GOODYEAR, AZ (MARCH 24, 2011) - I finally got around to taking a photo of the front of Goodyear Ballpark. On game days, the front entrance is reserved for season ticket holders and disabled fans. I usually park in the lot by the center field gate, and it's not that convenient to get around to the front from there. I'm glad I did, though. The front entrance is very pretty. There's the famous sculpture, of course, as well as a fountain, palm trees, and other landscaping.
I still hate the sight lines at Goodyear Ballpark. Small, old Peoria has much better sight lines, as well as a steeper cant to the floor. Other than that, though, Goodyear is a nice ballpark. They still don't have a lot of vendors, but I'm sure that will change. And they will stamp your hand so you can go in and out - to smoke, even.
If you sit in the lower box seats, you get used to a crowd of fans standing in front of you before the game starts, hoping to get player autographs. All you see is the backs of other fans, until the game starts and they're chased back to their seats. I noticed a girl wearing a t-shirt with a 7 on the back, and wondered if it was for Paul Janish, for some other player, or was just her lucky number or something.
She was standing at the rail, hoping for an autograph, but none of the players stopped. Finally, her companion (who may have been her boyfriend, but was probably her dad - he was older, about 35 or so) yelled, "Hey, Paul! You gotta look at this shirt!"
Janish, who had walked past, actually turned around and came back. (I couldn't see what the front of her shirt said, since she had her back to me, but I later saw it said "I ♥ Soft-J.")
He asked her, "Is that me?" (Referring to the shirt.) She said yes, and he signed it for her. (Very carefully, on the shoulder, prompting some jokes from the red-blooded males looking on.) He also signed a baseball for her, and posed for a photo. She was so excited to be in the presence of The Slick Fielding One she was shaking like a leaf.
He made that girl's day for sure.
It's funny how different groupies show up at different games. The first spring training game I went to had a noticeable contingent of Chris Heisey fans. They had signs and everything, though they didn't seem to be together. Some were teenaged girls, but several were old enough to be grandmothers.
He had a rocky start, but it wasn't entirely his fault. Scott Rolen had two errors in the third inning. He was hit by a pitch in the first inning and pulled from the game in the bottom of the third, so perhaps the injury is to blame for the missed catch.
They had Julio Borbon in a rundown, until Rolen missed the catch.
The throwing error was at least partly on Valaika. Votto charged in on the bunt, and Valaika should have covered first base. He didn't, and Rolen ended up throwing the ball to the invisible man. Scotty should have noticed there was no one there, though.
A lot of blame to go around in that inning, in which Nelson Cruz hit a grand slam.
The Rangers suffered an injury of their own in the third. Starting pitcher Tommy Hunter was pulled with a strained groin. He'd been named to the starting rotation only two hours earlier.
Poor Chris Heisey got himself a reputation for being a bad defender after the previous day's game. Fans were sort of doing the reverse of the RR "Janish would have gotten that" meme. Whenever Stubbs made the most routine of catches, they would say, "Heisey would have missed that."
So of course, Stubbs ended up missing what looked like an easy catch.
Joey Votto seemed to be in a very good mood. He's usually sort of quiet and serious, at least when I've seen him, but he was smiling and joking around a lot today. He went 1 for 2 with two walks.
Drew Stubbs walked, stole 2B, then went to 3B when the throw was airmailed.
Stubbs singles in the 5th.
Ryan Hanigan singled, too.
With two on and no outs, the Rangers bring in Darren O'Day to face Janish.
Yes! He singles.
Janish goes to third.
(Janish has been pretty hot lately. He went 2 for 3 with 3 RBIs, raising his average to an even .300.)
Bruce and Valaika struck out, then Votto walked. Francisco flew out to end the inning.
The Cycle, Joseph Krebs, relieved Wood in the sixth.
Sappelt singles in the 6th.
Francisco Cordero pitched the 7th.
It was three up, three down. Hopefully his fine spring training will carry over to the games that count.
Francisco doubles in the 7th (his second double of the game).
Sappelt hits a home run.
Mesoraco also doubled. He went 2 for 3 in this game.
Jose Arredondo pitched the 8th.
Sappelt barehands a ball that was eventually ruled a ground rule double.
Sappelt chases a ball that's eventually ruled a home run.
Mike Costanzo set up to catch what seemed to be a routine fly ball, but it drifted away from him for an error.
Jared Burton pitched the ninth. He got three quick groundouts.
Julio Borbon fields Mesoraco's fly out.