~Andrew Buchbinder, Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations
Hard to believe, but the Arizona Fall League is already coming to a conclusion. It’s a little scary, but I have the sneaking suspicion that April will be here before any of us know it. Not to suggest that the anticipation of another season of Crawdads baseball hasn’t already begun to rise, we just have a ton to do before Opening Day 2010 rolls around!
Anyway, back to the AFL. The big news that is relevant to the Crawdads is the increasingly hot bat of former ‘Dads C Doug Hogan. Hogan started off a little slow at the plate for the Surprise Rafters (14-16), but has begun to get that signature power back.
After going homerless in his first seven games as a Rafter, Hogan has belted a bomb in four of his last seven contests, and is now tied for 7th in the top prospect-filled league with four homers overall. In fact, 40% of Hogan’s hits in the AFL have left the ballpark, which is not too far of a cry from his percentage as a Crawdad – 27% in a much larger sample size. More than a quarter of the slugger’s hits as a Crawdad were home runs – not too shabby, eh?
The only downside of all of Hogan’s success is that, barring some unexpected turn of events, the Clemson grad will most likely never don Crawdads Red again. Of course, this is only a downside for some (namely us), not for all (namely Hogan and the teams he plays for in the future). And, since we try not to be selfish here, we’ll bite the bullet and be happy for his success in the prestigious Arizona Fall League.
On a totally unrelated note, I just returned to Hickory after a week-long vacation in California, visiting some good friends of mine in Bakersfield. Actually, since Bakersfield isn’t exactly the garden spot of the scenic state, I only spent a couple days there, mixed in with some sightseeing and time on the beach.
In my two years as a California resident, I had never made it up to see San Francisco. Determined not to fall to a similar fate during my visit, I strategically booked my flight into San Fran, making it impossible for me to miss it again. I ended up having a great time wandering the city and being a tourist.
I explored the Fisherman’s Wharf area, taking in all the sights (and interesting smells) that it has to offer. In particular, I greatly enjoyed the street performances. There was an English trio (two brothers and a sister) that were all gymnasts, and were literally standing on each other’s heads on the sidewalk. Apparently, they go to circus school in San Francisco. Their humorous banter coupled with the contortionistic (quite possibly not a word) poses made the 20-minute performance incredibly enjoyable – easily one of the highlights of the trip.
Another great aspect was the ferry ride around the bay. Literally cruising underneath the Golden Gate Bridge before taking a tour around Alcatraz was a great time. Not to mention the view of San Francisco from the bay. Speaking of views, if you ever go, check out the World’s Curviest Street. First walk up it (approx. 235 steps along the side of the street) then turn around and look down the hill. While your legs throb, you’ll get one of the best views in the city.
After meeting up with my buddies in Bakersfield, we quickly hit the road south for Hermosa Beach. That was our destination whenever we had some rare time off from the hockey schedule when I worked there, and it was a bit of a surreal feeling to return to our getaway spot now that I no longer work and live with those guys.
Regardless, it was as close to paradise as I remembered it to be. And I met Blake Griffin (the Clippers #1 pick out of Oklahoma) at a watering hole. He’s tall. And actually not too bad of a guy.
Though it was a great trip to scenic locations (possibly excluding Bakersfield) with some of the best friends I’ve ever had, it is nice to be back in Hickory, despite the rude welcome from the rainy conditions (a drastic difference from the beaches of Southern California). Besides, anyone who’s been down to L.P. Frans Stadium and has seen the sun take its decline down behind the mountainous backdrop knows that North Carolina knows a thing or two about nice views as well – not a bad place to spend my days!
And of course, some pictures to enjoy:
View from the bottom of the World’s Curviest Street
View from the top.
‘Til next time, Go ‘Dads!
Andrew Buchbinder is entering his second season as director of broadcasting/media relations with the Crawdads. He previously served in similar capacities with the Bakersfield Condors (ECHL) and the Bakersfield Blaze, the ‘Dads High-A affiliate in the California League.