Well, the final game of the spring happened, and it was down in Round Rock against the Express. I went down to Round Rock with three other Ranger bloggers..
Patrick McCullough from rangersfanradio.com, Joshua McMurray from IrishP1, & Jonathan Collander from NolanWritin.com. We were part of a promotion with Chevrolet called the “Chevy Line Drive to Round Rock”. We drove down there in 2011 Chevy Equinox cars. Was quite nice, even if the OnStar nav blew it trying to get to Southside Market & BBQ. I didn’t drive it, but it was comfortable, quiet, and we got some great gas mileage. We almost made it all the way to Round Rock and back to Dallas without refueling.
We got there about an hour before the game, and had some pre-game promotional stuff to do with Chevy. Filmed a video interview, which I believe will turn up online shortly. Once I find out for sure where that is, I’ll post about that. Once we got in, though the game got underway shortly. We missed batting practice due to the video interview, but that was OK, was fun talking about the team on camera. Oh, most of us tweeted from the game. If you want to see what we were saying DURING the game, get on Twitter, and check out the hashtag #ChevyLDTRR.
Derek Holland started for the Rangers and went five innings. Six hits, and a couple of walks. Allowed one run. However, watching him live, his stuff looked better than that.
Dave Bush, Pedro Strop, & Darren O’Day followed. Bush was OK. Strop looked quite good. Darren O’Day did NOT. He was quite hittable, including a home run. Three hits, two earned runs. He was credited with a blown save, and the loss. He deserved it. Looked bad. He’s been pretty awful most of the spring, and I have to say I have zero confidence in him now.
On the other side, it was a lot of Rangers players we know anyway, so it was amusing to see the “regulars” against other guys who have also been on the big club, and have been (to some extent) regulars themselves. The biggest thing along these lines clearly had to one of the weirder things in this game, and there were several weird things in this game.
Click through to read the weird stuff. :)
First was Esteban German. He started the game with Round Rock, but later on switched over, and came out on deck for the Rangers. He was wearing a Rangers batting helmet, but still the Express uniform. German was lifted for Matt Kata by RR, then he switched over to Texas. It’s amusing for the same guy to have a line on both sides of the box score!
Another odd one was Rangers bullpen catcher Josh Frasier getting at bats. And not just one of them as a goof, but THREE! His official batting average is .000, but his on base percentage was .667, as he walked twice. In fact, after his first at bat (walk), me and the other guys kept chanting OBP! OBP! That was pretty funny. Also, right when he first showed up, I noticed an older couple (not OLD, but older than a baseball player) pop down in the first row right in front of the on deck circle. I thought they were Frasier’s mother and father, so I asked them that when the game was over. They said they were just his uncle & aunt, down to watch him play. That was pretty cool. They also said he played in the game in Myrtle Beach, too.
Since we were in the third row behind the on deck circle, the guys could hear everything we said above a whisper. Early on this game was a group of girls who couldn’t have been more than 10 years old. It was definitely the “Teen Beat” crowd. Screaming for every player, telling them they loved them, etc.. They were talking to all the players, and the player responses kept going up. If I remember the order right, they were trying to get Michael Young’s attention, he said nothing. Someone else did a little more (forget who – Murphy)?, and then Yorbit Torrealba was there, and he turned around and waved. However, Josh Hamilton took the cake with that. The girls were trying to get his attention, and he interacted with them a few times. They were asking him to smile for a photo, and he turned around and pouted, which was great. But then they started asking Josh to do his Justin Bieber impression. After a minute of that, Josh turned around and said “I don’t have his hair”, which made everyone in the area laugh. Was some great interaction, and the kind of stuff that you don’t get in a major league game. Not even close.
In the ninth inning, Ron Washington himself went out there and coached first base. It was kind of a rotating coaching thing out there, as I saw Mike Napoli coaching first earlier in the game, too. Not sure what was up with that, but I’m surprised Wash didn’t coach third. Perhaps it’s because the Rangers dugout was on the first base side, and he needed to be close or something. But it was still amusing to see him out there.
The Rangers lost in the top of the ninth, but they went and played the bottom of the ninth anyway. In the top of the inning Mason Tobin was warming up in the pen. I’m guessing the bottom was played just so Tobin and some other guys could get some work in. It was told to us in the stands as “Free baseball! You can hang around as long as these guys play!”. Nothing really happened, but it did give us a Mason Tobin sighting.
After the game, we all went back to our hotel rooms and crashed. Or at least vegged out in our beds (Chevy was cool, and gave all four of us our own rooms). In the morning, we got up, and after a panic when I realized I hadn’t managed any of my fantasy teams, we took off on our food adventure.
We started off by hitting the famed Southside Market & BBQ in Elgin, TX for some of their seriously awesome sausage. Took home six pounds of the stuff (gave half to a friend who also loves this stuff).
Second, we hit the even more legendary Salt Lick. Now we hit the new one in Round Rock, which is literally on the other side of the parking lot from the Dell Diamond. Man, these guys are going TO RAKE when the season starts. They couldn’t have picked a better location – man will this place ring in the big bucks. When I was first thinking of all this, I originally contemplated going to the original Salt Lick down near Driftwood, but that was like 110 miles out of the way round trip. We chose the newer location, which was oh, I don’t know – 5 miles at most away from the hotel? Yeah, no brainer there.
After that, we hit a great donut place, “Round Rock Donuts”. They’re known for this one massive donut they make. It’s basically the dough of a dozen regular size donuts in one single donut. The thing is massive. Picture below. I first saw this place on the Travel Channel’s “Man Vs. Food” show. Adam Richman watched the guys making the donut, it’s quite huge. I can’t find the video of his segment online (used to be on Youtube, probably got pulled), but I found a video of him talking about the place on the Travel Channel site, check it out.
After that, we headed north back up towards Dallas, and about an hour south, stopped at the completely awesome Czeck Bakery. Gassed up the Exhibition, and picked up a bunch of Kolachis. If you’ve never been to the Czeck Bakery, in West, TX, you are doing yourself a disservice. Man, these things are SPECTACULAR!
In all, a spectacular time. Short road trip, and I have to thank Chris Wilson for setting it all up. I’m sure it was more than just him, but he was the guy I dealt with, so he gets the thanks. And thanks to Chevy for now asking me to do two of these things. These people sent me to my World Series game back in late October. I hope to do this again some time. Perhaps a road trip to Houston to catch those games with the same guys I just rode down with? That’d be great! Hahahaha. Seriously. Thanks.
Oh, before I forget, Jonathan Collander wrote about the event on his site, too. Check it out here.
Bring on the regular season!