When the plane landed in Phoenix we headed immediately to the car rental joint, picked up a snazzy Ford Focus, then drove straight to Talking Stick. We rolled up about 9:30 and the facility couldn’t have been prettier. The sun was shining with temperature in the mid 60’s. Being the first fan to ever attend a game here I have a special affiliation with Salt River Fields at Talking Stick even if there’s only a handful of fans that know of my accomplishment.
We meandered the backfields in search of anyone partaking in a little batting practice. It was eerily quiet on the Rockies side. ‘cept for a wee bit of minor league action going on so I hung out on the side lines and it paid off. I managed to snag two foul balls in a 10 minute time frame. Back in the game!
The goal was to see Team USA warm-up and we learned that they wouldn’t be out till this afternoon. At that point we figured it was time to take a visit to the local In and Out Burger and then check into our room. On the way back to the car I spotted my third ball of the day.
My first Easter egg of the season!
Food and hotel taken care of it was back to Salt River Fields where Mike and I ran into Eric B. After a quick hello I took off as I noticed Team USA was beginning to take BP on the D-backs side (bonus)!
There were probably 20 other ballhawks out in left field all salivating at the chance to snag a USA World Baseball. I hung out there for 45 minutes and had play on three balls. One I managed to snag as it bounced off of the gravel. I looked at it and unfortunately it was just a regular old MLB baseball.
Not long after that I witnessed the Rox Addict snag one on the fly. His was a plain old MLB ball too. I’ll give him big props as it was a sweet catch in the tip of his glove and he was surrounded by greedy ballhawks.
Tonight’s game was the Rockies vs Team USA. I had a seat in the front row along the Rockies side so I used the opportunity to snag a few autographs. I managed to get Todd Helton, Tyler Colvin, Dante Bichette, Jordan Pacheco and Eric Young Jr.
I have a great picture of Tulo in the Snow I’d love autographed, but as is usually the case “The Deuce” took the low road and exited the field ignoring his fans.
The redeye flight and no sleep was catching up with me so I took just a couple of pictures during the game and spent the last part of the game hang’n with Jersey Geoff, his buddy Mike, and the Rox Addict.
Rockies made it interesting in the 9th after trailing the entire game and actually pulled out a win. Funny though, Rockies did Team USA no favors when they actually had to loan them a few pitchers.
The four of us ended up in the outfield with absolutely no competition for home run balls and wouldn’t you know it, diddly squat came our way. You have no idea how funny it would have been had a home run been hit in our general direction. The scramble for that ball by the four of us would have been hilarious.
I’m “D” the Ranter and today was an excellent first day! My only goals for the first day were to bust out some shorts for the first time in 6 months and get a nice sunburn started.
Spring training is more than just pre-season baseball for me.
It’s a fresh start each year with new strategies, new people and new attitudes.
Living in the mountains makes the baseball off-season seriously drag. Don’t get me wrong I love my snow (and my Broncos). Truthfully, for me winter is just the space between the end of one baseball season and the start of another one.
I crave variety. The Cactus League is full just that.
Each little Spring Training facility is a small taste of another team. I love the Rockies, but baseball is history and I’m a sponge when I’m down in Cactus League Country. Only true baseball fans make the yearly trek to Spring Training each year to watch and support their team.
Yes the games are meaningless, but these are fans that need this little dose of baseball to get them through till Opening Day. I for one am guilty as charged. I feel if I didn’t have my yearly trip to Phoenix to bask in the sun, chase baseballs, harass players, eat a years worth of In n Out burgers in a week, act like a fool and bump into Rantics I’d implode.
As sure as the brown hairs in my beard are being replaced by white ones, the Rox Addict and I will be wandering the Phoenix area in search of baseball history, memories and souvenirs one short week from now.
Next entry for me will be Wednesday March 6th when the Rox Addict and I land in Phoenix.
I’m “D” the Ranter…It’s almost time to shine.
Spring Training in Arizona.
For some of us, there is no regular season without a trip south just to check things out.
