Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opening Day and Len K

The opening day of the baseball season has already provided excitement, in particular for the Reds as Ramon Hernandez stunned the Brewers with a two-out, three run walk-off HR. The real excitement comes tomorrow for Cubs fans as the season begins at Wrigley Field (weather providing) against the Pirates. In preparation for the big day you can get Cubs play-by-play man Len Kasper's view on the upcoming season in this exclusive BOS video interview. Len was in AZ for the whole month of March so he has some great insights on the team, I caught up with Len yesterday before he left for the team flight back to Chicago.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cubs vs Cubs

Today at Hohokam the Cubs played an intra-squad charity game against minor leaguers from the Cubs organization. The final score on another beautiful Mesa, AZ day was the Minor League guys 8 and the Cubs 6, the score was irrelevant in that after the 4th inning with the Cubs leading 3-1 the game was pretty much finished by all minor league players on both sides. This game didn't count in the Cactus League schedule and was played in front of 3,993 although there didn't appear to be nearly that many people in the park. All the players and coaches (fans too) are ready to start playing some real baseball and looking forward to opening day on Friday. However, there were some interesting things that happened in today's game.

Barney's bomb
Darwin Barney gained 18 pounds this off-season and looks to have more power, hitting a hitting a 2 run homer in the 4th. Blake DeWitt had a pair of hits as did Jeff Baker. Starlin Castro had a hit in which he never stopped while rounding first base and turned it on to just beat the throw and tag at second base. Castro tried to take the extra base again going from second to home and would have been hosed at the plate were it not for minor league catcher Steve Clevenger dropping the ball. Castro was not even close enough to be in a slide at the time so he just hopped over Clevenger's arms and stepped on home plate. Koyie Hill notched a hit in the 3rd inning only his 2nd of the spring (although it won't count in Cactus League stats) it came off minor league pitcher J.R. Mathes. Hill upon reaching first threw his hands up in the air to celebrate, when the fans cheered him he lifted his hat to the crowd. Tyler Colvin made a nice running grab in left field on a Jae-Hoon Ha long drive in the 2nd.

Randy Wells in his final Cactus League tune up started today's game and pitched 3 innings allowed 1 run on 2 hits with 1 walk and 1 strike out.  Marcos Mateo had some trouble with the minor league youngsters in the 6th giving up a couple runs on 3 hits.

Na flying into home
Some notes on the Cubs minor league players: Tony Campana, Kyung-Min Na and Evan Crawford are three extremely fast players in the Cubs organization. Campana had 3 hits and and two stolen bases with two runs scored. Campana has 114 stolen bases over the past two minor league season's while hitting .319 at AA Tennessee last year. The 19 year old Na had 2 hits including a bunt single, he was considered the fastest player in all of Korean High School baseball last year. Na also stole a base and scored from 2nd using his speed to just beat the throw into home. The 21 year old Crawford had 27 stolen bases last year in Single A ball and showed his wheels in the 9th inning sprinting to an easy stand up triple. DJ LeMahieu had a couple hits including an RBI double. Nate Samson had 2 hits and a stolen base. Josh Vitters had a double and RBI triple. Cubs broadcaster Bob Brenly's son Mike Brenly got into the game and drew a base on balls in his only at bat, while mom and dad looked on from a booth in the press box.

Reed Johnson makes running grab
This was one of those fun and crazy games that I knew would throw the normal baseball rules out the window. My first clue was seeing the Cubs lineup with 10 batters that included 2 designated hitters. In fact, in the early innings the Cubs batted all 9 spots including the pitcher (Wells) as well as both Soriano and Pena who were designated hitters for a total of 11 batters. In the first inning Soriano batted ahead Tyler Colvin who was to be the third batter, the following inning Jeff Baker jokingly pretended he was going to the plate ahead of Colvin. Colvin not wanting to get aced out of his at-bat again ran up to the plate ahead of Baker. As mentioned today's game didn't count in the Cactus League standings which saw the Cubs finish with an 14-19 record. The Cubs drew 160,527 fans to Hohokam this spring for an average of 9,443 per contest.

