While the rest of my group headed off to breakfast at about 10:20am I made the brief walk down the street from our hotel to Scottsdale Stadium.
I had decided that, since this stadium was a bit more intimate and cozy, I could walk all the way around it before the gates opened at 11:00am. I was right. I started at the southwest end, near home plate:
And then I proceeded counter-clockwise to the first base gate:
And down the street past a practice field until I was behind the stadium at the center field gate:
Then I took a look through the tunnel in center field (where the Padres bus would soon pull in):
There would be batting practice! See the cage?
I had some time so I walked even further, past the berm in left field:
And to the concourse in left… I took a picture through the gates:
I decided that I would enter through the center field gate and run to the left field lawn as soon as the park opened. As it turned out, the old lady at the gate hadn’t heard the radio announcement that the park was open and I didn’t get inside in time to even check for Easter eggs, but I could tell right away that the field and stadium were great. It was smaller than Camelback and not nearly as spread out. I felt like I could run around the whole place in a minute or two.
The Giants were hitting and in all my time on the left field berm I think two home runs got hit up there… the wind was blowing in like crazy and anything that had any notable height got knocked down before it could get near the outfield fence. After about 20 minutes in left field I went to right center field.
No luck there… and that berm was STEEP!
Finally, I went to far right field:
On the practice field behind me, Tim Lincecum and a few other Giants pitchers were running some drills. Finally, after about five minutes near the right field wall I got Waldis Joaquin to toss me a ball as he came out of the bullpen. After taking a few pictures I went down to the foul line on the third base side of the stadium and bullpen coach Mark Gardner tossed me my second baseball of the day.
BP wound down after that (about noon) and, though i made it to the dugout, nobody tossed anything up–and Buster Posey signed a few autographs but I missed out on that. I decided to head to the concourse underneath the seats to peruse the concourse while I waited for the rest of the group to arrive to the game. There is one main concourse at Scottsdale Stadium that is partially covered by the seats behind home plate. Over at Camelback Ranch there is very little shade anywhere, on the concourse or in the stands. It was nice to cool down for a bit.
Before the crowds got too big I made sure to take a nice panoramic photo of the stadium from behind home plate:
le and the others got there (they sneaked in some cupcakes–score!) we found our seats. Michelle and I were actually in the first row about halfway down the left field line.
I felt like I had a decent chance at a foul ball. Or, if Kyle Blanks ended an inning by catching a fly ball maybe he’d toss it to me. Neither of those things happened… though I would have had a shot at a foul if an old vendor hadn’t been hanging out in the aisle to my right. It was a good game. The Padres continued their great Spring Training run… they beat up on the Giants. Jesse had a long drive ahead of him so he requested that we leave a bit early–I couldn’t object. So, at about 3:00pm the six of us met up at the home plate gate and headed back to the hotel. We had a seven-hour drive ahead of us through the AZ and CA deserts.
We got back to Irvine around 10:00 that evening… it was a really fun trip. Michelle and I decided we’d definitely go back to Spring Training–maybe even next year.
My Spring Training excursion started the previous day.
Friday morning we left Orange County at 7:00 in the morning and made the drive along the 10 freeway to Arizona. We got there around 1:00pm, put our stuff down at the hotel, and made the 10 minute walk into downtown Scottsdale. I would have loved to catch the Angels and the Giants at Scottsdale Stadium but it was sold out so our group (which consisted of Michelle and I and four of our friends) spent the afternoon and evening at various restaurants at bars enjoying our brief Spring Break.
On Saturday morning, the morning of our trip to Camelback, Jesse (who attended a game with me on 9/2/09 at Dodger Stadium), Randy (who’d gone to a game with me on 4/8/09 and 7/27/09), and I got up and made it to the complex around 9:30am.
Camelback Ranch opens four hours prior to the day’s game, which gave us plenty of time to explore. The facility is fantastic and sprawling.
In the photo above you can see the stadium gates on the left, a crowd waiting for the Dodgers to emege from their clubhouse in the center, and a body of water on the right. A man-made river/lake separates the White Sox training facilities from the Dodgers facilities but the casual fan can roam pretty much anywhere they want. Highlights of the morning included watching Matt Kemp hit off a tee in the batting cage:
Watching White Sox minor league guys practice their pitches:
And welcoming the Dodgers as they made their way from the clubhouse inside the stadium (which wouldn’t open until 11:30–bummer) to their practice field:
Note Manny on the tricycle for grownups. James Loney was a bit late:
I’ll go back to the White Sox minor leaguers for a minute. Watching them warm up I snagged the only baseball I’d snag that day. What? I know, it kind of sucked but the stadium was sold out and I only had 30 minutes of BP to work with.
A guy named Zach Piccola had a throw from a teammate tip off his glove and land on the grassy hillside I was standing on. I ran over and picked it up. It was a ROMLB and I looked at the players on the field. Piccola was looking at me and seemed to be wondering if I was going to keep the ball. I made a gesture to communicate that I could simply give it back to him. He didn’t seem to care too much (as there was a bag of baseballs a few feet from him. He shrugged… I decided to toss it back to him. I really didn’t care too much about it anyway. I was just excited to be there.
