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View Full Version : An AWL Experience...


jd_aka_monty
01-23-2007, 12:13 PM
It was an incredible AWL opening weekend in Yuma, AZ. Garry (GTII) and I arrived early Saturday morning, after a 2 hour and 10 minute drive. We went straight into the equipment room, where Kevin greeted us (SD's clubby from last season, who has a new job as the clubby for High Dessert - Single A affiliate). He outfitted us with workout gear, uniforms, and hats. We were given lockers in the coaches’ area. We changed and then went directly outside for some hitting in the cages.

It was about 10:30 AM and players were showing up for early work. Coaches are already there and starting to work with players, offering instruction. This was my first view into the commitment the coaching staff has made to the attendees. Garry Templeton and Ozzie Virgil were both out working with players. Neither cared the team the player was on, they were helping any takers for early work. It was impressive to see the evident commitment made by both players and coaches. A theme from each coach, which was incredible to hear from men who I consider icons of the game, “these guys paid a lot of money to be here and I want to help them develop anyway I can”.

After hitting, we went out to the field and ran into Dan DiPace (Long Beach assistant coach). We were able to talk to him for a few minutes before he had to hit the field and start his team's workouts. It was great getting to see and spend time talking with him. Next, Garry Templeton came out and took Dan's infielders over to a field and we worked on defense with the infielders. Again, these are not Garry's players, but he is spending his morning trying to help the players develop. It was like EF Hutton, when he or GTII spoke, the players absolutely listened and seemed to hang on every word.

All of the players seemed to be great guys. We were greeted with handshakes and in some cases hugs. We were both offered respect by the players we came in contact with and we tried our best to reciprocate. I was able to spend some time with each of the players I sent out as well as Will Henderson, a former teammate from the San Diego Surf Dawgs (Man that guy can hit a baseball!). GTII knew quite a few of the guys, they all knew he was coming out and showed him great respect. They all treated us like we had been there the entire time with them in the trenches, it was a great feeling and I thank all of them for that.

It was getting close to game time, so the two teams playing the early game began their normal pre-game workouts. As the two teams were finishing up their workouts, it was time for our teams’ workouts. GTII was with the Surf Dawgs and I was with the Scorpions for the weekend.

It was finally my time to get a little taste of the environment/culture, to listen to what was being said by the players and try to become a part of their team. There wasn’t a single negative word, moaning, groaning, or drama (other than a fellow that they nicknamed “Dorn”, hilarious). This was my first time being able to meet Mike Marshall, who was an incredible guy, with a wealth of knowledge and was willing to share it with anyone wanting to listen. He took charge of the team and knew exactly what he expected of the guys. The players understood what was expected of them and hung on his every word. It was a great feeling being able to be a part of it. The players were great and each of them seemed to have something to offer. Example, there was a pitcher who was on the Scorpions roster last season (Chris). He was spending quite a bit of his time mentoring the pitchers. He’s an awesome guy and willing to help any way he could. The Scorpions, had played on opening night and had won 16-1. An apparent side affect was a wee bit of cockiness or even perhaps a bit of let up in their attitudes. I learned this only because Mike Marshall picked up on this right away and spoke directly to that point. My first but chewing and I hadn’t even been there a single day. The mentoring was great to see, because it also showed that he was in tune with his team and was close with the guys, enough so to sense the change in attitude as a whole.

The roving pitching coach, Garret Stevenson was great too. During our workout, I was able to see him work with the pitchers. He had me catch a flat ground for him. I watched him bounce around all weekend, working with all of the pitchers, trying his best to make himself available for all of the pitchers. I was able to take a few things away from listening to him.

Game time came quickly. The biggest disappointment of the trip was the fan attendance. There looked to only be maybe 50-100 people in the stands Saturday evening, after being told there were 2000+ people opening night. But, it was pretty cold and I can definitely understand not wanting to be out too late in the cold weather. It was a let down, but once the game got started it didn’t matter if there were 20 or 3000 fans in the stands.

During on field stretches and sprints, I was finally able to see Kevin Outcalt (Commissioner). I was greeted with a handshake and a bear hug, he’s a great guy. We stood together, joked, and talked for a bit before the game.

