If you need to know the vibe going on at Rangers' Spring Training, look no further than this anecdote.
After arriving to the Surprise Recreation Campus on Tuesday morning, taking my 2-year-old daughter around to get autographs and meet "real Rangers" before catching a tiny bit of Cole Hamels pitching in a minor league game against the Royals, we headed to Surprise Stadium to see the big boys take on the Indians.
Before the singing of the National Anthem, my wife and I knew it was going to be a long day.
Thanks to our car fiasco on Monday, she didn't go to sleep until after midnight Pacific time and was up by 7:30 a.m. -- not nearly enough sleep for a toddler. So before first pitch, she was already fighting off sleep.
My wife, being the loving mother of our child she is, walked her out to the car to get the stroller (in and out privileges are allowed, and you can even bring in a stroller) to lay her back and let her nap.
During that time, I was still snug in our seats, seven rows behind the Rangers dugout, in the shade and all for the lovely price of $29 while my wife had met some random Indians fan. I went up to check on the wife and kiddo and we started talking with said Indians fan -- a 50- or 60-something gentleman who has been here since March 1 and will head back on Wednesday.
Just about that time, Jeff Banister started lifting starters and put in Jurickson Profar and Joey Gallo, who came up in the on-deck circle and in the hole, respectively. I told him the mystery surrounding Profar and the sheer magnitude of Gallo's power. He responded by nodding his head as if to say, "Yeah, sure. I'm real sure Joey Gallo has the best power in all of baseball."
Kid you not, first pitch to Gallo after I said that was deposited not into the right field concourse of Surprise Stadium, but I'm fairly certain out of the stadium completely. It was a majestic shot, one of several for Gallo already this spring that are just tape measure variety.
UPDATE: So maybe it wasn't completely out of the stadium, but it was pretty darn close, says my compadre Evan Grant.
It was probably the highlight of the day that also included a Prince Fielder bomb and a pretty nice outing for Martin Perez. That is, until my daughter woke up around the seventh inning and wanted to come down to the seats to sit with me.
Mom obviously had to stay up with the stroller, but I went up to get her and she came and sat with me for the final two innings, taking in her first Spring Training experience (mind you, this is a baseball-experienced 2-year-old with a grandfather who has season tickets to the Rangers) and enjoying every minute of it.
Gallo tape-measure shot? Cool. Seeing a Royals' World Series ring up close? Pretty cool. Getting a family picture with Michael Young, who must've signed autographs for more than an hour on Tuesday morning? Awesome. But those two innings of meaningless baseball between a bunch of guys who will be in the minors come April? That was priceless.
I'll try to check back in with more on our journey in the coming days. Next up? A day off from baseball and a trip three hours north to the Grand Canyon.