Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Classic card of the week

Alex Rodriguez, 2004 Upper Deck World Series Heros edition

Webster’s defines “hero” as: a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities.

(Side note: Woman cannot be heroes. Sorry, Joan of Arc!)

Dwight Schrute defines “hero” as: The guys who wake up every morning, and go into their normal jobs, and get a distress call from the commissioner, and take off their glasses and change into capes and fly around fighting crime.

Webster’s defines “World Series” as: [the] annual championship of Major League Baseball.

Upper Deck defines “World Series Hero” as: a) a man who has never been to the World Series and who, in fact, has forged a reputation –- whether deserved or not -- as being unable to reach the World Series based on his very own inability to be a hero during specific situations in which a heroic deed would likely ensure himself and his team a berth in the World Series. b) a man with the innate ability to indirectly ruin a World Series he is not even playing in because his agent distastefully announces during an actual World Series game that he is opting out of his multi-million dollar contract, thus upsetting many hard-working, non-hero type people, like police officers, teachers, and firefighters.

But let’s find out more about the criteria it takes to become a World Series hero:

The all-everything shortstop went as far as changing positions in hopes of getting a shot at a World Series ring.

In Rodriguez’s case, changing positions had nothing to do with a) money or b) the fact that the player currently playing shortstop was a beloved American icon who had been on the team for a decade and who stubbornly refused to switch positions. No. Alex Rodriguez switched positions for the sole purpose of winning a World Series ring. Because the easiest way to win the World Series is when you have the best shortstop in the history of baseball playing third base. Also, switching positions for the “good” of the team = ring. Congratulations, Ty Wigginton –- you are a World Series hero!

Rodriguez made the move to third base upon joining the Yankees, perennial title contenders, in 2004.

Upper Deck was quite convinced that Alex Rodriguez would not only immediately win a World Series with the Yankees, but that he would be a hero in this dramatic and make-believe World Series. This wasn’t “jumping the gun,” but simply forecasting the inevitable. In fact, after Game Three of the 2004 ALCS, Upper Deck released the “Alex Rodriguez: Hero of Every World Series Ever Played and Greatest Example of the Noble Qualities That Define 'Hero'” series, which proved to be prophetic. That set sold eight trillion copies. In Boston.

Biggest kudos ever to our good friend Bill for sending this card, who described it as the “best 33 cents I ever spent!” Surely this card will be worth much more when it is inducted into the Ironic Hall of Fame in 2021. So hang in there, Bill!

Before we go, I’d like to rewrite the back of this card in an attempt to update Alex Rodriguez’s World Series hero status:

The all-everything (except shortstop and World Series participant) went as far as possibly having an affair with pop superstar Madonna and admittedly doing steroids in hopes of getting a shot at a World Series ring. Rodriguez made the move by first blaming his cousin, and then mysteriously injuring his hip, all of which will help the Yankees, perennial title contenders, in no foreseeable way whatsoever.

Did you know?
That, or a masked Alex Rodriguez flew into an industrial plant during the 2005 World Series and foiled an evil plot to kidnap Ozzie Guillen.

A trip to Trader Joe’s changes everything

Note: This column appears in the 4/2 issue of The Glendale Star and the 4/3 issue of the Peoria Times

Last week, for the first time ever, my wife and I went to Trader Joe’s.

For those unaware, Trader Joe’s is a grocery store that prides itself on selling independently grown and manufactured foods with natural ingredients, as well as other environmentally friendly products. It is essentially a grocery store for hippies.

Are we hippies? It’s difficult to say. I often feel that my wife and I are this strange hybrid –- pun intended –- of old-world conservatism and postmodern realism. (Side note: I have no idea what “postmodern realism” means. So please don’t email me.) Our lives are either one big contradiction of ideals or the perfect balance of extremes. For example, we’re vegetarians, but we live in Arizona. We’re Yankees fans, but we love the underdog. We’re indignant at Republican corruption, but not that confident about Democrats. We’re Catholic, but we watch “The Hills.”

I think it’s a generational thing, as both of us were molded mostly by our parents and partly by our education and an advancing and “progressive” popular culture. We take each issue as it comes and our opinions aren’t predetermined by any affiliation. But the one realm where we are free to express our hippy side is food.

