Spring training tips?
February 4, 2010 8:24 AM   Subscribe

Anything you wish you had known before you went to Spring Training?

Planning on meeting a buddy in Arizona to catch some Cactus League action. Thinking about doing a Fri - Mon thing. Thinking it'll be fine to just buy a plane ticket to Phoenix, and rent a car. Expecting I can just drive to the stadiums and buy a ticket the day/night of the game.

Is this reasonable? Is there anything you wish you had known before you went to spring training?
posted by xmutex to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My son (8 yrs old) and I went last year with my folks and had a blast! I wish I could go back this year, but it just isn't going to work out.

We're Giants' fans and stayed in Scottsdale (La Quinta Inn on E. Shea, nice rooms, nice included breakfast, free HS internet/no WiFi, reasonably priced).

We bought our seats ahead of time for the two games we saw (Giants vs. Brewers, IIRC). The advantage of buying the seats ahead of time was being sure we would sit under the shade, which made a difference as it got pretty hot. There were seats being sold by both the ticket office and scalpers, so seats shouldn't be a problem, but that may have been a Giants/Brewers thing. Oh, and I seem to recall there was free seating on the lawn behind the outfield.

The Giants' stadium is small, and there isn't a lot of protection -- foul balls were sometimes kinda scary. Very nice facility, however, and good food, beer, and lemonade. Great sight lines, too. And the spring training games move quickly -- I think both games were less than 2 hours. Saw an inside the park homerun, too, which was pretty cool.

Definitely rent a car.

Ate some good meals in Scottsdale (highly recommendPita Jungle-- huge menu, very tasty food, generous portions!!), did a hike one morning in one of the local parks, hung out at the pool, etc. Overall, we had a very, very good time and I can't wait to be able to go back and do it again.

Feel free to memail or email me with more questions. I don't pretend to be an expert, but I'll share what I can remember.
posted by mosk at 9:20 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

We've been to Spring Training a number of times (and I'm jealous of your planned trip!). Surprisingly, many of the games may be sold out in advance. This has been especially true of the Cubs. Tickets can be purchased online, though, or from scalpers.

Because the stadiums are relatively small, the parking lots (and crowds) aren't overwhelming.

"Away" games are often just a few miles' drive away. (Even Tucson is only an hour or so drive from Phoenix.)

Most (perhaps all) of the spectators are knowledgeable baseball fans, and interesting conversations often erupt among complete strangers.

There is a casual air to the whole proceeding. We were stunned the first time bench players started doing windsprints in the deep outfield while the game was ongoing. The cheering and jeering is more directed toward individual players' performance rather than team performance, since the games don't really count.
posted by DrGail at 9:40 AM on February 4, 2010

If there's a specific team (or teams) you wish to see, try to find a good online fan forum for the team. Many of them will have a good discussion about team specific Spring Training info, from autograph hunting to way to stay.
posted by drezdn at 1:37 PM on February 4, 2010

Never been to Arizona, only Florida, and I don't know if this holds true across different teams, but-- because we could only go at the beginning of spring training, we had to "settle" for one of the games being a inter-squad game rather than against another team. It was the best part of the whole trip! I mean, ordinary spring training games are way better than regular season games anyway as far as the tiny ballparks and small crowds and the intimacy of it all. But the inter-squad game took that to a whole different level, a "sit two rows behind the dugout where you can overhear players' conversations and get them to toss you things and sometimes chat with you between innings" level. (Plus pretty much all the starters were playing, whereas in the games usually a bunch of them don't, especially away games.)

So yeah. I'd advise to catch as many inter-squad games as possible-- or just practices, which also have smaller crowds, but aren't quite as cool in my opinion because players spend more time in the middle of the field and less time in the dugouts or near the sidelines or whatever, so it's not quite so up-close-and-personal.
posted by EmilyClimbs at 3:49 PM on February 4, 2010

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