Monday, March 19, 2012

By the time it hailed in Phoenix

Is there a more breathtaking sight in nature than the Arizona desert set against the Hooters’ sign? It’s Spring Training time again and I spent a week in the Phoenix area covering the Seattle Mariners. Fans of all teams (except the Dodgers) flock to the Valley of the Sun to watch baseball players in their natural habitat.

The M’s train in Peoria, a western suburb of Phoenix. Seven or eight other clubs also have their facilities in this part of town. If you’re traveling on the I-101, when you see the football stadium (which looks like the world’s largest Jiffy Pop bag) and Johnny Rockets you know you’re in the area.

A local article offered restaurant recommendations for tourists doing their baseball pilgrimage. They had choices in Scottsdale, Mesa, downtown Phoenix, Chandler, Tempe, and when it came to West Phoenix – nothing. Chains. Franchises. Personally, I think that’s overstated but okay.

Checked in at the La Quinta Inn, which shares its parking lot with a Red Robin. Got a nice room overlooking Buca di Beppo and headed out to the Peoria Sports Complex, making a left at P.F. Chang’s and the Corner Bakery.

Scottsdale has the largest median age of all big cities. So take that Ft. Lauderdale! You know you’re in a retirement community when the Arizona Republic’s big headline is: British doctors warn against metal hip joints.

Had a game in Maryvale, where the Milwaukee Brewers train. Take the I-10 to the IHOP turnoff then go north. Maryvale is in such a bad part of town Popeye’s Chicken doesn’t even have an outlet there. The stadium itself is very nice though, except for the wrought-iron bars on the dugout.

But got to visit with Mr. Baseball, Bob Uecker – a comic if not national treasure. Shared some laughs and got caught up on all his latest off-season operations.   I don't think he has one original organ left. 

Here’s all you need to know about Arizona: a House bill that would let guns in all public buildings is quietly moving toward passage. This comes AFTER a shootout outside the Clubhouse Music Venue that left 16 people injured.

Other stupid Arizona laws (and these are real, folks): It’s illegal for more than six girls to live in a house. It’s illegal to play cards with Native Americans on the street. It’s illegal to have more than two dildos in the house (okay, well that one makes sense). It’s illegal for women to wear pants in Tucson. It’s illegal to sell fake cocaine. And it’s illegal to hunt camels. This is one Looney-Tunes state.

Spring training games are hard to call because there are so many substitutions. Among the players whose exploits I described: Jabari Blash, Irving Falu, Roger Kieschnick, Munenori Kawasaki, and that rightfielder for Kansas City – I still have no idea who he was. Thank God no one hit a ball to him.

Stopped off for a postgame cocktail at Tilted Kilts Pub & Gawkery. It’s Hooters but with that distinctive European touch that frat boys and redneck assholes so appreciate.

There is a Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. A real one, not a supersized Sam Ash Music Store. Well worth seeing. And soon you’ll be able to bring in your weapons!

Camelback Ranch is where the White Sox and Dodgers train. (Take Camelback Road past the Circle K, Denny’s, and CVS pharmacy.) There was an auto mishap earlier in the month in their spacious parking lot when a noted sportswriter crashed his rental car into a cement mixer. His explanation: “I just didn’t see it.” Didn’t see a cement mixer? What, you lost it in the sun? From now on when he describes a pitcher’s release point as being just an inch off I’ll be saying, “Yeah, right!”

How bad is local traffic? A woman gave birth on the Seventh Avenue off ramp of Loop 101 on Thursday. These people will do anything to get into the carpool lane.

Among the notables that hail from the Grand Canyon State: Wayne Newton, Cochise, Ofelia Zepeda, Billy Graham (the wrestler), Alice Cooper (the golfer), Danica Patrick, Jordin Sparks (American Idol), Andy Devine, and the Meat Puppets.

The Phoenix bus strike finally ended. Relived commuters grabbed their 31-day passes and citizenship papers and once again boarded city buses.

Went to dinner at Dillons’ with Ed Farmer of the White Sox and several cronies. Yes, it’s a chain, but there are only three Dillons’ locations in Phoenix…although one is literally in the middle of the zoo. The idea of looking out the window and seeing the animal you’re eating does not appeal to me. On the other hand, Arizonians will soon be able to bring their guns and select their own entrees!

Friday’s temperature: 90 degrees. Sunday’s: 56. When it’s not the Valley of the Sun, it’s the Valley of the thunder and dust storms. No outside seating at the Cheesecake Factory.

Combine Spring Break, St. Patrick’s Day, Saturday night, Tilted Kilts, and gale force winds and no one in Peoria could walk a straight line including the cops. And yet, for all the tosspots staggering into traffic and walking into trees, not one hit a cement mixer. Luck of the Irish I guess.

On Sunday the rain probability was 100% for our game time. 100%. The game started on time under brilliant sunshine. Of course an hour later it was canceled due to hail. (Picture by my iPhone.)

The ride home couldn’t be more perfect. I was on the same flight as Vin Scully. Of course he was in 4B and I was in 37F next to some guy who was moulting. But still!!

