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Arizona State Univeristy Packard Stadium - Image provided by wheelo28 from Flickr.com

Top 5 Arizona State University Baseball Players

As the Sun Devils return from their three-game road trip against Cal,  Arizona State University now needs to focus on finishing the second half of the season strong.

They will hopefully muster up the necessary bits of strength and continue battling through the spring in hopes to make their 23 appearance in the College World Series this summer.  The Omaha tournament is the best of the best in NCAA Baseball; it’s March Madness in June for those that prefer dirt and pine tar to hardwood floors and sneakers.

With five National Championships under their belt, Sun Devil baseball has been a long and rich tradition in Arizona.  Baseball at Packard Stadium is unique to Tempe and something that isn’t present in any other sports at ASU.

With that said, here are my Top Five Former Arizona State Baseball Players:

5.

Dustin Pedroia

Dustin Pedroia - Image Provided by Keith Allison from Flickr.com

Winner of the 2007 American League Rookie of the Year and 2008 AL MVP, Pedroia attended Arizona State — never batting below .374 in all 185 games.

This California native currently plays second base for the Boston Red Sox, batting .305, 54 home runs, 253 RBI’s, and was an All-Star selection for three consecutive years (2008 – 2010).

4.

Bob Horner

Bob Horner - Image Provided by Baseball Images from Flickr.com

Chosen in the first round of the 1978 draft by the Atlanta Braves, Bob Horner was a first/third baseman who went on to have a great MLB career, despite beset with numerous leg injuries.

He continued to be a successful player who consistently hit well and averaged his 10-year career with a .277 batting average, 218 home runs, and 685 RBI’s. He was later inducted to College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006, with others including Dave Winfield and Rob Ventura.

3.  

Sal Bando

Sal Bando - Image Provided by Ll Phil from Flickr.comMaking his professional debut with the Kansas City Athletics in 1966, Sal Bando was a third baseman for both the Athletics (Kansas City and Oakland) and Milwaukee Brewers.

Over his career he had a batting average of .254, racked up 242 home runs, and 1039 RBI’s. He was selected to the All-Star team four times and won three consecutive World Series from 1972-1974.

2. 

Barry Bonds

Barry Bonds - Image Provided by studartlioff fro Flickr.com

Controversy aside, Barry Bonds is undoubtedly one of the most talented MLB players to emerge from Arizona State, and possibly in MLB history. With seven MVPs,

14 All-Star appearances, most intentional walks (688), and both the all time record for most home runs in a season (73) and career (762), numbers don’t lie. However, with his success came the controversy of steroid use in late 1990’s and early 2000’s.

He would eventually become the poster child for all steroid accusations that have since plagued Major League Baseball, and been the source of much heated debate in the sports world.

Nevertheless, all nay saying and drug banter aside, Bonds carried his amazing play as a Sun Devil into the professional field of play, staking out his mark in history.

1.

Reggie “Mr. October” Jackson

Reggie Jackson - Image Provided by Ll Phil from Flickr.comCoined “Mr. October“,  Reggie Jackson spent his early years as a Sun Devil before moving on to several other teams from 1967 – 1987, until he left the game with five National Championship (three with the Oakland Athletics and two with the New York Yankee’s).

With a career batting average of .262, he also tallied up 563 home runs, 2,584 hits, and 1,702 RBI’s.  He was the definition of clutch and had a certain inability to fail when the time called for it.  While with the Yankee’s, he was an unstoppable, home run machine — one that seemed to have the uncanny ability to blast a home run at will.

 

Check out Arizona State’s schedule for the rest of 2011 season

Arizona Diamondbacks vs Colorado Rockies - Image provided by Salvatoredbacks from Flickr.com

Diamondbacks Start Off Season Right

The Diamondbacks have a better record than the 2010 World Champion San Francisco Giants.

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Colorado Rockies - Image provided by salvatoredbacks from Flickr.comComing off a dismal 97 loss season in 2010, I’d be inclined to believe that any player in their right mind would be frustrated – and that’s exactly what Arizona baseball needs to fuel a successful season.

There still may be 154 games left in the regular season, but the D-backs are  4 – 4, just behind the Dodgers and ahead of the Giants at – something Arizona fans are not used to saying.

Yes, we’ve barely seen two weeks of baseball, but management has taken an aggressive attitude concerning on field play which fans hope will continue throughout the season.

Several weeks ago I wrote on the Diamondbacks as Spring training began in the Valley, and praised them on their Kirk Gibson’s preparation for the new season.  With his style of play, it was my hope that they would embrace his toughness and stay focused come April – and it’s happened.

