Live from Goodyear: Day One in Baseball Paradise

Today's seats at Goodyear Ballpark. Absolutely perfect.

Today’s seats at Goodyear Ballpark. Heaven doesn’t even begin to describe it.

If that picture doesn’t set the tone of day one of four for Believing Since 1999 in Goodyear, nothing will. As you probably already know, the game ended in a 0-0 tie, which is so Spring Training. Still, it’s the events leading up to and surrounding the game where the real intrigue lies. Here’s an account of the day starting from the top.

It all began at oh-my-Lord o’clock in the morning (5:30 wake up call) at Cleveland Hopkins Airport, continued with a bacon, egg, and cheese bagel sandwich from Bruegger’s following the traditional disrobing for airport security, and really got going with the 4-hour flight to Phoenix.

Now that we’re in the beautiful state of Arizona where the high was around 75 (no humidity), let’s get this party started.

Lunch happened in Goodyear at a Cracker Barrel, because there aren’t enough of those in Ohio. Gotta take your opportunities to eat Cracker Barrel when you get ’em. Keep in mind that the Ohio-based body clock thought that it was 2:30 or so at this time. In other words, starvation isn’t far from reality here.

Stuff started to get real when yours truly got the first weird looks of the season from an Angels fan who was already dining at Goodyear’s signature eatery that is definitely not one of the country’s most prolific restaurant chains. No words were exchanged, but they weren’t needed. This thing was so on.

For those who have never been, a Spring Training game is likely the most laid back sporting atmosphere in the entire world. That’s including 12-year-old rec league basketball, because we all know how insane parents get when their children don’t play. Everyone’s Kobe Bryant at that age, don’t you get it?

Anyway, regarding the Angels fan’s “look”, it was so not on, because that guy was probably just as excited to be watching baseball as the next guy. No bad blood exists in Spring Training. Fans get along, nobody’s team sucks yet, and the weather is beautiful. It’s one big happy baseball love fest.

For this particular game, the atmosphere was largely dictated by the two drunk guys sitting a few rows back. The afternoon’s entertainment consisted of a couple different solo performances of Gary Wright’s “Dream Weaver” (the Angels’ starter was Jared Weaver), priceless interactions with Swish, and video board trivia.

Speaking of  video board trivia, here’s some more detail: Today’s contestant on video board trivia was brilliantly selected by the ballpark’s staff, because he happened to be sporting an orange “Pittsburgh Sucks” t-shirt. Yes, they showed it on the board for all to see. Yes, it was just as awesome as you’re already picturing. Yes, the contestant was one of the two drunk guys that were referred to in the paragraph above.

For the record, the question asked for 2 of the 3 players that the Tribe got in return for C.C. Sabathia. Matt LaPorta was the easy one for all of the wrong reasons, and it took a lot of help from the crowd to arrive at Michael Brantley as the second. The third was Zach Jackson, who a stone-cold sober Buster Olney may not even remember immediately. If we’re getting overly technical, pitcher Rob Bryson was also included.

Another important moment in the game was when “Hang on Sloopy” was played, Ohio folks did the traditional O-H-I-O thing, and Angels fans looked at the Ohio folks like they were from Jupiter.

Other miscellaneous notes from the game:

– Outfielder Cedric Hunter’s walk up music hit me as the best of the day. Best walk up song will be re-evaluated on Thursday when the Indians are back at home against the Royals, but Hunter’s song of choice is “Turn All the Lights On” by T-Pain. Feel free to disagree, but it fit for some reason. More analysis on this to follow in the coming days.

– Jason Giambi’s walk up music was from the Beastie Boys, which is fitting because he is the only one on the team old enough to remember all of the Beastie Boys’ releases when they actually happened. Not that there’s anything wrong with the Beastie Boys. They’re legends.

– Nick Swisher is probably the coolest guy on the entire planet, but Jason Kipnis is also really cool. Together, they form the coolest right side in baseball.

– There were zero runs scored the entire game.

– This made it a little boring.

– The saving grace of the afternoon was that Scott Kazmir pitched extremely well, logging four scoreless innings. It looks like the Tribe may be in the process of striking some gold here. Cautiously optimistic, but he had great stuff today.

– Vernon Wells’ contract with the Angels keeps looking more and more stupid every time he steps into the box.

Day one was a success in Goodyear. The Tribe is off Tuesday, so look for some tweets from the Phoenix Coyotes’ game against the L.A. Kings, because that’s where it’s going down Tuesday night. That’s right, a hockey game. If you need a refresher course, read the only thing ever written on here about hockey. You will learn nothing about the actual game, but you might be entertained.

Here’s to actually seeing a run cross the plate on Wednesday when the Tribe head to the Spring Training home of the White Sox for a matinee. Until then, stay up to date on the escapades of Believing Since 1999 in the desert on Twitter @BelieveInCLE. There will be hockey updates and more, so you know you want it.

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