Let’s hear it for spring . . . spring training, that is. If you’re a baseball fan like me, spring isn’t officially in the air until bats are hitting balls. And if again, you’re a baseball fan and if you live on the West Coast, the best place to get into a take-me-out-to-the-ballgame frame of mind is Phoenix, home of the Cactus League.
Cactus League teams include the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland A’s, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers; and their stadiums (many of them shared) are scattered all over the Greater Phoenix area.
Tip: My pick for best stadium location: Scottsdale’s Stadium Park, home to the San Francisco Giants. It’s in the middle of the action and close to great shopping, good restaurants, fun bars and innumerable hotels.
Each stadium has its own flair, each has its own food specialties and all are fun . . . from basking in the Arizona sun while sitting on the grassy lawn or in the comfy stadium seats to drinking icy beers and sampling different food offerings each inning.
Tip: Don’t miss a hot dog should you find yourself at Peoria Sports Complex, home to the San Diego Padres/Seattle Mariners. The bun is fluffy and fresh, and the dog is hot-off-the grill. It’s so much better than what I’ll find in regular season at San Diego’s Petco Park; but don’t get me started on Petco’s food.
Spring training serves up a AAA+ casual atmosphere: players are more easily accessible, wins and loses aren’t the typical end-of-season’s do or die situations and after-the-game get-togethers at the local bars and restaurants are punctuated by laughs and levity regardless of which team’s jersey you are wearing.
Final tip: Stay alert—you just may run into a player or two, a well-known sportscaster or a hall-of-famer.
Photo: Cynthia Dial