Passing (time in) the Old El Paso

1 06 2012

Not sure if I have ever tried Old El Paso salsa but I remember those old TV commercials about “tasting the old Southwest.”  Guess that means I’m getting older.

Well, I finally went to the real El Paso earlier this month. The vast majority of my 5.5 days in the West Texas town were spent at the Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy, getting out of my comfort zone of writing and learning about other forms of storytelling — audio, video, slideshows. There was a lot to learn.

A very good experience and this was the final project I helped create. Had a good team to work with and everyone in the program was very nice. I was also able to get out and see a few things.

Day 1: The Sun Bowl and the Don Haskins Center on the University of Texas at El Paso campus.

Don Haskins coached Texas Western, now UTEP, to the NCAA title and made history in the process. Look it up.

At night I went to a baseball game in town.

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Enjoying a fall day in the Fall League

22 10 2010

Today I’m spending the afternoon watching an Arizona Fall League baseball game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

Perfect day for outdoor baseball, mostly cloudy, faint sunlight, temperature no more than about 73-74.

This is a league for some of the best young major-league prospects in the game. The media guide cover features some ballplayers who made big splashes this year: Jason Heyward from Atlanta, Buster Posey from San Francisco, and Stephen Strasburg from Washington. All are AFL alumni, class of 2009.

(I think I just heard a vuvuzela!)

I’m watching pitcher Brian Broderick with some interest, that’s him pitching in the photo below. He knows people I know, and some of those folks are here at the park cheering him on. Broderick is a St. Louis Cardinals prospect, big, lanky (6-6, 205) righthander and a local guy. Maybe 2011 is the year the 24-year-old gets the call up to the show. The fact that he’s here means the Cards must think highly of him.

UPDATE: Broderick gave up two runs on four hits in five innings and broke two bats. He’s got filthy stuff, just needs to work on location more. Just my observation.

There are six teams in the league, I’m watching the Phoenix Desert Dogs (whose hat logo looks sort of like the original NHL Phoenix Coyotes logo) and Broderick’s Surprise Rafters.

There are maybe 300-400 people in the crowd, not including the players, coaches and four umpires, but you can hear every conversation. It’s actually kind of nice.

Forever a Portland Beavers fan, even on this sad day

6 09 2010

The last day is here. The minor-league (Class AAA) Portland Beavers suit up for the last time before the city loses its tradition-rich baseball team.

Scene from my last Beavers game, just last month.

I pretty much knew it was coming. When the Portland Timbers became the talk of the town and the Beavers were left to be an afterthought, the end of the franchise in Portland was near. Simply put, there wasn’t enough passion and support from those who could make a big difference, from team owner to the city leaders of Portland and Beaverton who couldn’t reach an agreement on a new stadium, to the citizens who voiced dissent over a new park. And then the season went by and time ran out. And where were the fans who love baseball? Who is to blame for not galvanizing those fans to rise up and be heard?

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Saying adios to the Portland Beavers

17 08 2010

Five thousand, one hundred-eighty three. The number of times, it almost seems, that I went to Civic Stadium over the past 30 years.

The old place on 18th and S.W. Morrison in Portland has always been one of my favorite spots in my hometown. It was never flashy, even after the remodel and name change to PGE Park in 2001, but there wasn’t really a bad seat in the house. Over the years, I saw such events as Portland State football, high-school football and baseball playoffs, the 1991 Blazer Slam-n-Jam benefit for Ramon Ramos when they brought in the Memorial Coliseum Court and put it in the stadium for an exhibition game, and various soccer matches from the USL Timbers to U.S. National men’s and women’s matches to Mexican teams.

The stadium won’t be going away. It’s going to look even better than ever next year when the Timbers move to Major League Soccer and PGE is renovated to become soccer-specific. But the stadium’s longest-running tenant, minor-league baseball’s Triple-A Portland Beavers, are all but gone after the first week of September. And they likely won’t be back for a long time, maybe never.

Which is why I had to go see the Bevos one more time. One last hurrah before they quietly slip out of sight and mind and the parent club, the San Diego Padres, moves its top minor-league team far away.

This past weekend was like a trip down memory lane for me. I left the Portland area in 1998 to become an intern for the Seattle Times newspaper company, and now I live in Phoenix. But coming home is always special. I reconnected with a lot of high-school classmates. I rode the light rail and drove past landmarks I grew up going to. And I went back to the first place I ever saw a pro baseball game, to see a team that changes every year but is still my city’s baseball team with a long history of legends who passed through.

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