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Steve Lunetta: Springtime, ball games finally here

Right About Now

Posted: March 14, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 14, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

Last weekend, the boys and I hopped in the Camry and drove out to Arizona for our now-annual spring training trip. A bunch of guys from our church, Faith Community, have made the pilgrimage for about six years now. We’ve gone for the past two and now consider it a family ritual.

I like going for several reasons. It isolates me with my sons for two six-hour car rides in which we are forced to talk (gasp).

The trip out usually consists of iPods and DVD players, but the trip back is mostly talking to one another since the weekend has broken the power of electronics and we have discovered the fun of our family.

We stay in a hotel, eat junk food, hang out with our buddies and escape the female influence for a while. You know what I mean. We can sit around and pass gas without saying “Excuse me.”

One pair of underwear can be worn all weekend. And razor blades need not touch our faces.

Of course, the games are a kick to watch. We usually see one game per day and have a chance to talk to players, get autographs and heckle.

The Angels’ Diablo Stadium in Tempe is astounding — it has probably the best combination of fan-friendliness and professional baseball in all of Arizona.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia always walks down the first base line before the game and signs autographs. He takes time for the fans because he knows that’s where the heart of the game beats. Many children love baseball because of the few seconds spent with a future Hall of Famer like Scioscia.

Unfortunately, Dodger fans, I have nothing good to report. The regulars looked unprepared and the “kids” who should be playing in later innings were mostly cast-off retreads acquired in the offseason.

Unless Kershaw does a Hershiser and Ethier looks like Gibson, we won’t be seeing a replay of ’88.

The shadow of Jamie McCourt darkens both Camelback Stadium and Chavez Ravine.

We got to rub elbows with quite a few Giants fans since the ’Ants played in two of the games we saw. All of those folks were so proud wearing their “2010 World Series Champion” shirts. I take comfort in knowing that it will be another 123 years until they win another. 

All of the fields we went to were lush, green and perfectly manicured. I love this part of baseball. I can never get my lawn to look that good. No matter how much fertilizer and water I apply, it never looks as good as those fields.

It got me thinking about what we have here in Santa Clarita.

Every Wednesday, Trish and I play softball through the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. While most of the games are at Central Park, we also play at Newhall and Bouquet Parks.

We play on amazing fields. Our city takes the time and money to create a place of beauty for all of us to enjoy. Although my Uncle Earl thinks they charge too much for the sports fees, I think the price is fair for the enjoyment we get out of it.

Many cities in Southern California have parks, where the fields are disasters — dark patches of dead grass, uneven dirt infields and general disrepair scream out that some cities just don’t care about outside recreational activities.

Santa Clarita added a dog park in the Central Park complex. The first time I heard about “Central Bark,” I thought it was a joke — an isolated place where dogs can play together and have fun. Then, my wife got me to take the dogs and we had a blast. This was a brilliant idea and a great use of city funds.

A cross-country course was recently installed at Central Park to complement the Frisbee golf course, soccer and football fields and basketball courts. This shows that the Park District is trying to evolve our parks to meet our community’s current and future recreational needs.

And, let’s not forget that these parks also contribute to our property values.

Such enlightened management must be complimented. Rick Gould and the rest of the Parks staff do a bang-up job, and we are lucky to have them.

If you haven’t taken advantage of our great parks, I encourage you to do so. They are one of the best features of living the good life in Santa Clarita.

We just need to figure out a way for the city to sell Dodger dogs and watered-down soda like the ballparks do at spring-training games. 

Steve Lunetta is a resident of Santa Clarita and is a Coed C-League Softball player. He can be reached at slunetta63@yahoo.com. His column represents his own opinions and not necessarily those of the Signal.

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