Bud Page the Chief big Ho of the Hohokams got to throw a ceremonial pitch and catching the pitch for Bud was none other than Cubs Manager Mike Quade. Quade yelled up to the press box letting us know he was the catcher on Bud's pitch, which tells you how few fans were at the game as I heard Mike loud and clear. I also heard Mark the Beer Guy who came down the main concourse in the 1st inning and said "Hey Tim, do you need a beer?" I shouted to Mark that I'd hold off until the 3rd inning. The Hohokam rookies sang the 7th inning stretch.

Spring training 2011 is done and it's on to opening day at Wrigley! We will have a Cubs season preview video here at BOS tomorrow with Len Kasper talking about his thoughts and feelings on the upcoming 2011 Cubs season, so be sure to check that out. Since the Cubs were headed right to their flight they got screened after the game outside Hohokam.  Photos by BOS's John Antonoff

Kerry Wood getting the check outside Hohokam 
Byrd didn't play today, not baseball anyway

Soriano getting the once over

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dry Heat

Garza frustrated  
Today was one of those end of spring games that make you ready to see some "real" baseball and at the same time makes you hope the Cubs are ready to play some "real" baseball. The Cubs went down to a split-squad Arizona Diamondbacks team at Hohokam 15-8 in front of 11,309 fans.

While the fans were enjoying the amazing AZ weather (82 degrees and sunny), Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza was not. Garza who had trained in the Grapefruit League his whole career is in his first Cactus League spring and had another rough outing. After he finished pitching today Garza said, "It sucks here. It's so dry, but whatever". Garza was referring to the difficulty he's had gripping the ball in the dry desert conditions.

Cubs coaches on the phone a lot today, Bench Coach Pat Listach 
Garza and the Cubs hope that the more humid air in Chicago is the remedy to his pitching woes as today continued his tough spring. Garza started against a split squad Diamondbacks team that only included a couple starters and the Cubs pitcher was rocked 7 runs in 3 innings off 11 hits, but whatever. Perhaps the only positive note today for Garza was the 7 Ks of DBacks hitters. Scott Maine (5), Jeff Samardzija (2), and Esmailin Caridad (1) gave up the other 8 runs to the Diamondbacks. Early on things were so bad for Cubs pitching that Diamondbacks 2nd baseman Kelly Johnson had 4 hits in the first 4 innings. Ex Cub Xavier Nady greeted Maine with a Grand Slam (where was that last season from Nady?)  Sean Marshall and Kerry Wood each tossed a 1-2-3 scoreless inning.

Pena double clears the bases
The Cubs did some hitting themselves mainly in the 3rd inning when they had 5 consecutive hits which ended up scoring 5 of their 8 runs. Jeff Baker was 2 for 3 with 2 RBIs, Carlos Pena had 3 RBIs on his bases loaded double. Starlin Castro had a double and scored 2 runs. Aramis Ramirez reached base 3 times, with an RBI single and two walks finishing the spring season hitting .346. Ramirez was charged with a throwing error as well.

Our Hohokam Stadium Manager Mark Gallo's 3 year old daughter Katie led the fans in the Pledge of Allegiance prior to the start of today's game.  She did a great job and received rousing applause from the crowd. This was one long game lasting over 3 and a half hours, sometimes I can tell even before a game gets going if it has a potential for this. Like today, when I looked at the starting lineups and saw the Diamondbacks had 3 players each wearing the number 46. That's right 3 players in the DBacks starting line-up all wearing #46 - Only in spring training.  Kerry Wood received another loud ovation when he entered the game in the 9th.

I thought I'd died and gone to Hooters when I showed up for the pre-game press room meal today and serving us were the Tilted Kilt girls (the Tilted Kilt is a Bar/restaurant). Sitting on the tables was the Tilted Kilt Calendar, featuring a different server each month. I think my wings were served by Ms. November, but I'll have to study the calendar closer to be sure.

Cool customer Castro blowing bubble hitting double 
Note to Mike Quade, the Cubs are back in AZ in less than a month for a 4 game series against the Diamondbacks starting April 28th, it may be wise to avoid pitching Garza as it is likely to still be dry here. Be sure to check out our BOS Cubs season preview video program on Thursday with guest Len Kasper. Hear what Len has to say about the upcoming Cubs season. Tomorrow the Cubs play an intra-squad exhibition game against their Minor League All-Stars at Hohokam, the game starts at 11:05 AM AZ time with proceeds going to Chicago Cubs Charities. Randy Wells is scheduled for his final start of the spring against the Cubs Minor League All-Stars.