With a tough loss to the Reds on Saturday, they took their revenge on Sunday – going 6 for 15 and displaying moments of magnificence.  With a clutch play in ninth, fielder Chris Young made an amazing catch that  could have been a disastrous for the D-backs.  With that, they eventually held the Reds, defeating them 10 – 8.

His type of play is something that the D-backs need, but it’s up to the players if they can sustain that kind of fire for an entire season. As bad as a season 2010 was, it may have been the spark that they needed to wake up.

In recent years, they’ve become complacent with losing.

As they were down 5 – 0 in the third, it look like just another Sunday blowout of the D-backs.  But it wasn’t.  It wasn’t the same team I’ve seen in past years, and that’s a good thing.

Since their historic 2001 season, Major League Baseball in Arizona has been little more than a blip on sports fans radar.  If the focusArizona Diamondbacks vs. Colorado Rockies - Image provided by salvatoredbacks from Flickr.com that was evident in Sunday’s comeback win can withstand the brutality of the regular baseball season, then I believe they have a chance.  Being down 5 – 0 early in the third, they found a way to win on Sunday and gathered momentum when the time called for it.

So, my intent is not to regurgitate game facts, but to pose the question to Diamondback fans out there – will 2011 be different?

They’ll stay home and take on the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants this week- possibly two of the best teams in the league, and we’ll truly see if their grit and focus pays off.



Let us know at AZNow how you think the D-backs will play by posting it to our Facebook page.

Cactus League - Spring Training is Back

Cactus League Baseball Is Back In Arizona

February in Arizona means two things – gorgeous weather and spring training baseball.

What initially began as minor league exhibition game in the early 1900’s has evolved into Major League Baseball’s conglomerate of Spring Training stadiums within the Phoenix area.  A long-­standing tradition for the Grand Canyon State, MLB’s Spring Training begins again later this month as the Cactus League kicks off its 65th season in Arizona.

Salt River Fields, Colorado Rockies - Image Provided by Flickr

As spring reveals itself, so do players from a four‐month baseball hiatus. More than 15 teams will compete within the coming months in 10 local fields — drawing over 1.5 million spectators, according to a 2009 study of the games.

2011 has the same expectation of past years and brings out potential  collegiate and minor league players the opportunity to showcase their skills, in hopes of generating talk around Major League management for upward promotion to the “big leagues.”

RBI’s, home runs, batting average, chin music and injury reports reenter the vocabulary of sports talk radio hosts and give vitality back to baseball geeks nation.

With several stadium locations throughout the Phoenix area, it’s easy to catch at least one of these 15 teams at a fraction of regular season ticket prices. With lawn seating available from $5, it’s a perfect excuse to call in sick from work and plan a family picnic in Arizona’s weather.

Diamondback News

Coming off a dismal 65 – 97 season, the Arizona Diamondbacks enter 2011 with hopes to compete with NL West rivals, 2010 World Champions San Francisco Giants.

Recent management addition and legendary Los Angeles Dodger Kirk Gibson has full control of the team this year and brings a sense of urgency to the Diamondbacks office.

Reds Pitcher Aroldis Chapman - Image Provided by Flickr

Flashback to 1988; the Dodgers won their fifth title in the City of Angels and have yet to repeat since as the Dodgers later went on to defeat the Oakland Athletics 4-1 in the series. Gibson and the 1988 Dodger team were underdogs to say the least, disproving the expectation of failure.

Professional sports, now more than ever, demands pure physicality in a 162 game season.

Since the D-Backs World Series run in 2001, D-Back fans have been subjected to playing and management decisions far below par. It takes as much a mental toll as a physical one — and Gibson encapsulates experience in both. Gibson’s presence in Diamondback management will hopefully spark the same inspiration as it did in 1988.

Everyone begins the season undefeated and has the ability to prove sports analysts and naysayers wrong. Near rock bottom at all-statistical production, the D‐Backs need inspiration and who better to give it to them than manager Kirk  “Gibby” Gibson. Let’s hope Gibson can effectively command his troops  — or at least clean off the shame of 2010.

For more tickets and schedule information on Spring Training in the Valley, visit cactusleague.com

Two new spring training stadiums

Two New Spring Training Stadiums Set To Debut In The West Valley

With football, hockey, baseball and possibly USA Basketball joining the mix, the West Valley is becoming an active sports mecca for the rest of the Valley. Recent additions to this bustling hub of game activity are new Cactus League training facilities in Glendale and Goodyear that will come online for the 2009 spring training season.

