Fun in the sun at Spring Training
PHOENIX — Apparently, word leaked to the masses about Spring Training.
The Cactus League, one of two divisions that make up MLB’s monthlong preseason, is a hot ticket among baseball-starved fans, who packed into the numerous ballparks in the Phoenix area last week to catch a glimpse of their teams in action — and perhaps scout their rivals.
Tickets were tougher than ever to come by, and in many cases were sold out altogether weeks in advance. Elbow room was scarce in the wallet-friendly grass sections, limiting tailgating time outside the confines. Parking was crazy. Autograph-seekers — mostly kids, but not always — crowded and squawked at any player within earshot. Restroom lines tested patience and bladders.
Nevertheless, with the overabundance of people aside, it was great fun.
Spring Training is a tradition with my wife and father-in-law, who graciously accepted a third member (me) last season. This year we caught six games in four days, starting with Royals-Dodgers shortly after our Thursday arrival, followed by Giants-Padres for the nightcap.
The next day started with Reds-Brewers. Since we failed to secure tickets for a night game, we opted to attend an amateur drag race instead. It won’t be our last.
That left three more games over the final two days — Dodgers-White Sox, Cubs-Indians and Giants-Rockies.
We were treated to a stellar pitching matchup at the Dodgers-White Sox, with aces Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale squaring off in a battle of funky southpaws. We had standing-room tickets for Cubs-Indians, as Chicago’s National League club is seemingly the most popular sports team on the planet. The Giants routed the Rockies, highlighted by a Brandon Belt blast to center, in our send-off game.
Thanks to liberal sunscreen applications, we departed with no major sunburns from the Arizona sun — just a hankering to repeat the experience next March.
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