Knowing that sometime in March I’ll be traipsing through the backfield at some team’s facility scouring for baseballs or innocently(wink wink) wandering into a restricted area fill my winter time thoughts.
I know it will be warm and I’ll be wearing shorts, sunglasses and sport’n my trademark Ranter hat.
Plus Arizona has In and Out Burger joints :)…Yeah!
Daydreaming about spring training is what gets me through the Colorado winter. I know for a fact I’m not the only one who daydreams about the southwest sun and cacti.
Rantics, I see your FACEBOOK posts 🙂
Spring Training for the players is intense at times but for me it’s how I decompress from life. I’ve stopped setting goals for myself and I plan to focus on having a good time. Setting goals creates pressure and as I just mentioned that’s not what I’m shooting for. The goal if any is to relax, have fun, hang with baseball friends, make some new friends, catch some baseballs, watch 3 World Baseball Classic games, wander the back fields of random spring training facilities, and take LOTS of pictures.
Then tell you all about it because that’s what the Number #1 Rockies MLBlogger for the last 6 years does 🙂
As far as autographs go I plan to bring some of my pictures along and hopefully get a few of my favorites signed. I have no idea of what to get autographed at the WBC??
Maybe a WBC bat or jersey?
I feel like I crank out some of my best blogs during Spring Training. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m relaxed or because I’m more focused by not being distracted by my normal routine?
I guess stuff is just more fun to write about when you had a blast doing it.
Same as last year I’ll be hang’n with my partner in crime the Rox Addict and there’s usually never a dull moment with us two exploring a ballpark or a restricted area 🙂
We’re sort of a Dynamic Rockies Blogging Duo of sorts.
This year will be my 6th year attending Spring Training in Arizona. So in tribute to that here are some links and a few pictures from my Spring Training adventures in years past.
The Mobile Blogging Unit and Hi Corbett Field. I loved that place.(2009).
Rockies win that first game in the new stadium 8-7.
Next Time Put Up a Sign (2012)
Mike the Rox Addicts first game ball: (2012)…He Snagged the ball Green hat and all
I figured out why I chase baseballs.
As a kid some of my fondest memories were going to hockey games with my pops. We had a local farm team and my thing was I liked to try and snag a puck or two when I was there. This was way before they used nets and pucks would often fly into the stands and kids would scramble for them. I guess chasing baseballs takes me back to a happy place in my childhood.
We all need something like that.
I’m “D” the Ranter
Spring Training brings out the kid in me. Six weeks till I get to play.
See you kids down there 🙂
On my drive into the city this morning I was staring at a beaufiful orange Colorado sunrise and I was thinking about how much things can change from the beginning of a season to the end of it.
For me this season started with the loss of Tom Helmer as part of the Poot Warts team. That one decision probably affected my season more than anything else. For a lot of us Helmer was the face of the Rockies, much more so than Tulowitzki.
Poot Warts claimed they were about the fan..Helmer was our connection to Poot Warts.
Helmer was all about the fans because he himself is a passionate fan who would often let is show.
For the record I have no issues with the rest of the Poot Warts team. In fact they’re a solid group of individuals who I feel for the most part do a bang-up job. Marc Stout “gets it” in my opinion. He’s approachable and he’s close with his fan base.
I’ve never been Anti-Joel Klatt, just extremely Pro-Helmer.
Joel graciously offered to hold my “Bring Back Helmer” sign when we did our protest pre-game at the Rockies last home game of the season. When I actually called Joel on it he said “No” and was kind of a Dick about it but I realize the situation was slightly uncomfortable and I figured I’d give him a break on his attitude because deep down I’m a softie 🙂
I don’t think anyone could have predicted how different this team would look in September or how bad the Rockies record would be. I remember back in March wandering the practice fields at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick full of enthusiasm and optimism.
Recently I wandered around Coors Field the last game of this season full of frustration and confusion. I along with many other Rockies fans have no idea where the Rockies will go from here?
Never in my wildest nightmares did I imagine this would be the worst Rockies season ever.
