Well, it’s that time of year again. That time of year where we get to stay in Cleveland and sit in the snow, literally, as we watch the Cleveland Indians equipment bus drive off into the sunset (again, literally) towards the sunny region of Goodyear, Arizona. It’s a bittersweet feeling as we know the season will be starting soon, but it pains us all to sit here and watch as they get to play in the sunny desert, and we, well, don’t. However, there is a way to escape all of this snow here in the big CLE, and there is a way to follow the bus all the way to its destination to watch your favorite players sit on the bench and watch the rookies play, but the question is…is it really worth it?
To me the answer is yes, even with some bumps that I will explain.
Ever since I was little kid, I always dreamed of not only playing in the MLB, but also going to the land of the sun to play in spring training. In fact, sometimes on hot days playing ball as a kid I would pretend that I was doing just that, and that I was trying out for the current Cleveland Indians team…adorable right? Anyway, as I said, it has always been something that I have wanted to see and do, it’s something that really shows not just how much of a fan you are of the team, but of the game itself. It’s almost like a right of passage into the true “fandom” that exists. Ironically, last summer I actually was IN Arizona and drove right by all of the stadiums where teams would play, the only bad part was that it wasn’t during spring training. I would see “Home of the ____ Spring Training!” Every time I saw one of these I would slow down and just admire what I was looking at. It was a place where past greats have started and where future greats would be starting right in front of my eyes. I was kind of like one of those kids looking at a brand new video game, wanting to just sit there and play for hours.
Sadly, as I was looking for ways to actually make my dream come true, I was quickly shot down by what the “business” side of the game has done to it. Believe it or not, the actual tickets themselves aren’t the problem. Tickets range anywhere from $15-$50. Really not that bad for a game in a smaller stadium with players that might not even ever make the team. When I saw that I finally thought that I would be going to my first spring training game!!…then I saw the other components. Flights to Phoenix were nearly triple, and a good hotel couldn’t be found for less than an arm and a leg (around $200 a night). Right…RIGHT?! To be that close to finally achieving something I’ve wanted for so long, only to have it collapse in front of me hurt the most.
It truly saddens me that something this cool and this awesome could be made so unaffordable to the heart of the people who watch the game in the first place, the people who CAN’T afford all the luxuries. Oddly enough, the main problem wasn’t even the MLB! It was everything else that thought it would be cool to suck the life, and money, out of the people who made it all the way out to Goodyear. Unfortunately, that’s the way of the world now though, you see something, and try to make as much money off of it as possible! Maybe some day this will change, but until then, I guess I’ll just keep saving so I can pay my dues…pun intended.
However, even with all of the annoyances about how business have taken advantage of the very people that support them, let’s put that aside. It still is SPRING TRAINING. To some, that’s no big deal, but to me that’s an experience that is almost like the SuperBowl. It’s a side of the game and a side of the players that you have never seen before! You can watch the game and all, but still be so close and so wrapped up into it that you almost feel like you’re the coach making the roster! If you love the game and the Tribe, then there is no doubt in my mind that this is a one of a kind experience for you. Especially if you love warm weather and palm trees! And sand…lots of sand.
Long story short, I still believe that it is worth it, and it is worth the extra overtime it will take to get there, unless you live nearby. Baseball is an amazing sport and something that is good any time of the year. That mixed with the cool combination of seeing players a lot closer than usual, and in a more relaxed setting makes it even cooler. So if you’re really into the game of baseball and want to see where it all begins each year, then I recommend you keep pushing ahead, save up those frequent flier miles, and keep dreaming about the day you will step off in Goodyear, Arizona for your first Tribe Spring Training game! In the end, it’ll all be worth it.