The first pitch was thrown and we were off. GTII was the designated hitter for the Surf Dawgs and I was picking splinters out of my rear end. GTII hit well, coming up with a hard hit line drive to left center his first at bat. I was able to catch a couple innings throwing out a runner at 3rd while going 1 for 1 with an RBI. We lost the game to the Surf Dawgs 6-3.

After the game Garry and I went back to the hotel, cleaned up, and went out to Apple Bee’s for dinner. It’s one of the hangouts in Yuma, since there’s not a whole lot to do. The food was good and after eating, we simply crashed as soon as we hit the pillow.

We had to get to the field early again on Sunday. The coaches were trying to get all the workouts done early, so that everyone would have an opportunity to watch the different NFL playoff games. Sunday, it was freezing cold outside. The wind was almost debilitating, but workouts carried on without a single let up. Actually, I think we did double the stretches, since it was so cold. Mike Marshall, spent as much time as he could with the team, then disappeared. He wanted badly to watch the Bears game, being from Chicago and an avid Bears fan. He was a happy guy, since the Bears won and are going to the Super Bowl. It was funny to see the huge smile on his face at the game.

Game time didn’t seem to come as quickly on Sunday. I watched a little of the Bears game and then went out to watch a bit of the early game. Sat and talked with GTII, who had already played his lot in the outfield. The Surf Dawgs won their game in dramatic fashion. They were able to score the go ahead run in the bottom of the 7th inning (games are 7 innings), after being down.

Next, we were up and I was to get the start behind the dish. I tried, but just couldn’t seem to get comfortable. My feet were sluggish and my arm was dead, I worked out and threw way too much the week or two before, while attempting to be prepared for the trip. But, Flores looked great on the hill, his change up was dirty. The bats were definitely alive Sunday. I was also able to contribute a little going 1 for 2 with an RBI and a run scored. Of course, someone just had to embarrass me too, by telling the announcer it was my Birthday. During my first at bat they played “Happy Birthday” to me over the loud speaker. Man, that was a horrifying experience, talk about a good razing I took. :mad: But, we won the game 5-2.

The energy was great and the baseball was fun to watch. Sure there were mistakes, both mental and physical, but each team was playing hard to win a ballgame. It was also the first weekend of play of the inaugural season. The competition is only going to get better. The product being put on the field is definitely competitive and has the look & feel of professional baseball. There’s always room for improvement. The league seems willing to listen and there appears to be opportunity for fans to get involved.

If you are a fan who scrutinizes every single move or mistake, then this would not be the venue for you. However, if you are someone who loves the game of baseball, you will definitely get enjoyment from watching and being involved with this group of guys, as they give you everything they have every minute they’re on the field.

Who knows, you might get to see and know a star before he’s born…

http://www.arizonawinterleague.com

Monty

P.S. GTII made the leader boards and I missed the leader board by 1 at bat.

Pietsch Fan
01-23-2007, 01:02 PM
Sounds like a great time. Thanks for sharing. Hope the wind and cold weather don't stick around much longer. I don't want to freeze my butt off when we get there.

Mary

oregon_william
01-24-2007, 12:05 PM
Thanks for sharing from a player's perspective.

We attended the opening night game and had a good time. It was very cold and they ran out of hot chocolate, but other than that a decent way to spend an evening.

Hope to get back to see a game or two during the day when it's warm.

I might add that the level of play was a tad lower than we expected (many errors), but we are keeping in mind that this is an instructional camp.

I wonder if there are enough pitchers? Think five or six on each team? Hate to think with games every day that some kid will have paid a large sum of money to hurt his throwing arm.

jd_aka_monty
01-24-2007, 01:01 PM
You're welcome! It was a lot of fun.

Yah, we heard a lot about the opening night game. All different takes and spins on the game. There were an estimated 10 errors made by one team that evening. Indeed, it is an instructional league, but I don't believe that to be the norm. I'm sure the players put a lot of un-necessary pressure on themselves; opening night of the inagural season, cold enough to freeze the nuts off a jeep, and all the players had been working hard 4-5 days straight all trying to impress someone. That kind of makes for a tough outing at any level, "quick sand affect". But, on the flip side of things, the Miners have raffled off 3 straight wins, putting them on top. I'd say it kind of balanced out.