I’m no baseball genius. I’m just a fan with a cam who really likes to catch baseballs and feel like I’m part of something by sharing my experiences via my blog.
This season I watched the Rox Addict’s MLBlog develop into something special. Mike has a serious passion for baseball and it reflects in his pictures and his writing enthusiasm. Mike scores every game, takes pictures, writes a blog and attends a lot more games than I. Plus Mike’s a Top 50 MLBlogger.
Mike’s fortunate, he has a pretty liberal work schedule, he’ll be the first to admit it :).
In addition to the Rox Addict we now have another Rockies MLBLogger. I’ve known Amy for several years and she writes a blog called “The Take from Blake”. Amy hasn’t cracked the top 50 yet but she has interactions with players that make this”Old Skool Blogger” kinda jealous.
It’s fun having other Rockies bloggers around. We’re all tight and hook each other up when we can with our limited resources.
Other than the Purple Row which to me is the “Holy Grail” of Rockies blogs, I can’t think of any Rockies blogs that have been around as long as the Rockpile Rant 🙂
FYI The “Rockpile Rant” has been a Top 10 MLBlog for over 4 years now.
I normally take my spring training trip each year by myself.
In March this year Mike and I headed south for a 11 day spring training trip to Phoenix. Mike’s a great road trip buddy. It’s not easy spending 11 days with someone (most of it camping), driving all over Phoenix area at a frantic pace in search of baseball adventures to blog about.
Mike and I managed to keep it cool and gave each other space as we needed it. When the trip was over we both had a great time and were still friends and plan to do it again.
I’d say that’s a pretty good trip.
I’d say this was probably my worst year for autographs. I just don’t have the patience or drive anymore to stand outside as the players drive up or wait against the wall as the guys warm-up.
I enjoy the company, just don’t like the rejection I figure. As far as snagg’n stats this season, I snagged 29 batting practice baseballs in 25 games ending my season 3 baseballs short of 200 for my career.
Yes I’m still chasing my first ever regular season home run ball. All I can say is I have shit luck and maybe next year will be my year?
In conclusion I’d like to thank Dan, Mike, Joy, Marianne, Amy, Jersey Geoff, Gary X, Douglas, Robert, Queen Geri, Eric, Danny and Nettie, Randy, Scott, Tom Helmer, Bob the Usher, Barb the Usher, Mary the Usher, Brad the Usher, Dave, Mikey, Stout, Todd C and Family, Eric Young Jr, Jamie Moyer, Chris Nelson, Captain Earthman, and the Rockpile Usher with the beard(sorry bud can’t believe I forgot your name) and all of the:
For directly influencing my Rockies season in a positive way.
To the smelly old son of a bitch that kept sitt’n his stanky ass in my seat perforating the fabric with his body funk…You got yours buddy 🙂
If I forgot ya, doesn’t me I dont’ care…Just means I’m old.
Props to the Rockies for letting us run the bases at the last home game of the season. I’ve never done that before and it was fun.
Rumor is next year the Rockies will have 10 bobble head games? Have I mentioned I like bobble heads?
I’m “D” the Ranter…The Rockies #1 MLBlogger.
Old Skool…But still as cool as the other side of the pillow…”D”
Chief vs the Duece
Check out Ubaldo Jiminez tagging Troy Tulowitzki with a pitch. Then watch the benches clear.
No April fools joke here, this is the real deal. To quote Rockies Skipper Jim Tracy:
“The most gutless act I’ve seen in 35 years in the game.”
Ok Jim, not sure I’d go that far, but it makes me look at Ubaldo in a new light that’s for sure…D
Jim continues…”Five days before opening day, you’re going to take a pot shot like that? It’s the worst I’ve ever seen. I’ve lost all respect for him, and that’s a very difficult thing for me to say with all the players I’ve had to manage over the years,” Tracy said. “I’ve lost all respect for him, every bit.”
Agreed…Sad, Ubaldo was a Rantic favorite 😦
I sense some pent up frustration in Ubaldo? Too bad we don’t get to play the Indians this year.
