As I’m writing this it’s 20 degrees outside and there’s about two feet of the white stuff covering everything.
I’m not a huge fan of winter.
You ask “D why do you live in the mountains if you don’t care for winter?”
That’s easy, there’s no better place to live in the spring, summer and fall.
It’s Superbowl Sunday and I’m writing about baseball because I’m thinking about my upcoming road trip to the Phoenix area.
Spring Training, if you’re a baseball lover and you’ve never attended it’s on your bucket list.
If you’ve had a taste of spring training and you live in a cold weather state, it becomes a ritual.
Point and case…Me
My first Spring Training trip was the season after the Rockies World Series run and I did it because I needed more. My first blog entry on the Rant back in March of 2008 was about my first Spring Training trip. It’s called:
My blog entries were a lot simpler back then 🙂
Spring Training 2009
That quick three-day trip in 2008 was a tease and for Spring Training 2009 my buddy Andy(known as Andy from Spring Training) planned a ten-day trip in a 30 ft RV dubbed “The Mobile Blogging Unit”
Here’s the first blog entry from that trip:
This next blog entry was inspired by a brief encounter with Vinny Castilla. I’ve since forgiven Vinny and even named my VW bus after the guy.
Andy from Spring Training
I could have stayed another couple of weeks but both of us had jobs that needed us and a guy can only play for so long. This trip kicked ass and now that I think back ten days was the perfect amount of time.
2010 Spring training
Spring Training this year consisted of two games. I didn’t have the vacation time saved up to do a Tucson trip this season. Lucky for us the Rockies played two Spring Training games in Albuquerque at the Isotopes Stadium and the wife and I were able to attend those games.
I called the entry for Game One against the Mariners:
Game Two was even better, I called that entry:
Alan Shuster from MyGameBalls.com wrote an article about the Brad Eldred and Jason Giambi homers I snagged from the batters eye at the end of the game at Isotopes park.
So even though Spring Training 2010 was only two games, I made it and it was a blast.
Spring Training 2011
From the moment I heard that the Rockies and D-Backs were getting a new Spring Training facility I knew I had to be the first fan inside the joint on opening day. Opportunities like that are few and far between and I wanted to be able to tell folks for years to come that I opened that stadium.
The family and I were in supposed to be in Arizona visiting my parents about the same time as the inaugural game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick so pulling this off consisted of good timing and some serious back and forth driving between Yuma and Phoenix on my part.
Here’s the kids and I in the back fields of Salt River Fields at Talking Stick a few days before the inaugural game snagg’n baseballs.
I called that first entry of that trip:
I called the second entry:
The final entry of the trip:
Spring Training 2012 will be ten days and I’ll be hang’n with the Rox Addict who kinda sees things like I do.
There’s a lot of new faces within the Rockies organization and there’s no better way to gauge a new player than to see how he acts/interacts during Spring Training. It’s where new players meet old players and friendships begin to form.
The plan is to visit to every stadium/facility in the Cactus League detailing all of it as we go. Who knows what kind of trouble we’ll get into down there?
I’m “D” The Ranter and I love my mountains but I prefer the dugout to digg’n out… “D”
2/28/11 Rockies Spring Training Game Two
Today was all about relaxing, watching some baseball and maybe snagg’n a ball or two. Hunter and Mylee spend Friday-Sunday visiting grandma and grandpa and they had a blast cruising all over the desert in their grandpa’s tricked out Jeep Rubicon.
Today was their chance to see some baseball before catching our flight back to Denver at 6:50.
There were a few fans standing in line as we approached the centerfield gates but I could tell there would be a lot less people in attendance today. The weather was perfect. It was just shy of 80 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. We couldn’t have asked for a better day.
As soon as the extremely friendly Ushers let us inside we headed for the left field berm. I learned my lesson from Saturday and was avoiding the right field berm. It took a little over thirty minutes but eventually the Rockies wandered out, started warming up and began to take some swings.
While Hunter and I were standing on the berm a guy who works for the Rockies (I think) walked up to Hunter and I and asked me how old Hunter was. I told him twelve. He said that was too bad. I asked “why”.
He said he was going to ask if Hunter wanted to be the Rockies bat boy for the game.
I was floored, Hunter was in shock. Unfortunately you had to be fourteen. He said come back in two years and I told him I’d hold him to it. As bummed as I was that Hunter couldn’t do it I was really impressed that he came over and asked us…Thank you Sir that was extremely cool.
Mini MIghty Mutts..Little dogs need good homes too.
Here are a few videos Krista took of batting practice.
This is one of many “I almost got”.
Here’s the second, I wasn’t even close but you never know?
Here’s the third…Are you starting to see a pattern here?
Now in this video the ball has been hit, I’m planted with my glove in the air mere seconds from snagg’n my first clean catch at Salt River Fields.
