Part I -- Part II
Friday, March 13
5:30 AM - I've slept six straight hours and while I've awoken early, it's the first time in weeks that I wasn't up between 1:00-3:00 AM, wheezing, while an imaginary elephant sat on my chest. Surprisingly, I don't miss watching MLB Network in the middle of the goddam night.
6:30 AM - Mrs. Bootleg is out of bed. It's the earliest I've EVER seen her up on any day she doesn't have to go to work. Put it this way: our nearly 19-year-old arthritic, decrepit cat – that we only see at feedings – has been known to exclaim, "Damn, she sleeps a lot!" (OK, OK…but, now imagine it in that Eddie Murphy "Donkey" voice from Shrek. See? Funny!)
7:15 AM - Our son, Jalen, is still asleep. His body's clock must think it's a school day, as I usually have to crowbar his Black ass out of bed Monday thru Friday. On weekends, he beats the sunrise. I quietly get dressed for a Dunkin' Donuts run, making every attempt to not wake him up and complicate my morning with fatherho…
7:16 AM - Jalen's awake.
7:30 AM - In the rental car, attempting to navigate Scottsdale's nonsensical traffic infrastructure. Dunkin Donuts is on a street called Bell. In theory, Bell runs east and west. I'm driving south on a street called Hayden. I approach Bell and the only option is to turn left (east). A right turn goes straight into a gated community, but my directions clearly state turn right. Bah, I'll just rely on the same street smarts that helped me survive Los Angeles and San Diego roads since I was 16.
8:00 AM - Hopelessly lost. I've come crawling back to the directions I'd discarded 30 minutes earlier. 5.6 miles from the hotel and I've been driving for half an hour. I've passed a half-dozen Starbucks (or maybe just the same one, six times) but, I want my cup o' Dunkin.
8:15 AM - So, finally, I figure out that East Bell actually "stops" when it runs into Hayden. If you drive south on Hayden for another ½ mile or so, Bell – running west – picks up again, except it's called "Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard". Make a right, drive two or three miles and it turns back into Bell.
(On an unrelated note, didya know that Arizona is 43rd in the United States in the percentage of its high school graduates who go to college? And, that fewer than half of Arizona public high school graduates qualify to enroll in our public universities? And, that Arizona ranks 49th in state and local per capita spending on K-12 education? Who could I possibly ask for directions?!)
8:30 AM - Oh, but that cross-state excursion was so worth it. My Dunkin' coffee is still scalding hot, smooth and more flavorful than the Starbucks brand. I opted for an apple-filled donut that had a taste and texture not unlike the fruit-filled, cinnamon-dusted cloud that St. Peter sits on in Heaven.
11:00 AM - That Bootleg Family is going to Goodyear! The A's are playing the Indians at the Tribe's shiny new Spring Training facility which requires a…what, the… a 45 minute drive?! I ask Mrs. Bootleg to break out her new Blackberry Storm and verify the directions. This trip is slightly more important than coffee n' pastry.
11:05 AM - Mrs. Bootleg is still fiddling with her phone's internet settings.
11:10 AM - Still fiddling…
11:15 AM - Nothing yet…
11:20 AM - According to my directions, we're about halfway there when my wife finally offers up something of substance, "Wait, which freeway are we on?"
11:50 AM - The Indians ballpark is pretty damn nice, which is both a blessing and a curse for the father of a 5-year-old. Jalen is immediately drawn to the "kid's diamond" just past the right field fence. A handful of kids are hitting wiffle balls and running around miniaturized basepaths. Over/under on the length of Jalen's tantrum when we try to pry him from this place and into our seats: 10 minutes.
11:55 AM - I fall for one of the other dad's "Hey, do you wanna pitch to your son?" lines. In the blink of an eye, I'm throwing batting practice to every kid out there. Meanwhile, the fraternity of fathers bark hitting instructions to their children and gently criticize the location of every pitch I toss.
12:25 PM - And, I'm spent. It's just me and the boy remaining, so there appears to be no better time to say, "Jalen, it's time to go." Jalen retorts, "Noooooooooo…!"
12:26 PM - 12:30 PM - "Nooooooooooo…!"
12:35 PM - We reach our seats and Jalen seems somewhat encouraged by how close the players are and how many of them are signing. "Where's Matt Holliday? Where's number five?" Jalen asked. "Uh, I don't think he's playing today", I respond. "Oh, but five is my favorite number!", said Jalen. Hey, only three more hours of this!
12:45 PM - A's behemoth Jack Cust is signing just past the visitor's dugout. Dude is enormous. If you lined up three of me, shoulder to shoulder, we still wouldn't be as wide as him. He's also one of the nicest guys on the team. I lifted Jalen above the fray, so he could hand Cust a ball. Cust signed it, made a bit of small talk and seemed genuinely bemused with J's squeaky "thank you".
You're good people, Jack Cust. I'll root for you until the A's can no longer afford to pay your salary. And, since you're eligible for arbitration after this season…
Next: MORE baseball blogging! Lord knows I haven't done enough of that this month.