I’m currently writing this from Alabama, where the entire state is in a freeze warning and the city looks as if an apocalypse came through this week. I’m sure everybody was very concerned about me, but I’m safe and sound–I just haven’t left the house in 4 days. I feel like Howie from the movie The Benchwarmers. That movie reference alone is getting me excited for baseball season.
Anyway, Spring Training is almost here. Can you believe it? We made it through another off season, you guys! With pitchers and catchers right around the corner, I’d like to provide my abbreviated stadium guide. I still have yet to attend some stadiums in Arizona, but I will one day.
I think we can all agree that going to Spring Training games is one of the best ways to spend a day/week/month. I’ll start with my least favorite park and go from there. Keep in mind, these are my opinions, so feel free to argue with me.
Phoenix Municipal (A’s): Yikes! This stadium is built into the side of a sketchy, weird asphalt hill, which provides a very odd seating experience. If you drop your cell phone in between the bleachers (which I did), it falls into a dark, slanted abyss. The outfield wall is about 3 miles high, and there are advertisements covering every inch of it. The one thing I did like about this park is that you cross a bridge from the parking lot that is sort of cool, I guess. Not a great park to see a game at, but if you want to see every field, sometimes you have to make sacrifices. This is probably the least fan-friendly stadium in the world, also.
HoHoKam Park (Cubs): Very strange build to this park. Chain link fencing surrounds most of the field, and players enter through a sloped driveway in right field. This definitely has the charm of an older ballpark, which is cool! That said, it feels like a high school field. There isn’t anything flashy about HoHoKam, so if you’re an old school baseball fan, you will love it. Seating is strange, too. Long rows of seats provide you being very close to your neighbor. Try not to sit next to the shirtless, husky guy at all costs. I met Robby Hammock after a game here, which was also pretty exciting.
Camelback Ranch is just beautifully done!Image: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Camelback Ranch (Dodgers…yuck/White Sox): Great stadium! Honestly, this is my favorite place to watch a game, but the odd parking situation is a point deduction. I’ve also noticed that Glendale is somewhat difficult to navigate. The seats, which are very comfortable, are located virtually on the field. Also, an aspect of seating that is so important is that the seats are turned in order to face the field, so you don’t end up with back spasms and a weird tan line. I caught a foul ball that Jason Kipnis hit during a Dodgers-Indians game here last year. I gave the ball to a kid, obviously. Very fan-friendly, and they had an awesome team store.
Salt River Fields (Diamondbacks/Rockies): Okay, I love this stadium! It is beautiful, modern, and really clean. This field really is a symbol of everything that is perfect about spring training. Every aspect of this facility is immaculate, no matter where you are. You’ve got your typical grass berm in left center that is a perfect steepness. Snow cones are a good price, too! The best nachos I’ve ever had were at the old Tucson Electric Park, but the Diamondbacks didn’t bring the nachos with them to their new park, and that really bummed me out.
I realize I still have a lot of parks to see, but that comes with time. Now all this talk about spring training is getting me amped up!
Let us know what your favorite spring training park is, but just don’t say Phoenix Municipal.
Follow me on the Twitter @realcmoff18, or the gang @venomstrikes