Only 65 miles to win country!

The saying from my title is from a pun-ny billboard advertising a Chumash casino off the 101 on the way up to California’s Central Coast wine country. I thought it was clever and it made me smile thinking, more like only 11 days until win country. Baseball season is just around the corner! As you can probably guess from this introduction, Seth and I spent the weekend on the Central Coast for the Paso Robles Zinfandel Festival, our it-fit-the-budget-better-than-SpringTraining March trip. Wine, parties under a patio in the rain, eclectic conversation (We went into this great little used bookstore. But when you stepped inside it was really huge, like a TARDIS, for the win.) and, even without Spring Training, plenty of baseball talk. It was a great weekend.

Paso Robles is a wonderfully casual place. There is wine, very good wine even, aplenty. But the winemakers have the perfect fun attitude about their craft and for festival weekends, they throw great laid back parties featuring pairings like wine and street tacos, Pinot and paella, or wine with Santa Maria style barbeque or sliders. It’s common to have winery parties centered around MLB playoffs or, this weekend, around college basketball games. It’s anything but stuffy, which is why I always have so much fun up there. And, seriously, for a town located about as far away from professional baseball as you can get in the state of California, there sure are a lot of baseball fans in Paso.

This trip I ran into an unusual number of Angels fans too. The winemaker’s wife who went to Villa Park high school in Orange County with Bert Blyleven and Bob Boone’s sons. The casual fans up from Orange County for a visit (Vernon Wells, who?). Dissecting the starting rotation and the Kaz question over a Methuselah – a six liter bottle of wine, truly awesome in its absolute absurdity – of a lovely meritage blend. The local who literally tugged on my sleeve at another event after noticing my jacket. So do you think they’re going to make it this year? Ah, the eternal question.

We also made a special trip to Rio Seco, the baseball winery, hoping for a spring training tie-in. Former minor league pitcher, retired scout and winemaker Tom Hinkle and friends were actually at Spring Training though. No matter, the wine was great as usual, from the Grand Slam and the MVP to the “futures” barrel tasting. Hinkles’ wife and daughter, who run the winery alongside him, are as knowledgeable and hospitable hosts as one could ask for…and they told me that Tom thinks the Angels made some good decisions in the offseason and are ready for a great year. *huge grin* Hey, come for the wine, stay for the season predictions. Rio Seco is hosting a summer kickoff wine and seafood event in June, and Seth and I are planning to make the trip back up again at that point. I jokingly asked if they would have the game on, and my wonderful hostess replied, Here? Are you kidding, we’ll probably have several of the games on, before noting “big Angels fans” next to our names on the guest list. I have a feeling that will be a great party.

* * * * *

In Angels news this weekend, It’s official, Kendrys Morales will start the season on the 15 day DL. (Yes, Kendrys. Apparently they mucked up his name on his original visa, which is more common than you’d think) I am disappointed but I am also relieved. He’s hitting. He’s fielding. But it sounds like his ability to run at the level required to play hasn’t improved much since Spring Training started and now there is a problem with his big toe and narrow cleats – injuries to your feet and ankles suck. They take forever to heal and complications as they heal are common. So, suffice to say. Slow down. Heal fully. Come back strong and ready to enjoy a productive career.

But the rest of you Angels, please, stop trying to be trendy. Just because so many of the cool kids are going on the DL this spring doesn’t mean you have to do it too. Trumbo, Pineiro, Bourjos, I’m looking at you. All joking aside, Pineiro’s sholder strain concerns me. Bourjos is back playing after hip tightness. Trumbo is due back any day now from groin tightness but no word on Pineiro since he was pulled from the minor league game he was pitching in today. I’m glad the team is taking precautionary measures with minor injuries and such during Spring Training, but let’s be careful not to need the precautionary measures in the first place, shall we?

Funny news from today’s game? Scioscia was thrown out for arguing that a third out tag had beat the runner scoring. If this were the regular season I might feel more outrage or annoyance – it does sound like the ump was a little overzealous – than amusement but, seriously, who gets thrown out of the game in Spring Training? Too funny!



  1. jtroberts12

    I’m jealous that you got to take any kind of vacation… oh to have the financial security to just up and leave work and spend loads of money on pleasure… 🙂

    You haven’t really been missing too much from Spring Training. Just more guys pretending to be hurt so they don’t have to play so much meaningless baseball.

    Oh, and by the way, this is Josh from, I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner, Blogger automatically triggered your comments as spam, and I didn’t seem them until now. Thanks for the support and I can’t wait to read more when the season starts!


  2. redstatebluestate

    Kendrys? Really? I was wondering why I was seeing an “s” at the end of his name all of the sudden. Thanks for the explanation. And I’m sure he’s bummed about the sitch too… no one probably feels worse about that injury (and its slow healing process) as he does. Hope they come back strong. The AL West ain’t much fun without the Halos in the mix.

  3. blithescribe

    Josh – I hear you on that one. If I had to pay for what the trip was worth, I couldn’t afford it either. My in-laws have a place up there and most of the events on festival weekends are free or under $10. You’re welcome. Glad I’m no longer spam :). Just a few more days left!! Thanks for dropping by my blog.
    Jeff – Yes, Kendrys is a singular plural now. I can tell he’s bummed and I have special empathy for those rehabbing foot and leg injuries. Like I said, I’m glad they just put him on the DL to start and took the pressure to be ready for opening day off. I think that would have been way too soon.
    This is a very simple game…

  4. blithescribe

    Jeff – Agreed. Never. Again. Except, you know, for those jumping and diving plays at first. Then it’s okay, provided all landing gear is properly aligned so to speak. In fact, I would not be surprised if the comedians in the Angels clubhouse provide Kendrys with a complete list of jumping dos and don’ts, possibly with diagrams and/or highly graphic photos, possibly in OSHA poster format…at least, that’s what I would do, LOL.
    Sue – It _was_ huge. It took 20 or so of us to finish the bottle. I got about 3 glasses of it, so walking straight was not a concern, LOL. But the novelty of having wine from the sort of bottle they usually only serve at very fancy parties with paella out on a patio in the rain was a lot of fun.

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