Tagged: Spring Training

Go Green (and Gold) !!

Hey A’s fans, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! None of you have an excuse for
getting pinched today since I know your closets are filled with green
(and gold) clothes! Really, this is the perfect holiday for A’s fans.
In case you find yourself shamrock-deficient or would like to spice up
your wardrobe with more cute Oakland A’s gear, check out this video for some ideas.
And even better, if you’re at the Phoenix Muni right now for Spring
Training, you have to visit the team store — there’s a great display
of A’s / St. Patty’s gear on sale.

Here are some fun behind-the-scenes photos from our St. Patty’s day gear shoot down in AZ:

St. Patty's day shoot
Feeling Lucky T-shirt shoot

Let’s Go Oakland! Beat the Giant’s today… and fans, have a great St. Patrick’s Day holiday.

Spring Training Miscellany

Hi fans, Kara here with some more fun tidbits from Spring Training. Before we get to the photos, I’m proud to introduce my very first video post to this blog. Check it out by clicking right here. The fantastic Diamond Vision team, Troy, David, Jon and Jeff work so hard to create awesome multimedia content, so thanks to them for posting this link so quickly. More to come in future blog posts!

Vida and BertFans visiting the Muni during the second week of Spring Training were lucky enough to have the opportunity to meet some of Oakland’s greats: Vida Blue and Bert Campaneris (Rollie Fingers was also there, but I didn’t see him when I took this photo). In typical ST fashion, these guys were so casual, signing autographs and joking and chatting it up with fans. You can really tell that both of these two guys still love to be around the game of baseball and are committed to giving back through the sport where they made their names and established their legacies. Both Vida and Bert are also avid golfers, so I very much look forward to seeing them at the next A’s Community Fund Golf Tournament later on this Spring.

MLB video game head scanningFor all you gamers out there, I know the fun of playing MLB games is the startling accuracy of the way the video game players look compared to the real ones. In this photo to the left, you can see some of the technology at work. During the early days of Spring Training, players (in this case, Kevin Kouzmanoff) would visit a corner of Phoenix Muni and sit in a special chair that can lift and lower and rotate. While they were moving around, tilting in different angles, a dozen or more cameras would capture their every facial detail. The whole process would take fifteen minutes or less — can’t wait to start playing with my 2010 Oakland team!

Thumbnail image for Bob Geren ST commercial shootBe sure to keep an eye out for the new series of Oakland A’s television commercials running this season. In typical A’s fashion, they’re hilarious, some with more subtle, dry humor and some that hit you over the head with silliness. The photo to the right is from a shoot the Diamond Vision team did with Bob Geren. In this picture, Jeff is holding the boom mic while Troy feeds Bob lines to — you can see what a production just a short scene can be!

Fans, enjoy the rest of Spring Training — soak up that Arizona sun while you can! And have fun at the Phoenix Muni — here’s one last photo of me at the fastball contest in the breezeway behind the seats. Pay a dollar, get three throws. Yikes! I was horrible. My fastball came in at 38 miles per hour. I have a whole new respect for our starting rotation…

Kara throwing fast ball

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Going Beyond the Hot Dogs and Peanuts…

Phoenix Municipal Stadium

As a newbie going into Spring Training, I had no idea what to expect from the local restaurant scene in Phoenix-Scottsdale. I did some preliminary research (“36 Hours” articles in the New York Times), asked friends on Facebook for recommendations and relied heavily on my A’s friends and colleagues to steer me in the right direction. Here’s a super-short list of my stand-out faves from the week. In the comments section, please add your own go-to spots, places where your family makes a dinner reservation year after year!

  • The Breakfast Club:
    A’s fans need a hearty breakfast to root on the home team, and this is
    the place to load up. If you have a sweet tooth, go for the chocolate
    chip pancakes. Interested in a twist on a classic? The
    southwest-inspired biscuits and gravy is a huge hit. Planning on hiking
    Camelback later in the day? The low calorie, but still filling,
    eggwhite, steamed veggie and cottage cheese plate is ideal. As an added
    bonus, the coffee is decent too.

