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To Arizona

You feel indescribable warmth and ease as the sun sets in an array of blues and pinks. The now shady desert air begins to caress you in its arms. You are one of a few dozen people in a ballpark as quiet as your high school library and you’re learning more from these seats than you ever did there. You’re at the Arizona Fall League. It is righteous. It is good.

If you truly love baseball for baseball’s sake, you need to go. Longtime executive, Roland Hemond, came up with an idea for an autumn developmental league in 1990. In 1992, the Fall League was born and has helped polish a staggering number of Major Leaguers since. Four batting champions, three Cy Young winners, nine MVPs, over 170 All Stars (and that’s all separate players, I’m not double counting Albert Pujols’ MVPs or Brian McCann’s All Star appearances.) in just over two decades of play. It’s prospect nirvana. It’s where I saw Bryce Harper and Mike Trout patrolling the same outfield, where  I saw Gerrit Cole touch 101mph and where Billy Hamilton literally took my breath away on a drag bunt attempt. The games are not crowded, there isn’t some form of audiovisual stimuli every five seconds, no fee to park. It’s just baseball. I realize that most people don’t go to a baseball game just for the baseball. Most go, at least in part, to see themselves on the jumbotron, or get drunk or yell. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not for me. If you have similar tastes then I can’t recommend it enough.

I’ll be posting weekly updates on the Phillies players in the league, but I wanted to make sure to warn those of you who will be following along not to look at stats from the league. The run scoring environment is very strange down there. The league record books are filled with names like Chip Cannon, Tagg Bozied and Chris Shelton. The scouting information that comes of out Arizona is excellent and useful, the data is not. A few games will be televised on MLB Network this month and next and I strongly encourage you to not only watch them but to DVR them as an emergency reserve for your baseballess long winter’s nap.

It’s likely Jill and I are moving out west permanently late next Spring and so my time with you here at Crashburn is probably growing short. I’ll continue to do as much as I can in the time I have left.