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


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