For those in the know, it’s not a surprise to hear I drove yesterday morning to Surprise to pick up my spring training media credentials from the Texas Rangers. While real estate is the full-time (and then some) gig, I’ve been writing free-lance articles for the Associated Press for the past 20 years.
I’m more than a touch old-fashioned … okay … call it curmudgeonly … in that I’m not a big fan of hassles. I’ve covered two World Series games and enjoyed the experience immensely. I’ve never worked a Super Bowl or NBA Finals, though I’ve worked NHL and NBA playoff games. The bigger the game, the bigger the hassle and the less inclined I am to deal with it all.
This, in short, is why I enjoy spring training – the simple sounds of cleats clacking against concrete, the aroma of fresh-cut grass in the air, the particular thump a fastball makes when it connects with a glove, the rapping of ball against bat …
… and the sights of sounds of more than 100 Japanese journalists following every movement of the Rangers’ splashy new acquisition, Yu Darvish.
Newspapers in America are on death watch; layoffs were announced for the Rangers’ hometown Fort Worth Star Telegram and somehow, someway, the newspapers of Japan collectively can fly more than 100 reporters and cameramen across the Pacific to watch one man stretch his hamstrings.
But I digress …
Half the major leagues currently train in the Valley of the Sun:
- Chicago Cubs – Mesa
- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Tempe
- San Francisco Giants – Scottsdale Stadium, Scottsdale
- Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies – Salt River Field, Scottsdale
- Milwaukee Brewers – Maryvale Stadium, Phoenix
- Oakland Athletics – Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Phoenix
- San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners – Peoria
- Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals – Surprise
- Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox – Camelback Ranch, Phoenix/Glendale
- Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians – Goodyear
Tickets are cheap, the beer is cold (and inexpensive) and most days you can see the starting nine playing the first three to seven innings depending on when you go.
And the next two weeks, when workouts are taking place, are an autograph hound’s haven as players are available just past a plastic flagged rope.
Albert Pujols is in Tempe, Manny Ramirez is back and in Phoenix, the aforementioned Yu Darvish is in Surprise and the unsuspended Ryan Braun is in Maryvale. And that’s just four of the 15.
Other places can keep their snow and frost. Spring Training is in the air here and all is well.