As mentioned, we are vegetarians. This is a difficult concept for many people to grasp, especially people around here. Who hunt. Which is apparently everyone. (True story: Outside of Dunkin Donuts a few weeks ago, a guy sitting next to me introduced himself and then immediately told me a story about how he had just killed a mountain lion. Apparently I don’t put out a vegetarian vibe.) In becoming vegetarians we forced ourselves to appreciate the non-meat food groups. Like cheese. And pasta. And pasta with cheese on it. You see, giving up meat doesn’t automatically make you healthier.

Which is why, since discovering there was a Trader Joe’s on Bell Road in Glendale, we had been meaning to go there. We wanted to break the habit of our usual grocery shopping tendencies. We liked the idea of eating healthier, and now we wanted to actually try it.

From the moment we walked in, they had me at “organic cashew butter.” I didn’t even feel like I was grocery shopping –- it’s not a cavernous, aisle-filled arena, but more like a friendly neighborhood produce store. Yet I could have spent all day in there.

Hand-rolled wheat pita bread? I’ll take it. Organic veggies? Yes, please. Fake Cheerios with dried fruit mixed in? I think I’ll mix that with some soymilk. Tofu? Why of course. Pre-packaged sushi? Under any other circumstances, absolutely not. But I trust Trader Joe. (And he didn’t betray me –- delicious!) They also have organic meats, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t any more expensive than a regular grocery-shopping trip. We even got entered in a raffle for bringing our own bags. Also, we stopped global warming. But then it came back. Maybe. Who knows.

You can also probably tell how much healthier I feel by the manner and speed in which I wrote this column. Trader Joe’s was made for hippies like me. In fact, I’m not sure if I can ever go back to the big chain supermarkets ever again. I’ll stick with the little guy, thank you very much.

Go Yankees!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Classic card of the week

John Henry Lloyd, 1993 Ted Williams Collection

Here is another installment of The Negro Leagues series. Previously we discovered that players of this era had awesome nicknames and every team was named the Giants. In this instance we discover that John Henry Lloyd was called “Pop” and that he played for seven different teams called the Giants. But where is our anecdotal evidence of how Pop Lloyd was perceived during his day?

A St. Louis sportswriter was once asked who the greatest player in baseball was.

Here is how I envisioned this little tidbit playing out: He said, “John Henry Lloyd. No question.” That sportswriter’s name? Franklin Delano Roosevelt. That is not how it played out.

“If you mean organized baseball, the answer would be Babe Ruth.”

But if you mean silly-slap-boodlekins-fart-ball –- in which the players run around aimlessly wearing helicopter beanies and the bases are pepperoni pizzas -– then the answer would be John Henry Lloyd. Also: Babe Ruth? Thanks for your input, anonymous St. Louis sportswriter. So cliché.

“but if you mean in all baseball, then the answer would have to be a colored man named John Henry Lloyd.”

I find it very interesting to note the racism apparent in a card that is supposed to be highlighting a league and its players that has gone virtually unnoticed by American history as a result of deep racism. Please recall that the question was, “Who is the greatest player in baseball?” Our esteemed St. Louis sportswriter –- after making the stale observation that Babe Ruth is the best player in “organized” baseball -– responds that if you open the question up to include ALL baseball, which, in fact, the original question did, then John Henry Lloyd would be the answer. Thus, the implication is that the Negro Leagues were not organized baseball. Fantastic.

This card is part of the Ted Williams collection, released in 1993. There are a million awesome things that could have been written about John Henry Lloyd on the back of this card –- the guy friggin hit .564 in 1928 –- but they chose to go with a statement from an unnamed sportswriter who drops the term “colored man.” Fantastic. What else you got?

Lloyd was probably the finest shortstop in black ball.

Oh, that’s what it’s called? I thought it was called baseball. I feel so enlightened. Thanks, Ted Williams collection!

Did you know?

Harvey "Two Scoops" McGillicuty is the all-time silly-slap-boodlekins-fart-ball leader with 733 doozle dops. And a 1.310 OPS.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The pews aren’t always softer on the other side

Note: This column appears in the 3/26 issue of The Glendale Star and the 3/27 issue of the Peoria Times

My wife and I are Catholic. We’ve been attending St. Thomas More in Glendale since we moved here, but never officially signed on to be parishioners.

Why? Well, to be honest, we were holding out. For one thing, St. Thomas More is about 35 minutes from our house in Peoria. Plus, the Masses themselves are long, making what’s supposed to be (in our minds) a 50-minute mass an over two-hour-long event. The distance also makes it nearly impossible to attend Mass during the week for any other Holy Days, which we’re rarely aware of anyway. (There are few things more guilt-inducing than when either of us call our saintly mothers back home only to find that they just returned back from Mass because today is, after all, the Feast of Saint Agnes of Bohemia, yet we are home watching American Idol.)

