PHOENIX -- The downside of doing a spring training trip every year is that it's easy to become accustomed to the experience, to look past the little details that make this so special.
Not this year.
Nope, this time around, I'm literally stopping to smell the flowers. Which is funny, because the locals don't smell what we smell anymore: the air in Phoenix is literally sweet with some sort of desert floral aroma. Even as I battle through a cold out here, I can't stop enjoying the smell.
Now, as far as baseball is concerned, our first game yesterday was as scattered as ever. As is the case every year, that first game is about getting acclimated, saying hi to the guys in the press box, and chatting with the handful of Milwaukeeans we inevitably run into. This year, it also involved spending an inning on the berm with Brewers minor league pitcher and OnMilwaukee.com blogger, Seth McClung.
It was nice to see "Big Red" in person again, since most of our conversations are via phone or text. We both noted the irony that he was on the other side of the field at Maryvale for the first time, but he's taking his minor league deal in stride. Actually, he seems at peace as he works his way back to the big leagues. McClung is traveling with the Brewers to Tucson today, where he hopes to pitch in a major league game. We wish him the best of luck.
The rest of Thursday was hectic, but in a relaxing sort of way. We met up with our contacts from the area CVBs at a new downtown Phoenix restaurant, cleverly called The Breakfast Club (they're omelets are quite good). We did get a $50 parking ticket, which is unfortunate, but I've made mental note to come back and explore downtown Phoenix another time.
Then, after the game, we took in the hot tub at the Sheraton Crescent, which really is a nice property. It's my fourth time staying here, but it's so very comfortable (and our suite is, well, sweet). Then, we drove east to Tempe, where we had a great dinner at Four Peaks, an old favorite, and a beer at Casey Moore's. We wrapped up the night on the patio at our friend James' house in Phoenix. It couldn't have been a nicer night.
Now, as Bobby and Corey tour Taliesen West (I've been twice, so I'm good), I can get a little work done and maybe go for a run before we make the long trek to (surprise) watch the Brewers battle the Royals. I promise to pay attention to the game, too. After that, who knows? Maybe Old Town Scottsdale; we'll see.
I know I sound like a broken record, but if you haven't made this trip, what are you waiting for? And if you've done it before, you ought to come back.
I'll be there next week after a two-year spring training trip hiatus. I can't wait!
On another note - that guys' gut in the background of the photo with Seth is disgusting and hilarious at the same time. Feast your eyes on the beauty WI brings to AZ!
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