Out of nowhere the D-Backs dude in Red (who already had snagged three at that point) totally rips this one from me.
Then the dude said he was sorry and kept mentioning how this was his first batting practice ever. I seriously doubt that but he wasn’t the worse.
At this point I was beginning to get a bit frustrated.
Of all the missed opportunities today for some reason this next one got to me the most. In this video I’m tracking the ball perfect. I put my glove up to catch it and the older dude with black jacket, shorts, white knee brace and black hat with a red brim puts his glove up next to mine and knocks the ball away.
Guess who winds up with the ball?
The same D-backs guy who already had snagg’d three or four and kept saying this was his first batting practice. I was starting to sense a tag-team thing going on.
Dan…The dude in the above video is the “Overly Eager Grandpa” I was telling you to watch out for.
I’ll never understand why people do that. First off it’s dangerous. If you knock a ball away chances are that diverted ball could hit one of us in the face. Secondly, it’s just plain rude.
Here’s an excited Hunter after getting his third ball, a toss up from an unknown player. He’s a stud.
Here’s Mylee keeping herself entertained while the boys chased baseballs.
In this last video you can’t see it but this ball was the last ball hit during BP. It wasn’t a homer but it was close.
So close I leaned over the rail and the ball landed smack in the center of my glove and bounced out. Matt Belisle chuckled at me, picked up that ball and tossed it back to the bucket.
I just had to smile. I was too dehydrated to cry.
That was it for BP…I didn’t snag any baseballs on the fly and the only ball BP ball I got was a toss up from this player.
Anyone who can identify him please let me know. No it’s not Cole Garner.
Danny came over to the left field berm and visited with me for a while.Danny was excited because he happened to snag a game rubbed Inaugural ball earlier and he was kind enough to let me photograph it.
Thanks for coming over and chatt’n Danny. It was good to see you and I’ll see you again on April 1st brotha.
I wanted one of those baseballs bad. Robert’s still down in Scottsdale and Dan, Emily and Mike will all be heading down soon, so between those fellas somebody will hook me up with one.
I didn’t take any action shots today as I was just chill’n on the berm drinking a beer I purchased from a happily employed Captain Earthman.
Earthman thanked me for the blog entry for I did for him a few weeks back. Today was amazing. Not only did I spent quality time with my wife, kids and sister-in-law. I was able to relax, enjoy the warm weather and soak in the Rockies baseball taking place in front of me that I’ve been longing for all winter long
I mentioned to Krista that I never wanted to leave.
But we did have to leave, right around the 8th inning so we could be sure and catch our flight. Rockies get their second win over the D-Backs in as many games with a final score of 6-5.
I love it here in Arizona, and when Mylee finishes school this Ranter and his wife will officially be Snowbirds. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a gambler but for me batting practice is like being in a casino.
I don’t mind going home empty handed as long as I get some “play” while I’m there.
Today….I got me some “play” and I couldn’t be more excited for the Rockies home opener on April 1st.
This Stadium is one of the coolest places I’ve ever been to…Rockies and D-Backs fans, you’ll be proud when you strut around this complex. I’m “D” The Rockpile Ranter and this concludes my Spring Training 2011 trip. The plan is to spend ten days in Scottsdale next year.
I’m thinking a Rantic Baseball Getaway? Mull it over, I’m giving you plenty of time 🙂
If your looking for live pictures from the games, the Salt River Fields practice facility and other teams facilities Dan and Emily will be heading to Scottsdale in a few days. When they arrive Dan will be posting pictures on he and Emily’s FACEBOOK page daily.
Click here—> Rox Fan Emily and Dan.
Also Mike, writer of the MLBlog Rox Addict will be heading down in a week or so and he’ll have some great pictures. Be sure and give his Rockies blog some luv.
2-26-11 Alternate titles for this entry were:
“Parking was free but man I had to Pee”
“Job Done now Where’s the Sun”
“When you write the Rant, there is no Can’t” Rockies vs Diamondbacks
The Inaugural Game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick
I hit the highway amped at 2:45 am heading from Yuma Arizona to Salt River Fields in Scottsdale. Within five minutes of being on the highway I was stopped and found myself chatting with a “serious business” border patrolman at one of their security checkpoints. I guess I looked suspicious with my groovy Ranter hat and the fact I was driving alone in a rental car early in the morning?
Anyways, the officers informed me that the rental car and all of my belongings needed to be searched by their drug sniffing dog Lassie.
That experience took a good twenty minutes and other than slowing me up a bit the “military wannabe’s” wouldn’t let me grab my jacket and put it on. Let me tell you it’s flipp’n cold at 3am in the desert.
Thankful that there wasn’t some sort of body cavity search next, the border guys finished invading my stuff and I resumed my road trip to Scottsdale before they changed their minds.
