I just got back from my first ever trip to Spring Training.
As many of you may know, I became a baseball fan relatively late in life. I didn't really pay attention to baseball until I was in high school, and didn't start watching it regularly until I was in college. So along with the other baseball memories I missed out on as a kid/adolescent are Spring Training trips. I've been wanting to go out there for years, but my plans always seemed to fall through for whatever reason. This season I was determined, and thankfully everything worked out even better than I could have hoped.
My boyfriend and I (and our dog) left for Arizona early on Sunday morning, hoping to arrive just in time for that afternoon's game. I could barely contain my excitement the whole drive. After dropping off the pup, we headed to the stadium and arrived just after the game started. We grabbed some lawn seat tickets, loaded up on sunscreen, and sat behind right field for a couple innings. We watched Wil Myers walk, followed by a Hunter Renfroe 2-run homer to give the Padres a early lead. The Reds would tie it in the top of the 2nd, but the good guys would regain the lead in the bottom with some classic Padres small ball.
At that point, the heat was starting to get to us (Arizona is p hot) and we were starving, so we decided to wander the concourse in search of food. They had a lot of good options at Peoria Stadium, but we ultimately decided on hot dogs and fries. The cashier who took our order even insisted on filling our reusable water bottles with ice, which was really nice of him, especially since we didn't even ask.
After getting our food, we went in search of some seating in the shade, which we found pretty easily since it wasn't a very big crowd that day. From there we watched the remainder of the game. Renfroe homered for a second time, but otherwise there no more scoring for the Padres. Bethancourt came into the game in relief and threw a scoreless inning, which was also really fun to see.
The Reds, however, tacked on seven more runs to come out victorious. Regardless, my first Spring Training game in person was a lot of fun and I already couldn't wait until the next one.
Little did I know, the next game would be even more exciting. As we were leaving the stadium, we heard the stadium announcer mention that Monday night was Peoria Stadium's annual Dog Night, which he referred to as the "Bow Wow Pow Wow." All we had to do was buy a $5 dog ticket and we could bring our pup to the stadium for the game the next night! This wasn't something we planned for or even knew was a thing, but our timing turned out to be perfect.
And perfect timing seemed to become a theme throughout our trip. After our first game, we were still hungry so we decided to go to a nearby Chipotle. For some reason, it just sounded good and it was right by the stadium. Well it turned out to be a great decision, because shortly after we walked in and ordered our food, none other than Padres first baseman and 2016 All-Star, Wil Myers, walked in.
You may recall Myers getting some flak in the past for expressing his love of Chipotle (amongst other unpopular food takes). So in hindsight it shouldn't have been surprising to see him there after a game (I imagine he's there all the time). But it's one of those things you kind of imagine happening in your head, but never think it will happen in real life. My boyfriend congratulated him on his good hitting that day (in addition to his walk and run scored in the 1st inning, he went 2-for-2) and Myers thanked him. Then he sat down at a table to eat. We were surprised because we had just assumed he would take his food to go and eat it somewhere he wouldn't potentially be hounded by fans. I wanted to go and ask for an autograph or picture, but I resigned to wait until he got up to leave and then ask him, so as not to disturb him while he was enjoying his meal.
I was so anxious the whole time I started to sweat. And then the door to the restaurant opened and in walked ChristianBethancourt! He waved to Myers and went to order his food. But before we could say anything to him, he headed out the door with his food in a to-go bag. A few minutes later, Myers was gone too, having snuck out another door when we weren't looking. So no autograph or picture, but still a great story!
Huh. Wil Myers really does like Chipotle. So does Bethancourt.— Jodes Paranal (@jodes0405) March 19, 2017
Next we headed back to Phoenix, where we were staying, to settle in and get a little rest. That night we went to dinner at Cibo, an Italian restaurant just a few minutes away. My boyfriend had read about it in one of Keith Law's Spring Training Dining Guides. We got some veggie antipasto, a pizza, and some pasta, all of which was delicious (not only that night, but as leftovers later). I also had a local beer, Kilt Lifter by Four Peaks Brewing, which was not bad. In addition to the food, the atmosphere was really nice and although we had been seated right away, the place was pretty crowded for a Monday night.
Between the excitement of being at Spring Training for the first time, seeing Myers and Bethancourt, and eating some yummy food, our first day in Arizona could not have gone better.