Field Trip to Scottsdale
There’s an old saying that Little League coaches like to tell kids: “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” Back in the day, this saying rang true, because frankly you really didn’t care if your team won or lost. Hell, you probably didn’t even know the score at any given point because you were too busy picking your nose and waving to your parents from center field. All you knew was that was that when the game ended, Mom would be waiting with juice boxes and orange slices for the whole team. Spring Training is a lot like that.
Twelve hours of road-tripping and two ballgames spent baking under the Arizona sun later, I feel as though I’ve taken in enough of the Spring Training experience to draw a few conclusions. First and foremost, it’s pretty much the greatest thing in the world. Fans here in Scottsdale are like-minded in that they’re here because they love baseball enough to come all the way down here just to watch some games that don’t even count. Everyone is friendly, everyone is just a little bit crazy, and everyone loves their Giants.
Day one down here consisted of catching up on a full day’s worth of lost sleep, so needless to say sitting on the lawn in left field under the 85 degree sun was a tad draining. That being so, any time there’s a Giants/Dodgers game, there’s always going to be some excitement from fan’s perspective. Day two was taken as a recovery day (i.e. sleeping until the end of eternity), which brings us up to today. The schedule for today consisted of waking up at 6:30am to wait outside the player’s parking lot for autographs (which was largely a successful venture), followed by the obligatory pregame tailgating. By the time the Giants/A’s game rolled around, we were suitably excited for some more baseball.
Between the two games we’ve seen in the last three days (both losses), there were some intriguing observations made in terms of player-personnel. Firstly, believe all the reports–Pablo Sandoval looks great. We watched the noticeably slimmed-down Panda take BP on Friday, and he parked three balls deep in the right field pavilion. Second, Brandon Belt is just as impressive as you think he is. Based on what we saw in batting practice and today’s game, he has an amazingly sound approach to left field and one of the prettier looking swings I’ve seen out of a prospect this side of Buster Posey. Finally, it’s worth reiterating that Scottsdale is a regular Giants fan haven. There are signs and banners up all over the place with some variation of “2010 World Champions,” which is of course always comforting. In the meantime, there’s rain in the forecast for tomorrow, so let’s pray for sunshine so that my last full day isn’t spent complaining about Spring Training rainout policies.