Photos by BOS's John Antonoff

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Colvin's Slam Not Enough

Marmol in 9th
Today continued the great weather here in Mesa as we had 75 degrees and abundant sunshine. The Cubs played a split squad Colorado Rockies team and ended up on the losing end of a 6-4 score in front of 11,318 at Hohokam.

Attendance at Hohokam like the rest of the Cactus League (except for the Diamondbacks/Rockies new stadium) has been down this season. A final weekend game at Hohokam would likely have in the past  brought a full house or close to it. However, the Cubs 11,318 today was 2,300 fans more than the next closest Arizona Cactus League game. I say in Arizona because the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim played San Diego at the Big A and drew 28,000. The Angels  finished their Arizona Cactus league play yesterday and are closing the exhibition season playing in California. The Dodgers are also done in Arizona as of today and will play three games in California before opening day. I'll take a closer examination into the Cactus League numbers after the Cubs close the exhibition season.

As for today's game, Cubs opening day starter Ryan Dempster pitched decently allowing 3 runs on 5 hits but only threw 4 innings. James Russell followed Dempster retiring 7 in a row before allowing 2 runs in the 7th inning. John Grabow pitched the 8th and allowed 1 run on 2 hits with a strike out and a walk. Carlos Marmol came in for the 9th and put the hammer down 1-2-3 striking out the final 2 Rockies.

Colvin's grand salami
The only real Cubs offense of the day came in the 8th when Tyler Colvin hit a grand slam accounting for all the Cubs runs.

It is interesting to note that Cubs minor leaguers Brett Jackson and Bryan LaHair started today's game but instead of their usual jerseys and numbers they ended up with numbers 85 and 95 respectively. This was due to their uniforms already being shipped out of AZ. Alfonso Soriano struggled in the outfield, so much so that he received some boos after one of his defensive efforts and again when he stepped to the plate later. It should be noted that he did have an outfield assist throwing out  at third base.

One of our ceremonial first pitches was tossed by Arizona children's show legend Bill Thompson better known as Wallace from the Wallace and Ladmo Show. Wallace and Ladmo was a well known Arizona kids show from 1954 to 1989. Another Arizona figure in attendance today was former Grand Canyon State Governor Rose Mofford. Mofford played a vital role in keeping the Cactus League in Arizona during the late 80s and early 90s when Florida made a push to lure teams East. She appointed a task-force chaired by Dwight Patterson (as in Dwight Patterson, Field Hohokam Stadium) that eventually saw new AZ stadiums built propelling an even more successful Cactus League that has now reached 15 teams.

Rose Mofford at 88 years young, with Mesa Mayor Scott Smith
In the 7th inning I was given a note at the last second saying that former Governor Mofford was going to circle the park in a golf cart  I didn't know exactly what that meant until I saw Governor Mofford and Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and driver whipping around  the field on the warning track.  This must have been an impromptu event because there was no game break for it and Aramis Ramirez was stepping to the plate when Mofford came whizzing by in the golf cart.

Photos by Boys of Spring's photographer John Antonoff.

Soriano misses on this effort

Brett Jackson to Starlin Castro to A-Ram nails Jose Morales

Friday, March 25, 2011

Cubs Comeback with Castro

Castro's big hit in 7th 
Now that he's firmly entrenched as a 21 year old, yesterday's birthday boy Starlin Castro helped the Cubs to a comeback win over a split-squad Seattle Mariners team by the score of 6-3. It was another sunny day in Mesa with temps in the low to mid-70's. Great baseball weather and the Cubs obliged with a fine baseball performance in front of an audience of 11,187 at Hohokam.

Randy Wells started the game for the Cubs and was touched for 2 runs in the 1st but then settled in, allowing only 1 more run and finished 5.2 innings allowing 5 hits while striking out 8 and walking 3. The other Cubs pitchers Jeff Samardzija, Sean Marshall, John Grabow, and Marcos Mateo finished the game allowing only 1 base runner, on a walk by Grabow to Brendan Ryan.

DeWitt delivers bomb
At the dish kid Castro was the hero stepping to the plate with bases loaded in the 7th and delivering a base clearing double. Castro leads the Cubs in RBI's this spring with 15 and looks primed for a big year in 2011. Blake DeWitt came into the game replacing Jeff Baker at second base in the fourth inning and had two hits including a long home run. Josh Vitters and Reed Johnson each had a pinch hit double in the 7th.

