Sunday, March 28, 2010

Camelback Ranch: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Just west of Phoenix, in suburban Glendale, you'll find one of the newest ballparks to dot the Arizona landscape -- Camelback Ranch.  (For more pics, see previous post.)

Spring training home to the Dodgers and White Sox, Camelback Ranch opened for business last spring. The stadium has an official seating capacity of 13,000.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Save the Frontier Spokesanimals!

There’s a fight on in Denver to save some of the airline industry’s most lovable spokesmen – make that, spokescritters.

“Save our animals, save our tails!” chanted a group of Frontier Airlines employees and supporters Thursday, as they marched through downtown Denver.

They were rallying in an effort to save the colorful animals that adorn the tails of Frontier’s planes.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Grand Canyon Air Disaster (Part II)

Part II of our story of the mid-air collision between two passenger planes over the Grand Canyon in 1956.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sunday Afternoon Behind Home Plate

Sunday afternoon ... Rockies @ Royals.
My view from behind home plate.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Words Cannot Describe This Game

Today, I witnessed what is unquestionably one of the most entertaining games of baseball I have ever seen in my life.

It was the Colorado Rockies vs. Kansas City Royals, at Surprise Stadium, in Surprise, Arizona.

And words do not do this game justice.

Live from Surprise

Pre-game coffee break in Surprise, before the Rockies/Royals take to the field.
One of these vehicles is mine ...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Saturday night in Glendale with the Dodgers and Padres

Year two of Camelback Ranch, Spring Training home of the LA Dodgers and Chicago White Sox ...

At Camp with the Mariners

A few scenes from Saturday's matchup between the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks, from the Peoria Sports Complex ... more on the story to follow soon.

More photos after the break ...

Saturday morning in Arizona

On the road to Peoria for today's Diamondbacks-Mariners game at the Peoria Sports Complex ...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Grand Canyon Air Disaster (part I)

Part I of our look at a mid-air collision that had a big impact on aviation in America.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring Training: Cheap tickets ... except for the Dodgers

For a die-hard baseball fan, there's nothing like catching a game at a small ballpark in Arizona in March.

Spring Training baseball offers the best of the Big Leagues, plus you get perfect weather, small, intimate ballparks, and the chance to see favorite players and young up-and-comers up close.

And, it's affordable.

Unless you want to see the Dodgers, that is.

For most of the teams that hold camp in Arizona, you can snag a ticket behind home plate for as low as $17, although $23 is more typical.  If you don't mind sitting on the lawn in the outfield, you can watch a game live and have a picnic for $5 or $6.

But for the Dodgers, be prepared to pay $42 to $47 -- PLUS Ticketmaster's "convenient" extra fees -- for the top tickets.  And the "cheap" seats on the lawn behind the outfield wall?  $10-12.

Here's a comparison of ticket prices behind home plate for the Cactus League's clubs:
  • Colorado     $17
  • Arizona     $18
  • Milwaukee     $21
  • Oakland     $21
  • Cleveland/Cincinnati     $23
  • Seattle/San Diego     $23
  • Texas/Kansas City     $23
  • San Francisco     $24-30
  • Chicago Cubs     $28-30
  • Angels     $29
  • Dodgers/White Sox     $42-47
So who's out of line?  Yup -- the Dodgers, and the other team they share the Camelback Ranch facility with, the Chicago White Sox.

But just because you play in a new ballpark (Camelback opened for business last spring), does that mean you have the green light to charge double what many other teams charge?

Sure, it can be argued that Dodgers Cactus League tickets are affordable -- but that's only by comparison to the prices they charge at Dodger Stadium.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Remembering Peter Graves: A Classic Moment from Airplane!

He will be remembered by many for his role as Jim Phelps on the TV series Mission: Impossible, but Peter Graves will also be recalled for another equally famous character he played.

Graves went from dramatic actor to straight-faced comedian when he took the role of Captain Clarence Oveur in the comedy classic, Airplane! It was a role that put him at the controls of Trans American flight "two-zero-niner" along with co-pilot Roger Murdock, played by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Graves died Sunday at his home in Pacific Palisades, California. He was 83.

Here's a look at the famous take-off scene, with Captain Oveur and Murdock having some degree of difficulty with each other's names.

Great Moments in Dodgers' History: Mister Ed meets Sandy Koufax

The great Sandy Koufax dominated Major League hitters over a six year stretch from 1961-66.

He's got four World Series rings, and even pitched four no-hitters, including the rarest of all feats, a perfect game.

Few "men" could connect against Koufax, but at least one "individual" had him figured out -- a horse.

In the 1963 episode "Leo Durocher meets Mister Ed", Wilbur and Ed pay a visit to Dodger Stadium, and Ed shows off by hitting an inside the park home run off Hall of Famer Koufax.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ticketmaster and - Taking Every Penny They Can from Spring Training

If you’re a baseball fan, it’s hard to beat a trip to Arizona in March for Spring Training.

The fans like the Cactus League, the teams like the Cactus League, and Ticketmaster and just LOVE the Cactus League.

During Spring Training, you can still get good tickets for most teams for much less than the cost of regular season games. But just like the regular season, both ticketing agencies will be sure to extract a hefty sum from your wallet.

So although you can buy a ticket with a face value of as low as $6 (lawn seats), be prepared to tack on some sizable fees.

Here’s the REAL cost of your tickets.


