Day 3 arrived with much anticipation. We were scheduled to see the Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles (or whatever their current / correct name is) vs the Oakland A's at Tempe Diablo Stadium. And with anticipation often times comes disappointment.... We should have known something was up when we arrived at the ballpark and the wind was howling and the temperature was considerably cooler than the previous 2 days. But we were here to see the Angels and their big time stars. The Angels have been the talk of the baseball off-season having signed coveted free agent Josh Hamilton to go along with last year's marquee signings of Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson. They also have last year's rookie sensation Mike Trout, to go along with many many more stars - a wealth of talent worthy of the New York Yankees. The anti-Padres if you will.... But that does not always translate to a winning "team" as their inability to make the playoffs last year can attest. This was the one "must see" game and team for my son and I on our Cactus League tour (other than the Padres which my son could have easily left off the itinerary). We were both excited to see the new players the Angels had signed and the breakout players from last season, particularly Mike Trout. My son got several great autographs from the Reds the previous day so he wanted to arrive extra early to get in position to get the most and best signatures. Seems he wasn't the only one with that idea. Right away you noticed the vibe was different and it started with the size of the crowds. Granted it was a Sunday so the crowd was a little larger than we probably would have seen mid week, but it was still manageable. While the first 2 venues we had gone to (Peoria and Goodyear) had been laid back and casual, this had more the feeling of a regular season game at a pro ballpark. The players big timed the fans and the fans in turn big timed each other. It wasn't an ugly scene by any stretch, it just wasn't what we had experienced the previous 2 days and had come to expect at Spring Training. I don't think more than 3 players signed or stopped by to chat with the fans. Mark Trumbo was the only regular that started and played for the Angels. Mike Trout strode by the first base line at some point but Hamilton and Pujols were nowhere to be seen. All was not lost and there were definitely some highlights. Mark Trumbo's batting practice in particular. The guy was hitting rockets into and over the left field berm. He was absolutely crushing the ball. The game was fun and the A's played well. It was fun to watch Cuban defector Yoenis Céspedes. This guy has the potential to be a huge star for the A's. All in all it was a great day at the ballpark, albeit very cold. Much of the time it's hard to live up to expectations. The best times come when you're not expecting them. But while this was a disappointing day based on our expectations it was still time well spent watching baseball and hanging at the yard.
Coco Crisp Arriving
The Loyal Fans
The Grounds Crew - Pregame Water
Safe at Third
Oakland A's First Base Coach Tye Waller tossing a ball into the stands