Spring Training is a cool time of the year. In Florida, they call it the Grapefruit League. In Arizona, it's the Cactus League. The league is well-named since there are a lot of cactus here! I went to a game between the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics near the end of baseball’s preseason. It was a perfect day with not a cloud in the sky. I was able to get there early enough to watch batting practice. I liked that a lot. I'm playing Little League this year so it was helpful to watch the pros hit up close and learn from them.
One of the first things that I noticed was how nice the field is. The grass was really green and smooth. The base paths and batters boxes were perfect. There was a whole bunch of guys taking care of it. It makes my Little League field look like the surface of the moon!
I stepped on the field to get a picture next to the "2012 World Series Champions" logo that was behind home plate. One of the guys gave me a dirty look but since I was with one of the Giants players it turned out ok!
After the Giants were done hitting I sat in the dugout and interviewed star pitcher Barry Zito. Barry is a three-time All-Star and won the Cy Young Award when he pitched for the Oakland A’s. That's the Most Valuable Player for pitchers. He wasn't pitching that day so I got to interview him for a long time.
I asked him about his growing up years. He shared how he was alone a lot of the time because he practiced so much. While it was lonely for him it paid off in the end. I also asked him about his advice for kids that don't think that they fit in. His answer was really interesting. He said that one thing that you learn when you grow up is that it doesn't matter what other people think of you. It's most important to think well of yourself. I thought that was pretty cool. Many kids get really upset if they feel like they are not popular with other kids. Barry made me realize that it's more important to do my best and be proud of myself than worry about being one of the "cool kids". That sounds pretty cool to me!
Then he told me about his many interests. He is a musician and also has a charity that helps injured soldiers. He said that it is important to use different parts of your brain. His music gives him a pastime that helps him relax from the pressure of being a pro athlete. And his charity work makes him feel good by helping others. He said that the key is to keep things in balance so the hobbies don't interfere with his play on the field.
Spending time at the ballpark and interviewing Barry in the dugout was a great day. One of the things that makes baseball great is hanging out by a perfect field on a beautiful day. The small stadium that the Giants use for spring training makes all of the action very close. I can't wait for the season to start!