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Heading to Arizona for some Cactus League action

Feb 27, 2013, 6:30 AM EDT

Sunrise Cactus

It’s gonna be a lot of radio silence from me today as, by the time you’re reading this, I will be on an airplane heading west. Yep, it’s that time of year again. I’m off to spring training for the fourth straight year. And for the third straight year I’m doing it up Cactus League-style.

Some folks have asked me why I keep going back to Arizona instead of down to Florida. There are two answers, really. The first and most direct one being logistics. All 15 of the Cactus League teams play in the Phoenix metro area, and life is way better when you can stay in one hotel and not burn so much time crisscrossing a state to get to the next park.

But the better reason is simply the vibe, man. Sure, if you’re a partisan of a specific team and only want to check them out during spring training you’re best served going where your team is. And, having been there, I can tell you that it’s all kind of fun going to Fort Myers for the Sox or Twins, Clearwater for the Phillies, Lakeland for the Tigers and on and on.  But if you just want to soak up any kind of spring training action, Arizona is the place to go. You can wake up each morning and say “hmm, which park do I want to hit today?” and make up your mind over your huevos rancheros. You can also simply rack up a larger number of places and teams seen. And if you find a cool bar, a cool restaurant or a cool greasy spoon, you can keep going back, time and time again, if that’s what you’re into.

I’m into that. And this year — while still leaving some room for that breakfast spontaneity — I’m going to do my best to hit every park. The tentative schedule is as follows:

  • Today: Hohokam Park for the Cubs and Dodgers in Mesa, assuming no flight delays;
  • Thursday 2/28: Scottsdale for the Giants and Mariners;
  • Friday 3/1: Tempe Diablo for the Angels and Dodgers;
  • Saturday 3/2: Salt River Fields for the Rangers and Diamondbacks (grit warning);
  • Sunday 3/3: Camelback Ranch for the Dodgers and Indians;
  • Monday 3/4: Surprise for the Rangers and Padres;
  • Tuesday 3/5: Phoenix Municipal for the Athletics and … the Italian WBC team! Which should be fun;
  • Wednesday 3/6: Goodyear for the Indians and Dodgers;
  • Thursday 3/7: Maryvale for the Diamondbacks and Brewers;
  • Friday 3/8 Day: Probably Peoria for the A’s and Mariners; Night: Chase Field for the USA vs. Mexico WBC game.

Yes, that’s a lot of Dodgers, but I can’t really control who the visiting team is and, frankly, 85% of my time at a park is spent with the home team. And yes, I know I’m missing some teams — unless I change my mind I won’t be able to see if Jeff Francoeur is truly in the BSOHL or watch Shin-Soo Choo attempting to play center field — but those are the breaks. Like I said, this is all subject to change and, as has happened in years past, it may very well change. Except the pictures of equipment bags on the field. That never changes. Yes, I know I have a problem.

And by the way: if you’re in Arizona and find yourself at one of these places on one of these days, by all means, let me know and we can pull an impromptu HBT meetup. Probably the best way to track my movements and/or stalk me is to get my attention is on Twitter. You can follow me and reply to me here.  You can also send me an email by clicking the “Feedback” button on the upper right corner of the HBT main page. No love notes, though. Gleeman reads those emails too.

So that’s that. Next time I talk to you it’ll be on Mountain Standard Time, live from the Valley of the Sun.

  1. cur68 - Feb 27, 2013 at 7:30 AM

    Groovy, man: Spring Training Ball and fine dining? Can’t beat that. Pity about Francoeur. I was looking forward to you getting snake charmed. Well, never mind. Its live Spring Training reporting, HBT Style. Just look after your sinuses this time, eh?

    • indaburg - Feb 27, 2013 at 7:45 AM

      You’re up early, cur.

      I wonder what cap/hat/beaver monstrosity Craig decided to wear.

      Missing the Royals I think is a mistake. Not only missing Frenchy in BSOHL, but they’re working hard and team chemistry is off the charts:

      http://espn.go.com/blog/spring-training/post/_/id/610/royals-offer-new-chapter-for-james-shields

      • cur68 - Feb 27, 2013 at 7:54 AM

        I’m home sick from work but forgot to un-set my alarm. I’ll be half dead by Noon if the flu-symptoms don’t get me first. Consolation though: I see the Beav get to take on the fearsome Astros in Grapefruit League and Your Boys get a bit of that sweet Pirates action.

        I’d forgotten about Big Game James, The KC Royal. He might inject a bit of life into that group of ne’er do wells. Well, so long as he does it at the expense of his old team and not My Boys, bring it on, James!

      • indaburg - Feb 27, 2013 at 9:49 AM

        I wish the Astros were moved to our division. It would be nice to have one easy team we can all beat.

        From a purely fan point of view, I hate losing Shields. He’s a modern day Old Hoss, eating innings like Pac-man eats pellets. I get the business aspect, but still, a great guy. One cool note in that article, the Rays are keeping his foundation for foster kids in the bay area going. He had been worried about what would happen to it in his absence.

      • proudlycanadian - Feb 27, 2013 at 8:54 AM

        It is a winter wonderland in Ontario today, but not as bad as in several States. The all day news channel had a crew at the airport this morning because many flights are cancelled. They did get a brief interview with the Mayor of Toronto whose flight to the sunny south was not cancelled. Arizona and Florida have their appeal this week.

      • sportsdrenched - Feb 27, 2013 at 9:53 AM

        I’m so over Royals’ chemistry, Club House Guys, and grit stories. Get back to me when there is something tangible to write about.

