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Tag Archive: Arizona

Oct 19

A look back at my columns about the Kansas City Royals: Part 6 — Spring fever, baseball and trying to focus. First published March 17, 2011, in The Examiner, an Eastern Jackson County, Mo., daily newspaper.

Spring fever, baseball and trying to focus

“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache,you want it so!” ~Mark Twain

Last week about this time, I was soaking up the desert sun while watching the Kansas City Royals play spring ball in Surprise, Arizona. Today, I am sweeping slush from the driveway and watching the snow melt.

It does just fairly make your heart ache.

Since, I promised to write some more this week about spring baseball, I will. However, I have such a bad case of spring fever right now or whatever it is that I want, it is difficult to focus on or even remember last week.

I am far more smitten with the idea of anything associated with the month of March. Crocuses and daffodils pushing up through the snow, the frogs in my backyard pond singing their mid-March “spring is here” song, St. Patrick’s Day, March Madness and green grass.

But I will try to remember.

Here are some things I didn’t tell you about in last week’s column about spring ball in the Cactus League. There I discovered curious surprises in Surprise, some of which left me puzzled.

* For example, I realized that I knew the words to all the songs played at the Royals game. Such as Dizzy, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, and 59th Street Bridge Song. Could this have anything to do with the fact that Sun City is just across the road, I wondered?

* Another question: why do the outfield billboards at Surprise advertise such things as urgent care, hospitals, rehab centers, lift chairs, scooters and $8.88 oil changes? No Hooters or sports bars advertised there. I think I just answered my own question.

* A puzzler: why did the Royals’ coaches leave the ballpark in the middle of the fifth inning? We were sitting close to the field in the first row behind the dugout and overheard one coach give an order to the others, “Come on boys, we’ve got work to do. Let’s go.”

And with that a herd of coaches quickly picked up their clipboards and walked past left field, let themselves into the bullpen and out through a rear exit, leaving the third-base coach Rodriguez alone to finish the game.

What’s up with this? Almost the same thing happened the following day when we were at the Angel’s game in Tempe. Most of their team packed up their duffels and left the stadium, again in the middle of the fifth. Only a skeleton crew of Angel players remained in the dugout waiting for their turn to bat.

* But back to Surprise where the players occasionally toss a ball to the kids in the crowd. Kids? There were only a few people under the age of 60. I wonder if that was because school-age kids were in school that day and the stadium sits next door to Sun City?

I think I said this already.

* Observation: in spring ball, mistakes happen. On one occasion, a Royals player sprinted excitedly from the dugout to substitute for the injured second baseman. As he reached second base, another player ran onto the field yelling, “Hey, not you. I’m the one supposed to go in.”

Mistakes were the order of the day for the public relations team as well as players.

Early in the game, the gargantuan scoreboard proudly announced that Willy Blumquist, formally of the Kansas City Royals, would be batting next for the Diamondbacks. The only problem was that the Diamondbacks public relations office apparently did not get a photo of Willy in a Diamondback uniform in time for the game. There was Willy on the Royals big screen proudly wearing his Royals uniform but batting for the D-backs.

Later in the game, the same thing happened when Juan Miranda, formerly of the New York Yankees, came up to bat for the Diamondbacks. The photo of Miranda on the scoreboard showed him in his former #46 Yankees uniform.

There were more examples of similar peculiar mistakes, but it’s spring ball after all, and details do not matter. Baseball is beautiful, it’s spring, and it’s the sound of a bat on a ball that makes our hearts sing.

I am going back next year.

Mar 17

Spring fever, baseball and trying to focus

“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache,you want it so!” ~Mark Twain

Last week about this time, I was soaking up the desert sun while watching the Kansas City Royals play spring ball in Surprise, Arizona. Today, I am sweeping slush from the driveway and watching the snow melt.

It does just fairly make your heart ache.

Since, I promised to write some more this week about spring baseball, I will. However, I have such a bad case of spring fever right now or whatever it is that I want, it is difficult to focus on or even remember last week.

I am far more smitten with the idea of anything associated with the month of March. Crocuses and daffodils pushing up through the snow, the frogs in my backyard pond singing their mid-March “spring is here” song, St. Patrick’s Day, March Madness and green grass.

But I will try to remember.

Here are some things I didn’t tell you about in last week’s column about spring ball in the Cactus League. There I discovered curious surprises in Surprise, some of which left me puzzled.

* For example, I realized that I knew the words to all the songs played at the Royals game. Such as Dizzy, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, and 59th Street Bridge Song. Could this have anything to do with the fact that Sun City is just across the road, I wondered?

* Another question: why do the outfield billboards at Surprise advertise such things as urgent care, hospitals, rehab centers, lift chairs, scooters and $8.88 oil changes? No Hooters or sports bars advertised there. I think I just answered my own question.

* A puzzler: why did the Royals’ coaches leave the ballpark in the middle of the fifth inning? We were sitting close to the field in the first row behind the dugout and overheard one coach give an order to the others, “Come on boys, we’ve got work to do. Let’s go.”