Raise up Rockies…It’s gonna be a long season…”D”
Dodgers vs Rockies…Salt River Fields
“D” in the Desert
This day started out exactly the way I like it. We showed up early and were greeted with two Diamondback batting practices.
As I said there were two BP’s today and during the second one it was just Mike, Dan and I snagg’n. It was game on and I snagged eight baseballs.
I live for days like that.
Behind where we were snagg’n baseballs was a six foot fence lined with barbed wire. Several of the BP homers hit bounced on the road and landed on the other side of the fence. I looked but couldn’t see a way to get over the fence and snag those baseballs so I forgot about them.
Next thing I know I see Mike walking up to me with a handful of baseballs. Mike found a weak spot in the fence and was able to get through it and snag those stranded baseballs. He also found a couple of balls that were missed hidden in the bushes.
For that bit of top-notch snagging I think Mike deserves an award.
I’m awarding Mike the first annual:
“Robert Harmon Award for Creative Ballhawking”
To quote Robert “Baseballs do grow on trees”. Mike proved that.
The Rockies decided to take their BP in the cages…it figures.
Here’s “The Deuce”, caged and protected from his adoring fans.
Chris Nelson was kind enough to sign a baseball for me.
Here are some inside the stadium pictures pre-game.
I headed over to the Dodgers side to try to get Mark Ellis to sign the live game ball he tossed me last season but I never saw Mark on the field pre-game. As the Usher was scooting us away after the National Anthem Andre Ethier walked up to the edge of the dugout and started signing for folks.
I waited and Andre signed my baseball last.
He signed it on the sweet spot for me, I didn’t even have to ask.
When I see Captain Earthman I know all is as it should be as far as baseball is concerned.
The crew out on the berm. Check out Mikes hat.
Former Rockie Mark Ellis.
In the sixth inning Wilin Rosario hit foul ball along the first base line. The new owner of that baseball was none other than my partner in crime down here in Phoenix…Mike the Rox Addict.
Mike gave away his first ever game ball to Mary the Usher because it was her birthday.
Here’s Mike pictured with Mary on TV…Classy move Mike 🙂
As much as we wanted a win to cap off one hell of a day it wasn’t happening.
Padres get the win over the Rockies 9-6.
I’m “D” The Ranter, feel’n fine but running a bit behind.
Next blog entry…Rangers vs Brewers Maryvale Baseball Park.
Ranter and Rox Addict’s 2012 Spring Training schedule.
Two Colorado Rockies Bloggers, one mission.
March 14th-D-Backs vs Rockies (Salt River Fields) Evening Game
March 15th-A’s vs Rangers (Surprise) Day Game
March 15th-Giants vs Mariners (Peoria) Night Game
March 16th-Indians vs Angels (Tempe Stadium) Day Game
March16th-Rockies vs Reds (Goodyear) Night Game
March 17th-Dodgers vs Rockies (Salt River Fields) Day Game
March 18th-Rangers vs Brewers (Maryvale) Day Game
March 19th-Reds vs White Sox (Glendale) Day Game
March 20th-Rangers vs Cubs (Hohokum) Day Game
March 20th-Rockies vs Padres (Peoria) Night Game
March 21st- Off Day
March 22nd-Giants vs Rockies (Salt River Fields) Night Game
March 23rd-Dodgers vs Brewers (Maryvale) Day Game
March 24th-Rockies vs Giants (Scottsdale) Day Game..Head home…
How’s that for a Spring Training trip?
Thirteen games in eleven days. If all goes as planned the Addict and I should see every team and get to wander around almost every Stadium.
Planning on attending one of these games? Leave a comment or shoot me an email and we’ll try and meet up, shoot the shit and take a photo for the blog.
If you’re a Phoenix area local and you have any tips on any of these stadiums(parking, best spot for autographs, anything useful).
The Rox Addict and I will gladly return the favor when you’re in Colorado 🙂
I’m “D” the Ranter and I’m more than ready to hug a cactus.
This trip is gonna be epic…“D”