This weekend finds me on light duty, taking in some spring training games in the Phoenix area.
The main reason I had to come down was to see Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the new $120-million spring training Mecca built by the Pima and Maricopa Indians for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks. Both teams moved over to this Scottsdale location from Tucson.
To say that Salt River Fields has set a new level for spring training facilities is such an understatement. With six baseball fields for each major league team plus the main stadium, Salt River Fields will have the same impact on spring training that building Camden Yards had on major league stadiums around the country.
Salt River Fields also includes 85,000 square foot clubhouses for each team.
And, yes, it offers food that is not only so much better than what you typically find available at spring training games; it is a steep improvement on anything I’ve run across at major league stadiums.
I opted to give it the ultimate test. At Coors Field in Denver, I turn my head away whenever someone comes at me with “nachos.” Whatever they start out with, I do not know, because the final step is to pour massive amounts of some yellow liquid over them.
At Salt River, a southwestern vendor caught my eye. Its signage promised all fresh and fresh cut ingredients–at a baseball park no less. I asked about the cheese, a light sprinkle they said. I placed the order and could not have been more pleased.
It was a gourmet wonder that took just two or three minutes to prepare. I am wondering if the Monfort brothers, who run the Rockies, are going to understand we natives are going to expect some upgrades at Coors Field this year. (The brothers use to run the big slaughterhouse at Greeley, Colorado so they have not always been used to having those going through the turnstiles talk back to them.)
Any of you who’ve been down here know that while March is dominated by spring training, the focus most of the rest of the year is golf. It’s something I’ve never had enough patience to pursue.
One of my great heroes, however, is Lee Trevino, the self-taught American of Mexican ancestry who won 29 PGA tournaments in the day when Tiger Woods was just a glint in his father’s eye I remember that late in his career, Trevino was asked about his future and he replied by saying: “As long as I can hold a golf club, I am going to be able to make a couple of bucks.”
That’s why I always loved Lee Trevino’s attitude. It was all about finding something you can always do, and keeping going. You see a lot of that attitude in the Valley of the Sun during March.