Pizzeria Bianco

  • Pizzeria Bianco:
    Spectacular. And that word goes for the wait time and the food. On
    average expect a three hour wait; ours was closer to four. I know,
    absolutely absurd and ridiculous, but the food is superlative and it
    was well worth it. Truthfully, it’s like a little piece of the Bay Area
    dining scene in the desert: gourmet pizza, locally sourced ingredients and reasonably
    priced (and occasionally biodynamic) wine. Here’s a tip: put down your
    name and number, go about your business, run some errands, see a movie
    and then come back in a few hours time and wait out the remainder over
    some antipasti at the wine bar next door.
  • Kazimierz World Wine Bar:
    Don’t be discouraged by its hard to find location and dim lighting,
    this bar is a hidden gem. The wine list comes in a 3-ring binder and
    easily lists more than 3000 bottles! And they’re not just from California and
    France; you’ll find goodies from Bulgaria, China, India and beyond.
    After flipping through a dozen pages and feeling overwhelmed, I gave my
    price point and described what I was looking for to the waitress and she definitely delivered. And speaking of price points, bottles here
    range from as little as $13 all the way up to thousands and thousands.
  • Cowboy Ciao: I was never expecting to find such tasty vegetarian food at a restaurant with Cowboy in its name, but lucky me. I started with the chopped salad which is a bizarr-o, but tasty combination of smoked salmon, cous cous, pumpkin seeds, arugula and much more that is tossed together table-side. While the menu is predominantly meaty, the signature dish of sauteed mushrooms over polenta was delicious and veggie-friendly. I never got around to trying the “meat and potatoes” martini (potato vodka in the drink with a slice of deep-fried bacon for garnish), so please let me know how it was!

Some other ideas:

  • Oregano: super-size portions of pizza, pasta and other Italian-inspired dishes
  • Four Peak Brewery: better than average pub food with grew local brews
  • Cafe Carumba: brunch and lunch with tasty pre-game bloody marys
  • Dos Gringos: decent Mexican bar food with great drink specials until 7pm

Spring Training, Minus the Baseball…

While driving to breakfast this morning, we heard on the radio that
there was a 100% chance of rain in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area, and as
if on cue, the drops started hitting the windshield. By game time,
Phoenix felt like Portland and Scottsdale more like Seattle: it was
cold and pouring! No baseball today. So, what to do?
Here’s a short list of favorites that I can vouch for, whether for a
rainy day or before or after a ballgame.

Thumbnail image for Camelback SummitThumbnail image for View from Camelback MountainTO DO:

  • Hike Camelback Mountain. This is definitely not an activity for a rainy day, but at only 2700 feet tall, this hike makes for a great workout either before or after a ballgame. Plan on three hours roundtrip to tackle the steep sections while still admiring the killer views of the city. It may be hard to miss this looming peak, straddling the border between Phoenix and Scottsdale, but it can be a bit tricky to find the parking areas for the trailheads. This website, PhoenixASAP, has some good directions and descriptions of the routes. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen and bring bottled water!

Thumbnail image for KT at FLW

  • Visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West. If you have even a fleeting interest in architecture or design, you will delight in exploring FLW’s winter home and school of architecture. A 90-minute tour takes you around the grounds and inside this spectacular structure.

  • Shop. Ok, that’s pretty obvious in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area, but if you’re looking for some great deals, I have to recommend Last Chance. There are only two of these stores in the entire country, Phoenix and Miami, and believe it or not, they’re part
    of the Nordstrom family. Basically, where clothes and shoes that don’t
    sell at Nordstrom Rack go to die. But that doesn’t mean that it’s all
    garbage! I stocked up on great summer tank-tops for $1 each and a
    stunning pair of Diane Von Furstenberg heels for a fraction of the
    price. Expect a mess, avoid the weekends and bring some patience.

  • First Friday
  • Explore the Phoenix art scene. In past years, anything arty or related
    to art may not have even crossed your mind when planning your Spring
    Training itinerary. But that’s precisely why now’s the time and so
    worth checking out! From more formal, established venues like the Phoenix Art Museum
    and the countless galleries in Scottsdale to more up-and-coming spots
    and street murals on Roosevelt Street, there’s a wide variety of styles
    to suit all tastes. If you get lucky and your visit coincides with one
    of the many free events like First Friday or Art Detour, be sure to go and you’ll be in for a local treat.

this is my first Spring Training, and I’ve only been in town a week,
this list is far from complete. I want to hear from you! In the
comments section, let me know your ideas for spending a free day. Coming up next, my list of must-visit Phoenix-Scottsdale restaurants.

