Let the fun begin! This is undoubtedly my favorite time of year to be a sports fan. Let's go through the list, MLB Spring Training, March Madness, and soon to follow the Masters, and the NHL Playoffs. I feel fortunate to be able to be around two of those great events, of course Padres spring training, and the USD Toreros in the WCC Tournament.
I'll be heading to Las Vegas this week, as the Toreros, the number 6 seed, face the 7th seed the Pepperdine Waves in the second game on Thursday night. The games are at the Orleans Arena, a great venue to watch college hoops. The game will tip sometime around 8:30pm, and of course I'll have the call on XTRA Sports 1360 and www.usdtoreros.com. I like USD's chances in the first round, they swept Pepperdine in the regular season, and the Toreros won 4 of their final 6 WCC games and are playing some good team basketball. Johnny Dee and Christopher Anderson have been a breath of fresh air in the program. Great young talents that should be fun to watch for the next few years. Of course they are not a two man wolf pack, as, Dennis Kramer, Ken Rancifer, Simi Fajemisin, Darian Norris, Chris Manresa, Cameron Miles, John Sinis, Nick Kerr, Keith Stackhouse and Blair Banker have all contributed to the season. Good luck Toreros!
Back to Peoria...
Looking forward to getting back into the flow and routine of baseball. I should be in Peoria by early next week, ready to take on my 6th season with the San Diego Padres. Spring Training gives me a great chance to talk to the new guys, to get to know them a little before the games actually count. Met a few of the guys at the Padres Fan Fest at Petco, including new catcher John Baker and new first baseman Yonder Alonso.
As a guy who spent a lot of time in Peoria, IL (home of my alma mater Bradley University), it's always strange to tell friends and colleagues that I'm heading to Peoria in March. Some of my friends from college and my early working days, think I'm coming back to Illinois to see them. Always a confusing time. Peoria, AZ has really been built up since the Padres first moved there in the early 90's and every chain restaurant imaginable calls the area home. Every once in a while, myself, and Corey Brock (of @FollowThePadres fame) discover a nice little 'hole in the wall' to hang out in, and usually the next year it's gone. I'm confident in Mr. Brock's ability to find us another place to call 'home' this spring.
Speaking of restaurants...or is it restaurantz?
Ok, yeah, the headline is a bit confusing, but you'll understand after I explain. Last year, our PR guru Warren Miller, happened on a restaurant in a strip mall pretty close to the complex, it is called MEATBALLZ (yes with a Z, and it actually hangs down off the last "L", leading me to call it "The Hanging Z"). It's a great Italian place with authentic home cooking. The owner Robert is awesome. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to an Italian Beef, some meatballs, and of course the greatest dessert in the desert, the Brownoli. A brownie and cannoli combination that is UNBELIEVABLE. Make sure you check out the place if you come to visit Peoria.
Random Thoughts...or musings...
Went to the Honda Center the other day (Sunday) to go watch my struggling Chicago Blackhawks lose to the Anaheim Ducks. The Honda Center is easy to get to, and the parking lots are close to the arena and not too bad to get out of after a game. While I did not enjoy the result, I did like to see a record crowd there that afternoon. It's great to see Southern Californian's get into hockey. I love the sport. I grew up watching it on TV and in person. The amount of skill these players have and what they are able to do on skates is just unbelievable. Next to baseball, hockey is the sport for me.
Technology while great, sometimes makes me shake my head. While at the game Sunday in Anaheim, I noticed more people on their phones during the game, either texting, watching movies (seriously, a kid right in front of me) or online shopping (that kid's mom) than paying attention to the game. I'll admit, I checked Twitter a few times (but my guys were down 2-1 at the time), but why go to the game if you aren't going to watch it?
Alright, that's it, the blog should be updated during the games once I get to Arizona. In the meantime Corey is taking care of you on his twitter account and at padres.com. Check him out.