10 Things I Learned at Spring Training

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1. Get your tickets ahead of time. Everyone told me that tickets are aplenty once you arrive at the game of your choice, and that information was very wrong. All 4 games I went to were sold out days in advance. Stubhub had plenty of tickets available, but often for double face-value. Also, the internet connection at games was often very weak and downloading tickets on the phone became annoying very quickly. Do what you can to have your tickets in hand before arriving.

2. Night games are the best. In the Cactus League, there is always 1 night game a day. These games have a different feel to them than the rest of the games do, and are much more comfortable than the middle-of-the-day, scorching hot games. Evenings in Arizona are downright beautiful, and there’s nothing better than taking in a game on a Friday evening.

3. The Dodgers are stacked. When I say stacked, I mean STACKED, and I’m not even including their pitching (ahem, Kershaw, Greinke). Seeing Adrian Gonzalez, Howie Kendrick, Jimmy Rollins, Juan Uribe, Carl Crawford, AND Yasiel Puig in one line-up could make any sports fan drool, and most pitchers shake in their boots. Watch out for them.IMG_4812 (2)

4. Practice Fields open at 9am. Practice Fields are located right at the stadiums, are free and are open to the public. This is literally like watching your cousin Timmy play Little League down at your local ball field. Go to the game early, bring something to get autographed, and watch your favorite pitcher toss fast-balls down the pipe from 20 feet away.

5. 90 degrees is much more bearable when you’re sitting 1 row off the field. These stadiums are small, and to be honest there isn’t a terrible seat in the house. However, there also isn’t a huge difference in price between lawn seats, seats 20 rows up, and 1st row seats. If given the opportunity, take in a game at row 1. Life is good in row 1.

6. Spring Training could easily be renamed, “Women’s Convention to Snag a Husband with an MLB Contract.” Holy thirsty women alert, Batman! These women hang around the bull pens and practice fields every game, hoping to catch the eye of some lonely, up-and-comer with a big contract. This was crazy to me.

7. Robinson Cano still has the best butt in Major League Baseball. Enough said.

8. Nelson Cruz is fitting in nicely with the Mariners and having a ton of fun the dug-out. Cruz looks right at home, joking away in the dug-out before and during the games. He seems to be getting along great with Cano and Morrison especially – they were really fun to watch. This is a good sign, Mariner fans!IMG_4791 (2)

9. You don’t have to be a kid to get a ball. The players really make an effort to make Spring Training games fun for the fans, and they don’t hesitate to throw out balls, and if you’re lucky, autographs as well. Most of the time, it’s just a matter of asking politely.

10. There’s no better fan experience in professional sports than Spring Training. I like to think I’ve made it to quite a few sporting events over the last 20 years, but there is nothing quite like Spring Training. As I mentioned above, the players really make an effort to make Spring Training a great experience for the fans as well. Most who make the trip down to Arizona (or Florida) are the above-average baseball fan and the    players understand that. Between the practice fields, the pre-game warm-ups and the bull pens, there is no shortage of player interaction. Spring Training really is baseball heaven.IMG_4838 (2)

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