How The West Was Won
As the Royals rolled through early August they were doing a lot of things right. They finished July with a 5-2 home stand and then headed west and began August with a 5-1 run though Oakland and Arizona.
As the Arizona series began, the 100-plus temperatures dictated closing the roof at Chase Field. Opened in 1998, the first year the Diamondbacks played, Chase Field (formerly Bank One Ballpark) offers fans an air conditioned oasis on summer days and nights. The ’98 expansion Dbacks weren’t very competitive (65-97), so some days the opening and closing of the new roof provided the most entertainment. Royals VP Mike Swanson helped get the Diamondbacks up and running, spending nine years with the franchise, before coming home to the Royals in 2007.
The Diamondbacks may be a relatively young franchise, and one of their franchise icons was already a baseball and TV icons long before they were born: Joe Garagiola Sr. Garagiola was of course a catcher, and later became a beloved broadcaster. His announcing career started with the Cardinals, as he’s shown here with Jack Buck and Harry Caray. He would go on to national broadcast fame with NBC in sports but also as a host on the Today Show, game show host. So versatile.
Joe Sr. was a TV analyst for many years with the Dbacks. It was a family event for him, as his son, Joe Garagiola Jr., served as the teams general manager for many years. Joe Sr. is the greatest story teller I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing. On the broadcast level there’s a mural commemorating his great career.
The Royals swept of Diamondbacks, and in so doing they finished their western trip with a 5-1 record. It pushed their record away from home to 33-26, one of the best road marks in the American League.
When it’s 100-plus outside every day, there is ONE place that isn’t so bad. Just make sure you’ve got flip-flops to wear so you don’t have to walk barefoot on the pavement.
In the Bay Area it was much cooler. The Royals took 2 of 3 from the team with the best record i baseball. Here former Royal Chili Davis, the outstanding hitting coach for the A’s, with former Royal Coco Crisp. Coco was not on the disabled list, but was unavailable in the series with a neck injury. Coco is a major cog in the Oakland offense.
One improvement evident on our trip to the Bay Area was getting to travel on the eastern span of the Bay Bridge from San Francisco to Oakland (and back). The Bay Bridge carries approximately 240,000 vehicles per day. The new eastern span cost over $6 billion dollars and took 11 years to complete. It is the widest bridge in the world. The old bridge (on the right), part of which collapsed in the 1989 earthquake, is being dismantled.
Near our hotel in San Francisco sits beautiful Union Square. It’s a 2.6 acre public plaza, surrounded by a major shopping, restaurant and hotel area. The name comes from the square’s original function, as it was a place for rallying around the Union troops during the Civil War.