The Cubs have been playing much better baseball of late winning 4 of the last 5 games, which is a good thing as we only have 4 days left on the spring schedule (5 if you count the Cubs Intrasquad Charity Game on the 30th).

Mariners 2nd baseman Jack Wilson took an Aramis Ramirez hard grounder off his jaw in the 4th inning.  He stayed in the game. When John Grabow entered the game he uncorked two hugely wild pitches that went soaring to the backstop, that at-bat ended with a walk of Brendan Ryan. However, Grabow settled down and then took out the Mariners 1-2-3.

Times have changed. When I first started doing the PA at old Hohokam, they didn't even have music being played during the games (I helped get the the tunes going back then). Today before the Cubs took the field, Metallica was being played. I don't know if that had any influence on the Cubs but when they did run out onto the field only Marlon Byrd ran out and was nearly at his spot in CF before the rest of the team came out of the dugout. There's one particularly funny beer vendor who seems to work right below my area in the press box. He's got many good lines, today I heard him call out, "Ladies, the more you drink the better the men look."

Photo's by Boys of Spring's John Antonoff.

Vitters called up for the game hits a double
DeWitt gets some fives for going yard
Vitters makes nice barehanded play to end the game

Cubs Sox

I hope you had the chance to see yesterday's game on ESPN2 or CSN, it was a fun game with the Cubs holding on to beat the White Sox 8-7 in front of 13,282 fans at a sold out Hohokam Stadium.

I was unable to post a blog last night because after the game I attended a "Life Celebration" of a good friend who passed away unexpectedly a few days ago. My friend Paul was an amazing guy, smart, funny, caring, and giving. He had a competitive nature and loved to play any game or sport but was always the first one to congratulate the winner if he lost. He was taken way to soon, my words simply can't describe the kind of generous and loved person he was. My heart goes out to Susan and his family. I'm pretty sure Paul wouldn't have wanted anyone to be sad and linger over his passing but instead would have raised a beer and said, life is short, enjoy it and make the most of it!

Boys of Spring's John Antonoff captured some photos from yesterday's game, including an ongoing issue that is likely to have a sad and devastating outcome for a player, coach, or fan, if things aren't changed with these shattering Maple bats. I think there were at least 4 broken bats in this game, including one that went way up into the crowd. Cubs host the Mariners today, I'll have my usual report later today.

Matt Garza had a good outing

Darwin Barney made the team and turned some nice D

Castro backs up Barney on Adam Dunn shift 

Soriano goes yard

A-Ram snaps bat

Sox Brent Lillibridge bat shattered with sharp barrel  flying into stands 

Fan sporting a Harry mask or is it a mask?

Marmol allowed a run but shut the door on Sox 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Silva Stakes Claim in Cubs Win

Silva mowing down A's today
A fabulous day at Hohokam Stadium with great weather (sunny and low 70's with a nice breeze) and a Cubs 3-1 win over the Oakland Athletics. I don't know if Carlos Silva had heard or read that his early spring self-proclaimed spot in the rotation was on the line, but today he sure pitched like it was.

Silva may be giving Mike Quade a tougher decision with the 5th starter but having guys pitch well seems better than making it an easy decision because guys can't get the job done. And Silva sure got the job done today. After allowing 2 of the first 3 batters of the game hits which plated Oakland's lone run, Silva went on to retire 17 of the next 18 batters, allowing only a Ryan Sweeney single in the 3rd. Casey Coleman and Marcos Mateo tossed scoreless frames in the 7th and 8th respectively. Kerry Wood came in to a loud cheer and partial standing ovation to close in the 9th. Woody dispensed the top of the A's order 1-2-3 finishing up this quick 2 hour, 11 minute game and sending most of the 9,061 fans away happy.

Wood 1-2-3
After Oakland scored their run in the top of the 1st, the Cubs came back with two of their own in the bottom of the inning with Geovany Soto and Alfonso Soriano both delivering 2 out, RBI singles. This turned out to be all the Cubs would need with today's outstanding pitching. Reed Johnson in left and Fernando Perez in center both played the whole game with Johnson notching a couple hits and two runs scored, while Perez was 0-3 at the plate. It looks like Johnson will be the 5th outfielder while Perez is likely headed to Iowa.

