Cactus League: The Best Sandlot Ball Ever

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cactus League: The Best Sandlot Ball Ever

. Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Today marks the official start of the Cactus League season, with our Cubs playing against the Dodgers, who I find to be unsurprisingly less hate-inspiring sans Manny Ramirez. I had a whole thing that I was going to do where I compared the team's performance in the Cactus League to their performance in the regular season. Bad correlation, maybe, but I'm stuck in thesis research mode, so I was trying to make the best of it. Well, it turns out that each year, at the end of the Cactus League season, someone wipes out the stats like Winston Smith in 1984. The Cactus League is for fun. Oceania is at war with Eurasia - Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia. (Anyone? ... cricket noises?)

After first being pissed that my idea had not panned out, I began to enjoy the concept of the Cactus League as fantasy land. And isn't that really what it's all about? The Cubs get to pretend they're not going to be playing forty degree games until June, the fans get to pretend that it's normal to see a game for $6, and Jeff Samardzija gets to pretend that he has a chance at being a full time starter. And none of it counts. Which I have come to dig. As a kid, I remember reading the Daily Herald (a fine upstanding rag if ever there were one) for Spring Training scores, brimming with hope. Of course, the day the season started, I had to say "little kid self, let's be realistic. We might win 75, so lower your expectations and stop chewing on that Transformer." Even though we get to have real hope these days, I'll always be grateful to Cactus League ball for shielding me as a child from the bitter failure of the Tuffy Rhodes/Larry Himes years.

How long has it been since baseball season? Forever. Foorrrrrevvvvverrrrrrr.

In lieu of giving you the statistical analysis that only a liberal arts major can provide, I'll instead share some of the facts I've come across while boning up (teehee) on Mesa facts for my pilgrimage to Spring Training.

All About Mesa

- The Cubs were the first team to make Mesa their permanent Spring Training site, way back in 1952.

"Iguana kabobs! Who wants iguana kabobs! Spicy, tangy, still sorta twitchy!"

- Given the ridiculous amount of displaced Chicagoans in Arizona (including a certain group of idiots), it's not surprising that the Cubs consistently lead the Cactus League in attendance. They play at 12,632-capacity HoHoKam Park, which the regularly sell out. This fact necessitated me paying Fuck You Tax on StubHub to get some seats.

- The Cubs set the season attendance record in 2005, when 193,993 fans showed up for a game over the course of the season. I'm guessing this beat the Pittsburgh Pirates for the regular season.

- The Official site of the Cactus League tells me that there have been 12,632 sell out Cubs games at HoHoKam. Someone has clearly gone mad with copy/paste power.

"DONNY: We'll be near the In-and-Out Burger.

WALTER: Shut the fuck up, Donny. We'll, uh, brace the kid--he'll be a pushover. We'll get that fucking money, if he hasn't spent it already. Million fucking clams. And yes, we'll be near the, uh--some burgers, some beers, a few laughs. Our fucking troubles are over, Dude"

- The Cactus League's site trumpets the fact that they serve "Chicago dogs." I will remain skeptical - I'm way, way too damn excited about the prospect of In N Out and Whataburger anyway.

Sox fans always show gusto - whether beating an elderly first base coach, or hitting the Old Country Buffet with a 2 for 1 coupon

- Cubs fans traveling to Mesa brought an estimated $20 million into the local economy in 2004. Meanwhile in Glendale, the White Sox contingent brings crystal meth, jean shorts, and a couple of public bathroom stabbings.

- A Mesa is an elevated area of land with a flat top, surrounded by steep hillsides. The year I learned that was the year I peaked in my mastery of the natural sciences.

... related?

- Spanish beach volleyball player Raul Mesa won the 2005 European Championships in Moscow. Why the fuck are they playing beach volleyball in Moscow?

- Mesa 3D provides generic OpenGL implementation for rendering three-dimensional graphics across a multitude of platforms. Or so I hear around the comic book store.

- The Mesa chain of restaurants is owned by Bobby Flay. And Bobby Flay was owned by a Lou Malnati's pizza on an episode of Throwdown.

- Portugese band Mesa's 2008 album "Para Todo o Mal" was released in a limited edition of 1,200 digipak-format copies.

- I clearly ran out of facts about the actual Arizona town awhile ago. Are you really reading past the Portuguese band reference?


Bree said...

Someone has clearly gone mad with wikipedia power.

John said...

I'm insulted - all my research is original and groundbreaking [citation needed]

wolfie said...