EDITOR'S NOTE: The Brewers are off today, and as such there's no game thread. But, take a look at Jamie's photo gallery and you'll feel like you've been to a game, if not more. Thanks Jamie!
I have to say, this trip was easily the best Spring Training trip, ever. This was the 4th time I drove down there to watch baseball since I moved to LA about 5 years ago. I have made some great friends going down there; and we made plans to meet up and stay together this year in Phoenix.
I drove down there in the middle of the night to get down there for when the players started getting to the ballpark. This year, I made it a point to go and watch other teams, where as in the past I mostly just hung out at the Brewers camp. Living about 2 miles from Dodger Stadium; and the Dodgers being my 2nd favorite team; I was especially excited to go to the new Dodgertown. The new facility for the Dodgers is just beautiful; and when they opened up the park to the public for the first time a day before the first game; my friends and i took advantage of the $1 hot dogs. The guy on the PA announced that the Dodgers Ballpark aims to be the most fan friendly in the Cactus League; which is pretty cool. The White Sox share the stadium with the Dodgers; but their practice fields have ZERO access for fans; which is really a shame.
Some Highlights of the Trip:
- -Went to the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Goodyear Ballpark, which hosts the Indians (and the Reds starting next year); and before the ribbons hit the ground, my friend Andy and I were in there side by side. First ones in the new park!
- Talking to the Brewers is always fun. Four years ago, there were a lot less fans down there; so it has been fun to see the players and team get more popular. It is always good to see and chat with these guys. I talked to Seth a bit about how he hopes to improve his batting this year; with Jeff Suppan about how great his Sports bar here in LA is; and with Braunny about making three stops (hopefully the WBC, April, August) in LA this summer! It was also great to see Chris Capuano.
- Got to meet a bunch of Dodgers that I haven't met before. The access to the players here in LA is not so great; so it was fun to chat with Matt Kemp, James Loney; and even Andre Ethier about his favorite local diner in my neighborhood. They really made a great effort to mingle with the fans; definitely one of the more fan friendly teams down there.
- My friends and I made a trip down to Tuscon (about 2 hours) to see the Rockies and DBacks play. There was hardly anyone down there; and it seems that they are doing everything they can to move up closer to the other teams in the Cactus League. It was fun to see Tulo and Todd Helton.
- On the last night I was down there my friends and I went to dinner at baby Kay's Cajun Kitchen. The food there is fantastic; I lucked out and ran across it a few years back. We had all just come from the Brewer game about 10 miles away; and surprisingly enough, Billy Castro walked in to the restaurant. He came over and chatted with us for about 10 minutes; and then stopped by for another 10 minutes with his wife after they were done eating. I told him congrats on the new job. He said he is very excited about the team; and enjoys his new responsibilities. What a great guy.
- Some former Brewers I ran into were: Tomo Ohka, Greg Aquino, Scotty Pod, Claudio Vargas, G. Mota, Mark Loretta, Lenny Harris, Don Money, Chris Bosio, Scott Fletcher, Ted Simmons, Don Baylor, Tony Graffanino, Kevin Seitzer, Doug Henry, Bill Schroeder, and Jason Bere.
- While in Tuscon I got to reenact the Wesley Snipes moment in Major League (They shot the Movie at the Rockies current stadium) when he finds out he makes the Major League team. Charlie Sheen says: "Don't celebrate in front of guys that just died." So he goes outside and does a little dance and says, "Yes! Yes! Yes!"
- The trip had many highlights, but my favorite 10 minutes was when I listened to Greg Maddux talk baseball to a few players in the dugout. He talked about how he wasn't afraid to pitch in the zone; how he used to work on the movement of his pitch by pitching balls 90 feet away into buckets; and how he loved it when the batter would move around in the box and not stay in the same place during an at bat.
VIP Fans of the Trip:
- I think this guy is the same guy from last year.
- This guy aced the shirt; but kept the suspenders!
- I'm glad I dont have to decide who has a better moustache. This guy or this guy.
- This has to be THE BEST PHOTO I took on the trip!
- I still cant believe a parent would let Dodgers owner sign their kid's forehead.
Misc Tips for Spring Training (Please ask me if you have any questions):
- Bring a Map of where you will be going. I haven't run across a great map yet; so take 5 minutes to do a few Google Maps of where you will be headed. Some of the new ballparks are a bit difficult to plug into a GPS cause of the names like Ballpark Way.
- Bring a Baseball and Blue Ballpoint (or a handful of Baseball Cards and a blue sharpie Blue Sharpie). So far this spring the Brewers have been great about signing for the fans.
- Put on more sunscreen than you think.
You can never go wrong with these great places to eat:
1. Don and Charley's: They have great food (a bit pricey); and the place is packed with sports memorabilia. Many players stop in there to eat; especially on the weekends. The night we went we saw Bob Feller and Mike Fetters! 7501 E. Camelback Rd. Scottsdale AZ. 85251 (480) 990-0900
2. Baby Kay's Cajun Kitchen: Get the Cajun Combo; the etouffee is the best thing on the menu!!!! 2119 East Camelback Rd
Phoenix, Arizona (602) 955-0011
3. Oregano's Pizza: I think we ate at the Scottsdale location. Excellent Pizza. Casual Dining. We sat outside and split a pitcher of the local Hefeweizen Beer; which was incredible. Don't forget to order The Original Pizza Cookie for Desert; you will thank me later.
My Full Set of Spring Pictures are now on my Flickr Page:
Hope Everyone is doing Great; and chat soon,