At 6am I met up with Robert at Denny’s just outside of Salt River Fields. The two of us had a good breakfast and I had to take this picture of the Arizona sunrise as were getting ready to hop in our vehicles and drive the last mile to the new stadium.
By 7:10 I was officially the first fan standing in line to enter Salt River Fields. The centerfield gates were open and there wasn’t a sole in sight. I was damn temped to wander inside, but I’m an honest guy and I stood my ground just outside the gates :).
Other than the two steps I took inside when nobody was looking 🙂
I’ve been planning to be the first fan inside this stadium from the moment I heard about it and I love it when a plan works out.
Here’s the picture I took standing two feet inside. There was a local Arizona news team that was inside the stadium before me but for some reason they had no interest in interviewing the Rockies fan standing in line 🙂
He asked if I was the Rockpile Ranter. Impressed that a D-Backs fan knew me I gave him my card and in return Andrew gave me his. Andrew writes a really cool D-Backs blog called:
Andrew was an extremely nice guy and Robert and I had a good time chatting and waiting in line with him. Check out Andrew’s blog about game one. He wrote some nice things about Robert and I and gave the Rockpile Rant some luv.
Also, Andrew snagged the first ever batting practice homerun hit at Salt River Fields. It was hit by Chris Nelson. Andrew is a hardcore D-Backs fan and I’m glad at least somebody I knew caught the first BP homer.
Thanks Andrew, it was an honor to meet you brotha.
April it was extremely cool to finally meet you and thanks for supporting the Rockpile Rant my friend.
Both Robert and I were sport’n our “HELMER IS MY HOMEBOY” T-Shirts and it wasn’t long before Tom came over to the centerfield gate hung out for a while and posed for pictures with everyone.
Not counting me here are the first four fans in line to enter the stadum.
Robert asked Tom Helmer for a favor. He asked if he could get George Frazier to autograph a baseball for him with one of his famous quotes. Tom’s a superstar and was able to get George to autograph the ball it and had it back to Robert in no time flat.
Check this baseball out.
Alanna Rizzo came over with a camera crew just before the gates opened and talked to us but no interview 😦
Below two photos by Andrew
Robert and I decided to make a deal. Since we both totally went out of our way to be first in the new stadium, we decided to share the honors and both walk in at the same time.
Here’s a picture of the video of Robert and I going through the gates first.
Here’s the video of Tom Helmer and The Cowboy mentioning on air that the first two fans through the gates were Robert and Don and they were both sport’n “Helmer is my Homeboy” T-Shirts.
Admit it Tom, you can’t buy better exposure than that 🙂.
Thanks Tom, Robert and I really appreciated the T-Shirts and the Rantics will too.
The giveaway for the Inaugural game was a ceramic Inaugural ticket.
Here’s the first picture of Salt River Fields “field” taken by a fan during the first few seconds of entering the stadium.
But Because I stopped to take the above picture Robert beat me to being the first fan to walk on the berm. So here’s a picture of the first fan on the Right Field Berm….Guess who?
Here’s a couple shots of the Bi-Plane flyover.
The sellout inaugural game went ten innings and the Colorado Rockies make stadium history with this special win over their Salt River roommates the D-Backs.
I’d like to think I made a little history in my own special way.
Sad to say I was shutout as far as baseballs go, at least at this first game.
Robert’s claim to fame was snagg’n the first BP homer ever caught by a Rockies fan in the new stadium. He caught a Troy Tulowitzki BP homer before the inaugural game started. If it wasn’t me I’m glad it was him.
I sure wanted it to be me though 😦
I love this picture taken by Robert…It’s going on the wall…Thanks fellas..You Rock!
ROCKIES SPRING TRAINING 2011
It’s 6am and we’re waiting to board the Frontier Airlines Fox. Salt River Fields here we come.
The flight was a success and as soon as we picked up our rental car we headed for Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
Within about 20 minutes us arriving at the training facility I ran into Rant favorite Tom Helmer.
Here’s a shot of the kids and I peeking through the fence looking for homers. Tom Helmer let me know that one of the batting practice homers I snagged was Giambi’s.
While the kids and I were snagg’n baseballs George Frazier and Drew Goodman walked by. George stopped and said “I remember you from Rockies Fan Fest” and shook my hand. George, that made my day..seriously thank you.
Drew said hi and then they went on their way.
The Team Store
The practice field with the green screen is made to the exact dimentions of Coors Field.
In between the Rockies practice fields.
At this point we had to take off for a quick visit with my sister-in-law and then head on down to Yuma so the kids could spend a few days with my parents.I’ll be getting up at 3am so I can drive three hours from Yuma and be at the new stadium by 7:30.
It’s been my plan for over a year to be the first fan inside the new stadium.
