This past weekend I was extremely lucky to be in the Phoenix area for Spring Training! It was actually my first--but definitely not last!--time being out there during this time and I can tell you that it was exciting to say the least.
The rain did dampen some of the activities, like seeing tarps on the field or less sightings of major players, but it did not stop the teams from putting in work and hitting the indoor batting cages. Also, if you ever do go and it rains, I learned that it is probably the best time to get autographs because less people.show up. The down side to that, you have to stand in the sad, wet weather for hours and hope that any player feels bad for you (which is highly likely because baseball has some really nice players).
Sadly, I only captured the homes of the Angels, and the White Sox and Dodgers. I saw where the Brewers, Giants, and Cubs play but I did not take any pictures. My bad...
Out of all the places, I think that where the World Series Champions play has to be one the nicer places. It has a nice aesthetic to it and I'm sure the native Cubs fans that relocated to Arizona feel like they're right at home while watching their team even though everyone back home is still freezing in March.
I also liked where the Giants play because Scottsdale is a nice community and it had a big parking structure behind it. The structure may fill up on regular work days that week and it certainly would on game days because the Giants fanbase is large.
Where the Brewers played was not in the best part of town, so if you're a Brewers fan hoping to go out there or your team is playing them, just be aware. Don't set your hopes too high because the stadium stands out in the neighborhood that it's located in. I'm sure that the stadium offers a great experience (and hopefully cheaper tickets?) and everyone out there is friendly anyway.
I was so lucky that I actually got to watch a team practice and wait for autographs! I didn't really get any autographs but I saw some nice players who signed for the crowd.
Here are some things that I learned:
1) Always, always, always, always have something to be signed! This may sound obvious but sometimes you forget how accessible autographs are when going to Arizona and you tend to forget to bring anything.
2) Once you have something to bring, make sure that it's unique in a way. I saw a pennant being signed, which stands out in the crowd of bobbleheads and baseballs. Sure bobbleheads would be worth more with a signature and baseballs are a classic go-to, but something like a pennant is light and bold.
3) Ask nicely. Players really appreciate those who use 'Please' because it makes them feel more human and not like an exhibit. You might be surprised how willing they are to sign for people who use simple and kind words. A couple of players actually said that they would sign because a person asked nicely, so never forget your manners when you come!
4) Blue ink is the best ink for baseballs. If you do bring a baseball, bring a blue ink pen. Never use a Sharpie on a baseball, the ink will expand and someday you will have no idea who signed it! Black ink is fine but blue lasts longer.
5) Be on the lookout for a baseball! Batting practices are going on, so baseballs are flying around the area. Also, you could get a ball just by politely asking a player for one. Pitchers are usually nice and willing because the position players were batting in a secluded cage at this time.
6) Use your language skills! Whether you took Spanish in high school or actually know it, it comes in handy during this time. Players may not know English too well because they just moved to this country so hearing someone speak their native tongue feels more at home to them. If you know Japanese, that's also a major plus because it's hard and you will stand out!
7) Do your homework. Figure out the roster because there are so many random players and you may not know all of them off the bat. It also works because you can use your knowledge of their names to talk to them and call their attention. They could be a star one day and you could have helped the fans discover it.
8) No autograph is guaranteed so go where the player is. You may think, 'Oh, they'll come back to my side of the barricade.' When in reality they only stay on the other side and leave. It hurts and you need to be a little aggressive but not a mean aggressive.
9) You will be standing for a long time, so go with others if you want a placeholder in your spot to walk around and avoid your legs from going out on you. It will hurt your legs but trust me, you were made for this.
10) The most important: Enjoy this experience! How often do you get to watch your favorite player field grounders in February or March for free?! Take everything in because it is a wonderful time of the year. You never know if you will come back to this place again so enjoy every second.
Pictures from Camelback Ranch:
Guess what? Today is the day where we finally hit Adam Ottavino days until pitchers and catchers begin Spring Training! Baseball season is only starting to begin!
Schedule of Each Teams' Pitchers & Catchers
See you very soon!
ONE DAY MORE.
We only have a portion left of 2016 Cy Young recipient Max Scherzer until Spring Training!
Even he can't believe that we are only a small portion of Michael Fulmer days until Spring Training begins! Was forced to be creative again this time because catchers must think that #2 is uncool or maybe an infielder (shortstops, most likely) stole it from them... Thanks a lot.
What?! Yadier Molina days until Spring Training begins!
*Indians, Rays, Red Sox, and Mets all begin early on Feb. 12*
We are somewhat Matt Koch days until pitchers and catchers report... I could not find anyone to represent #5 so I had to make lemonade with what I had. Hope you enjoy it, Diamondbacks fans!
Carl Edwards days-- and less than a week-- until the defending World Series Champs meet up to prepare to repeat this year!
We have Christian Vasquez days until the Sox go to Florida! Red Sox fans, do you think that this guy will be starting this year?
Hey, Cards fans! We are Mike Leake days until pitchers and catchers report to training camp! Almost time for you to rock your red at Busch Stadium (or on the road)!
Summer isn't complete without baseball.