There's never enough pitching, is there? I believe you are correct in your estimate of true pitchers per team, 3-5 pure pitchers and then maybe 2-3 position players who can also pitch. Yah, that would make it kind of rough on the arm, but I also know that the coaches are keeping a close eye on their pitch counts and physical ailments. The trainers SURE were busy this past weekend!

If I'm needed or even wanted to go back out, I hope to see you there.

Monty

DawgsBooster2
01-24-2007, 02:17 PM
Thanks for the update JD, sounds like you had a blast.

Mary, James and I will be heading over there for the second weekend in Feb, I hope it warms up a bit.

Even with the cold, baseball is baseball and I love it all and I might even just be lucky enough to have a super nifty jacket to wear. :)

Hey, I've got a question to ask you... what uniforms are they using for the Dawgs? Not the away jerseys, I'd imagine, because they have "San Diego" on them, but the blue warm up jerseys have only SD, and the home ones just say Dawgs, so I guess those would work.

So, which are they using?

jd_aka_monty
01-24-2007, 03:00 PM
You are welcome!

I would think it should definitely be warmer by that time.

They are using the navy blue nesh jerseys. SD = Surf Dawgs? ;)

Pietsch Fan
01-24-2007, 03:45 PM
You are welcome!

I would think it should definitely be warmer by that time.

They are using the navy blue nesh jerseys. SD = Surf Dawgs? ;)

Dang, then those poor guys are freezing their patooties off. Those are like not wearing a shirt at all. Brrr.

Mary

jd_aka_monty
01-24-2007, 04:04 PM
They're still pro stock jerseys, so they're pretty warm. But, you are righty, they do definitely let a bit more wind circulate, more so than the other solid ones. But, they're the better looking jersey of the three and we liked them the best during the season.

The league provides some decent under shirts too. Not as nice as the Victory ones we received last season, but they're made of a similar material to the loose fitting Under Armor. The only problem, when that wind kicked up, we needed about 2 or 3 of them on, not just one. :infun:

It's a wonderful day in the neighborhood...

DawgsBooster2
01-26-2007, 05:22 PM
You are welcome!

I would think it should definitely be warmer by that time.

They are using the navy blue nesh jerseys. SD = Surf Dawgs? ;)

SD = Sanoma Dawgs, right? ;) LOL

Pietsch Fan
01-26-2007, 06:08 PM
Sonora. As in Mexico. :::heavy sigh::: It's not even an American team anymore.

heavesrock
01-28-2007, 11:33 AM
Well the Sonora desert is in Arizona.

Pietsch Fan
01-29-2007, 11:53 AM
Well the Sonora desert is in Arizona.

Not familiar with said desert (and not wanting to sound snarky) I looked it up. The desert seems to be called the Sonoran desert and while it occupies parts of the US, it seems to occupy more of Mexico, including much of the state of Sonora. Since another of the AWL teams has Canada in their name, I'm still going with Sonora being for Mexico, not the Sonoran desert.

Mary

jd_aka_monty
01-29-2007, 09:05 PM
I was trying to find the page again on the GBL site that referenced it, so that I could post the link here. But, I do remember it saying that the team was representing Mexico, not remembering how it was worded.

Monty

heavesrock
01-29-2007, 11:29 PM
Not familiar with said desert (and not wanting to sound snarky) I looked it up. The desert seems to be called the Sonoran desert and while it occupies parts of the US, it seems to occupy more of Mexico, including much of the state of Sonora. Since another of the AWL teams has Canada in their name, I'm still going with Sonora being for Mexico, not the Sonoran desert.

Mary




Yeah, I knew most of it was in Mexico, but a part of it is in AZ so that's what I meant. I knew that because I lived in the desert for a while(before to Vermont via Illinois).

DawgsBooster2
01-30-2007, 10:50 PM
I was trying to find the page again on the GBL site that referenced it, so that I could post the link here. But, I do remember it saying that the team was representing Mexico, not remembering how it was worded.

Monty

I recall that as well and I can't find it either. *shrug*