Today was all about baseball.
Stephanie and I bought tickets to see two spring training games: Cleveland vs. Colorado in Scottsdale at 1:05 pm and then San Diego vs. Seattle in Peoria at 7:10 pm. We got tickets to sit in the grass in the outfield because those are much less expensive (~$8) and it’s usually pretty easy to snag a seat once a few innings have passed. We left Tucson at ~10 in the morning and arrived at Salt River Field a little after noon. This is the newest stadium that’s used in the Cactus League (built in 2011) and it’s quite nice. The grandstands are large and the concourse is open to the field. The main stadium is also surrounded by a ton of practice fields/batting cages. It definitely seems like a top-notch facility.
Spreading out a blanket and sitting in the grass is a lot of fun. You can lay down or sit back and relax and are treated to a pretty unique perspective for watching the game. But it was SO HOT. There were no clouds and no shade and it was easily 90 degrees in the sun. We did our best to tough it out (via liberal application of sun screen and water consumption) but we only lasted two and a half innings before we had to go looking for shade. Unfortunately, the stadium was PACKED, so we couldn’t find two empty seats together. However, we were able to find a nice spot to stand inside along the main concourse between home plate and first base. There was a raised concrete bench for standing on, which provided a pretty great view of the action, and a large column just to our right that both prevented people from standing in front of us and gave us something to lean against so we could recover from the sun. After drinking a lot of water and standing in the shade for ~15 minutes we both felt a lot better. The only veg-friendly entrée in the whole stadium was the cheese pizza (lame!), so Stephanie and I just got some snacks to share (nachos and a soft pretzel). We watched the rest of the game from our new spot. Cleveland ended up pounding the Rockies, so while the game wasn’t particularly close/tense, it was a lot of fun.
Getting from Scottsdale to Peoria is, in theory, fairly simple. It’s a drive that should take less than half an hour, but traffic ended up being miserable, so it took significantly longer than an hour. Fortunately, there was plenty of time between the first and second games, so we didn’t miss any baseball. Stephanie’s dad met us in Peoria to watch the second game with us. We had a chance to walk around before the game started and take in some of the sights and sounds.
Mariners 3/21/2014 batting order (left) and standing by the GIANT Mariners baseball (right).
The second game was SO MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE. The sun set right around first pitch and it was ~72 F and just perfect. It was also a bit less crowded, so it was easier to walk around and find good spots from which to watch the action. During pre-game warm-ups I was standing right behind Paxton as he was doing some long-tossing out in left field. That was pretty neat.
Although Peoria isn’t as fancy as Salt River, I actually like it a bit more. It’s a little smaller and cozier and has a much more laid back vibe. The food offerings were also a lot better (their menus included thai food and falafel/gyros and salads and burritos and veggie burgers and veggie dogs) and less expensive than Salt River. I was really excited to try a veggie dog… loading up a hot dog at the ballpark with a bunch of mustard and ketchup and sauerkraut (and relish and/or onions, if you’re gross) is such a “baseball” thing… Unfortunately, they were all out of veggie dogs. This was moderately upsetting, and because I had been so looking forward to a (veggie) hot dog, I ended up just getting a regular hot dog instead (meat #18!). It was wonderful and gross and everything that you’d expect from a stadium hot dog.
As a Mariners fan, the game wasn’t particularly exciting. Seattle fell behind early and then pulled all of their regulars after the 4th/5th innings (they were already losing pretty badly at this point). Despite this, going to the game was still a lot of fun. It was neat to see Paxton pitch for the first time and weird seeing Cano in a Mariners uniform… Also, a bunch of the Seattle starters stopped right behind where we were standing to sign autographs as they were walking back to the clubhouse. I’m not a cute little kid, so I opted not to go beg for an autograph (even though a small part of me really wanted to). Some of the players seemed to be really good with the kids (especially Brad Miller) and asked questions/told jokes/offered words of encouragement as they were signing.
The game ended up being realllllllly slow, so we left a little early (in the 8th inning) and made the ~140 mile trek back to Tucson. We arrived at Stephanie’s a little after 1 am and fell asleep hard. It was a long, good day.
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Miles run in 2014: 96.4
Books read in 2014: 22