2-7-11 *ATTENTION RANTICS*
Captain Earthman has been a fixture at spring training in Tucson and at Coors Field for years.
From what I’m told the Captain hasn’t received the phone call stating that he has a job in the new stadium come Feb 26th.
We Rockies fans cherish the few traditions we have. Captain Earthman happens to be one of them. You’ve got to love the way he calls all little kids “Future Beer Drinkers”.
Or Earthman’s standard line “Ain’t no sissy sipp’n”.
One of the great things about Captain Earthman is that if you have his business card all you have to do is give him a ring, tell him your seat location and what you want to drink and he magically appears with a frosty cold beverage and a few words of wisdom.
Here he is moving at sonic speed.
Below is a link to the petition:
Just fill out your name and email address. Then you will be sent an email with a link. Click on the link and it will add your name to the petition. If you don’t see the email right away check your junk folder. It’s really easy.
Two Tribes, Two Teams, One Home….The opening of a new stadium.
This is what you get when you partner the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian community with the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies. This partnership has resulted in what’s known as Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
Salt River Fields is the first Major League Baseball spring training facility to be constructed on Indian land. The stadium has an 11,000 seat capacity including the grass berm in the outfield.
Surrounding this beautiful stadium are 12 practice fields. Scattered throughout the grounds are other buildings that will house Major and Minor league clubhouses, training facilities and offices for the Rockies and the Diamondbacks.
Tailgating is not permitted in any Salt River Fields operated parking lot. Persons may not consume alcohol in the parking lots, including inside their vehicles.
Salt River Fields regulations allow only soft-sided bags and containers 16″x16″x8″ or smaller to be permitted in the gates
The Centerfield Gate, which is located on the eastern part of the main stadium, will open 2 hours and 40 minutes prior to game time for Guests who want to view batting practice. The remaining gates will open 2 hour and 10 minutes prior to game time.
During the games, Guests are permitted to leave the ballpark and return through any of the four entrance gates. Please see the gate supervisor to have your hand and ticket stub stamped. When returning to the ballpark, Guests must show their ticket stub and hand stamp, and should re-enter through a special pass-out gate at each of the entrance gates.
There are 3000 parking spaces on site and parking is $5.00.
• One (1) Factory-Sealed Bottle of Water, Per Person. No larger than one (1) liter in size.
• Purses / Diaper Bags / Personal Medical Bags.
• Still / Video Cameras. Video cameras are permitted as long as live game action is not recorded.
• Baseball Bats for the purpose of autographs. Bats must be stored under seats once the game begins. No aluminum bats,
• Plastic baby bottles or any necessary items required for medical purposes or other special needs.
• No Outside Food or Beverages. Except as provided under permitted items. No Illegal Drugs
• No Weapons / FireworksNo Glass Bottles / Aluminum Cans
• No Hard-Sided Coolers / Containers, Regardless of Size
• No Camera Tri, Dual or Single Leg Pods by Non-Media Personnel
• No Fish Nets / Poles / Umbrellas / Signs Attached to Sticks
• No Bullhorns / Noisemakers / Confetti
• No Animals. Except service dogs for guests with disabilities are permitted.
• No Beach Balls / Balloons / Inflatables
• No Skateboards / Rollerblades / Shoes with Wheels
• No Unauthorized Motor Vehicles / Mobility Devices
• No Stools / Folding Chairs
• No Squirt Guns / Bubble-Making Liquids
• No Laser Pointers
• Other Items Not Specified on this List as Deemed Prohibited by Management
From a baseball fans point of view the opening of a new stadium comes with a lot of firsts…Such as:
First fan to enter the gates.
First fan to catch a batting practice homerun.
First fan to catch a batting practice foul ball.
First fan to get a batting practice ball tossed to them.
First autograph inside the stadium.
First live game homerun snag or catch.
First live game foul ball snag or catch.
First ground rule double snag or catch.
First live game toss-up (ie. 3rd out toss-up).
Not to mention…The first pitch, first steal, first homerun, first single, double, first triple, first walk, first bunt, first hit batsmen, first out, first double play, first walk-off homerun…
You get my point the list goes on.
Everything is a first during the first game of a new stadium. Someone has their mind set on devouring the first foot long brat and some eager fan will take pride in knowing he purchased the first beer poured in Salt River Fields.
I couldn’t think of a better time to debut a “New Dinger”?
Salt River Fields at Talking Stick is a giant step-up from Hi-Corbett Field in every aspect. The whole “new ballpark” experience should be a positive buzz for the Rockies and will hopefully spill into the regular season. It would be nice to get through April with a winning record.
The Rockies season begins at Salt River Fields on February 26, 2011 against the Diamondbacks at 1:10. Only 11,000 people will witness this once in a lifetime opportunity.