This year, the Cactus League set a record when 1.3 million fans (60 percent from out of state) attended spring training games. The Cactus League’s contribution to the state’s economy is more than $200 million a year.
“Spring training is a big draw and a great experience,” says J.P. de la Montaigne, Cactus League president. “We call it our Super Bowl every year.”

Glendale’s new facility will be the spring training complex for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox. The state-of-the-art baseball stadium will have seating for 13,000, four major league practice fields, eight minor league practice fields, two practice infields and 118,000 square feet of major and minor league clubhouses for the two teams. Down the road, the 151-acre site will also have residential, restaurant and retail development, a four-star hotel and an 18-hole golf course developed by Rightpath Limited Development Group.

The Arizona Sports & Tourism Authority is funding two-thirds of the complex, and the city of Glendale is contributing one-third of the $90 million project, which is under construction on 111th Avenue west of the Loop 101 between Camelback Road and Glendale Avenue. Stadium construction started in November 2007 and will be finished in time for the 2009 spring training season.

Tom Harrison, construction executive for Mortenson Sports, a division of Mortenson Construction which is building the complex, says planning the facility took longer than anticipated, so they added a night shift in August to keep construction on schedule.

“This is an exciting project and we have the right team to get it accomplished on time,” Harrison says. “I’ve been involved in five other spring training facilities in the Valley, but this is truly the most unique. The Glendale facility will be more than just a place to watch the game.”

Harrison says the Glendale stadium will have a 1,400-foot-long lake as part of the facility. The lake will have an aesthetic function as well as serve as the irrigation source for the lush landscaping that will create a park-like setting at the stadium.

“This is not going to be a standard practice area,” Harrison says. “It’s going to be an aesthetically pleasing setting with benches so fans can enjoy their surroundings.”

Based on a 2006 economic impact study conducted by Economic Research Associates for the city of Glendale, the economic impact of moving the Dodgers and White Sox to Glendale could be as much as $19 million per year for the region.

“The new spring training facility fits well in our sports and entertainment district,” says Jennifer Liewer, senior marketing and communications manager for the city of Glendale. “The Dodgers and White Sox want to make this something that will last and be part of the community, so we know that when they get to Glendale it will become their home as well.”

The Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds will play at the Goodyear Ballpark, which will be located on a 3-acre parcel south of Yuma Road and east of Estrella Parkway. The ballpark will open in March 2009 for spring training for the Indians. The Cincinnati Reds will move their spring training operations to Arizona in 2010.

HOK Sport of Kansas City designed the baseball complex, which will have 8,000 lower-bowl fixed seats, 500 premium seats, 1,400 berm seats, six luxury suites, 3,000 parking spaces, and a state-of-the-art scoreboard and public address system. It will also have two group event areas: an outfield pavilion and bar with berm seating for 400 and a third-floor party deck behind home plate that will hold 150 people. Barton Marlow, a national construction services company out of Michigan, is building the ballpark complex.

The Goodyear Recreational Sports Complex, which will house the Cleveland Indians’ clubhouse/player development facility and two practice fields, is under construction on a 52-acre site east of Estrella Parkway about a half-mile south of the Goodyear Ballpark. It will be completed this month, at which time the Indians will begin using it. The Indians will use the clubhouse and two practice fields year-round. Besides the clubhouse, the Goodyear Recreational Sports Complex has six full-baseball practice fields, two half-baseball practice fields, a 36,000 square foot agility field, six covered practice batting cages and tunnels, three open practice minor league batting tunnels, six pitching mounds for the major league and six for minor league, an observation tower for the major league fields and a scoreboard.

Goodyear citizens approved a bond election in 2004 for $10 million to help build the recreational sports fields, so the city will be able to use the four minor league fields 10 months of the year. Regis Reed, Goodyear’s senior project manager, says the city plans to use the fields for city events, youth programsand high school tournaments since the fields are lighted to high school standards.

Ticket prices at the Goodyear Ballpark will be comparable to other Cactus League facilities, which are $8 for a lawn seat and up to $27 for a club or premium seat.

Nathan Torres, stadium manager for the Goodyear Recreational Sports Complex, says that based on a 2007 Cactus League survey, the economic impact of the Cleveland Indians moving to Arizona in 2009 will be more than $23 million. That number will grow to more than $47 million when the Cincinnati Reds are introduced in 2010.