I recently returned to Dallas after a spring break that took me to Scottsdale and Farmington to visit the people I love as well as to visit a residency that hopefully I will be a part of once I graduate from dental school. During my time off I was able to watch several Cactus League games at the finest baseball venue on the planet: Salt River. Holy shit. That place makes Camelback look like a JV complex. After a decade in Tucson, the Rox and Diamondbacks deserve this place.
When I got home Griff allowed me to work out his C-Team guys in the infield and at the dish for a couple of days. I was able to watch his guys play Durango (CO) High’s C squad a couple times later in the week. A friend and former teammate of ours manages the DHS boys, and that entire program is doing a terrific job in no small part due to what he brings to the lower levels. It was a great little break from the daily grind of dental school, and it reminded me of what makes this time of year so special.
I was fortunate enough to watch some of the younger guys for Arizona and Colorado take part in an afternoon Minor League contest on some of the practice fields at Salt River, and it was easy to see in their faces how grateful they were to be doing what they were for a living. They were nearly all around 3 or 4 years, if ever, from breaking camp with the big club, but that was nowhere to be seen in the way they carried themselves regardless of the fact that it was Minor League Spring Training.
Over on the big field, Colorado utility guy and fellow New Mexican, Jordan Pacheco, was demolishing Cactus League pitching as he has done all spring. It would take a real group of idiots to send this guy back to Triple-A. He represented the state, as he has always done, spectacularly. With upwards of five New Mexican players cracking Major League rosters this spring, there’s never been a better time to grow up a ballplayer back home.
As I worked out Griff’s boys, it was obvious how into the game the youth around Farmington is today. Farmington High and Piedra Vista are the two best AAAA teams in the state and probably the two best regardless of class. Shilo McCall (PVHS) is now the top draft prospect statewide following an Alex Bregman (Abq. Academy) hand injury. PV defeated several very high quality teams in Phoenix last week including nationally ranked Santa Fe High (OK), and both Farmington schools are poised for what will prove to be a dogfight of a district season.
Perhaps the one thing that stuck out in my mind the most vibrantly while I was home was the generational aspect of the game. Several of Griff’s kids have family members that I either played with or against or even watched as a kid myself. Two good friends and former teammates watched the births of their first children this month as well. This time of year reminds us all to look positively toward the future and toward the upcoming months and to treat today as exactly what it is: an opportunity to grow within the game and within life that we will never get back. It reminds us that last season, last month, and yesterday are all distant memories and that today and every single day after it deserve to be approached positively. Also, the weather in the desert southwest in March cannot be beat.