So while we attended Mass each week, we were all the while waiting for a new Catholic Church to pop up closer to our house, where they don’t sing every verse of every song and you don’t have to hold hands during the Our Father.

This has not happened. That it ever will is starting to feel far-fetched. But we have been able to explore some other options in the meantime. For example, we did try attending a different church that was a similar distance away in a different direction. I also got the opportunity to attend Mass at St. Mary’s Basilica in Phoenix a couple of months ago.

The one church, well…didn’t exactly set our worlds on fire. (We were the youngest people there. By 50 years.) And while St. Mary’s was beautiful, the homily I heard was blah (yes, I judged the oldest church in Phoenix based on one sermon), and I couldn’t bend over for three weeks after sitting in the pews there.

So a funny thing happened on our journey to find a new church: we started to appreciate the one we had been going to all along. We began saying things like, “That’s not how they do it at St. Thomas,” and “Why are there dentures in this collection basket?” and “Wake up -- we’re in church!”

We began to realize that St. Thomas More, though not perfect by our idealistic standards, had everything that was really important to us. We feel welcome there, the pastor is fantastic, and every week we walk away stronger in our faith. (There’s also a Dunkin Donuts nearby. I’m just saying.) When our family comes to visit us, we take them to St. Thomas More for church, because that is where they expect to go. We’re starting to know our fellow churchgoers as well, like the couple who always winds up sitting behind us and the guy who goes up and down the aisles to shake hands during the Sign of Peace. And people know us, too. As “the couple who refuses to hold hands during the Our Father.” But still. They know us.

Last week during Mass they made an announcement inviting any visitors to sign up and become parishioners. My wife and I both looked at each other and decided it’s about time. After all, it doesn’t look like anything is “popping up” closer to our house. And even if something did, who knows if it would be as fulfilling. We plan on becoming parishioners, officially, this week. I think St. Agnes will be proud. St. Thomas, too, of course. I think they are friends. I’ll have to ask my mom.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Classic card of the week

Alfredo Griffin, 1990 Bowman

Bowman remains to this day the worst brand of baseball cards ever made. A 1991 scientific study performed by Dr. Claude Frazzelberry at the University of Wyoming confirmed that the average human being’s enjoyment of the game of baseball dropped 89% after looking at a Bowman baseball card.

The Topps Company, threatened by the sheer awesomeness of Upper Deck, responded in 1990 with Bowman, thus appealing to that untapped market of baseball fans without eyes. I would say that this is the most boring baseball card ever, but then somebody could easily show me any other Bowman card from this set, and I would change my mind in two seconds.

I mean, hey –- what’s not to like? It’s a picture of a Dodgers player posing! Or maybe it’s a coach. This guy looks like he’s 45, so I am not sure. Where is his name? Oh, at the bottom of the rainbow border? Let me see…(squinting)…okay, Alfredo Griffin. Glad we figured that out. Anyway, it’s an overcast day at a spring training practice field, and Alfredo Griffin is smiling at me. I think I am going to take a nap. But first let me turn this card over, because possibly I will be wowed by the aesthetic quality and interesting biographical info contained within:

Oh. It’s an Excel spreadsheet. That is fun and also enjoyable to look at. Maybe if I turn the card over sideways I can determine what in the freakin’ hell is going on here. No, that does not help. Why are there random teams listed on this spreadsheet? Wait. Hold on. Though not explicitly stated, it would appear as though these are Alfredo Griffin’s stats against each team during the 1989 season. That is good, because I was wondering how many doubles Alfredo Griffin had against the Philadelphia Phillies in 1989, because that is information that I will be able to use later on, during discussions about -– and possibly with –- Alfredo Griffin. I will use my magnifying glass to view these numbers, and then I will decode what those numbers mean and then I will know where to find the treasure that is buried underneath Alfredo Griffin’s house.

Wikipedia, save me:

Has one of the more famous nicknames used by ESPN Announcer Chris Berman: “Fettucini Alfredo Griffin.”



I just wanted to let that one hang there for a little while. Fettucini alfredo is a pasta dish and Alfredo Griffin is named Alfredo, so that is what happened there.

