BOCA CHICA, D.R.—Friday morning came quickly.
A little too quickly if you ask me.
After getting to bed somewhere around 1 a.m., I was awakened four hours later by the sound of large trucks slowly shifting gears outside my window combined with the outside noise of car alarms constantly going off, as well as a healthy diet of merengue music blasting from cars.
And that was with all the windows closed and the air conditioner on full blast.
After leaving my place of rest and relaxation, I headed to another hotel where ESPN Deportes was kind enough to include me on a tour of Dominican academies.
Though we weren’t supposed to hit the Yankees’ $3.5 million-dollar complex until later in the afternoon, we actually started out there—after four cups of coffee, a three-hour bus ride and a strong desire to have to pee.
The Yankees academy is absolutely stunning—it’s like someone picked up any complex in Florida or Arizona and plopped it down in the middle of the Dominican jungle. There are four fields designed in a circle with a tower in the middle, and the two-floor building that houses the team’s offices and dorm rooms for the players overlooks the sprawling grounds.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The Yankees are often accused of hiding players at this academy and you can see why: it’s harder than hell to find.
There are no markings off the main road, just a yellow ‘NO ENTRE’ sign that leads down a dirt road. In fact, our bus driver had to stop a guy on a Moped just to make sure we were on the right path.
After about a quarter mile down the road, the six-foot iron gate emblazoned with a ginormous NY logo on it slowly becomes visible. We are led through by several security guards and are officially on hallowed ground by many in our tour group’s minds.
Except the guy from Boston.
For players, playing and living at the academy is not unlike being in an all-boys private school. There are 10 rooms that can sleep up to eight, a TV room that doubles as a classroom and community bathrooms.
They have an 11 p.m. curfew and must remain at the academy at all times. The only exceptions are Saturdays are half days, and players can return home to their families after workouts. They have to be back by 5 p.m. Sunday.
While some people I’ve run into here say that the Mets’ complex, which is scheduled to open in April, will be bigger and more state-of-the-art, this place is pristinely beautiful.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay with the ESPN Deportes group for the remainder of their tour. I waited for a ride and an opportunity to see Latin American scouting on a grassroots level in the famed baseball town of San Pedro de Macoris, so I was able to hang with the pinstripes longer.
I ate lunch with the players (chicken and rice, some sort of bean soup and a fruit drink that frankly was nasty) and got to speak with Ron Anderson, the only gringo in town.
Anderson teaches English classes here and lives on the ‘campus.’ We’ll have audio up of a chat with him soon.
I’m terrible at those types of public style interviews of ‘Hey this is blah-blah-blah and I’m here with blah-blah-blah’, so bear with me. Hopefully it’ll get better as the week goes on.