Jeff Baker who played 2nd base made a nice play ranging far to his right in the hole making an acrobatic spinning maneuver throwing out A's Mark Ellis. Tyler Colvin played 1st base and looked comfortable, he made a nice scoop on a low throw in the dirt by Aramis Ramirez after a Conor Jackson grounder.

While batting Carlos Silva had his bat snap in two on a late swing and the sharp barrel end impaled the infield grass, protruding up in the air half way between home and the mound. For some reason our umpires today didn't show up until after 1:03 several minutes later than usual. No truth to the rumor they were late because they found out about the Hohokam's free beer in the Ho Room. I met up with Corey and Kurt from Ivy Envy out of the Quad Cities. They were nice enough to interview me for their fun and informative website which is all about the Cubs including blogs, photos, and podcasts.

Silva snapped off
Former Cubs ace Rick Sutcliffe was at the park today preparing for tomorrow's ESPN2 broadcast of the Cubs versus White Sox game at Hohokam. Tomorrow's game will start at 2:05 pm Arizona time due to the broadcast.

Today's photos by BOS's John Antonoff.
The results

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rainy Day, Cool Night

Yesterday's Cubs/Angels game was called due to rain and high winds in the top of the 4th inning with the Cubs leading 7-4. It was a wet and nasty day with 6 of the 8 Cactus League games canceled due to the weather. And so it didn't look good for last night's "Big Z - Home Run Derby" a charitable event hosted by Carlos Zambrano at Big League Dreams in Gilbert, AZ. The weather cleared by about 6pm and the Big Z event went on as planned. The old fashioned home run derby along with a silent auction was put on by the Big Z Foundation and raised funds for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Gilbert and Hope of  Life.

The worlds greatest softball hitters the "Long Haul Bombers" were brought in to compete with Carlos and some of his MLB friends which included Cubs teammate Carlos Silva, and Giants Pablo Sandoval among others. Many of Big Z's teammates came out in support of the event including Kerry Wood, Ryan Dempster, Geovany Soto, Matt Garza, Randy Wells, Andrew Cashner, James Russell, Darwin Barney, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Marmol, Tyler Colvin, Fernando Perez, Angel Guzman, Starlin Castro, as well as Manager Mike Quade. I apologize if I missed any other Cubs, as I was busy video taping the event (will put some highlights of the HR Derby on our next BOS video segment).

Garza, Perez. and Geo 
Big League Dreams has scaled-down replica fields of some of the great Parks including Old Yankee Stadium, Ebbets Field, Fenway Park and of course Wrigley Field. Unfortunately the contest wasn't played on the faux Wrigley but on the Big A of Anaheim, but that didn't detract from the fun. These "Long Haul Bombers" brought in for the contest are for the most part massive dudes built to crush a softball.

The contest started with one of the Long Haul competitor's and by the 3d or 4th pitch it was clear why these guys travel the country doing this, even the veteran MLB players were impressed with the long haul power display. This is is slo-pitch softball but I was still surprised at the power of some of the smaller sized MLB hitters like former Cub Andres Blanco who has a grand total of 1 MLB HR. Once Blanco found his groove he was pounding them out. Needless to say a guy like Pablo Sandoval the Kung Fu Panda after a few swings was crushing ball after ball. Carlos Silva was pounding them out of the little Big A with regularity as well. Unfortunately Big Z hurt his left wrist in Cubs bp a few days back and this limited his power shots in the contest.

Big winner of the night Hope of Life
The winner of the Big Z Home Run Derby was the team of Michael Sandoval (Pablo's bro) and Long Haul Bomber Big Tim Cocco, but the real winners of this "cool" night were the Boys and Girls Clubs of Gilbert and Hope of Life who received a $200,000 check from the Big Z Foundation.

Photos by John Antonoff
Geo and Woody
Big Z looks over my shoulder checking video

Castro, Soriano, and Marmol
Silva at bat

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Wells and Wellington Wow in Walk-Off Win

A beautiful day in Mesa, a hazy sky and temperatures in the mid 70s helped entice 13,465 fans (a single game Hohokam record) to come out and witness the Cubs beat the World Champion Giants (a split squad version). The exciting walk-off win in the bottom of the 10th inning was courtesy of  a Wellington Castillo single that drove in Bobby Scales from 2nd base. The Cubs are making a habit of these walk-off wins at Hohokam, this being the fourth such win in 12 home games.

