Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez is experiencing his first All-Star Game and who better to describe it than his wife Judy, who is along for the trip and has agreed to share her first-hand observations:
The second Omar Infante caught the fly ball by Jason Michaels to make the final out of Sunday's game, it was officially time for the All-Star celebrating to begin.
Fresh off a four-game sweep of the Houston Astros, it was a nice way to close out the first half.
We hustled out of Sun Life Stadium, rushed home to get our bags, and met up with Gaby's family to make our 7 p.m. flight to Phoenix. We were in full-out party mode, very excited to get in all of the fun and parties that awaited us in the desert. But, after an hour and a half layover in Dallas, we slept the second leg, arriving in Phoenix at 3 a.m. our time. Needless to say, it was time to sleep, not party. We walked out of the plane and were welcomed by a crew of men in All-Star Game shirts, eagier to assist us with everything. This was a first. Now Gaby was big-time.
The crew was very excited to see Gaby. Not sure if it was because he's an All-Star or because he was the last player to arrive and their long day was over. The airport was completely decked out with the All-Star Game logo, from the floors to poles to the merchandise in the stores. Of course, the stores had been closed for hours by the time we got in, so no All-Star Game towels or umbrellas for us. Upon exiting the nice, air-conditioned airport, we were greeted by 100 degree weather (and this is at midnight) and an Escalade. Cold water bottles and cold towels were distributed. Nice, but a tad excessive. We are from Miami, after all. We know heat.
Once we arrived at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, Gaby checked in with the All-Star staff. He got his itinerary, got fitted for his All-Star ring and received his first round of free stuff -- from the NL All-Star hoodie, to the backpack to the goodie bag filled with candie and wine, among other things. We were now stocked with merchandise bearing the 2011 All-Star Game logo. Glad those stores were closed at the airport.
As Gaby was finishing up, his hands full of door prizes, the Mets and Giants players walked in. That's when we knew it had been a long day because they had played the Sunday night baseball game at 8 p.m. It's hard to identify players sometimes when they are out of uniform. Jose Reyes is an exception. I'd recognize his hair regardless of the clothes he wears.
Also making his way through the line was Giants manager and NL coach Bruce Bochy. Bochy, who chose Gaby for the All-Star team with one of his manager's picks was directly responsible for getting Gaby to Arizona, so we were happy to meet him.
We were escorted to the room and Gaby was happy to see the "congratulations" balloons and the custom All-Star Game M&M's awaiting him. After unpacking, admiring the exquisite room that's equipped with a bathtub and a shower, and figuring out the game plan for tomorrow, we finally got into bed at 1:40 Arizona time (4:40 a.m. for us). A long day, but definitely a fun one. Tomorrow the real fun begins with batting practice, the Home Run Derby, and the gala. Can't wait!
-- Judy Sanchez