Did you know?
Bowman is the opposite of this.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Good things can bud from a disappointing situation

Note: This column appears in the 3/19 issue of The Glendale Star and the 3/20 issue of the Peoria Times

Shortly after we moved to Arizona and got settled into our house, it came time to have our backyard done. Because this was really our first house, and because we were largely unfamiliar with the local landscape, we admittedly were pretty clueless. We received a landscaping reference, met with him, and decided to go with him. He seemed to know what he was talking about, and he promised my wife a lemon tree, the one thing we knew we wanted.

Maybe a month or two after our backyard was complete, we noticed that many of the plants the guy had installed had died. He also neglected to inform us how to properly care for a lemon tree, and now we have a lemon tree that produces thorns and lemon-scented leaves. I called him about this situation, left a zillion messages, but he would never answer or return my calls. This went on for weeks. One day I called from a different line and finally got a hold of him, and he pretended that it wasn’t him:

Hi, Barry…this Mike Kenny…

Uh, no…Barry’s not here.

But this is your cell phone.

Umm, Barry doesn’t work here anymore.

Really? Barry doesn’t work for “Barry’s Landscaping” anymore?


You are Barry.


These were enjoyable times all around. We quickly realized we were going to have to remedy this problem ourselves.

To be honest, I was kind of excited. To say that I am not “handy” is an understatement of epic proportions, but I do like to work, especially outside, so this seemed like a good opportunity to be a man and get dirty. First purchase? Gloves with flowers on them.

My wife and I went to Moon Valley Nurseries and bought a lime tree to replace one of the dead plants. I was anxious to get started because, hey, even an idiot such as myself can dig a hole.

As I was digging a deeper hole to plant the tree I accidentally sliced our drip line. This halted our landscaping progress for about two months. Between my dad, my visiting father-in-law, and several Home Depot workers, I was actually able to fix it. Now when I am at parties and guys are talking about stuff I like to tell them the story about how I sliced our drip line while digging and then fixed it seven weeks later with the help of several other people.

Anyway, the lemon tree looked great and was already starting to bud. When my in-laws came to visit a few weeks ago, they too thought we needed more “green” in the backyard and bought us a white peach tree and an apricot tree. We planted those together –- I dug, of course –- and they look fantastic. We planted much more than that with the help of my mother-in-law and her green thumb.

Now when I walk outside to our backyard, I am so proud of what we did together. Getting screwed over by a shiesty dude was the best thing that happened to us because it forced us to do things ourselves, and we learned a lot in the process. Now each tree has a story, and everything looks beautiful as it blooms in the Arizona spring.

No grudges either. My wife even suggested inviting Barry over to suck on one of our limes.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Classic card of the week

Vince Coleman, 1990 Topps

If you were a kid in 1990 and you were opening up a fresh pack of new baseball cards and you saw this very card, you would initially think it was a regular ol' card. Until, that is, your eyes led you down to the aesthetically marvelous “Record Breaker 89” insignia. Then you would know you had a “Record Breaker” card on your hands. Your heart would skip a beat and your palms would become sweaty. Your friends would ask, “What’d you get?” and you’d nervously stutter, “Nothing!” as you carefully placed your “Record Breaker” card to the back of the pack, knowing that when you got home you would immediately place it in the finest hard plastic case that you had. You would be well on your way to becoming a record breaker in the realm of having “Record Breaker” baseball cards. The only thing that would possibly make this scenario better is if you turned the card over and it read like an “Extra, extra!” newspaper clipping with regards to said record:

Vincent Van Go Couldn’t Be Stopped

This would be the headline. It would be a clever play on words which references Vincent van Gogh, the Expressionist artist, and Vincent Van Goleman Vince Coleman, a baseball player most famous for stealing bases, hence the “Go” part, because in order to steal bases you must, indeed, go.

Montreal, Que., July 28, 1989:

As if you didn’t already know the details.

Cardinals’ Vince Coleman tonight logged his 50th consecutive Stolen Base in third inning…

Stolen Base -– according to Strunk & White -– shall only be capitalized in the context of a record-breaking performance by Vince Coleman. Otherwise it should be treated like any other stupid, nameless, irrelevant base.

…before being caught stealing in 4th stanza.

Vincent Van Go couldn’t be stopped
Until the fateful fourth stanza
Tagged out, to the dugout he hopped
Hold me closer Tony Danza

This is, not-so-coincidentally, the fourth stanza in a much larger poem I have written on the subject. I am also pretty sure I referenced the show “Friends” here, for which I sincerely apologize. But more on this record:

The streak broke record of 38 set by Dodgers’ Dave Lopes, June 10-August 24, 1975.

