Games are just getting under way in the Cactus League this week, and if you had the foresight to plan a trip to Arizona for spring training several weeks — or even months — ago, good for you. You’ve no doubt saved a lot of money on a variety of fronts (hotel rates, air fare, tickets, etc.).
If you’re a procrastinator, however, fret not. You might have to dig deeper into your pockets, but it’ll be worth it if you heed the advice being offered here.
Plenty of hotel rooms remain in the Valley of the Sun, albeit many of the resort variety, and Southwest and America West have hubs in Phoenix, so their rates won’t crush you even if you want to leave tomorrow.
And hey, there’s always driving. From the Bay Area, it’s a full day behind the wheel to the Scotts-dale area, which is truly the heart of spring training in every way, but with the right amount of Red Bull, gummy worms and Metallica, you can leave at about 8 one night, avoid the daytime gridlock and arrive just before the first pitch to see your favorite team in Scottsdale, Peoria, Phoenix, Mesa, Surprise or even Tucson.
As for you Johnny-come-latelys, don’t sweat that you don’t have tickets. Unless you want to see the Chicago Cubs against anyone or the Giants against the A’s, you’ll have no problem finding your way into the yard. Remember: “Sellout” is just a euphemism for “you’ll have to pay some scumbag a little more than face value.” If there’s a will, there’s a way.
The first tip you should heed is to hit as many parks as possible. They’re all either new or recently renovated, so there’s no such bad thing a bad seat.
Tip two: If there’s a grass berm in the outfield, try to get a ticket there. Spring trainingis when players are at their loosest, and many a player will maintain pleasant, game-long conversations with the fans behind him. That almost never happens in the bigs.
The third tip is to try not to get too tipsy. The hooch at spring training isn’t much cheaper than it is during the regular season, so let the enthusiasm of the youngsters fighting their tails off for roster spots intoxicate you and save your booze allowance for after the game.
That brings us to the final, most important tip: Get out at night. Especially in Old Town Scottsdale, where many of the players hang out to blow off steam. And do yourself a favor and start the night at a sneaky, underrated spot on Scottsdale Road called Frasher’s Steakhouse and Lounge. Great, affordable food, low-key, ’60s-ish jazz-club vibe and a brilliant, beautiful staff.
Now get down there and enjoy baseball at its casual best. You’re welcome.