It was about two months ago that my girlfriend dropped a bomb on me. She wanted to go to Phoenix Arizona to see her friend, and watch a dissertation defense. I think I said something along the lines of "Have fun!", while internally cringing at the idea of 120 degree heat in a dust bowl of a state that was known for having a douchy baseball team, and an enormous whole in it. Plus I am half Mexican, with a Mexican surname, I am pretty sure that is a one way ticket to deportation even if I was born and raised in the US, and look mostly white.
When my girlfriend suggested that I come along, I panicked. Then agreed, under the condition we go to a Tucson Padres game. She agreed.
I have pictures!
So in ordered to "add some frosting on the cake" of this fanpost, I commissioned my girlfriend to take some pictures.
Tucson in July is what I imagine Hell would be like, except not as crowded (since the UofA students are not around). It was generally between 111 - 120 degrees outside dry and generally miserable. Before the game Emily and stopped by a Man v Food destination (Lindy's on 4th) to fill out belly's with delicious hamburgers. (Think Hodad's with a punk theme and hamburgers slightly overdone but still remarkably delicious and huge). Here is a picture of me cosuming a "Texas Belt Buckle"
That was delicious. Those fries on my girlfriends basket were amazing as well. It was while we were sitting here that a monsoon started to roll in. A monsoon is what they call it when it rains in the desert I think.
From here we ventured over to Kino Field to watch the "stars of tomorrow, play today"
Kino Field is essentially an older, less pretty version of the Diamond at Lake Elsinore. I imagine it was probably once a very nice stadium that has been viciously beat with heat and sun until it started to look sort of drab, which helped it fit in with the Tucson concept.
When we arrived the first thing I noticed was that, there was like no one there. It was a Monday evening game with Monsoon clouds in the sky (later the announced attendance was 1,969 IIRC). I ran up to the Tucson Padres sign and had Emily take a picture of me.
Yes, I am wearing a Disneyland shirt because I love disneyland, and this particular shirt is comfortable.
After acquiring this picture Emily and I went inside and we were welcomed with LIVE MUSIC. They were called something like the "Southern Arizona Middle-Aged NASCAR Band" or something. They were neat.
After this I took a picture of the scoreboard. Poorly.
Even if you eat insanely large amounts of food before you go to the ballpark, you have to eat *at* the ballpark as well. I had nachos and churros. The churros were probably the best tasting churros I had ever had! Crispy and cinnamon-y on the outside, soft and buttery on the inside. A dreamy concotion perfected in Arizona over years of testing recipes while forced indoors by abusively hot desert days.
Oh, here is E-Dawg eating one now.
After this we sat at our seats. One row back, almost directly behind home plate. They named their "Friar" in Tucson, "Dino Bambino" which is, I am pretty sure, a nickname shared with Chris Denorfia. Dino was about as polar opposite of "Thunder" in Lake Elsinore as possible. He was slow, in a beat up Friar suit. It must have been 200 degrees in that thing.
Again the pre-game festivities were highlighted by the National Anthem singers. This time? A collection of older men called "The Barbershop Experience". Never before had I seen such a collection of happy old men in my whole life. I am used to disgruntled, unhappy, old men. These guys had huge grins, and were so happy to be singing (and still alive) it made their singing that much sweeter... Here they are now:
Emily's favorite was the guy in the long black socks on the left. Mine was the guy with the golden shiny name tag at about the 1/3 mark from the left. He got into this stance and used his hands when he was singing. It was a blast.
When the game started, there were not many good photo opportunities. Though this should give you a good idea of our seats.
Now for the game itself. We were playing the Tacoma Rainiers, a HATED Mariners affiliate. So naturally I hated them. I especially hate a rather loud and obnoxious woman who was seated right next to the Rainiers Dugout. I suppose she was mildly attractive as far as Mariner Fan standards go, she was probably the succubus girlfriend of one of the players.
When Ryan Langerhans started the game with a
casual pop-fly home run on like the 3rd pitch I thought our guy John Wesley Van Benschoten was poop, I had never hear of him, and he had just given up a home run to a 6th outfielder light hitting career minor leaguer.
Then I remembered it was the PCL. I was still annoyed because the Mariner Fan Succubus Girlfriend (MFSG) was screaming and cheering and standing up. It was silly. Van Benschoten settled down and didn't give up another ER, and looked generally solid the rest of the night.
The between inning events were rather lackluster even compared to Lake Elsinore, though I guess when you know your team is probably leaving, there isn't much motivation, as was the T-Padres early hitting was also lackluster.
The Rainiers had some dude name Mauricio Robles pitching, and he mowed everyone down except Kyle Blanks, who ogrely walked up the the plate and crushed everything in the zipcode. He was only 2-4 with 2 K's, but I forgot that, when a 1/2 ogre strikes out, its sort of exciting.
Other player impressions:
Matt Clark looked like, and played 1B like a DH. No maneuverability, but the guy can certainly hit. He is like a skinnier, white Blanks. I see him as a Jack Cust like player, we should try to move him to a AL team at some point.
Eric Patterson looked terrible at the plate, and great on defense. He is hitting .170 something in the PCL, which is not going to impress anyone.
Luis Martinez continually dropped the ball while catching.
Apparently the AAA team purchased the contract of a RCL League outfielder (Alberth Martinez) to help the bench because of Cunningham having a concussion. He was skinny like a high school player, but super fast and looked like, if he put on like 40 lbs of muscle, could play very well. He seemed to have good instincts.
(Edit, just added) James Darnell: Did not actually look good or impress me at all, he sort of shuffled on plays, had no hussle, and seemed bored. There was one play where he totally could have scored if he was running hard on a play, and just didn't. He may have been held up, but his body language really turned me off. Jedd Gyorko, please hurry so we can move this guy elsewhere.
Van Benschoten looked solid after the homerun to Langerhans. He gave up two other long ass fly balls, that the field barely held onto, and a couple hits that required Eric Patterson and Alberth Martinez to handle, but otherwise he was hitting his spots and doing a damn fine job.
Poreda is a disaster. Everything from his awful Luigi mustache, who his batting practice straight line 85 mph fastball, and his spotty control.
Perdomo seems to have a little be more of a clue. He seems to have all the right pieces except two areas. His delivery looks extremely awkward and unrepeatable, and his awkward delivery seems to play havok on his control. None of these seems actually fixable, I doubt Perdomo keeps his velocity and his deception if he fixes the other things.
Inman was just, blah, completely unimpressive.
Overall: It was an experience I am glad I had. I felt sad because I feel like everything about Portland, from what I hear, was better than here. I think it was a pitchers park, and very pretty. Tucson was so drab. I suggest checking it out so you can say you saw it, but without Blanksy its a wasteland of busted prospects, ballpark adjusted hitting, and horrible weather.