Certainly, yes, 50 consecutive stolen bases is more than 38. And while I’m well aware that 50 is a nice round number, possibly this card could have celebrated Vince Coleman’s 39th consecutive Stolen Base, which was technically the “record-breaker.” For all these years I have been celebrating Vince Coleman Stolen Base Record Day on July 28th. I invite people over and we watch baseball all day and we root for the active consecutive stolen base leader to get caught stealing. Then we light firecrackers. Now I’m embarrassed.

Did you know?
We would have also accepted "Leonardo De Vincy."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Those in need hit hardest by economic times

Note: This column appears in the 3/12 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 3/13 issue of the Peoria Times

It’s not breaking news that we’re all living through some tough economic times. It’s one thing however to acknowledge this fact and quite another to experience its effects firsthand.

Over a month ago I wrote about our first experience as foster parents, and I mentioned our anticipation of receiving another placement. Well, we’re still waiting. Last week we found out why.

Governor Jan Brewer recently signed legislation with regards to revised budget cuts for the state. In short, due to the current economic circumstances, the state is cutting back on social service funding. Drastically.

You may not have heard about this, with all of the economic attention focused on foreclosures, struggling investment firms, and the fact that Manny Ramirez is finally (whew!) signed. But what does this mean, exactly?

What it means is this: Children in need are a drain on the local economy. The state has cut back the stipend it distributes for foster parents –- nothing special to begin with, believe me –- by 20%. Other allowances have been radically reduced as well. For example:

Special needs allowance (holidays, birthdays, special occasions) cut from $45 to $22.50 a year.

Merry Christmas, Jimmy! I know your wish this year again was for a family, but instead here is a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, courtesy of the state! Isn't that nice? Also, Happy Birthday. Because that is also your birthday present.

My wife and I, for now at least, are thankfully in a position where this wouldn’t affect our ability to provide the best care for a foster child. Other foster parents who are providing care out of the goodness of their hearts and relying on the already minimum state-funded support may no longer be able to do so.

But that may not even matter, because foster children are becoming an extinct species here in Arizona. Due to the state’s inability to provide proper financial support for those in need, Child Protective Services (CPS) has been advised to not pull children from homes unless absolutely necessary:

DES will NOT investigate 100 percent of potential risk reports made to the Child Protective Services because of CPS staff cutbacks and furloughs potentially leaving thousands of children at risk.

You can read between the lines on this one, but what it essentially means is more children being left in abusive and neglectful homes. It’s up to CPS now –- understaffed and underfunded in its own right -- to straddle the fine line between “absolutely necessary” and “too late.”

But what about children in caring and loving homes with special needs? Well, they’ve been left in the dust completely. The state has terminated therapeutic funding –- like, totally –- for children under three years old:

Services for children ages 0-3 who are approved for DDD funding because of severe developmental delays, medical issues, or risk of having long-term deficits in social-adaptive, cognitive, fine motor, gross motor, communication and/or feeding will lose all services, including early intervention, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy effective March 1, 2009.

Fantastic. The state would rather wait until these kids reach school-level age so they can receive the minimum in-house support. Besides the obvious long-term implications, I imagine this will make school that much more enjoyable for children already struggling to adapt socially.

Believe me I realize that in these days and times everybody needs a little help, and requests for assistance are coming from all directions. Everybody wants their economic stimulus, and it can be difficult to determine who deserves it more. A simple philosophy is this: an investment in the future never hurts. A non-investment in the future always hurts.

Or, we can just wait. Wait a few years until the six o’clock news, when one of the many children left in an abusive home commits their own act of violence. Then we can direct our self-righteous anger at the criminal and not the circumstances, which is much easier. Or wait a decade or so, when there’s a feature story on the extreme need for increased educational funding because so many kids are being left back in school. In short, just wait until it’s too late.

Or absolutely necessary. Whatever you want to call it.

For more information or to find out how to make your voice heard, please visit: https://www.azdes.gov

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Classic card of the week

Charles Smith, 1998 NBA Hoops

Here is yet another installment of our “NBA Hoops cards that are awesome and have fascinating yet largely nonsensical tidbits on the back that sound like they were written by a drunken beat-poet from the East Village.” Today’s feature: Charles Smith.


