The following events take place between 9am and 5pm on Friday, March 12th.
I have never before gone to Spring Training. My dad and I always talked about it, but for one reason or another never made the trip down and eventually I grew up enough as a baseball fan that my exposure to the mediazation of Spring Training put me off the idea. Baseball is boring enough as it is; I didn't need to travel for the express purposes of watching the meaningless version. At least, I wasn't going to pay to do that, so when I was offered a chance to fly south for free I jumped at the opportunity. I'll go pretty much anywhere when someone else picks up the tab so big thanks to David Appleman of FanGraphs.
My first memorable impression of the trip was landing in Phoenix and noticing just how many people were here to watch baseball. A healthy percentage of other travelers in the airport terminal were sporting baseball jerseys. Seeing hundreds of people wearing jerseys from a dozen or so different teams was a rather unique experence. I am not sure where else you can find that sort of gathering outside of perhaps a Hall of Fame induction ceremony. There were so many younger tourists there that it might have even dropped the median age of people in Phoenix below 65.
My second experence was in immediately forgetting that first impression and being stumped by where to eat breakfast because there were crowds everywhere. Why were so many people out at 11am on a Friday? I am beginning to think that drinking has had an adverse effect on my short-term memory. Anyways, my second experience was in immediately forgetting that first impression and being stumped by where to eat breakfast because there were crowds everywhere. We eventually found a chain place, The Good Egg, that was actually pretty decent and afforded us a chance to sit outside in the glorious sunlight. I stripped down as much as socially acceptable, which is quite far in Phoenix, attempting to soak up as much valuable vitamin D as I could muster.
After breakfast came the trip to Peoria for the Royals and Mariners. Absent caring about the individual results of at bats since it's Spring Training, I looked for humorous things and was obliged. Scott Podsednik made a diving attempt on a Chone Figgins looper and completely missed it, letting it roll past him for a triple, Figgins' first hit of the spring.
Dan Cortes pitched and got lit up. Juan Cruz pitched for the Royals and got lit up. Matt Tuiasosopo looked great at the plate with a home run and a 450 blast off the hitter's eye in dead center for a double. Griffey got on base twice and after the second time, upon being removed for James Jones to pinch run, decided against returning to the M's dugout. Instead, Griffey just kept jogging down the first base line and exited via a gate in right field. Being on the opposite side of the field from where I was, I have no idea what kind of vendors were over there, but they must have some damn good hot dogs or something.
Dustin Ackley played second base for a spell and looked impressively routine and even made a good play on one of those little bloopers to the outfield that required him to turn his back to the plate, run out and make an over the shoulder catch. Ackley also looks to be about two feet tall, for what it's worth. In between innings, Peoria played some Lady Gaga. That was just one example of how the PA guy was far more current in pop culture than normal Major League parks.
Chad Cordero pitched in one of the later innings and struck out a pair of hitters, including one for the third out. I imagine that's his best moment from the past two years. In that same time span, I have discovered the joys of falafel and saved money by switching to Geico. Compare your life to mine, Chad Cordero, and then kill yourself.
The game ended in a 6-6 tie, which was fine because I had my fill of watching what was now a lineup of Mariner scrubs and what I assume were Royals scrubs, but it was difficult to tell. It was now time to exit the stadium and head back toward air conditioning and civilization. Mapping software informed me that it was about 25 miles between the ballpark and my hotel. A little over an hour later, we got back. I understand Phoenix is full of old people and thus they prefer to build single story everything lest they invoke the possibility of climbing stairs at some point, but enough is enough with the sprawl, Phoenix.