A few of us dined with former Seattle pitching coach Byan Price last night - Kirby and Debbie Arnold, Jim Street and me - and had about as much fun as is legal on diet Pepsi.
Price is with Cincinnati and Dusty Baker now, but was with Arizona when Eric Byrnes was, and his scouting report was succinct: Byrnes brings his high-energy hustle to the park every day.
We took turns telling stories about the managers of Price's career in Seattle, Lou Piniella, Bob Melvin and Mike Hargrove, and about ourselves. Somewhere on the drive home it occurred to me what a goofy life we all live, attached to baseball in one role or another.
There are years we've spent more time with one another than with some family members, watching pitichers fielding practice for untold hours a spring, flying somewhere for a three-game series, interviewing Price or someone else after games.
And collecting stories.
I remembered going to dinner with Lou Piniella in one of his favorite Phoenix haunts, Richardson's - the prickly-pear margaritas were spectacular. We were talking baseball when Lou got an inspiration - and invited two 20-something women to our table.
I was a bit worried, not certain where all this was going. The women had no idea who Piniella was or what he did. Over the next 90 minutes, the four of us talked about animals and boyfriends, their college and yet-begun careers.
Lou never mentioned baseball and, in the end, bought them dinner and thanked them for joining us. Once they'd gone, he had the look of a satisfied man. A good meal, a prickly-pear margarita or two and a goofy conversation.
"Sometimes, you've got to get away from the game," he said. "You never do for long, but you have to try."
At dinner with Bryan Price last night, we talked baseball - and families, weddings, job interviews. And more baseball.