Let the awesomeness immediately begin with an abbreviated form of the lengthy and popular term “okay,” which often goes by the alias “OK.” In this case, NBA Hoops has chosen to abbreviate the original Latin form of the word, which is Okalay Kadokalay, always capitalized as it was an ancient term of acknowledgment towards royalty.

your name’s been in the NBA a few times,

Certainly, it has. Including the Charles Smith in question right here, the name Charles Smith has been in the NBA, quite literally, a few times. Of course, that is assuming we are talking about NBA players specifically, and not executives, team personnel, and other human beings that could be described as being “in the NBA.” (Editor’s note: I just reread that previous sentence and fell asleep for 35 minutes.)

But do any of the other Charles Smiths have the most points in their college’s (New Mexico) history?

You’re not going to believe this, but I’ve actually done a bit of honest research. Here was my rationale. You are one of the other two Charles Smiths whose accomplishments are being irresponsibly tossed aside by this card in order to hype up this other Charles Smith. You were a professional basketball player in the mother freaking NBA. This means that you were an excellent college basketball player. There is a great chance you were one of the top scorers in your school’s history. I have Internet access. Hmmm…

Charles D. Smith is the all-time leading scorer in Pittsburgh basketball history. He is also the school’s leading shot blocker and an Olympic medalist. Charles E. Smith is the 12th all-time leading scorer in Georgetown basketball history –- impressive for such a renown basketball powerhouse as Georgetown as opposed to a school like, oh I don’t know…New Mexico –- and he led his team in scoring twice during his tenure. So there’s that. But pay no attention to me, do continue…

We don’t think so.

But I know so. And “so” is the opposite. I looked it up. But whatever. Let’s read this one part again:

But do any of the other Charles Smiths have the most points in their college’s (New Mexico) history?

I had assumed that New Mexico was tossed in there to specify where this particular Charles Smith went to school. Although, it could be asking the question: How many Charles Smiths that were named Charles Smith are the all-time leading scorer in New Mexico men’s basketball history? In that case, the answer is one. Charles Smith. And to that I say, touché, card.


Did you know?
There's a New Mexico?

Camelback Ranch opening worth the wait

Note: This column appears in the 3/5 issue of The Glendale Star and the 3/6 issue of the Peoria Times

Those who had arrived at the ballpark early Sunday morning thought the gates were supposed to open at 10am. Others thought it was 11am. Crowds gathered near the entrance gates and the lines extended back into the parking lot as eleven o’clock turned into 11:30. Nobody wanted to wait any longer to experience the opening of the new Camelback Ranch ballpark in Glendale, and people were getting antsy.

When the gates finally opened just before noon, and those who had waited were immediately greeted by beer vendors, program-pushers, and the smells of spring baseball, all was forgiven.

Minus a few minor hiccups to be expected from a ballpark opening for the first time, the new spring training home of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox opened without a hitch, and to much fanfare.

What the fans –- 11,000 of them, give or take –- got to see was the brand new state-of-the-art facility that managed to lure the Dodgers away from 60 years spent in Florida’s Grapefruit League. And although this brand spankin’ new ballpark is officially shared by both the Dodgers and White Sox, Sunday proved –- through hats, jerseys, and cheers –- that this is most definitely Dodgers’ territory.

Respective managers Joe Torre and Ozzie Guillen –- arguably the two biggest managerial stars in Major League Baseball –- threw out the ceremonial first pitches before their teams faced off. American Idol winner and Glendale native Jordin Sparks sang the National Anthem, which was immediately followed by several F-16’s from nearby Luke Air Force Base flying overhead. Sunday was all about Glendale, and as it turns out, Glendale apparently has a lot to offer.

There was of course, an actual game as well. On the first ball put in play, former Diamondback and new Dodger second baseman Orlando Hudson made a fabulous defensive play to get the runner at first. Hits and runs were hard to come by in this one –- an eventual 3-2 White Sox win -- but the result hardly mattered.

What did matter was the chance to spend an early Sunday afternoon sitting in the Arizona sun watching baseball again. My wife and I and my in-laws –- visiting us from back east -– sat on the lawn (which is what most fans opted to do) and took it all in from the top of a hill overlooking left field. Thankfully we brought sun block, as temperatures approached 90-degrees. Around the third or fourth inning my mother-in-law got a call about a blizzard about to hit New Jersey. Couldn’t be.

When it came time to leave, we shook our towels off of peanut shells and headed out, confirming plans with our good friends who had met us there to do this again next Sunday. As we walked in the parking lot, talking about my in-laws flight home that night – which was eventually canceled due to snow– and past all of the California and Illinois license plates, it wasn’t difficult to realize that we were in the place to be.