Thursday, February 16, 2006

First Day of Spring Workouts

The first day of Spring Training finally arrived......but what a bummer it turned out to be. I drove down to Scottsdale Stadium at about 9:00 this morning. When I arrived, I found that they were not allowing fans into the stadium. No problem, I thought, when I was here in January, the entire practice facility was surrounded by chainlink fence and was easily visible from all around the exterior. The only vision obstructions were the centerfield areas, which had a high "batter's eye" made of a green mesh material. So I walked around the complex, looking for a good spot to watch the action, once the players dispersed from the main stadium area.

To my great disappointment, I found that the exterior chainlink fence, was now lined with the same green mesh material as I had earlier seen with the batter's eyes. This is the type of material that they use at Little League and recreational fields to create shade. You can sort of see shadows through it......but you can't really see what is going on or take photos through it. I walked around the exterior of the entire complex and almost the entire perimeter was obstructed by the green mesh.

The only area visible to an interested fan (such as myself), was a few yards of the fence around the infield area of one of the practice fields. I couldn't tell if they just hadn't hung the mesh up there yet, or if they were going to leave it open. Half of the open area, the 1B side, will not be accessible in any event because it parallels Osborn Rd, where they were in the process of planting trees and other landscaping to block the view. I am pretty sure the City of Scottsdale won't want fans trampling over the new landscaping to get a peek at the players.

In looking around the complex, I found it was impossible to see any of the pitching mounds (the "gang" mounds where several pitchers get in their work at the same time), the half practice field, the batting cages, most of the full practice field and you could only get a tiny glimpse of the main field from way down the LF corner about 500 feet from home plate. I posted the view of the main field below.......as you can see, it is too far away to really see anything. The other photos below will give you an idea of the material that surrounds the fields. No way would anyone stand and try to watch what is going on through that stuff.

By the time I left at about 10:15, no one had appeared on the practice field where there was a small viewable area. I would imagine when the position players arrive, there will be more action on that field. As of right now.....there isn't really much reason for a fan to go down to the Scottsdale Stadium complex at all. Spring Training, before games start, has reached an all-time low. I have been saying that it has been getting less and less fan friendly for years now. But to shut out the fans almost totally is something I never thought I would see.

Now.........to further cloud up the issue. As I was driving back to my condo from the stadium, my cell phone rings. It is my son telling me I must be happy because he read in the San Francisco Chronicle, that the Giants would be opening the stadium up to the fans this year. When I got back to the condo......I check the Chronicle on-line and sure enough....Henry Schulman says "In a departure from past years, fans will be allowed into Scottsdale Stadium to watch the first two weeks of practice because most players will work out there, rather than at Indian School Park."

Chronicle - Giants Notebook

So now......I don't know if they WILL open practices up to the fans at some point, or if Schulman's article was just incorrect. I have e-mails out to several sources now, trying to get that question answered. As of now.......I would say don't bother going down to the practices.....it would pretty much be a waste of your time.

Oh....as a side note, I went down to Indian School Park to see if anything was going on there. There were about half a dozen players, not in uniform working out on one of the fields. I assumed they were Minor Leaguers who arrived at camp early, since Minor League camp doesn't open until March 2nd, I hear. Other than that, nothing was going on at Indian School Park.....so unless Schulman is right and the Giants start opening up Scottsdale Stadium.......us mere fans will not be able to see much of the Giants until the first Spring Training games. How disappointing.

3 comments:

GRMG said...

Keeping my fingers crossed that the "first two weeks" start when all the players show up next week, and continue till games begin. Keep us posted, Hank.

Number29 said...

Sorry to hear about that Hank. Hopefully Schulman got this one right. Thanks for the blogs also. I'm not making a spring training trip this year, so I'm going to have to live vicariously through you & your blogs.

Giantfan9 said...

Hey grmg......check your hotmail...I have a couple of presents for you.