After rain, snow, wind and cold…the season got underway a day late in Chicago. After a heartbreaking loss in the opener, Game 2 had a better ending.
Sunday and Monday were washouts. Sundays workout was cancelled…so was Monday’s game.
After a tough loss Tuesday, great to see Joakim Soria come on and mow down the White Sox 1-2-3. A combined shutout! Greinke-Cruz-Soria. A 2-nothing win!
The Royals played a club-record 34 Spring Training games in Arizona (a record 36 total, with two final exhibitions in Texas.
Spring Training is a great time of year…and a great place for fans to see their team coming together…
Some final images from Year Seven for the Royals in Sunny Surprise:
Of course watching the Royals play in Spring Training means getting a head start on all the ballpark “eats,” and of course the weather is always perfect! Having seen all ten Cactus League ballparks, I can tell you that Surprise Stadium is the best there is!
The biggest thrill of Royals Spring Training ’09 was the arrival, by golf cart, of former heavyweight boxing champ Muhammad Ali when the Dodgers visited the Royals on March 20th. The largest crowd of the spring assembled that evening, 10,929. And as a bonus, not only was “The Greatest,” Ali, sitting in the front row by the Royals dugout, but “The Great One,” Wayne Gretzky, was sitting right behind him. Gretzky coaches the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes.
Ballpark delicacies. Always an important part of enjoying baseball, whether it’s Spring Training or regular season…
My son, John, on the grass berm in the outfield at Tucson Electric Park. It’s the spring home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, a 2 and a half hour drive from Surprise (and the rampant rumors are…they’re moving to the Phoenix area, along with Colorado, by 2011! That means 15 Major League teams ALL within about an hour of each other!!) For the record, he wound up with 3 baseballs during batting practice that day.
I had somewhere between 17 and 20 relatives visit during Spring Training (I keep trying to count and the number comes up different every time…) Seen here: my dad Layton, mother Marilyn, Aunt Maureen (of Mission, KS), Aunt Marjorie and my son John. I couldn’t fit them all in our radio booth!
This picture had to make the cut…my niece Margaret (soon-to-be-3) and John. She always steals the show.
Here are Denny and Ryan in a “production meeting.” Actually it was dinnertime at the Royals offices and the pizza was free of charge!
When Bob Davis and I travel to (and from) Tucson this is THE place to stop. The “world famous” Picacho Peak Dairy Queen. It’s about the only place to stop on the 2-hour drive between Phoenix and Tucson. Unfortunately (or fortunately if you’re a KU fan), Bob missed both trips to Tucson this spring (basketball season lasted well into Spring Training), which meant no Picacho Peak DQ for Bob…oh well…there’s always next year!
Here are Chris Gough and Brad Porter of Metro Sports in Kansas City. Metro was in Surprise from beginning-to-end in Surprise. After this picture, these two “stars” had the “opportunity” to drive this satellite truck and an SUV all the way back to KC! That’s AZ, NM, TX, OK, KS and MO….22 hours!!
Until next year…so long Surprise!
One of the fun things about our spring training webcasts is that we get to interact with fans from all over the world listening in. One such fan…a big fan…is Sergeant Nathan Cosby, USMC. Nathan emailed us and told us he had a Royals tattoo on one arm…and a Marine Corps tattoo on the other. I said “Send me a pic I’ll put it on the blog…” Well…here it is…and here’s Nathan’s explanation in his own words…THANKS NATHAN! And thanks for serving your country so proudly!
To be honest there really isn’t much to say about either one of those tattoos except that I love the Marine Corps and I love the Royals. They’ve both had a fantastic impact on my life, so I thought I would do a little free advertising for them.
I’ve been in the Marine Corps for about 6 years, and I got the USMC tattoo in 29 Palms, California within my first year of service. Me and a buddy of mine both went in and got the same tattoo. It’s a pride thing you know. I’m not going to lie, it was a little bit for the girls. It worked before I got married.
As far as the Royals tattoo goes… It’s like this. Since I’ve been stationed in Jacksonville, Florida I’ve noticed something. Floridians are CRAZY when it comes to stickers on cars, t-shirts, ball caps, jackets, and anything else you can possibly imagine to put the logo of a team on. They are SOOOO proud of their Gators and their Rays and their Bucs and so on and so forth. They’re absolutely relentless, and there is nothing wrong with that. There should be more sports fans like them. Long story short, about a year ago I finally had enough and thought to myself… No one can possibly be more proud of their team than I am of the Royals!!!! So, in the spirit of one-upsmanship, I decided that I would go the distance and tattoo my favorite team of all time on me. That ought to show them.
