Ginger Russ, Lazy Steve, were able to attend the first Cubs Spring Training game this past Sunday which inspired me to put a few thoughts on paper (???). I have noticed over the years that quite a few Cubs blogs out there tend to down play the significance of Spring Training and some go as far as to advocate not wasting time attending. As a Cubs fan that grew up in Chicago and moved to Arizona following college I know just how wrong they are. Lets examine a few good reasons to go:
- The weather - OK, so it was a bit cold on Sunday and even sleeting in Mesa at one point. That's about as bad as it gets. March-April and October-November are the best times to be in Arizona. The weather perfect from sun up to sun down which allows for tailgating at parks such as Hohokam (although that is likely to change when the Cubs move to their new digs) on game days and other outdoors activities when you need a day off.
- The environment - This could be a pro or con depending on who you ask. The exhibition nature of the games allows people to mingle and meet new people. Our group of friends have met quite a few cool individuals. Single guys (and I am guessing some not-so-single guys) are treated to the local ladies that enjoy slipping back into their more revealing garb when the weather hits 80. Overall all the games are laid back and extremely enjoyable (except when it's Sox v Cubs when there is always a hand full of jerks with massive chips on their shoulder).
- Player evaluation - Although the games are only useful for getting back into the swing of things for most veterans, Spring Training is where the minor leaguers are allowed to make a name for themselves. You would not have seen Starlin Castro in Wrigley last season if he doesn't impress Lou so much in ST2010. Lou basically mandated that Hendry bring up Starlin when he tired of Theriot's terrible defense.
- Player accessibility - You will never get as close to the players in the regular season as you are allowed to in Spring Training. Not everyone cares about this (I don't really) but if you have a kid or just like trolling for autographs the players take lots of time before the game and as they are leaving to sign. Last season I watched first hand as Ryan Dempster signed an autograph for every kid that wanted one on his way out to the players parking lot. He didn't leave one kid disappointed. To get an autograph at Wrigley you need overpriced tickets and a lot of luck. Oh, did I forget to mention that it's fun watching Soriano scan the crowd out in left for ladies? Hilarious every time.
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