July 2005

Goin back to Cali

It’s Sunday morning in Sacramento and I have spent a week in the Central Valley, enjoying the balmy 107-degree temperatures that have gripped the region since my arrival. We started out with the Triple-A All-Star Game last week and, for the most part, the event was entertaining. The host Sacramento River Cats put on a wonderful show and couldn’t have been more hospitable.

Sacramento itself surprised me. I was in Detroit for the Futures Game last Sunday and someone cracked that Sacramento was the Detroit of the West. Well, I, er, I mean they, were wrong. This is actually a great little city with a lot of history and charm. The Old Sacramento part of town is a wonderful place to spend a day. It’s a great shopping district with quaint shops and good restaurants. It has a Jersey shore boardwalk feel without the beach.

And the railroad museum, where the All-Star reception was held, was unbelievable. Sorry, I like trains and so does my three-year-old son, so all I could think about as I walked among these massive locomotives was how cool it would be to have Thomas there with me just to see his face.

But I digress. The one thing I didn’t like about this trip was the traffic. California is a maze of flyovers and freeways, all of which seem to be choked with traffic no matter what time of day it is. It’s like driving on the Van Wyck Expressway as some sort of never-ending torture. For those of you not familiar with the Van Wyck, I refer you to the Seinfeld episode where Elaine has to get to the airport – “They say no one has ever beaten the Van Wyck.”

But I digress again. Sorry, it’s been a long week. I also traveled to Modesto and Stockton, neither of which is a garden spot but the ballparks were nice and the baseball was good. Stockton’s Banner Island Ballpark, which just opened this season, is particularly impressive and the team is a great deal of fun.

Modesto is in its first year of affiliation with the Rockies after working with Oakland just short of forever. The team’s nickname is the Nuts and they have a fun little theme song that gets played at the ballpark. I can’t get it out of my head, so I guess their marketing people deserve a thumbs up. Plus, the Nuts merchandise is fun as well. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I’m going home with some Nuts wear.

So there’s my blog.  It was a week in California with lots of baseball.  If you’re ever in the north part of this state, Sacramento is worth a look.

The Futures is now

Greetings blog fans! Sorry for neglecting the ATM blog for a while…but we’re here in tropical Detroit for the Futures Game today (Sunday). To me, the Futures Game is the best part of All-Star Weekend.

The top players in Minor League Baseball got here yesterday and immediately got involved with some community service. Justin Verlander, Justin Huber and Delmon Young lent a helping hand to  a wonderful organization called Magical Builders renovate a youth center for a local chapter of the Boys & Girls Club.

Today, they’ll get to show off their skills on the diamond. Verlander will get to start for the U.S. team in what he hopes will be his home stadium soon. Twins prospect Francisco Liriano gets the ball for the World Team. We’ll be back later with some sights and sounds and thoughts from Comerica Park as the day goes on.

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