Randy Wells if he hadn't already cemented a spot in the starting rotation probably did with today's outstanding effort. Wells went 6 innings allowing the opening two Giant batters hits which scored a run but then was untouchable setting down 18 straight Giants hitters including 7 strikeouts. The Giants other run was given up by Sean Marshall in the 8th inning while John Grabow and Marcos Mateo each tossed a scoreless inning and Carlos Marmol shut down the Giants 1-2-3 in the 9th.

Marlon Byrd continues his hot hitting going 2 for 2 with a run scored. Bobby Scales played the whole game at second base and had a couple hits also scoring the game winning run. Wellington Castillo in his bid to unseat veteran catcher Koyie Hill knocked in the winning run, and is still batting over .700.

Mesa Hohokam member Danny Page and his girlfriend Becka O'Bray sang the 7th inning stretch. The surprise came after the singing as Danny dropped to one knee and popped the question. You better be darn sure you know the answer she's going to give when you're doing that on the Cubs dugout in front of over 13,000 people. She did say yes.

Cubs former SS Shawon Dusnton handled the1st base coaching duties today for the Giants.

Photos by Boys of Spring's John Antonoff.

Scales gets hit in the 10th   

Scales steals 2nd in 10th

Castillo's walk off hit

Ty Wright and Fernando Perez celebrate with Castillo

She said YES! 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bats Hot in the AZ Sun

It's a good thing today's cell phones have calculators because there was alot of big numbers put out today at Hohokam Stadium. The Cubs came up one short in the final score losing 14-13 to the Reds, the two teams combined for 40 hits which certainly kept the 13,182 (fourth largest ever at Hohokam) entertained.

The unfortunate part of all the hits and runs was the pounding delivered to the pitching, specifically on the Cubs Carlos Silva. Silva took over at the start of the 6th inning and allowed 11 hits, 8 runs 5 earned in 3 innings. A couple of errors didn't help Silva's cause but weren't the main factors in his difficult mound stint. Anytime you allow 11 hits in 3 innings it spells trouble. Carlos Zambrano started the game, he gave up 6 runs in 4.2 innings punctuated by a home run each from Scott Rolen and Joey Votto. In spite of the numbers I felt Z looked in control, coming back from allowing 3 runs in the third he had a 1-2-3 fourth. Marcos Mateo finished up pitching a scoreless ninth, striking out the final two Reds.

The Cubs hit, and hit well staging another late inning comeback scoring 4 runs in the final 2 frames.  Unfortunately Kosuke Fukudome a defensive replacement in the 7th weakly grounded out with bases loaded to end the game. Carlos Pena and Darwin Barney each had 3 hits. Barney reached base 5 of his 6 at bats (Be sure to check out my Darwin Barney interview in yesterday's video). Aramis Ramirez was 2 for 3. Tyler Colvin and Wellington Castillo also had a couple hits each. Castillo has been on fire at the plate this spring and after today's game sits at a scorching .733 batting average. Starlin Castro smashed a deep 3 run HR to left center.

Castro's HR
Another warm day today, the high hit at least 86 degrees during the game.  Our Mesa weather looks to be cooling off ever so slightly, back down into the 70s over the next few days. We had a special presentation before the game to Sam Von Trapp of the famous Von Trapp family. The Von Trapp's story is the inspiration behind the musical the Sound of Music.  A proclamation presented by Mesa City Manager Chris Brady makes March 20th to 26th "Sam Von Trapp Week" in Mesa. I just don't know how I'm going to contain my excitement as the week draws near. Since it's spring break week we tend to see different things at the ballpark. Last game fans were trying to do the wave, and today for the first time this year I noticed the beach balls came out. One landed on the field in the bottom of the 5th, surprisingly security tossed it back up to the berm bums. Like the beach ball, in spring training our hopes and dreams are still afloat before the seriousness of the regular season comes like a mean tempered security guard and deflates our delicate optimism.

Today's photos by Boys of Spring's John Antonoff.

One of Barney's 3 hits

One of Pena's 3 hits

Barney sporting the G