As you know, Alex and I escaped the cold and headed out to Phoenix and Tampa for a week of sun and more importantly baseball. We made it to four ballparks, though only saw games in three due to inclement weather in Mesa on Saturday. After it’s all said and done, I definitely enjoyed Phoenix a little more since the parks are closer together and we have more friends in the area. Alex and I will need to go a few more times to give the Grapefruit League it’s proper due though since we just went to Steinbrenner Field… oh darn! Below are pictures from each of the ballparks we visited and a brief synopsis of our experiences, enjoy!
Camelback Ranch: Spring Training home to the LA Dodgers and Chicago White Sox
Glendale was a small haul for us as we were staying in Tempe, but I would say 30 minutes isn’t bad after our 15+ drive to Kansas City in 2012! Both Alex and I didn’t think this ballpark was too exciting, but we liked the free parking and $8 lawn seats. The atmosphere was relaxed and honestly, you could probably sit in any open seat. There was also plenty of room to stand behind the seats and that area being shaded was a bonus! We ended up sitting in the left field lawn for a few innings and that was pretty relaxing, before heading over to the right field lawn to watch the ChiSox bullpen (Dodgers didn’t have anyone warming up at the time). The view of the mountains from the park was nice and there definitely wasn’t much else in the area. You could also see the Cardinal’s stadium in the distance which brought back some bad OSU memories- boo! This ballpark while not the most aesthetically pleasing, had a nice vibe and we enjoyed our time as we cheered on the Dodgers. Since this park is significantly closer to LA than Chicago it was about 90% blue!
Cubs Park: Spring Training home to the Chicago Cubs
Alex and I consider the Cubs our NL team (we just love pinstripes!), so we were really looking forward to seeing them take on the Giants and exploring the new ballpark. Unfortunately, the game was canceled since it had just monsooned that afternoon and they didn’t want to rip up the new field. Luckily they kept the gates open and we were able to go in and walk around. I made a short video tour of the new park and we loved the mini-Wrigley they’ve made in Mesa. This park was definitely our favorite looks wise and it was a bonus that parking was free here as well!
Goodyear Ballpark: Spring Training home to the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds
Goodyear Ballpark is even more out in the middle of nowhere, but that wasn’t going to stop Alex and me from visiting. The Mariners were taking on the Tribe and a certain ex-favorite Yankee would be playing. My sister has been Robinson Cano’s biggest fan for the past seven years, carrying around this sign to almost every Yankees game we’ve attended. Cano has taken pictures with her, given her signed balls, a bat, and always says “hi” when we attend games. Well, my little homegirl did not take his leaving very well and wanted to let him know, so we went to the game with her sign, but the “I love Cano” now sports a big black X over it. Cano made a point to sign autographs around her and when he walked by he said, “so you’re a Yankees fan over a Cano fan, good to know.” That was just the closure Alex needed to let her favorite player go and I know she’ll find a new one.
That line killed me… the game and the teams will always be bigger than the players. I say good riddance! As for the ballpark itself, Goodyear is small and the best word to describe it is cute. It has the palm trees in the outfield and just enough character to make it memorable. The atmosphere is very similar to Progressive Field- it’s intimate and fan oriented. We strolled around the park standing behind the seats and sitting in the outfield lawn. There were no bad views of the field, but the backdrop is a bit lacking. The field is built facing the desert and the mountains are too far in the horizon when looking straight out at the outfield. There’s a small fairground to the left and an “airplane graveyard” to the right. In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t that big of a deal, since the ballpark itself is so nice. The only real complaint I can think of is charging for parking. It’s $5 and kinda annoying since the park is so far away and it’s Spring Training. BTW lawn seats were only $8.
Steinbrenner Field: Spring Training home to the New York Yankees
Last stop on our Spring Training tour was Tampa to see our team play a couple games. After visiting the other parks with the laid back atmosphere we weren’t ready for the “no fun zone” which is Steinbrenner Field. I know, I know, I should have seen this coming, but when you love something so much, you tend to overlook its faults. The Yankees are the best team in baseball, so yeah even in Spring Training there are rules- no signs bigger than a newspaper (Alex lost her Cano/looking for a new favorite sign-bummed), no going down to the field during batting practice without a ticket, no standing room only… anywhere. For real you can’t even look over the bullpens in between innings. Strictness! On top of that, they charge $10 for parking and the cheapest ticket is $17. For those one or two fans out there that don’t like the Yankees, take some solace that their fans are paying for it and not getting the more personal experiences that come with the smaller clubs. The price of 27 championships and seeing Derek Jeter I suppose. Can’t complain too much because this ballpark is actually really cool looking and I was watching my favorite team AND favorite player with my favorite ballpark companion. Check, check, and check for a successful day in my book! 😉
Anyone else head to Spring Training games in either league? I want to compare notes, so please leave your comments and stories!!!