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Scenes from Spring Training: Finding cool things in Scottsdale

Feb 25, 2011, 12:11 PM EDT


Scottsdale is a strange place. It was once named one of “America’s most livable cities,” but most of it gives off an air of exclusivity, telling you that if you don’t like golf, trendy restaurants and expensive planned communities, you’re not going to enjoy yourself very much here.  Which is fine for Scottsdale, because there are a lot of people who like those things, so this is all my problem, not Scottsdale’s.

But there are little exceptions, I’m finding.  One exception is a nice cozy establishment called TT Roadhouse where this reporter replenished himself last night. Fine place. Dark with a good jukebox. Good beer and an unassuming clientle that, at least last night, was on the safe side of excessive hipsterism, the presence of PBR on draft notwithstanding. It made me happy that such a place exists in a town like Scottsdale, suggesting that no matter how far our Republic slides sideways, there will always be something good and cool surviving in the cracks.

Another nice thing is Scottsdale Stadium, spring home of the San Francisco Giants.  It opened in 1992, which was an awkward time for any ballpark to have been built, what with the new wave of nostalgic joints not yet crashing over the ballpark construction industry and the march toward opulence not yet firmly taking hold. A park built at that time ran a pretty high risk of being a utilitarian nightmare.

Scottsdale Stadium avoids that, however. Part of that may be the result of a recent renovation, but the bones of the place are solid, strong and altogether pleasant. The first pitch is a couple hours away, but it all seems like a pleasant and efficient baseball game delivery device. In this — and in its in-town, on-the-grid location — it reminds me a lot of City of Palms Park in Fort Myers where the Red Sox play.  I think I’m going to enjoy myself today.

When I got here I headed down to the Giants’ clubhouse and checked that scene out a bit. More on that later.  For now, though, know this: the Giants are a very relaxed bunch. A veteran team doing veteran team things.  There are reminders that they are the reigning World Series champs everywhere you look. It’s written on signs and shirts and most conspicuously, on that freshly-painted logo behind home plate, still roped off as I type this and the Giants take the field for their pregame workout.

A pregame workout that I’m going to go check out now and report back to you later.

  1. yankeesfanlen - Feb 25, 2011 at 12:23 PM

    PBR on draft? Are you out of EVERY time by any measurement and into the twilight zone?

    • ngearhart1981 - Feb 25, 2011 at 3:08 PM

      I have no idea what that means. Just about every bar in Kansas City that doesn’t have a velvet rope has PBR on tap.

  2. Old Gator - Feb 25, 2011 at 12:24 PM

    I find it very difficult to believe that you’re actually doing any work. And yeah, Scottsdale is the architectural equivalent of brain death. If bad taste could be built on a depleted aquifer during a temperature inversion, it would be Scottsdale. And think of all the gas and electricity expenses you could save by frying your breakfast ham and eggs on your own sidewalk. Or, letting the atmosphere gently mummify you wile you emerge from adolescence, saving you a fortune in mortician’s costs. Or, shaking the scorpions out of your $450 gucci slipons every morning before you take your butterfly net and go out hunting Mexicans before breakfast, saving a neighborly wave or two for the other cyborgs on you block as they jog by? Or using a snow shovel to make sure your car tires haven’t fused to the cement while you spent the afternoon getting your cuticles done at the local boutique – and then waiting an extra three hours for your wife to finish having her hair moistened and her pores rehydrated. How can you not love Scottsdale?

    • cur68 - Feb 25, 2011 at 12:32 PM

      Easy there Gate. I think Craig’s just buttering up his hosts a bit. A sensible thing to do for a thirsty man in his position. On that theme I think we should just refer to this as a travel blog, a la Bill Bryson, while Calc is down there getting his cuticles polished (or whatever it is the effete do to their cuticles). Don’t seem to be much actual baseball reporting going on. I look forward to an update featuring him being attacked by the Freak’s french bulldog. Anything french is ferocious, you know.

  3. tadthebad - Feb 25, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    Trashing PBR? Harumph. Effing elitists.

    • yankeesfanlen - Feb 25, 2011 at 12:48 PM

      The official name of my melange is an elite corps of impudent snobs.

      • cur68 - Feb 25, 2011 at 1:55 PM

        Overweight impudent snobs. Just quoting Cashman here. He’d know.

  4. Nick C - Feb 25, 2011 at 12:37 PM

    As an NAU grad with numerous friends from the Valley of the Sun I have some first hand knowledge of the area. You might like Groggy’s in Mesa. Low key, good food, cold beer and pool tables. In the interest of full disclosure I know the owners but I think its the type of place you would like:

  5. marshmallowsnake - Feb 25, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    Craig, if you get a chance, head over to Papago Brewing. It is not far from where you are staying. Just north on Rural Road/Scottsdale Road and McDowell in Scottsdale…actually, it is not far from the Stadium either. ( ( – check out the reviews here.

    The make some beer, have 30 taps…and a beer store cooler that has bottles, which you can take home with you. Oh, and a jukebox that is hooked up to the internet so you can play basically anything you like. The food is good…and I HIGHLY recommend the place. It is one of my favorite weekend spots when I have the time to go out.

  6. yankeesfanlen - Feb 25, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    This travelogue is informative. Who has the best cake in Scottsdale?

    • Old Gator - Feb 25, 2011 at 1:35 PM

      The Navajo. They call it Yellowcake. Great for the alveoli, bronchial and chest wall membranes as well as the palate.

      • jwbiii - Feb 25, 2011 at 3:34 PM

        Sounds much better than the yellowcake from Niger!

  7. iftheshoefits2 - Feb 25, 2011 at 3:57 PM

    As usual, you have completely omitted where the best pies can be found….

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