Can’T Beat Fun At The Old Ballpark

More Than a Game

Patrick Corbin pitches against Cleveland on Saturday.

Patrick Corbin pitches against Cleveland on Saturday. Photo by Keith Morris.

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This is my favorite time of year.

March is a special month because of baseball.

Teams are back in action, playing games in Florida and Arizona in preparation for the upcoming season.

Spring training games have been going on for a couple of weeks now, so I decided to get in my car and drive down to Goodyear Ballpark to take in a Diamondbacks Cactus League game against the Cleveland Indians on Saturday.

In a couple of hours I was there. But it took another hour to actually get into the park because the D-Backs are a hot ticket this time of year. It wasn’t quite a sellout. but it sure seemed like it as I looked for a parking spot.

Goodyear Ballpark is the spring training home of the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds. One of the Goodyear Ballpark employees I talked to said he’s been working Cactus League games for four years and had never seen so many cars in the parking area, which was expanded onto grass where they’d never parked before.

But I drove past the furthest parking lot searching for free parking. I just don’t like paying for parking to a spring training game, even if it was just $5. It took some searching, but I was fortunate to find a car backing out of a spot on the street across from one of the back ballfields and I pulled into it.

And it was only about a mile from the ballpark. Well, I don’t know if it was quite a mile. But it seemed like it as I walked. I lathered up my face, arms and legs in SPF 50 sunscreen and 20 minutes later I reached the ticket box.

I asked for the cheapest ticket, but the $8 lawn seats were sold out. So I plopped down my $20 and strolled into the park.

Now, what’s a baseball game without a hot dog? Well, it’s just not right. I prefer a straight dog with just mustard, although I sometimes add onions. But when I came upon a stand offering bratwurst, sausages and giant chili cheese dogs, I went for the big boy. Fifteen minutes and $8.25 later, I was looking for the condiment table. I loaded the mustard on and winced at the kid ruining his dog with ketchup. I grabbed a couple of napkins and tried to figure out where to eat this foot-long monster. I certainly wasn’t going to my seat hauling this messy beast with me. That would be just asking for trouble. I could envision chili all over my shirt, shorts and anyone unfortunate enough to be in the seat next to me.

So I spotted a trash can near the condiment stand and made my way over there to try and wolf the big hot dog down without getting any of it on me. I failed. I was feeling pretty good upon taking the final bite that the mess was only on my hands, and went back for more napkins. But that’s when I noticed chili on my toes and left sandal. No problem. A quick trip to the rest room and I was cleaned up and ready to find my seat.

A couple of minutes later I slid into my right field box seat ready to enjoy an afternoon of baseball on a sunny day with temperatures in the mid-80s.

Back-to-back home runs by Paul Goldschmidt and Martin Prado highlighted a three-run first-inning and Patrick Corbin settled down after a rough second inning as the Diamond­backs won 4-2. It was a good day to be a D-Backs fan.

Until the bottom of the seventh inning, that is. That’s when the young left-hander suffered a torn ligament in his left elbow that could sideline him for the entire season. Reports indicate season-ending Tommy John surgery has been recommended, although Corbin was scheduled to get a second opinion. The 24-year-old ace was scheduled to pitch in the opener in Australia against the Los Angeles Dodgers early Saturday morning. His injury easily overshadowed Saturday’s win.

If Corbin is lost for the season it will be a huge blow to the team. Randall Delgado is the most likely pitcher to take his spot in the rotation, although D-Backs have some options, including top prospect Archie Bradley. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

Although he may or may not begin the season in the rotation, Bradley is likely to join the team at some point this season. And I’m looking forward to seeing the 21-year-old pitching every five days for the D-Backs. The anticipation of the arrival of young phenoms is one of the things that make baseball so unique. This kid is going to be fun to watch for years.

I’m excited that the season starts for the Diamondbacks and Dodgers with games at 1 a.m. and 7 p.m. MST on Saturday, although I don’t like that they play two games then go back to four more exhibition games March 26-29 before starting for real a second time on March 31 at home against San Francisco.

The Dodgers are the team to beat in the National League West and Arizona will have its work cut out trying to do just that. We’ll find out how that chase begins this weekend.

I can’t wait. I plan on watching the opener live if I can stay up until about 4 a.m. Saturday.

Play ball!

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