        I would just like to say that it feel an awful lot like Canada out here on the prairie with over a foot of snow in the ground. In honor of our current weather I just may quit listening to the all Rush channel on tuneinradio to listen to the Blue Jays today, at least until the Royals start.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 27, 2013 at 10:16 AM

        My God! There’s an all-Rush radio station????? sigh Of course there is.

        That must be what they played to the dudes in Guantanamo.

      • cur68 - Feb 27, 2013 at 11:38 AM

        Don’t bait me with anit-Rush sentiment, woman. I’m unwell. I take solace in the groovy stylin’s of Geddy Lee and the Lads.

      • indaburg - Feb 27, 2013 at 12:48 PM

        Sick again? Dude, you need to start juicing (Hammy-style, not Canseco) or a gluten free diet or something. You’ve the immune system of one those little newborns you take care of.

        Never show weakness to a Tiger. Vicious predator.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 27, 2013 at 12:17 PM

        So you’re saying you’re vulnerable… ;)

      • historiophiliac - Feb 27, 2013 at 1:07 PM

        Don’t listen to Burgie. She knows nothing about how to work a Tigress.

      • indaburg - Feb 27, 2013 at 1:21 PM

        I know too well. It’s a trap, I tells ya.

      • cur68 - Feb 27, 2013 at 1:34 PM

        Meh. Tigers and Tigresses are easy. You wear a backwards facemask and they think you’re staring at them all the time. Confuses the hell out of them and they go off and eat a meerkat instead.

        You couldn’t fool a beaver like that. Beav’d have your leg off you tried that “mask on the back of your head” crap.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 27, 2013 at 2:23 PM

        Geddy Lee? Didn’t she sing — oh, wait, that was Helen Reddy.

  2. heyblueyoustink - Feb 27, 2013 at 8:18 AM

    Keep an eye out for Sheriff Joe and his tank!

    And Pheobe Titus.

    And the Cacti.

    • historiophiliac - Feb 27, 2013 at 9:26 AM

      I hope Craig has one of those “I ONLY LOOK ILLEGAL” t-shirts for the trip.

      • heyblueyoustink - Feb 27, 2013 at 1:05 PM

        Deportation would send him down to scouting the Mexican league. Might be a good experience for him, as long as he doen’t get beheaded or abducted.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 27, 2013 at 1:14 PM

        Craig alone in Mexico w/ his nerd glasses and sensible shoes…what could go wrong?

  3. Old Gator - Feb 27, 2013 at 8:23 AM

    Shin soo choo?

    Gezundtheit!

    • proudlycanadian - Feb 27, 2013 at 8:48 AM

      Danke!

      • heyblueyoustink - Feb 27, 2013 at 9:00 AM

        Bitte!

  4. escapingexile - Feb 27, 2013 at 8:48 AM

    I’ll be looking forward to reading a piece about my Dodgers that was not written by Ken Gurnick. I don’t know how that guy even has a job…..

  5. sdelmonte - Feb 27, 2013 at 9:29 AM

    Still weird that the Dodgers aren’t in Vero Beach anymore.

    Wondering if eventually the powers that be in Florida are going to be forced to condense the spring training locations to a handful on the Gulf Coast or near Orlando. Or if Arizona will just poach everyone.

    • Old Gator - Feb 27, 2013 at 11:11 AM

      I can see Jan Brewer as a poacher. The annual Churchill’s Pub Invasive Species Festival (“Celebrating South Florida’s Diversity”) has an enlarged version of a letter from that mummified harridan congratulating us on our efforts to eradicate nonindigines. Gun nuts usually like to blast away at anything that moves, especially if you give them an excuse.

      For my own private reasons, I just kinda wonder if she ever missed and hit an owner.Maybe if we paired her with Dick Cheney on the next python hunt?

      • APBA Guy - Feb 27, 2013 at 12:05 PM

        I’m pleased to see the Burmese Python story has legs. Hee, hee. But really, why would Craig not want to visit you again this year? Possibly he does not have the full appreciation of cafe Cubano and Calle Ocho that he needs, and feels that driving 70 miles a day dodging dive-bombing palmetto bugs is time wasted, rather than an adventure to be relished. True, Phoenix may have a higher concentration teams in close proximity than Florida’s more spread out venues, but Florida is balmy, in so many ways. I think you need to exercise your senior status here on HBT and insist, demand, etc, that Craig visit Florida next year.

  6. whitesoxman77 - Feb 27, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    Glad you’re going to see the Dodgers and not the White Sox… :(

  7. ptfu - Feb 27, 2013 at 10:17 AM

    Hurray for impending equipment bag photos!

  8. Francisco (FC) - Feb 27, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    Kay Adams reached the rooftop of the GE building and paused a moment before locating Craig off to one side. For once he wasn’t wearing his usual bathrobe garb and was instead wearing some kind of suit and harness. He looked like paratrooper.

    “Craig this is ridiculous, I’m not even sure we’re allowed up here.”

    “Don’t fret my dear. Did you get my gear?”

    Kay handed off a gym bag with all the items Craig requested, including some very nice high zoom optics for observing Spring Training action. Craig made a cursory examination of the contents before nodding in satsifaction and pressing a button on a device on his harness. Kay stepped back and uttered a surprised cry as Criag’s suit popped a helium balloon with a line attached rising rapidly.

    “Thanks for the help Kay, my ride is here and I must be off to Arizona and Spring Training.”

    “Your ride? what ri-“, Kay asked before she was cut off by a the drone of the engines of a massive MC-130 that passed overhead, caught Craig’s balloon and snatched him from the roof before heading west.

    Kay looked baffled as Craig’s figure disappeared into the aircraft. She thought flights were not allowed over New York on top of the buildings?

    Baseball Had Arrived.

  9. Cereal - Feb 27, 2013 at 7:27 PM

    Gorgeous pic

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