Using an example of a high-end ticket for the Dodgers -- a $42 seat behind home plate for the Dodgers -- you’ll have to add a $4.50 convenience fee. Then add a $2.50 charge to print your own ticket (unless you want to pay considerably more for UPS delivery). AND don’t forget your $3 order fee. So your $42 ticket really costs $52.

What’s that? You want to pick up your ticket at the Will Call window? Sorry. The Dodgers and White Sox don’t offer that option. You’ll have to pay to have your ticket delivered whether you like it or not.

Total cost of having to do business with Ticketmaster: an extra 23.8% on top of the ticket face value.

Pricing out a simple $6 lawn seat for the Padres, you’ll have to add a $1.50 convenience fee and a $3 order fee. In other words, just added on an extra 66% to the cost of your ticket.

On a $23 ticket, your convenience fee is $4, plus the $3 order fee. So is “only” taking an extra 30.4% on top of face value.

And remember, this is assuming you pick your ticket at the Will Call window at the stadium. But will try to convince you to use their “print at home” feature for an extra $2.25.

Oh, and did you want insurance? will try to sell you that too. Pay $6, and you MIGHT be able to get your money back -- if the reason for canceling your tickets is covered.

Spring Training in Goodyear

Monday, March 8, 2010

Making an appearance on KPNX Channel 12 Phoenix

The Destroyer: George Foster

This man signing autographs at the Cincinnati Reds' training camp was a member of one of baseball's great dynasties - "The Big Red Machine".

George Foster -- "The Destroyer" as he was known during those days -- is a five-time All-Star, has two World Series rings, and was the Major Leagues' home run leader in 1977 and 1978.

He was a key member of the Big Red Machine, along with Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Johnny Bench, Dave Concepcion, and Ken Griffey Sr. With skipper Sparky Anderson at the helm, they dominated the National League in the 1970s.

Photo of the Day

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Today in the Cactus League

Camelback Ranch -- home of the Dodgers and White Sox:

Peoria Sports Complex -- home of the Mariners and Padres:

Surprise Baseball Campus -- home of the Rangers and Royals:

Today's Cactus League results:

Cubs (ss) @ White Sox ... RAINED OUT
Dodgers @ Cubs (ss) ... RAINED OUT
Rangers @ Indians ... RAINED OUT
A's @ Angels ... RAINED OUT
Padres @ Mariners ... RAINED OUT
Giants @ Royals ... RAINED OUT
Reds @ Brewers ... RAINED OUT

The last time there were rainouts in the Cactus League? 2006.

The two split-squad games scheduled for Tucson were played though.
It's bad news for the clubs, because these games aren't made up. So the home teams lose out on ticket sales, parking, and sales at the concessions and souvenir booths.
But somebody IS making money today ... more on that later.

This baseball is NOT for sale

A lovely day for baseball ...

Phoenix weather radar, as of 11:30 a.m.

Great day for a ballgame.

Fun with Mascots

What do you do to entertain the crowd between innings?

Have the mascots dance, of course.

Rain, Go Away

(Peoria, AZ) 11:05 a.m. Mountain Standard Time.

It's an unusual day in the desert.

It's raining.

Here's hoping it lets up by first pitch at 1:05 at the Peoria Sports Complex. Looking forward to this afternoon's game between the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners.

Stopped by Phoenix Municipal Stadium to check up on the Oakland A's this morning, at their morning practice. Love the location of the stadium, set in Papago Park. Very scenic backdrop.

Photos to come.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Bob Feller: A Legend Throws Out the First Pitch

Hall of Famer Bob Feller, age 91, throws out the first pitch at today's Cleveland Indians/Cincinnati Reds game in Goodyear, Arizona.

A good place to let your poodle loose ...

Notes from the Road: Scenery, but No Rest Stops

Arizona is one of the most picturesque places you could ever visit.

And thanks to the recent rains, I'm seeing one of those rare sights -- a green desert.

Of course, the greenery is short-lived. Soon enough, the sun will scortch the Sonoran Desert, and return it to its natural state of brown.

I love spending time in this state, but I do have a few words for the folks at the Arizona Department of Transportation: Open your Rest Stops!!!

Why on earth have you closed the Rest Stops on I-10 coming from Palm Springs to Phoenix? Even broke California -- the most ineptly managed State in the Union -- manages to keep its Rest Stops open on I-10. But as soon as I crossed the state line at Blythe, the first two Rest Stops in Arizona were closed.

Considering that the road between Indio and Goodyear has almost no place to stop (excepting Blythe and Quartzsite), would it be that tough to keep a couple rest stops open?

Just asking.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Spring Training: Play Ball!

March has arrived, which means one thing: Spring Training!

Fifteen clubs flock to Arizona for this time-honored annual event, and with them, come baseball fans from across the country.

Restaurants, hotels, car rental companies and other merchants cheer the arrival of the teams, their fans, and visiting journalists. If you're in the service industry in Arizona, March is like Christmas.

This year, the Cactus League welcomes a new arrival - the Cincinnati Reds.

Until now, the Reds had been a member of the Grapefruit League, setting up camp in Florida each year.

But now they're sharing the new complex in Goodyear with their cross-state rival, the Cleveland Indians.

The Indians were one of the original clubs to begin play in Arizona. In 1946, they, along with the New York Giants, were the first teams to move west.

Cleveland began play that year in Tucson at Hi Corbett Field. In 1993, they departed for the Grapefruit League, but last year returned to Arizona, to the then brand-new Goodyear Ballpark.

With the arrival of the Reds, the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues are now evenly split - 15 teams a piece.