While J wasn’t able to make it down here to AZ this week, I’ve been here since last Friday. I had the week off and need just about zero reasons to get the hell out of Chicago in February. Even if that meant spending most of the week here in Arizona by myself.
Since pitchers and catchers didn’t officially arrive until Wednesday, I didn’t think hanging out at the “bend over, this probably won’t hurt too much” Cubs Souvenir Shop was worth the drive to Mesa. Unfortunately, this means I haven’t spent a whole lot of time (read: none whatsoever) watching the Cubs throw warm up tosses. I drove past Fitch Park on Wednesday, saw my fair share of creepy adult male autograph seekers, and drove on. I’m going to try and catch some of Friday morning’s practice. At the very least, I’d like to get a chance to touch the hand of Rudy Jaramillo and immediately become a Major League .350 hitter. After all, the Cubs have never overstated the impact of a relatively insignificant offseason move, right?
Even though I’ve been busy doing other things (insert self-serving and Bill Simmons-esque comment about writing a book here) while I’m down here, that’s not to say that there have been no Cubs- or sports-related events to fill a lazy blog post. I’m certain there’s enough to put together a disjointed set of stories about stuff that’s happened down here in Arizona this week. I’m sure that this post will be at least as interesting as every Paul Sullivan puff piece about how “the chemistry is just so much better this year!”
On to the week-in-review…
• On the first day I was here, I managed to see three non-celebrity celebrities: Tom Gorzelanny (slamming a double-double at Inn-n-Out), Bob Davie (out walking with his clone, err, son) and, inexplicably, Matthew Lillard, who apparently was attending some family reunion at the local Marriott. For those wondering who the hell Matthew Lillard is: the only reason I was able to find out his real name was by immediately Googling “ScoobyDoo Movie Shaggy.” Do the same and you’ll know who I’m talking about.
• Fun Fact about Matthew Lillard: He’ll be starring in a movie called “Agent 19” this year. The other stars? Geena Davis and Rosie Perez. Apparently Jamie Kennedy and Rae Dawn Chong were unavailable.
• Two years ago, it was “Kobe versus Shaq, Shaq versus Kobe,” last year it was “It’s the All Star Game: Let’s Hope Nobody Gets Shot." This year, the Phoenix scene couldn’t get enough of “Amare! Will they or won’t they?” I never thought I could care about NBA basketball, but just being down here (where the Suns are to Phoenix like the Bears are to Chicago) and immersed in it made me interested. Not enough to actually subject myself to watch an actual NBA game, of course.
• Tasti D-Lite has come to Scottsdale. Just plain awesome. I’m pretty sure that the benefit of 90 calorie ice cream cups is mitigated by the fact that I ate about 700 of them.
• Sociological Epiphany of the Week: If you’re white, male, between 28-40 and dressed decently, you can pretty much get away with anything. While I’m sure every non-white person reading this right now is saying “no shit, loser,” let me backtrack: this wasn’t so much of an epiphany as simply a series of situations this week in which this fact was made abundantly clear. I’ve spent pretty much every day crashing pools and gyms at much nicer hotels than the one I’m staying at. Not once have I been stopped, asked to show my room key, or questioned whatsoever. Now, after writing this, I’m sure I’ll be writing a post tomorrow from the security office at the Phoenecian.
• My hotel is very close to the TPC Scottsdale, where the Phoenix Open will be held next week. They’ve changed the named to the “Waste Management Open.” Seriously. The Waste Management Open. I don’t even have a joke here. Not even a stupid Tiger-related one.
• While the majority of the week was decidedly sans-Cubs, there was one Cubs-related incident that was noteworthy. I’m simply going to copy-and-paste the email I sent to J.Dot on Wednesday. Here goes:
I was at a gas station about a mile and a half from HoHoKam today. As I finished filling up, some ridiculous salesman came up to me (with a weird, chubby "assistant") to try and sell me on some car cleaner "endorsed by NASCAR!" He showed me all the ways in which this cleaner would be great for the car I was driving. I waited for him to finish his sales pitch before I told him that the car I was filling up was a rental and I didn't need car cleaner. That didn't stop him; he continued his sales pitch unabated for another 2-3 minutes before I just had to say "enough-I said no." The guy shook my hand and thanked me while still getting one more pitch in. It was exhausting.
As he finished, Ted Lilly began filling up his SUV at the station next to mine. The guy moved away from me as quickly as possible, dragging the chubby assistant to Lilly's car, readying his relentless sales pitch. Before the salesman said a word, Lilly looked at him. Stared at him for about 2 seconds and said not a word.
The salesman walked away without a single sentence.
That salesman recognized.
------- And that just about sums up my non-Cubs-Spring-Training Week at Cubs Spring Training. Given my expectations for the Cubs this year, maybe not seeing them in person is for the best: there’s only so many times you can sit through Spring Training practice, talk yourself into this team during the following four weeks, then get kicked in the crotch over the next 162 games.