of those businesslike qualities to it. For one thing, it’s entirely too dang big. The A’s and Angels play in what the locals consider inflated, oversized parks here that hold, each of them, a little over 8,000 people. Scottsdale, by that measure, is gigantic, with a capacity of around 12,000 people. My seat, for instance is in the bleachers. The other parks I’ve been to so far don’t even have bleachers.

The rest of how I’m feeling has nothing to do with baseball and everything to do with my overall state of mind for the past several months. Without getting into the gory details (and subsequently turning this into yet another self-absorbed, navel-gazing and tiresome me me me blog) I’ll just say that I’m not a happy man a lot of the time. Part of the reason I came to Spring Training this year was to try and shake off the cobwebs in my brain, indulge myself in an immersion in baseball for a week and see if I could pull myself out of the deep dark funk I’ve been in. To some degree it’s worked, but not completely. At least not so far.

Anyway, once the crowd filled in and filled up the ballpark in Scottsdale it really was a lot more like attending a regular season Giants game at SBC Park. In attendance was about the same ratio of frat boy/sorority girl types. My ticketed seat was just awful. The bleachers here are just a rack of aluminum benches out in left field. Not comfortable and really much too hot. Great place to get a sunburn, lousy place to watch a ballgame. I spent most of the game out on the lawn beyond center field. Not a bad place to spend an afternoon, but I’m guessing there were equally good places in Phoenix that didn’t charge admission.

The game the day before at Phoenix Muni was a lot more enjoyable. Bob and Shirley were there again. Hester says I just like old people. Maybe there’s some truth to that, but I don’t think age matters to me much. I like people who are able to sustain a certain temperament and attitude and I don’t think it’s age related. I find the rampant “me me me” attitude of most folks just really irritating. Older folks of a certain type are just able to keep things in perspective and enjoy the moment they’re in and the they happen to be with.

Anyway, Bob and Shirley repeated themselves a lot, which is something I can relate to. I heard more about how nice a guy Eric Chavez is and how wonderful his new wife is. And naturally I heard a lot more shit-talk about Frank Menechino and about how Ken Hoffman is so old he doesn’t know what country he lives in, let alone how to invest in a ball team.

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