March meant Spring Training baseball in Phoenix, AZ, to see how Cactus League teams were shaping up. I’m talking Mariners, A’s, Brewers, Dodgers, Padres, Royals, Reds, etc. Of the four teams i specifically choose to see, the A’s came closest to earning a W. (Sigh)
Let’s just say the C-Reds are looking sharp.
My buddy RoJo tells me whether the A’s stay in Oakland remains to be seen.
FOODIE SCOOP: The latest snack option in places like Camelback Ranch stadium and Maryvale is Island Noodles. Holy moly – an opportunity to get your daily veggies at a baseball game?! What’s this country coming to?
Seriously, it’s wok fried noodles with loads of broccoli, carrots, green beans, peppers, asparagus, yams – you name it. Good stuff. No worries about the sodium – you’ll sweat it out during the game.
If that leaves you hankering for another stop on Nutrition Lane, so to speak, order sweet potato fries at Goodyear stadium, where they’ve stretched the definition like Coke and Happiness, listing the fries under “Healthy” options.
“One more. One more!” your taste buds beg. That would be the garlic fries at Camelback Ranch. Mmm fresh garlic. Just ask my friends. If i could have breathed on Manny, his hit may have flown a couple more inches and out of the park. (See? I watched the game while i ate.)
By the way, Goodyear stadium is in Goodyear, AZ – wha? I assumed the business bought naming rights to the town in the last decade or so, when everything seems game for corporate sponsorship naming rights. Why not a town? Turns out while Goodyear is indeed named for the Goodyear Farms cotton industry (cotton was used to make tires), it’s been incorporated as such since 1946.
There’s a weekend’s-worth of games left, if you have time to chase down some spring. Good crowds this year. Or you could see the Mariners vs. Rockies in Albuquerque, NM April 2 & 3 (if the weather cooperates).
CYCLING (Sort of): If you’ve been feeling a hollow emptiness about the start of the cycling season with the Tour of California moved from February to May 16-23, there’s a trend of pre-season stage races in the Middle East emerging and they drew some quality names this year. Tour of Qatar (north of the UAE) was Feb 10 and included American sprinter Tyler Farrar, Canadian Svein Tuft (forgive me for re-using a link but this is the guy who was lured from a simple life of peddling through the wild to earning a paycheck for peddling through the countryside), and a man with impossible TT skills and a conscience, Fabian Cancellara, who stashed his empty GU wrapper in his jersey pocket rather than tossing it into the barren desert.
Otherwise, you’ve already missed the week-long Paris-Nice, won by Alberto Contador, as well as Lance and Contador both tanking – you might say – in the Criterium Internationale. Otherwise referred to as a mini-Tour de France, the CI included a wicked-hard climb everyone assumed Contador would conquer. Instead, he finished well behind the winner, reportedly suffering from allergies while Lance finished over 3 minutes behind Contador, still regaining his form after a bout of stomach issues.
Both put in a respectable time trial the following day. Overall, Contador placed 15th and Lance 47th. Seems March’s hero might be July’s zero as well…. Our man Chris Horner placed 7th.
Still plenty of Spring Classics to catch.
Two of my trigger-happy friends are already anticipating the Tour de France. That’s like asking if you’re ready for Christmas. One day at a time, sweet Jesus!
FULL DISCLOSURE: When it comes to magazines, i’m a packrat. Here’s my excuse: I was recently flipping through a 2005 issue of ESPN The Mag when i see a photo of a MotoGP rider and think, “Gee, that mischievous looking fella looks just like the cyclist i had my photo taken with at the Tour of California last year.”
Turns out it was none other than Nicky Hayden, indeed the MotoGP racer, who’d stopped by to check out the bike race. This blogger, who recognized Hayden there, chatted with him and said he seemed “down to earth.” In 2002 at 21 years old, Hayden became the youngest champion in the history of AMA Superbike.
See what i could have missed had i tossed that old issue?!
CHL: It’s playoff time! Tops dogs going in are Odessa, Rapid City, Colorado and the Allen Americans of TX. In other news, the CHL has assumed operations for the Arizona Sundogs until new ownership is secured.
Did anyone see the piece on the Today Show about Cameron Hughes, the professional crowd warmer, during the Olympics? I’d bet money he was at the Scorpions season opener a few years ago. I even scored one of the T-shirts he threw to the crowd. Should have had him autograph it. Hughes worked the Vancouver Winter Olympics and in addition to NHL arenas, hypes the crowds of minor league hockey venues. Catch him at a game in your neighborhood.
Enduring curiosities from the Vancouver Olympics:
We can all breathe a sigh of relief they found the missing stick and glove Crosby used to score the game winning goal vs. the US.
Props to US goaltender Ryan Miller for shaking the loss and enjoying the closing ceremonies.
Mmmm, Olympic coffee…. Vancouver Olympic bronze medalist in Women’s Freestyle Moguls, Shannon Bahrke, aka Mrs. Happe, sells coffee!
And these words of wisdom from Bode Miller: “You don’t have to define success the same way everyone else does.”
TIMBITS: Hula hooping does not cure the hiccups.
ANCIENT HISTORY: Here’s what my Saints cheerleader buddy, Jacqueline, had to say about the Super Bowl:
The game was generally incredibly intense and we could feel how high the stakes were. Thankfully, Darren Sharper’s pick-six put a nice bow on an amazing game and a Saints victory!!!
The coolest thing about the experience was just being on the field for the biggest sporting event in the US. It was incredible to see the hype and energy that surround the game, and then be dancing a few yards from the heart of it before kickoff. The Lombardi Trophy was carried away by Coach Sean Payton right in front of me!