The Valley has its own version of ‘March Madness’, and though lacking the frenetic pace of the more well-known athletic hoops spectacle, the MLB Cactus League is nonetheless a sporting phenomenon unlike any other on the planet (with apologies to Florida, but remember, the dry heat is over on the left side, baby). Early spring in Arizona is perhaps the most sublime weather anywhere in the world, and people travel from all longitudes and latitudes to take it in; the young, the old, the ‘bling’ed out, and the bold. While mild breezes and intermittent clouds cool the skin as the sun performs its intoxicating magic, the all-demographic accessibility of baseball serves as the all-purpose excuse for anyone to get out and enjoy the day (and for anyone to get out and drive or fly across continents to enjoy the day, for that matter).
Spring training is candy for kids and grown-ups alike, when the crack of the bat and the smell of hotdogs and peanuts instills fresh new wonder in one while evoking nostalgic bliss in the other. Though classic imagery is still vibrantly alive in Phoenix and Tucson ballparks, where it takes the form of fathers and sons worshiping together at the altar of baseball, a bright day at the diamond also holds immense appeal for mothers and daughters, as Arizona is a renowned center of softball talent and fanaticism.
Ahhh, March in Arizona; when the consumption of beer and hot pretzels goes up while the wearing of clothing goes down. The Cactus League is not merely a draw for baseball fans, it is a giant mojo magnet for those ready to throw down the party gauntlet. Grass seating is a feature at some ballparks, and in these green fields the power players mix with average Joes in a universal salute to two treasured American past times; baseball and merrymaking. Some parks promote party decks and VIP areas, where corporate types and socialites dominate the revelry scene. Spring training games in ’09 are sure to be particularly attractive to ‘those about to rock’ due to their typically affordable price points, so if you’re looking to score big this year at the ballpark, bring your belly, liver, and enough money for a cab ride home.