Last week we asked you, the faithful and helpful members of the Purple Row community, to tell us about what you want people to know about spring training in order to make it the best possible experience. Our weekly endeavour called FanPost Friday has had a lot of success, and this time around we had four folks share with us their best wisdom on enjoying spring training.
Our first post was the first ever post from SLC19 (Welcome to Purple Row)! Next, sdcarp has some fantastic advice, including some contradictory advice to SLC19. Rockin Johnny A offered brief but sound recommendations, and finally phesco gave a lot of detailed help for your next spring training venture. I encourage you to check out each post (and offer some feedback in the comments) but here is what I found to be the best from everyone’s post:
Regarding trip duration and where to stay
If you’re going to make the trip to Phoenix for spring training, four to five days is probably a minimum, so plan your vacation days wisely. Sometimes, the longer you stay the more cost effective it can be.
“Think about going for a week and renting a condo,” phesco advises. “It costs less per night than a hotel, and if you have more than 2 people is way more comfortable. You can save some meal money by cooking meals in. Every place that we've rented has had BBQ grills so we grill out at least twice during the week.”
SLC19 warns “Hotels cost an arm and a leg - Just be prepared. They know you are coming and they know people will always come whether their nightly room rate is $100 or $300.” There are obviously a lot of hotels in and around Scottsdale, but the beauty of the cactus league is you can stay just about anywhere in the city and be close to baseball. Which brings us to our next tips.
Where and when to catch baseball
The furthest distance between two Cactus League parks is about an hour by car, and the majority have been built or remodeled in the last ten years, so they’re in great shape. This is why SLC19 says “I recommend at least two games where the Rockies aren't playing. Find a team with great prospects or a new player you have always wanted to watch in person. Watch 3 Rockies games and then branch out.” (Check out the full post for full thoughts on each stadium. For example: watch out for the sun at Camelback Ranch if you go see Dodgers or White Sox games).
However, according to phesco, “if you insist that every game you see has to be a Rockies game then watch them on the road as well as Salt River.” This is sound advice and possible for a few reasons. With 15 teams and only 10 facilities, most facilities will have a game going every day. And sense there are an odd number of teams, split squad games are a daily occurrence. If you work with the schedule well enough you might be able to see a different game at a different facility everyday—or even two!
“Later in Spring, you can catch an afternoon game and an evening game on the same day,” says sdcarp. SLC19, for what it’s worth, offers a contrary opinion: “Some people may disagree with me but I am not a fan of doing a game in the afternoon and then the night game every day. I try and do a doubleheader only once while I am there,” in order to save more time for doing other things around Phoenix (we’ll get to that shortly).
There was some disagreement here on what to do about tickets. SLC19 advises you get your tickets early: “You can always by tickets at the box office but some games will sell out or have only outfield grass seats.” And, as Rockin Johnny A notes, “Unless you've got a strong back and you don't mind sitting in the hot sun, don't do the outfield berm. It's cheap, but I find it uncomfortable.”
However, Rockin Johnny A also points out “You can sometimes get good day-of ticket deals in the morning when players return comp tickets they won't use that day.” But sometimes it’s all about the teams playing. You can find good tickets to most teams/facilities but, phesco says, “Unless you are a Cubs fan, AVOID THE CUBS! They draw sellout crowds to all of their games home and away. This means traffic, difficulty parking, long lines at concessions, etc. The Giants are almost as bad, and forget getting tickets to the Giants unless you go on the secondary market.”
Sound advise for us all, phesco.
Then again, if you only pay to see baseball, you’re really missing out on part of the joy of spring training. Hit the practice fields, otherwise known as the backfields, at least once or twice. It’s often best if you get there a little earlier, (“I typically show up at 9:30,” says sdcarp). But be prepared: different parks will allow different levels of access. No matter what it’s a fun experience.
“Hanging out among the practice fields is my favorite thing to do,” says Rockin Johnny A. “I once spent an hour watching Tulo and a couple other guys -- and hardly anyone else -- take batting practice and casual fielding practice for about an hour one afternoon when the Rox were playing a game in another part of town.”
But just because it’s informal doesn’t mean you can totally let your guard down. “Be cool on the backfields,” says sdcarp. “Don't seek autographs. Last year at Goodyear - I had a conversation with Reds legend Eric Davis simply because I was the only person around NOT seeking his autograph. So he said hello and struck up a conversation just to get away from the autograph hounds.”
Other Phoenix area activities
Surely even the most baseball-starved spring training attendee will want to do more than just watch baseball all week. Here are some other tips and recommendations from our FanPosters. Most of these involve taking advantage of the outdoors, either in Phoenix or in nearby Tucson.
Sun Tan Brewing and Desert Eagle Brewing in Phoenix are excellent.
If you're into cycling, go down to Tucson and ride Mt. Lemon.
From Rockin Johnny A:
If you've got time, spend a day at Sabino Canyon park, just northeast of Tucson. It's an oasis.
If you are taking kids and want something to do other than baseball Phoenix has a great zoo, it is bigger than Denver's. The Arizona Science Center also won't disappoint azscience.org. Hiking trails can be found many places in preserves within the city limits, get the feel of the desert and climb some of the hills for some great views!
And finally, in the spirit of Buzz Luhrmann, a word of advise from SLC19: “You are likely going to be sitting in 100 degree temperatures everyday so unless you want to be the color of the Cincinnati Red's hats you need to have sunscreen with you. If you need to put more on at the park, please bring the rub-on-sunscreen. I don't want you spraying that by me when I am eating a $7 hot dog.”
Thanks again to all of our FanPosters for participating in our latest FanPost Friday prompt. What tips, tricks, recommendations or advice would you add?
Be sure to check out this week’s prompt on the rule changes you would make if you were in charge of MLB.