Thursday, March 15, 2012
Arizona - Goodyear Ballpark
Following our plan to escape at least part of the winter weather of home, we arrived in Phoenix, Arizona, for the sole purpose of enjoying the first sign of spring--Indians' baseball preseason opener. It was also a good excuse to see what Arizona was like. We've heard it's become another Sno-bird retreat and retirement area.
First things first: The preseason opener! The weather was perfect for baseball. At least I think it was. The climate is so dry there, it made me wonder how it affects pitching and hitting. We arrived at what we thought was an early time (an hour before first pitch) but found the parking lot already filling up. We later learned that the earlier birds got a special pass to get autographs from players.
The Goodyear Ballpark was very much like some of the minor league parks we've been to in our area. Smaller more intimate than a major league park but not as intimate as the old ballpark in Winterhaven where the Indians used to have their spring training. The Winterhaven park also had a little more covered area where you could get out of the sun. Fortunately, Bob had purchased tickets in what was considered the club area. It was the only spot guaranteed out of the sun and while the temperatures weren't all that warm, the sun was brutally strong and you could burn quickly and easily.
Slider, Mr. Redlegs (the Reds' mascot) and Goodyear's mascot, Zizzy, who looks like a cross between a cactus and a baseball, all greated fans and of course provided antics throughout the game time. Goodyear's park also has a taco-chili-lime race in place of the hot dogs at Progressive Field.
There was a lot of hoopla for the opening day. Goodyear's mayor reiterated how happy the city was to have the teams there. The high school marching band performed. Sky divers dropped into the field with the American flag and flags representing both teams. And then the play began. . .
The Indians were ahead to start with but as players and pitchers came in and left the game, the Reds caught up. In the end it was a tie. Not a bad way to start I guess. The Reds would go on to take two more from us in the series but we did get to see one win against the Kansas City Royals.
While we enjoyed watching the games, we did miss the atmosphere of the former spring training home in Winterhaven. It was our ballpark. We didn't share it with another team. Goodyear gave me the feeling that we were there using the Reds' facility. The only shaded part where our seats were was behind the Reds' dugout. When I visited the gift shop, I had to pass through most of it filled with Reds' merchandise before I found the Indians' things way in the back. Of course they don't have to worry about any rain delays. It hadn't rained in the Phoenix area all year. Did I mention it was dry? It was also dusty. And the last day we were treated to sand and tumbleweeds blowing past us as we headed to our car after the game. I think I really prefer Florida for retirement and baseball.