Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Arizona Fall League

Last week, I took some time off of work to go to Arizona with my Uncle Lanny and his friend, Fred, to catch some Arizona Fall League games. What is the Arizona Fall League, you ask? All 30 Major League baseball teams pick approximately 6 upcoming players from their organization to particpate in the Fall League. There are 6 Fall League teams in total in which these upcoming prospects play - the teams include the Mesa Solar Sox(includes prospects from Angels, Cubs, Mets, Phillies, and Pirates) , Phoenix Desert Dogs (A's, Braves, Dodgers, Marlins, Yankees), Peoria Javelinas(Astros, Blue Jays, Indians, Red Sox, Mariners), Peoria Saguaros (Reds, Twins, Padres, Rays, White Sox), Scottsdale Scorpions (Diamondbacks, Giants, Nationals, Orioles, Rockies) and Surprise Rafters (Brewers, Cardinals, Rangers, Royals, Tigers.) Lanny, Fred, and I ended up seeing 6 games over the span of three days. A 12:30pm game and a 6:30pm game on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. (Nov. 8th-10th) As soon as we got off the airplane and got our rental car, we headed to the first game in Surprise between the Saguaros and Rafters.

Surprise, AZ has a beautiful ballpark
After the game was over in Surprise (with the Rafters holding on for the 6-5 win), we checked into the place we were staying and then headed on the road for Mesa for game between the Scorpions and the Mesa Solar Sox. During batting practice, the number 1 overall pick in the recent draft by the Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper, took some cuts during batting practice. The first pitch he saw he hit on line drive over the fence towards center field and I'm guessing it went about 460 feet. It was pretty impressive. We all got some food (nachos and dogs) and enjoyed the game. The nights are cooler in November apparently but we managed to make it through the whole nine innings with Scottsdale winning 8-3. We went back to the place where I watched the opening of the new Conan show on TBS then fell asleep. It was a long day. On day two, we decided to have Jack in the Box for breakfast and then head to Phoenix for a game between the Scorpions and Desert Dogs. When you go to catch the Scorpions play in the Fall League, you can expect to see Susan rooting them on. I didn't shoot the following video as this one I found on youtube came out better than mine(though this clip is from 2007).
Susan doesn't just cheer during the game but she cheers during the warm-ups as well. You can hear her from wherever you are sitting in the stadium. You might think she was a guy yelling if you didn't actually see her. Fred actually said he is still skeptical. Haha. We decided to leave the game a little early as there was a pizza place we wanted to go to before the night game. We left around the 7th inning with the Desert Dogs winning 7-4 and that is how the score ended up staying. It was then time for pizza at NYPD Pizza. On Mondays and Tuesdays, they have a special where you can buy one pizza and get the second at half price. We decided to go for this deal so that way we'd have leftover pizza later. After the pizza, it was on to Peoria for the Saguaros vs. the Javelinas (the Javelinas were the home team this time - since they both use this park as their home stadium). The Javelinas had the game in their hands but ended up making a total of 4 errors and ended up losing the game 6-4 when it was all said and done. The outcome of the game was unexpected and so is what Lanny and I saw that night on the drive back to our place. We were on a long road with nothing to see but cacti for miles (which we didn't even see at this time because it was dark). Lanny then spots some orange-ish lights in the sky and points them out to me. It was a strand of lights and did not look like the light design you would see on a plane. Before Lanny could point the lights out to Fred, they were gone. We were then left wondering with what we had seen. The lights looked much like the lights on this site (click here). Arizona has a pretty long history of people claiming to see UFOs too... whatever it was, it got us thinking and looking for it again the next night. Then came Wednesday, the final full day of our trip. We headed to JB's Restaurant for all you can eat breakfast. You can read my short review of the restaurant here. After JB's, we headed to Surprise for the day game against the Javelinas. This time the Javelinas were able to hold on for the win (unlike the night before) though they did settle for an 8-5 win after being up 8-0 after 6 innings.

