Is Giants spring training worth it?

Can't get enough of SFDugout.com? Neither can we. But we want to know what else you want to know. Want to know what is the worst seat at AT&T Park? Or who was the first member of the San Francisco Giants to hit a home run at Coors Field? We aim to answer these and other questions from the peanut gallery, and if we can't… well, then we can at least make it interesting.

This week's question:

Question from, uh, Don: Hey SFDugout, can the season start already? I've never been a fan of spring training, and I just think most of it is a great waste of time. Is it even worth it to trek all the way down to Arizona to see some half-hearted preseason action with mostly minor leaguers?

Answer: You bet your rain-soaked Giants cap it is! This author had the opportunity to venture south to Arizona for the first time this spring, and he was not disappointed in the slightest. Allow me to count the ways:

1. Reasonable costs. You can get into most games for about $15 or less, and at least at Scottsdale Stadium (spring home of the Giants) there is not a bad seat in the cozy house. Food and beverages cost less here than at AT&T Park (no big surprise there). The biggest expense is probably transportation, but airfare as well as hotels and rental cars are reasonably priced provided you book early enough.

2. The weather. Mostly t-shirt and shorts, and not a drop of rain while I was there – sure beats the rainy Bay Area in March. Most spring training games are during the day, so bring plenty of sun block. Nights can get a bit chilly, but that's just a good excuse to buy a new Giants sweater at the team store.

3. The atmosphere. If you're someone who demands eating sushi under a canopy with your Wall Street Journal while watching a ballgame, then spring training probably isn't for you. Spring games are about beer guys (yes, they have guys walking down the aisle selling beer in Arizona – what a concept!) and sitting on the lawn "bleachers" in the outfield. The stadium as well as the rest of the area has a very new, clean feel. A very relaxing experience.

4. The scene. Scottsdale in spring is ridiculous – mostly young people, both male and female, creating a lively scene at restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. A singles haven. For you sports nuts, the Phoenix area has a great sports scene, and in the spring their MLB, NBA, and NHL teams are all active. Add the NCAA basketball tournament in March, and there's always something going on. And the golf here is fabulous, with hundreds of courses to choose from. I had almost forgotten what dry fairways do for your golf game!

5. Oh yeah, the baseball. If you're someone who demands to see Barry Bonds play every inning of every game, then spring training probably isn't for you. But don't tell me spring games aren't compelling – particularly with the more established players predisposed in the World Baseball Classic this year, spring training gave a lot of the up-and-coming Giants a greater chance to shine and compete for a Major League roster spot. For these guys, spring training is their final four – play well and you're in, play poorly and get sent down to the NIT, er, minors.

They say if you watch baseball long enough, you'll see something that you've never seen before. I got to see Mark Sweeney, Matt Morris, Steve Kline, and Steve Finley in Giants uniforms for the first time. I got to hear the Scottsdale Stadium p.a. announcer name Bonds as the starter in left field before the game, and saw Sweeney get two hits in his place. I got to see Merkin Valdez throw his heater. I got to see the Giants score seven runs in an inning twice in the same game.

So yeah, it's worth it, unless you feel like you would miss your cubicle and wet weather too much. And you can stadium hop to see the Giants play multiple games – "away" games in Chandler, Mesa, Phoenix, and Surprise are just a car ride away. And did I mention the beer guy?

Do yourself a favor and get out there next spring. You'll come back a nicer, tanner person.

That's it for this week. Email your questions to the author, and we will attempt answer them in upcoming articles!



Don Shin eats, breathes, thinks, and bleeds in Orange and Black. Pac Bell Park officially opened on his 25th birthday (the one year he decided to move out of the Bay Area!!!). For the 2000 playoff drive, he dyed his hair orange while studying in Korea. He watched Game 6 of the '02 World Series at a restaurant in LA, and couldn't finish his meal afterwards. Feel free to write him at dongsoo411@yahoo.com to commiserate, cheer, and complain.

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