Not only did I do that, I threw down a couple hundred dollars down for one of those fancy legacy bricks that they’re putting down at the K. I didn’t really have anything poetic to say, so in true annoying fan fashion it simply says…. “THE GREATEST TEAM OF ALL TIME!! WOOOOO!! -NATHAN COSBY-
I went ahead and took the liberty of sending a picture of that Legacy brick to you fine folks in the Royals radio booth, along with a picture of me sporting my Royals attire and being cocky at a Royals vs Rays game at Tropicana Field last season. Thanks for your time guys.
Sgt Nathan Cosby (USMC)
September 2008 March 2009 So Ryan and I were talking about this blog on the air recently and Ryan mentioned that a photograph of him and his bride Sarah last September served as an offseason motivator for him. Ryan saw a “gut” on his normally-athletic frame in the photo on your left. He says his end-of-season weigh was 196.
Through discipline, hard work, good nutrition and the benefit of alkaline water, Ryan is down to a svelt 178! Ryan raves about alkaline water. He also says that we are a very dehydrated people. He says we men should drink half our weight (in liquid ounces) of water each day. For instance if you weigh 200, you should drink 100 ounces of water a day. And he says he doesn’t feel waterlogged!
Ok…so he goes to all this trouble…why not show it off right? I figure this is a good way to increase my page views on this blog! It may be early, the season hasn’t even started, but it’s already GUT-CHECK TIME!
Well maybe not a party, but when a new baseball season beckons, we all have a reason to celebrate. This is Year 2 of my blog, which will let you see the 2009 Royals season through my eyes (or my cameras lense anyway).
Of course it all begins with Spring Training. This is the seventh year the Royals and Texas Rangers have shared the City of Surprise Sports Complex. It’s really a beautiful facility…still looks brand new.
The 2009 exhibition season includes a club-record 36 exhibition games. You can follow the Royals throughout the Cactus League season on the Royals Radio Network (20 games) and/or Royals.com (all the games). Some of you reading this will make your way to Surprise in the coming weeks. For you, a preview of what you’ll see. For those of you who won’t make it this year, I’ll try to show you what you’re missing.
Of course all the work down here is geared toward getting the team (and its minor league affiliates) ready for Opening Day. The Royals open the season in Chicago April 6th. The new “K” opens April 10th with the home opener versus the Yankees! (and before you ask, no, I don’t have any tickets!).
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New this year adorning the side of the indoor batting cages, portraits of Royals Hall of Famers in alphabetical order. The mural replaces the old sign that listed just the names. A nice touch, designed by Dayton Moore to instill organizational pride in current and future Kansas City Royals.
Along with hitting drills in batting cages on the various practice fields, Royals hitters are doing a lot of work on their bunting. Here, new coach Eddy Rodriguez works with Willie Bloomquist on his bunting technique. It’s one area in which the Royals hope to see a big improvement.
Before he left for the World Baseball Classic, to represent Mexico, All Star Joakim Soria stretches on the conditioning field at the Royals complex. He does this before running wind sprints. The conditioning field looks like a shorter version of a football field, with yard lines to measure distances. The good news is, no one’s trying to tackle you while you run!
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A super September left all of us who follow the Royals with a good feeling. An 18-8 finish brought the final record to 75-87, a 6-game improvement over 2007 (which was a 7-game improvement over 2006). Hopefully this young club can take another step forward in 2009! So after 192 broadcasts, beginning back on February 27th, time for your humble radio crew to say THANK YOU for listening throughout season number 40 of Royals baseball.
I thought, since the Royals handed out team pictures during the last homestand, we should provide a Royals Radio Network “team picture.” Denny, yours truly, Producer/Engineer Don Free, Bob and Ryan. They made my transition to the Royals/Surprise, AZ/the American League/and yes, Denny, the DH, MUCH, MUCH easier. Thanks to them for all their help.
The celebrity photographer for our radio “team photo” was Mrs. Ryan Lefebvre, Congratulations, Sarah, you made it through your first season as a baseball wife!
New additions to the ballclub during the offseason, as well as the continued improvement of the young returning core, are reasons for optimism. And the “new” Kauffman Stadium, which will open April 10th promises to be a world-class venue that will usher in a new era of baseball in Kansas City. Have a great offseason, and we’ll be back on the air in February!
Here’s what it will look like when it’s completed in 2010. Looks beautiful. Royals VP Mike Swanson tells us the Royals played in the last baseball game in the old outdooor stadium and the Chiefs played in the last game of any type at “The Met.”