I headed to one of the Dodger minor league fields for a minute:
Well, after that I watched the Dodgers run some infield drills with Joe Torre standing in the middle of the field calling plays:
And a little while later the three of us watched some PFP which was really cool. We could hear everything the players and coaches said to each other and anytime a pitchers missed a grounder or a throw they had to run to the outfield wall and back… with one other guy of their choosing.
Most of the players picked poor Clayton Kershaw to run with them. Pickin’ on the young guy.
At about 11:15 I went into the–well, it was kind of a foyer of the stadium. I watched while at least a half dozen homers landed on the RF berm and were picked up by a staff member and given to little kids.
Finally, at 11:30 everyone was let in and I ran around to some rocks near the back of the berm checking for Easter eggs… but none were there. It was a great place:
But it was kind of a depressing BP. Sure, it was great to get to run around freely without fear of smacking my thigh on an armrest, but it was so crowded and by the time we got inside the stadium there weren’t many baseballs being thrown or hit to fans. I got close to two homers. One came down to a sprint to the rocks between me and one other guy. I lost. And one bounced off the warning track and about two feet over my head as I ran to my left to try to get to it. BP ended at 12:00pm and the guys and I past the far right field lawn:
And to my seats. The six of us (including the girls that were on their way) had seats in different sections. While we were waiting for the ladies Chone Figgins and Casey Kotchman started playing catch down the right field line and a few other Mariners started stretching.
I didn’t get a ball but I did get Milton Bradley to sign my ticket for that day.
I went back to my seat–they were pretty great seats that Michelle and I had:
And the girls showed up at about 12:15. We all kind of split up at that point but before the game started I got Jack Wilson to sign a card I’d brought with me.
After that I kind of just relaxed in the warm Arizona sun–actually we had shady seats–and though I tried for a third out toss or two, I really just sat with Michelle and enjoyed the game.
Guess what? It was a sold out crowd of 13,000 people–lots of Dodgers fans. I really enjoyed Camelback Ranch but the next time I go I’ll do so for a White Sox game during the week. A Dodgers game on the last weekend of ST is just really crowded. Camelback is a beautiful facility, for sure, and it’s totally worth checking out.
After the game (which the Dodgers won… thanks mostly to Charlie Haeger’s knuckleball) we headed back to our cars. Michelle, Jesse, Alison, and I made a quick stop in downtown Phoenix to take a look at Chase Field:
We went into Friday’s Front Row Sports Grill and took a look at the field:
It looks like an amazing facility–I’m rather fond of retractable roofs–and Jesse and I vowed to come back to watch a game at some point.
Then we headed back to Scottsdale for dinner and another relaxing evening. There was another game the next day… Giants and Padres.
Hi, everyone. It seems like I haven’t blogged in ages! I’ve got a good excuse though. I’ve been spending most of the past few weeks working on my thesis… yes, yes, I’m in grad school and academics needed to take priority before baseball season got here. But, as of today I have completed the first draft of a forty-two page, more than 12,000 word paper and I am submitting it to my thesis chairperson tonight. Whew. So, that’s why I’ve been notably absent from the blogosphere as of late.
But all that changes as this evening I will be packing my bags for a weekend trip to Arizona! Woo-hoo! We’re leaving tomorrow morning to make the six-hour trek to a couple of dales… Gen and Scott, to be exact. Two cars, six people, and the destination: SPRING TRAINING! I’ve never been and I’m getting more excited by the hour. Thanks to some blog friends and e-mails that have gone back and forth I feel pretty prepared to do some serious snagging and even some autograph collecting at the weekend games.
Both stadiums look awesome and I will blog about each game I attend… being that these are my first Spring Training games I really don’t know exactly what to expect but as I mentioned before, the blog community sure does make getting information easy.
Additionally, I have tickets to the exhibition game between the Angels and Padres on April 1st so I ‘ll get to have a little practice snag session in Anaheim before my first regular season game there (probably in mid-April) and I’m now locked in on my date with Citi Field: April 8th. Hopefully I’ll run across a few of the NY ballhawks while I’m there.
You’ll hear from me again within the week! Wish me luck–and feel free to comment with any advice or tips if you’ve got ’em.
That’s right! As of today it officially time for Spring Training. Typically, I start thinking about the new baseball season about the time Christmas ends… and the rest of the world waits until the Super Bowl’s done to think about it. This year I’m especially excited. I actually have baseball plans from now until April!
First off, the All-Star Game is going to be held at Angel Stadium this year. I’m going to do whatever I can to get into the game itself as well as the Home Run Derby. But tickets for the other, lesser known festivities go on sale at the end of February. Who’s gonna be in line for tickets? This guy.
After that, there’s Spring Training games in Arizona (and Florida). I’m about a six-hour drive from Cactus League action and,yet, I’ve never been. Well, this year I’m going. My wife and I are joining a couple of friends for two games toward the end of March. Maybe I’ll love it–maybe I’ll never want to go back. I’m going this year, for sure. The tickets arrived last week and the hotel is booked! I’m hoping to snag some baseballs and get some autographs. Any advice? Anyone know anything about access to places and players for AZ games?
And once Spring Training ends I’m planning on hitting up the Angels/Padres exhibition on April 1st. Sure, it’s not a REAL game but it’ll be my only chance to see the Halos play before I leave for New York–where I’m planning to see a Mets game at Citi Field. Either April 7th or 8th. If anyone has advice for Citi Field snagging, feel free to leave a comment.
So, who’s excited? Me. And the season can’t get here fast enough.