And with that a herd of coaches quickly picked up their clipboards and walked past left field, let themselves into the bullpen and out through a rear exit, leaving the third-base coach Rodriguez alone to finish the game.

What’s up with this? Almost the same thing happened the following day when we were at the Angel’s game in Tempe. Most of their team packed up their duffels and left the stadium, again in the middle of the fifth. Only a skeleton crew of Angel players remained in the dugout waiting for their turn to bat.

* But back to Surprise where the players occasionally toss a ball to the kids in the crowd. Kids? There were only a few people under the age of 60. I wonder if that was because school-age kids were in school that day and the stadium sits next door to Sun City?

I think I said this already.

* Observation: in spring ball, mistakes happen. On one occasion, a Royals player sprinted excitedly from the dugout to substitute for the injured second baseman. As he reached second base, another player ran onto the field yelling, “Hey, not you. I’m the one supposed to go in.”

Mistakes were the order of the day for the public relations team as well as players.

Early in the game, the gargantuan scoreboard proudly announced that Willy Blumquist, formally of the Kansas City Royals, would be batting next for the Diamondbacks. The only problem was that the Diamondbacks public relations office apparently did not get a photo of Willy in a Diamondback uniform in time for the game. There was Willy on the Royals big screen proudly wearing his Royals uniform but batting for the D-backs.

Later in the game, the same thing happened when Juan Miranda, formerly of the New York Yankees, came up to bat for the Diamondbacks. The photo of Miranda on the scoreboard showed him in his former #46 Yankees uniform.

There were more examples of similar peculiar mistakes, but it’s spring ball after all, and details do not matter. Baseball is beautiful, it’s spring, and it’s the sound of a bat on a ball that makes our hearts sing.

I am going back next year.

Feb 04

A snowbird is more than a song

Recently, when I began an online search for information about the migratory habits of snow geese, I got sidetracked by clicking on the word ‘snowbird’ instead of snow geese.

Since I grew up near a national game refuge, I knew a lot about wintering snow geese, but I knew nothing about ‘snowbirds.’

The first time I heard the term ‘snowbird’ I thought it meant snow geese, anyway.

A ‘snowbird’ search, however, quickly told me I was wrong.

Snowbird refers to: seniors who want to migrate to warmer climates, Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah, Snowbird Acres Farm (a horse ranch in New Jersey), or the Canadian Snowbirds (431 Squadron) air show team.

I decided to read the selection about migrating seniors since I was not planning a ski trip or a visit to a horse ranch or an aerial daredevil performance

Before I could read further, one more definition of ‘snowbird’ popped up–Anne Murray’s famous breakthrough hit single of 1969, “Snowbird.”

I still remember some of the words.

If you have a media player, you can sing along.

“Beneath its snowy mantle cold and clean, the unborn grass lies waiting for its coat to turn to green. The snowbird sings the song he always sings, and speaks to me of flowers that will bloom again in spring…Spread your tiny wings and fly away, and take the snow back with you where it came from on that day.”

After humming that song for a bit and enjoying the little trip down memory lane, I resumed the snowbird search.

Snowbirds, according to snowbirdhelper.com (yes, there are numerous snowbird websites), may be any retired person, anyone planning to retire, potential snowbirds, seniors, anyone over 50 who is planning to travel, and anyone who wants to escape winter in the north.

Now, we are getting to the heart of it.

Escape winter in the north, and you are a snowbird!

Since I am now, officially, of ‘snowbird” age, I am paying attention.

Human migratory habits have been around for decades though.

Even Jerry Seinfeld talks a lot about snowbirds in his monologues.

He once quipped, “My folks just moved to Florida this year, but they didn’t want to move to Florida. But they’re in their sixties and that’s the law.”

Still, you do not have to move to Florida to qualify as a snowbird. Any southern or western state will do just fine.

Even Las Vegas is experiencing unprecedented growth as the over 50 crowd flocks to the desert playground where affordable condos abound.

Demographic experts tell us that people from Northern or Midwestern states, as well as many Canadians, typically migrate south to Florida, Texas or Arizona between late December and the end of March.

We all know this, and we understand why.

The sun shines there, every day!

Fresh citrus fruit is plentiful.

No ice or snow.

No dangerous roads.

Warm temperatures soothe arthritis pain.

One does not have to be a goose to figure this out.

Dearest Boomers, you will need to know, nevertheless, that there are services designed solely to simplify ‘snowbirding’ for any potentially migratory human beings.

These services will make your winter-escape dreams come true by helping with banking needs, setting up bill-paying services while you are away, arranging travel and accommodations, and getting you online in your new location.

Once online, you can email those back home that are still shoveling snow and, then, gloat a bit. It is OK.

It could be the law.

Wiktionary, a free online dictionary,defines ‘snowbirds’ as “retirees who can afford to be away from home for long periods of time or have a second home in a warmer location.”

Seasonal human migration!

We are no different than the geese!

Snowbirds. Snow geese.

Like I was saying, no difference.