It was a beautiful week for baseball — Opening Week for the Cactus League Baseball Association out here in sunny Arizona last week. While baseball games weren’t on our calendar when we arrived in Phoenix, once we found out how close we were to the openers, Fred and I decided to stay for four extra days so we could take a couple of them in.
Our first game was the White Sox game last Thursday, not because they’re our team but because they’re Jim’s team and we wanted to take him out to the ballgame. Being diehard Cubs fans, I must say we were very good sports at our rivals’ game and we even cheered for the Sox, although there wasn’t that much to cheer about. The Dodgers decided to put on a hitting clinic — they turned 13 hits into 6 runs and beat the Sox 6-1. We had a nice day, though. I couldn’t bear to lead my post with Sox photos so those photos are at the bottom of this post — sorry, Jim.
Our big game came on Friday — the Cubs spring training home opener! When we lived in Chicago we always met friends at the season home opener and turned what was usually a cold mid-April afternoon game into a full day of glee and joy beginning with cocktails at 11 a.m. at Casey Moran’s followed by fun and frolics in The Friendly Confines. Since this is the second year in a row that we’ll miss this ritual of connecting with all of our friends for the Wrigley home opener, we decided to at least make it to this home opener. We scalped two tickets, sat 19 rows up from home plate in the shade, and couldn’t have had a nicer time! It was a record-breaking sellout — over 15,000 fans were on hand to see the Cubs beat the Angels 3-0. The new stadium is absolutely beautiful, and Budweiser even had the Clydesdales out to greet fans and pose for photos.
With last year’s Manager of the Year Joe Maddon back, our Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Jake Arrieta, Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant, and a whole slew of new talent, we can’t help but be excited for this year’s Cubs season. And to think, our journey will be finished** and we’ll be back in the Midwest just in time for October baseball — isn’t that great timing on our part?!? THIS IS OUR YEAR!!!
** We just finished laying out plans that get us around to 11 of the 12 remaining parks by the beginning of October, at which time we will head back to the Midwest, hopefully to a house we plan to find this spring/summer. The final park, the National Park of American Samoa, is about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand, so we’re clearly planning a trip that involves flights and extended stays in one or both of those two places. That final park visit will take place in April 2017, after the Pacific Islands rainy season has passed.
As promised, here we are at the Sox home opener — a very different vibe than the sellout Cubs game. Nonetheless, it was a great day for a ballgame and it was better than being at work!20