A’s Spring Training opener vs. Cubbies

HoHokam Park

Ahhh, Arizona spring ball! I couldn’t help but feel a little giddiness while parking the rental car and walking up to the gates of HoHoKam Park, home of the Chicago Cubs in Mesa, Arizona. Sure, I went to nearly 100 ballgames last season and I’ll probably go to close that many more this season, but there’s nothing like the first few cracks of the bats of the season!

I arranged tickets through the A’s and was seated in a section with the other A’s fans in stadium. Even though we were outnumbered by the Cubs fans, it hardly mattered…everyone was decked out in their green and gold and cheered loudly for a Trevor Cahill strikeout or an awesome play at third by newcomer Jake Fox. And of course, Adam Rosales’ solo homerun in the fifth really got us going!

Heidi's awesome nailsPart of the fun of today’s game was seeing some familiar fan faces. After all, when you spend nearly 300 hours with some of these people during the regular season, they become good friends, fast. Six months between ballgames also starts to feel like a long time after the seasonal routine of day in, day out… These fingernails (photo to the right) belong to Heidi, one of the A’s most dedicated season ticket holders. When I ran into her behind the A’s bullpen, she told me the start time to her roadtrip down to AZ was delayed by a few hours yesterday just to get her nails painted. Well worth it, I’d say! A green and gold French manicure? Now that’s dedication!

Greetings from Spring Training!

Thumbnail image for Kara Spring Training Shoot #1

Hi fans, welcome to Kara’s Hot Corner, a place for all things Oakland
A’s and the people who love them!

This inaugural blog
entry comes from Phoenix Muni, the home of the A’s in Arizona during
Spring Training. Our Diamond Vision crew
arrived on Sunday to film three days worth of interviews with the
players and coaches and new videos with me about fun new stuff in the Coliseum this year.

But before I get into any of that detail, I have to admit, this is my very first time here at Spring Training. Sort of embarrassing to admit for such a longtime, dedicated fan! Of course, it’s always been on my radar, but for
whatever reason, the scheduling, budgeting and prioritizing has never
worked out in the past. After this superlative experience, Arizona ball will be in my regular rotation of yearly

Thumbnail image for PHXMuni.JPGSo first impressions thus far… The stadium, Phoenix Municipal, is
darling. I know, that’s not the adjective you would normally use for a
ballpark, but when it comes to the Muni, it truly applies. If you’re
familiar with the Rivercats’ Stadium in Sac, picture something even more
intimate with the most spectacular desert bluffs looming over left

cozy stadium is exactly the place to find relaxed ballplayers,
especially before the games actually begin. The goal for our crew in Phoenix was to capture material for the Oakland A’s website, our in-stadium entertainment and television commercials. And let me tell you, these guys delivered! For me, the most fun part was developing our in-game entertainment like the answers to all those pop quizzes we play with fans during the inning breaks.

Mark Ellis ST interviewNearly two dozen players and coaches visited us in our “studio”
(really, an office we rearranged and built a makeshift set) to answer a
number of fun, fill-in-the blank questions like, “My dream vacationspot is…” or “My teammates give me the hardest time for…”
As you can imagine with our collection of characters, the answers were
hilarious!! Dallas Braden had us laughing out loud
and newcomer Michael Taylor wowed us with his charm and thoughtfulness.

One of the sweeter moments during the three days of interviews was with Rajai Davis, a true fan-favorite. New for sale in the team store this season is his player t-shirt…you know, the ones that have his name and number on the back. When he saw them for the first time, his eyes lit up, his grin spread even wider than usual and he couldn’t help but express his pride and excitement of reaching this poignant moment in his big league career. He realized that people actually want to wear his name and his number! A lot of players would probably take it for granted and not even care or maybe they would, but would never admit it. That’s just part of what makes Rajai so special…

Rajai Davis ST interviewThanks for stopping by, fans. Stay tuned for
some fun, new Spring Training-related videos and longer interviews to be posted on this
site in the near future. Maybe I’ll be able to convince the Diamond Vision crew to cut an outtake video, because that’s where the really good player moments live on…
I’m looking forward to seeing some of you down here in Scottsdale, and the rest of you, at home in Oakland in one short month. I’m so excited to get my
green and gold back on in 2010 (although I’m just
enjoying these games as a fan) — Let’s Go Oakland!