Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tips to best enjoy spring training baseball

Note: This column appears in the 2/24 issue of The Glendale Star and the 2/25 issue of the Peoria Times

Sometimes when a person asks me why we moved from New Jersey to the Valley, I will say, simply, “spring training.” This person will then say, “Wait—you left your family, friends, jobs, and general way of life behind and traveled cross-country just for one month of exhibition baseball games, most of which are played during the week and which you will not be able to attend because you have a job?” And I will say, “Yes.”

This isn’t entirely true. We moved here for many reasons, but I’d be lying if I said spring training wasn’t one of them. Now that I’ve been to so many games, I can say that I actually underestimated the awesomeness factor. In that regard, and with games beginning this weekend, allow me to share some advice regarding spring training that I have acquired over the years. Ignore this advice at your own risk.

- Attend a game with someone who actually likes baseball. Spring training is for the committed baseball fan—who else sets aside three hours and like, 40 bucks to watch a game that doesn’t mean anything? You don’t want to go with someone who will bring you down from your high of doing something pointless. I love my wife for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that she enjoys and knows baseball. If you have a significant other who will voluntarily and excitedly join you for a spring training game, you should thank God everyday. Seriously.

From a male perspective, my buddy Rashad is a great spring training partner. He loves baseball too, so we can watch the games without feeling like we have to talk to each other, except to ask who wants another beer, to make fun of each other and/or the players, and complain about how so-and-so screwed us over in a fantasy baseball league five years ago. Of course, Rashad and I are dads now, so between us we probably catch a good ½-inning of action. But it was fun while it lasted.

- Sit on the lawn. When I lived back east and I saw spring training highlights on TV, I used to loathe the people on the lawn. They were having so much fun, and looked so relaxed, and were catching home runs and loving life while I was stuck inside waiting for snow to melt. Now? I’m one of them. I hate myself!

Why pay for a seat? The lawn is cheaper and the perspective of the game is fantastic. It’s like the beach! Except without the sand or water, which—let’s be honest—is overrated. Side note: Often the lawn is on a hill, so be careful. Last year I placed our then six-month old daughter down on the grass so I could get a beer and she almost went tumbling down the hill all the way to the outfield wall. It was a great start to the afternoon, as you could imagine.

- Wear clothes. Because the weather is typically fantastic and people feel the need to accentuate this reality, they will often take their shirt off. If you do this, whoever you are with will be embarrassed, even if they don’t say so. This isn’t the beach, weirdo. It’s important to remember that you can’t just take your clothes off wherever you are because the sun is out. And that’s coming from a guy who wears only boxers around the house from May through September.

- Call someone. If you have friends or family in a cold-weather state, it’s important to call or text them to ask what they’re doing. Chances are they are not wearing sun block and watching live baseball. This is sort of mean, yes, but it’s also a good passive-aggressive way to invite loved ones out to spring training next year, or to move to Arizona permanently.

I hope you find this advice useful. The most important advice of all is—enjoy the games! I will see you there. On the weekends. Stupid job.

2 comments:

Joe S. said...

Just got back from a weekend in Phoenix (saw games in Surprise, Peoria, and wherever the Diamondbacks stadium us...). Good times! Every time I'm there I want to move to Phoeniz, and Spring Training would DEFINITELY be a major reason. Granted, San Diego isn't too shabby, so the drive home isn't the worst in the world, but I love the atmosphere out there in March.

I probably wouldn't love the summer months, but at least you have all four major sports out there. Out here we have the Chargers, and I guess the Padres count as a major league team, but that's it.

mkenny59 said...

And you didn't call me because ... ?