Olathe resident and former NBA player Manute Bol is big. As Rodney Dangerfield once described Jimmy Carter (played by Dan Akroyd) in a 70’s Saturday Night Live skit, in which the President had become a giant after being exposed to radiation at the leaking 3 Mile Island plant, “He’s so big, he could sit on the Brooklyn Bridge and dangle his feet in the water!” OK, that’s one of my all-time reaches, but it is, afterall, my blog.
Manute is 7 feet 7, and he’s got a heart to match. At a recent Royals game he sat in the Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat (he deserves a medal for being able to squeeze into a normal-sized ballpark chair!). The Royals recognized him for all the work he does to help raise money and awareness about the plight of his native country, Sudan. He’s actively involved in Sudan Sunrise, a non-profit, non-denominational organization that helps facilitate the efforts in South Sudan in education, health, community development and church planting. He plans to return to Sudan in the next few weeks…as he’s heading an effort to build a school in his home village.
Manute can call anybody “Shorty.” I’m 5′ 11″ by the way. Manute played for Washington back when they were the “Bullets.” He also played for Golden State, Philadelphia and Miami. As you might guess, he was an all-world shot-blocker in his day. He twice blocked EIGHT shots in a single quarter! He played in the NBA from 1985 through 1994.
Trey Hillman has a chat with Manute Bol. Too bad the Royals aren’t in need of a first baseman. It would be almost impossible to “sail” a throw over his head! 7 feet 7 inches, but just 220 pounds. That’s lean. At one point he was a teammate of five-foot-three-inch Muggsy Bogues. They were the tallest and shortest NBA players in history, and on the same team! Besides his athleticism and his big heart, he’s also known for having a great sense of humor.
REMINDER: YOU CAN CLICK ON ANY PHOTO TO ENLARGE
The way thing are going for the New York Yankees, it appears this may be the first year since 1993 that they don’t qualify for the postseason.
During the Royals final appearance in “The House that Ruth Built,” I recorded some images from “The Stadium,” which opened in 1923 and was renovated in the mid-1970’s:
Thought I’d throw a Times Square picture on here, as it’s just so photogenic. Very very busy on a Saturday night. My cousin, John William and I found long lines just about everywhere.
Down in the bowels of Yankee stadium. I think I’ll go left. The security guard saw me taking a photo of the sign and said “take it.” I think he was kidding. I think that might have gotten me in trouble, but I’m sure plenty of fans would like it as a memento.
Of course the retired numbers and monuments will all be moved next door to the new $1.3 billion ballpark, but I thought I’d capture them in their original location before they’re uprooted. A lot of numbers. The only single digits that are not retired will be retired some day: 2 (Jeter) and 6 (Torre).
A television photographer getting shots of the monuments…These used to be in play! The playing dimensions were HUGE before the renovations.
George Herman Ruth. Nuff said.
Lou Gehrig and longtime Yankee Manager Miller Huggins. Of the three men honored with the three most prominent plaques, Gehrig died at 37 Huggins at 50 and Ruth at 53. But what greatness they achieved.
Two great Yankee voices, Mel Allen, who broadcast their games for many years, and later was the narrator of “This Week in Baseball.” And 97 year-old Bob Sheppard, “The Voice of Yankee Stadium” since 1951. Sadly, Bob has been unable to attend games this year.
They honor 9/11 victims, playing “God Bless America,” during the 7th inning stretch of every game, not just on Sunday. Those victims are memorialized in Monument Park too.
Here’s something the media won’t miss. The two elevators from the basement are separated by a five-foot thick brick wall. In order to watch both elevators at once, you have to stand across the hall. I have a feeling there won’t be a similar wall at the new place. (Can I get a “Mr. Gorbachev, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!”?)
This is one of the PR offices right behind the press area, with a view of the field. It looks like it could be George Costanza’s office. No sleeping under the desk, people! I smell calzones! (Seinfeld references)
One final postcard image of Yankee Stadium. Royals had some great memories there, some not-so-great memories there. You may hate the Yankees. But one thing with which you can’t argue: much of the history of this game happened on that field. As Mel Allen would have said “How about that!”
On Larry Gura Bobblehead Night, Larry admires his likeness with Nick Wright of 610 Sports. Larry was good enough to come by the radio booth for a visit as well. He was a pioneer in baseball, a fanatic about nutrition and weight training, years before it became commonplace for all ballplayers to pay attention to such matters. He, of course, credits his wife with helping with the nutrition part. Larry has a ranch near the Royals’ Spring Training home in Surprise, AZ.
Here’s former Cy Young Award winner and White Sox broadcaster Steve Stone, with New York Mets scout Jerry Krause, who’s better known for his days when he was Michael Jordan’s boss, as GM of the Chicago Bulls. Just finishing up dinner in the press dining room before a game. Wish we would have had tape rolling, because it was an entertaining conversation, to say the least.