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Scenes from Spring Training: The Angels are loose

Mar 6, 2012, 12:30 PM EDT

Tempe Diablo

The past two years of spring training trips have followed the same pattern: early in the trip I get to the ballpark early, acting all professional and reportery with my notepad and the desire to tell stories.  By the end of the trip I’m just grooving on it all, realizing that most ballplayers don’t have interesting things to say, taking pictures and soaking it all in.

Since today is Day 1, I got to Tempe Diablo Stadium early, raring to go, only to find out that the clubhouse was closed due to an MLB Security meeting. Seems that you still have to tell ballplayers not to do drugs, mmm-kay?  I cooled my heels and vowed to sleep a little later tomorrow.

The clubhouse opened up a bit later and I went in with the other scribes. The most noticeable thing: it was loud, raucous, happy and loose. Such a change from last year’s Angels clubhouse which seemed practically funereal. Either their “don’t do drugs” lecture was hilarious this morning or else this is a team in a very, very good place.

Among the highlights of the morning’s rounds:

  • The first player I saw: Pujols. He was standing in the hallway leading to the clubhouse, eating a big bowl of Lucky Charms. I don’t know why this amused me but it did.
  • In other dining news, Jered Weaver had an entire sleeve of Thin Mints girl scout cookies. This is a team that knows how to eat.
  • When you walk into the clubhouse, the first five lockers along the wall to the left are: Bobby Abreu, Pujols, Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells and Kendrys Morales.  That’s nearly half a billion dollars worth of ballplayer meat. The reporters all flocked to this area, obviously, while the rest of the team was able to sit generally undisturbed. I guess it’s appropriate that the stars pay that price.
  • Hunter is clearly the guy most comfortable with the media. Or else the media is most comfortable with him. He held court for a good half hour, talking about everything from high school football to how weird it is that these shiny new spring training facilities sit empty most of the year. “Wow, what a waste of real estate,” he said.
  • Hunter was asked how Pujols was fitting in. Hunter said “he doesn’t talk much.”  Then he said he was kidding — “I MAKE him talk,” he joked — and said, almost awestruck, to the point where it didn’t sound like the usual cliche, that Pujols works hard.
  • Last year Kendrys Morales looked like a deer in the headlights, likely realizing that he was hurt bad and wouldn’t be able to play. Today: he hopped and danced around as music played in the clubhouse. And he joked around too: Alberto Callaspo shoved a laundry cart in his general direction in mock anger, and Morales fell back into a chair, holding his previously-broken ankle, yelling “Ay! Ay! Ay!”

As the reporters were winding down with their work, two huge carts full of toys were wheeled into the clubhouse. Like, actual toys: Barbies, Nerf guns, Hulk Hands (Hulk Hands!) and Star Wars stuff. Players pounded on the carts, laughing, joking and taking toys. It’s apparently part of a team charity drive, and the players get to pick what they’ll sign and give to kids.

But based on how happy and loose the Angels seem to be, if I didn’t know better, I’d guess that everyone just wanted to play.

  1. proudlycanadian - Mar 6, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    Barbies? Did anyone sign the Barbies?

    • cltjump - Mar 7, 2012 at 9:41 AM

      More importantly, were said Barbies in BSOTL?

  2. cur68 - Mar 6, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    Lemme guess: Vernon Wells signed the most toys, was the friendliest after Hunter, and looked the most determined. Evil sod. That pesky devil knows its not just society. Its also about being worth what you’re paid. He’ll have a good year, too. With Pujols there to take the heat off, he’ll relax and hit like its 2006…he’ll do it just to spite me.

  3. El Bravo - Mar 6, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    YES!!!! Baseball is here! WOOOOOO!

  4. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Mar 6, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    If that cart somehow hurt Morales’ ankle, I think Callapso would be in some deep doodoo.

  5. Jonny 5 - Mar 6, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    “Lucky Charms” is the best cereal known to man.

    • El Bravo - Mar 6, 2012 at 1:28 PM

      Agreed. I offer Cinnamon Toast Crunch as honorable mention.

    • Tim OShenko - Mar 6, 2012 at 1:50 PM

      Count Chocula deserves consideration. It should be in the discussion.

      • Jonny 5 - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:23 PM

        I argue that Golden Grahams should definitely be on the ballot ahead of those two. What they lack in sog proof protection they make up for in flavor.

      • cur68 - Mar 6, 2012 at 4:02 PM

        I’m leaving my ballot blank in protest for Fruit Loops being left off the list.

      • Tim OShenko - Mar 6, 2012 at 4:44 PM

        Now cur, it will only further tarnish the reputation of the Hall of Cereal if you don’t take your voting privileges seriously.

      • cur68 - Mar 6, 2012 at 5:41 PM

        Count Chocola bulked up in protein and dropped fat over the course of his career as a starting breakfast cereal. I think he’s on something. I’m not voting for him either.

      • cltjump - Mar 7, 2012 at 9:42 AM

        Frosted Flakes are the Fred McGriff of the Cereal Hall of Fame….

  6. phukyouk - Mar 6, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    Thin Mints? Sorry but its Samohas (sp?) or nothing at all

    • Jonny 5 - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:27 PM

      Sometimes they’re called Caramel delights too, depending on who manufactured them. I’ve had both and they are the same. Same purple box too.

    • El Bravo - Mar 6, 2012 at 5:17 PM

      I knew phukyouk and I had our differences, but Caramel deLites (registered trademark mind you aka samoas) over Thin Mints? You will all burn for this blasphemy!

  7. burnsy - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    Jered Weaver just writes the pothead jokes for us.

    • El Bravo - Mar 6, 2012 at 5:21 PM

      You ain’t kiddin’ burnsy

  8. sportsdrenched.com - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    Totally taking a left turn here. But does Pujols have some beef with rotoworld? Hulk Hands gets a link but Albert Pujols doesn’t? WTH?

    Also, if the Angels don’t win the division this year will Girl Scout Cookies be banned from the club house next year?

    I’m too cheap to buy Lucky Charms. I’m a Marshmallow Mateys guy. But I guess a dude who just signed a nine digit contract can afford Lucky Charms.

    • nogoodtomedead - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:23 PM

      The real funny thing is after he signs that huge contract- I’m betting the Angels still flip the bill to keep the cereal cabinet stocked

  9. Max Power - Mar 6, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    There was a time when reporters respected the sanctity of the clubhouse and didn’t go around casually reporting on the consumption of Lucky Charms and Thin Mints.

    With any luck Lucky Charms and Thin Mints are the new fried chicken & beer.

  10. sportsdrenched.com - Mar 6, 2012 at 5:45 PM

    how weird it is that these shiny new spring training facilities sit empty most of the year.

    Don’t teams use their facility year round for rehab, Arizona Fall League, and other behind the scenes stuff?

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