Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Updated: February 9, 1:08 AM ET
Caple: Spring (training) is in the air
By Jim Caple
In honor of baseball's return, here are my favorite spring training spots:
1. The outfield berms. Don't waste your money on expensive box seats where you'll fry the back of your neck. The best place to watch spring training is from a patch of grass beyond the outfield fence with a beer in one hand and lotion in another. You find more of these in Arizona, with Maryvale (Brewers), Peoria (Padres and Mariners), Scottsdale (Giants) among the best.
2. Dodgertown, Vero Beach. In an era of generic training sites, Dodgertown still retains an old-time spring training air, especially when you wander Sandy Koufax Lane amid the old player dorms. But hurry after six decades, the Dodgers are moving to Arizona in 2009. (Note: Sorry, folks, if you didn't visit Dodgertown in Florida, you can see the Dodgers' new home in Glendale, Ariz.)
3. Hi Corbett Field, Tucson. It's been renovated many times, but it still has a cozy spring training charm. And because the Rockies have been so bad for so long, tickets are never a problem. (Note: Ditto here, friends, as the Rockies have relocated to Scottsdale.)
4. Tempe Diablo Stadium. Few things are as relaxing as watching home runs sail off toward the butte down the left field line
unless you're a young pitcher who is trying to make the team.
5. Scottsdale Stadium. The only thing missing is a world championship banner for my Giants.
6. Drinks at the Pink Pony in Scottsdale. The quintessential spring training hangout.
7. Tigertown, Lakeland, Fla. The Tigers have trained here since 1934 longest spring training association of any team and if you close your eyes, you can almost hear Al Kaline taking batting practice.
8. The Bubble Room, Captiva Island. If you're in Fort Myers to check out the Twins or Red Sox, be sure to make the long drive out to Captiva Island for dinner at this kitschy classic.
9. Packard Stadium, Tempe, Ariz. Catching a Sun Devils game at ASU, where Barry Bonds and 85 other major leaguers played in college, is a great substitute when you tire of the big leagues.
10. Mill Avenue, Tempe. Right off the ASU campus, a great avenue for shopping, dining and drinking.
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com who has covered sports on five continents and written about them all across America. His work can also be found on Page 2, and his book, "The Devil Wears Pinstripes," can be ordered through jimcaple.net.