All posts for the month March, 2016
Scottsdale is the spring training home of the San Francisco Giants at the Scottsdale Stadium, the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks, both at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. This is the latest and greatest of Spring Training facilities, with a thousand square foot weight room, among other amenities.
Other teams that host spring training camps in Arizona include:
- Chicago Cubs at Sloan Park
- Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch (don’t they Dodgers belong at Vero Beach?)
- Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians at Goodyear Ball Park
- Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium
- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Tempe Diablo Stadium (former home of the Mariners)
- Milwaukee Brewers at Maryvale Baseball Park
- Oakland Athletics at Hohokam Stadium (former home of the Cubs, out in Mesa)
- San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners at Peoria Sports Complex
Written back in 2011.
Having been to Arizona style Spring Training many times, I can tell you that having the World Champion San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale is a big deal. I distinctly remember the year after the A’s won the World Series in 1989. The following Spring was filled with fans, baseball writers, and young players trying to crack a solid roster. The Giants are in much the same situation. The only rookie with a decent chance to make the team is First Baseman, Brandon Belt. The Giants hope he is the Buster Posey of 2011. And Belt is a perfect name for a ballplayer, much like Buster.
Baseball and Spring go together like ham and eggs. Like Maris and Mantle. Like Mays and McCovey, Ruth and Gehrig, Beavis and Butthead. For Northern Californians, we got out of the cold and rain of the last parts of winter. For snowbirds from Chicago, New York, and Detroit, the Valley of the Sun was like heaven on earth. They often rented a condo or apartment for the entire winter. We were lucky to have a week or ten days down there.
The first requirement of Spring Training is to stay in a hotel in Scottsdale. Forget about Phoenix, Tempe, or the other cities surrounding Phoenix. Scottsdale is the place to be, both for watching games, as well as playing golf, and dining at places where the players and celebrities hang out. In many cases, we stayed at the same hotel as some of the teams and players. And even though going to Scottsdale was for my kids, I must admit that I enjoyed it as much or more than they did.
During the early years when my son was under ten, we did not golf in the morning. But once he started playing, we would golf every morning before heading to the ballpark. This put a serious dent into his pre game ball hawking. We used a fishing net to gather baseballs sliding along the fence down the left and right field bleachers. In addition, since we always sat in the front row, all stray baseballs hit into the stands came rolling down to the bottom or first row. My son just jumped down below the bleachers and gathered up the balls. It was almost embarrassing that he would collect up to twenty balls a game! I finally convinced him to give them to the younger children.
The big stars back then for the Giants were Will Clark and Kevin Mitchell. And for the Athletics, it was the Bash Brothers, Canseco and McGwire, along with Dave Stewart. Some of the other big names we enjoyed seeing and talking to were: Ken Griffey, Jr., Willie Mays, Harry Caray, Bob Feller, Bill Rigney, Reggie Jackson, Ernie Banks, Nolan Ryan, and Orlando Cepeda. And it was not uncommon to see some of these guys at dinner at places like Don and Charlie’s, The Pink Pony, and sFuzzi. In fact, the Pink Pony co-owner, Gwen Briley, gave my son a miniature baseball bat with a Pink Pony emblem. Of course, he missed Willie McCovey and Willie Mays having big steaks in the corner booth.
Fast forward to 2016: Who did I see? How about Fergie Jenkins, Gaylord Perry, and perhaps the greatest reliever of all time, Rollie Fingers.
Buffalo Mole Poblano – Buffalo short ribs braised in traditional mole poblano 26.50
Striploin Asada – Grilled all natural Harris Ranch N.Y. Strip with guajillo chile sauce rajas and avocado 27.00
Sea Bass Asado – Grilled Corvina Sea Bass with lime aioli, spicy cabbage and salsa verde 24.00
Camarones en Chipotle – Grilled wild mexican Shrimp with roasted tomato – chipotle sauce and elote lime crema 24.00
Carnitas – Slow-roasted all natural Idaho Pork shoulder with arbol- tomatillo salsa and guacamole 21.00
Smoked Pork Cheeks – Served with cascabel chile sauce, grandma’s corn cake
and buttermilk cumin drizzle 20.00
Smoked Chicken Enchiladas – House smoked organic free range Chicken with salsa verde and chipotle crema 19.50
Roasted Squash Chile Relleno – Seasoned butternut squash with corn, jack cheese, mole verde and pepita crema 17.50
Written in 2011: Our normal, post Christmas holiday trip to Scottsdale, and often times Sedona, was originally scheduled for Tucson. But with the recent shootings (Gabby Giffords), we would rather comfortably return to Sedona, before a few days in Scottsdale. We need a few days away from the greater Phoenix area, mostly to avoid the crazy crowds attending the National Championship Bowl Game (Oregon and Auburn) in Phoenix this eve.
Sedona is a great place to visit anytime of year. This is our third trip here, and the town never seems to get boring. There are still many things to see, and a few places to eat that need our attention. Most of the highly recommended places are packed with locals and tourists. So, if Sedona allows some harmonic convergence (1987) or a simple alcohol induced stupor, this should be a great place to start this mid-winter trip. I could not imagine walking around Tucson in the aftermath of the terrible tragedy, not to mention their immigration issues. Maybe Sarah Palin will show up and the erstwhile Dick Cheney will take her hunting!
I will not bore you with my previous incantations about the magical red rocks and sandstone formations of Sedona. But one or two tidbits of trivia about Sedona first. The Arizona Diamondbacks major league baseball team has uniforms dominated by a shade of red called “Sedona Red”. And Disneyland’s Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster is modeled after Grayback Mountain, the tallest in Sedona. Some famous residents here include: Ted Danson, Harpo Winfrey, Diane Ladd, Nick Cage, Sharon Stone, Al Pacino, Senator John McCain, Debbie Reynolds, Jane Russell, and when she was alive, the most famous of all redheads, Lucille Ball.
So, a few days at the Sedona Summit, normally a timeshare place, but often advertising drastic discounts for short stays like ours. The resort is located a few miles west of the greater downtown area, and offers a quiet, almost Sedona like vibe. In other words, not too many tourists and pink jeeps in the area. But we may opt for a non pink jeep tour, helicopter ride, or rappelling down into a slot canyon just north of here. I am sure we will do the obligatory downtown Sedona Stroll, just to window shop.
Note: We no longer visit Arizona during the Christmas holidays. I prefer the Spring, both for baseball, cycling, hiking, and overall sunny weather. The biggest and saddest part of this trip is returning to the home of the Sartorial Superman (my friend John) of Scottsdale. He departed this earth too early, 2015 to be exact. To you, John, you are missed and always thought of when trying to put a decent outfit together! And he introduced us to one of our favorite Mexican restaurants, Los Sombreros in Scottsdale. You must try it on your next visit!!!