Me in Surprise, AZ
It was back to Mesa for the last game we would go to for a game between the Desert Dogs and Solar Sox. It was really cold outside that night. Lanny wore shorts so he was freezing. I drank a couple beers to help warm myself up but it finally became too much cold to bear so we left around the 6th inning. (I'd later find out the Desert Dogs won 9-6) As were leaving the stadium, I found a $20 bill on the ground! Hooray for leaving early, good luck was headed our way.... Until we got to the Arco Gas Station to put gas in the rental car. When Fred couldn't remember the pin number to his card, Lanny said he would just pay cash. The person inside the Arco insisted that Lanny pay cash outside though (I've never heard of not being able to take cash inside - he must be lazy). So I help Lanny figure out their automated paying machine. The machine confirms that $40 has now been inserted and to proceed by pumping the gas. Well, the gas never pumped. Fred and I looked on as Lanny had an animated "discussion" (though the guy could barely speak English) with the guy working inside. Lanny asked for his $40 back and the guy working there claimed he only spent $11.29 or something, but that was what the previous person who used the pump had paid. Finally, after about 20 minutes at the Arco, Lanny got his $40 back and we just went to the Shell across the street instead. It definitely shouldn't have been that difficult. The night couldn't get any crazier, right? On our way home, the three of us saw the moon right in front of us, looking as big as ever on the horizon. A few seconds later and none of us could see the moon any longer. The moon disappeared! Ok, light disappearing is one thing, but the moon?! It wasn't behind any clouds because it was too low. I've tried doing some google searches to figure out where it may have gone but I am still stumped. We got back to the place and Fred went outside to see if he could see the moon there, but no dice. What a trip that was and what a trip the trip was! (does that make sense?) I had a lot of fun - Lanny, Fred, and I are discussing about making it an annual trip too - which would definitely be a nice tribute in the memory of my Uncle Lester who loved Arizona as well. And now, finally, here are some players I can see having an impact very soon in the Major Leagues and I'm talking Fantasy Baseball type impact players here.... Bryce Harper (Nationals) - Harper only played on Wednesdays and Saturdays in games so I never saw him in anything but batting practice but it was enough to convince me that if he keeps it up that he could see the majors as early as 2011. Dustin Ackley (Mariners) - Ackley played 2nd base about as swiftly as you can ask someone to play. He is also the current leader in hitting in the Fall League with a .431 average and has 28 runs scored in 19 games. After the dismal 2010 from Chone Figgins, don't be surprised if Ackley takes over at 2nd base in 2011. Another option is to have Ackley play center field... yes, the Mariners have the gold-glover Franklin Gutierrez out there currently but even Torii Hunter got moved out of center field by an upcoming prospect (Peter Bourjos). Jordan Pacheco (Rockies) - Some people were surprised that Miguel Olivo was traded away by the Colorado Rockies. Jordan Pacheco may be the reason why the Rockies were ok with making the move. Pacheco had an impressive game on November 8th against Phoenix with 2 doubles, a triple, and 3 rbi. He is currently batting .333 in the AFL. Not shabby numbers for a catcher. Brandon Belt (Giants) - Belt could very well be the first baseman next year for the Giants. He is currently batting .392 in the AFL and has very good plate discipline.

Brandon Belt playing 1st (in Mesa, AZ)
Marc Rzepczynski (Blue Jays) - Rzepczynski has 23 starts in the Majors in the last 2 years but is looking to make his case to stay in the majors for good in 2011. In the game we went to on the 10th in Surprise, Rzepczynski went 6 shutout innings and had 8 k's and let up only 2 hits. Overall, he has made 6 Fall League starts and has throw the most innings of any pitcher and is 4-0 with a 1.16 ERA. Thanks to you if you read this entire blog. It took me a while to type up, but I hope you enjoyed it.

I Haven't Lost a Beat

On October 23, 2010, I had my 10 year high school reunion in San Jose, CA. Originally, the reunion was scheduled for September 11, 2010, but they ended up postponing it as they hoped it would allow them to sell more tickets. I'm not so sure if that plan worked as the organizers had hoped as it was a rather small gathering than hoped for the reunion, but those that were there did seem to have fun. I was asked during the planning stages if I'd be interested in performing comedy at the reunion. I said "Sure, sounds like fun." As you can tell from the photo below it wasn't the typical performance setting. I wasn't on a raised platform and microphone belonged the the DJ that was hired for the night. The DJ was a nice guy but when I did my routine I could hear myself echoing behind me. My classmates liked it enough - though they will remember this as the night the Giants advanced to the World Series and not the night that Wes performed at their reunion.

A fellow classmate took this photo.
It was surreal seeing some of the classmates that I hadn't seen in 10 years. Some people have had their lives change dramatically as many of them are now married, have children, etc. As for myself, I got a haircut the day before the reunion. While some people changed, others didn't change as much. At one point during the night, I even asked out the girl that I had a crush on back in high school. I was kindly turned down just like 10 years ago. I haven't lost a beat.