All in all, it was a great week. My thanks to the Mariners. Don’t miss the chance to go to Spring Training at least once. Of course you can simulate half the experience by having breakfast at the Waffle House.


DJ said...

It's illegal to sell fake cocaine.

There's a reasonable explanation for that one. Selling fake drugs is known as a "rip-off." Rip-offs tend to provoke violent revenge when said rip-off is discovered. The law is a (small, probably pointless) way to combat this.

Rays profile said...

It's a good thing Arizona is a conservative state and hates government interfering with individual rights, or they'd really come up with wacko laws.

Unknown said...

You mean THE 宗徳 かわさき?!?


"In his professional American debut, on March 2, 2012, Kawasaki went 0-3 against the Oakland Athletics, with 2 stikeouts, starting at shortstop. He was replaced in the 6th inning by Carlos Triunfel"

Exciting :-)

Mike Botula said...

beeGu iblimenGreat piece, Ken. Now, I know for sure that AZ has gone downhill since I worked in Phoenix in the mid-60s. But, I think the legal wheel is being re-invented with the gun law. I went into a local bank one day in 1963 to deposit my first paycheck. Right after I got in line for the teller, a guy in jeans, boots western shirt and hat got in line behind me. He was carrying a money bag and wearing a .44 long barrel Ruger Magnum on his. Now, being fresh from New York, I was a bit startled, but managed the presence of mind to ask him, "are you making a deposit or WITHDRAWAL. He smiled and explained to this tenderfoot that guns can be carried in public, IF they are not concealed. Comforting thought.

Brooke McMaster said...

"How bad is local traffic? A woman gave birth on the Seventh Avenue off ramp of Loop 101 on Thursday. These people will do anything to get into the carpool lane. "

Ah the comedy writer I know and love. Kudos!

Dan Tedson said...

So five girls in a house but only two dildos.

Powder keg.

Dan Tedson said...

Real California laws btw:

-Women may not drive in a house coat.

-You may only throw a frisbee at the beach in Los Angeles County, CA with the lifeguard’s permission.

-Animals are banned from mating publicly within 1,500 feet of a tavern, school, or place of worship.

-It is a misdemeanor to shoot at any kind of game from a moving vehicle... unless the target is a whale.

-No vehicle without a driver may exceed 60 miles per hour.

-You are not permitted to wear cowboy boots unless you already own at least two cows.

-A man can’t go outside while wearing a jacket and pants that do not match.

-Women may not wear high heels while in the city limits.

All houses must be occupied by 7 girls, no dildos, myself, a half-drum of Anal Eaze, and a defibrilator.

Jake Mabe said...

Let's see, Ken. You worked on "Mary Tyler Moore," "M*A*S*H" and "Cheers." You call baseball games from time to time for the Mariners. You get to hang out with Bob Uecker during spring training. You have one charmed life, my friend. Reading your blog has become as much a part of my daily routine as morning coffee and reruns of "Bob Newhart." Keep up the good work.

Michael said...

Jake, I think he has it TOO good. The same flight as Vin! It's like the story Jim Bouton told about the Yankees being on a flight with turbulence and danger, and then it hit them that Yogi had taken another flight--and Yogi was the luckiest man alive, so they figured they'd crash. Nothing bad is allowed to happen if The Vin is in the house.

Ken, one minor complaint. The Corner Bakery IS better than those other chains.

Paul Duca said...

Ken, two of your worlds crossed today, on the episode of HAWAII FIVE-O aired on Me TV. The plot concerned servicemen's widows being killed for the husband's insurance money. A drunken Hot Lips Houlihan was run down by a jeep before the opening credits...under the direction of "Coach" Ernie Pantuso.

Paul Duca said...

Don't forget Arizona natives the Gin Blossoms...

Chris Hobbs said...

"And it’s illegal to hunt camels."

Surprisingly, in pre-Civil War Arizona (and Texas and New Mexico), camels were brought in by the US Army for trials in the desert. Visions of a camel cavalry, if you will.

The trials proved unsuccessful, and the camels were simply released into the wild. In Arizona, there were credible reports of camels being spotted as late as 1901.

And now you know, "the rest of the story"!

chuckcd said...

Mmmm Buca! Making me hungry...

tb said...

Women can't wear pants, what?

Jason said...

If you made it to Dillon's and the MIM, and avoided catching a show at a venue frequented by Crips & Bloods, you did ok.

kent said...

It's illegal to sell fake cocaine in California too. Section 11355 of the Health and Safety Code.

I'm pretty sure we allow up to three dildos, though.

Brian Phillips said...

Wasn't that the basis for the movie, "Hawmps?". Good heavens, I wish I didn't know this.

NanaLana said...

"If you build it, they will come." Did they mean the stadium, or the fast food?...

Cap'n Bob said...

The Camel Corps was championed by Army Chief of Staff Jefferson Davis, who later became president of the Confederacy. I recommend the book The Spirit Horses, by Lou Cameron, for a look at this experiment.

Breadbaker said...

I looked up "Why is fake cocaine illegal?" on google and got a website sponsored by