Archived Story

Arizona: A baseball haven

Published 10:42am Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The first thing you notice is the heat. Getting off the plane in Phoenix, it felt like someone had left the oven open in a small kitchen.

I traveled to the desert city last month to check out my future home. At the end of the summer, I will be moving to Phoenix to attend Arizona State University’s journalism school, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, to get my masters. So far, everyone has made the suggestion that “It’s a dry heat!” and “You get used to it!” But I will say, it being the first thing that I noticed immediately after getting off the plane, the heat will take some getting used to.

If there is one thing about Arizona that will help me get over the heat (besides knowing I won’t have to suffer through a bitter winter), it will be baseball.

My focus at journalism school will, hopefully, be sports journalism. Since Arizona is a spring haven for training league baseball, ASU has a close connection with the MLB. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that while I’m studying I will make it into the “Covering Baseball” class that is offered every spring. Of course, you get the opportunity to cover baseball during spring training.

As far as internships go, when I graduate, I’m also pulling for the chance to intern at a major sports network, another draw to the ASU program.

But as far as my trip to check out my new home, I decided to take a baseball-centric approach to learning about the area. I will be living in Mesa, which is about 15 minutes from downtown Phoenix and shares a border with Tempe, where the main ASU campus and Sun Devil Stadium is. My house is also a block from Cubs Park, the new home for the Chicago Cubs during spring training.

I bought tickets to see the Arizona Diamondbacks take on the Cincinnati Reds at Chase Fields in downtown Phoenix. Since it was a night game, I took the afternoon to take in the city, which included a trip to Alice Cooperstown, a baseball themed restaurant owned by the rock and roll star. It is, as expected, quite spectacular.

I did not eat there, deciding rather to skip the lines and take the traditional beer and hotdog at the stadium, but I did get to walk around some. Besides the serving staff that wears black makeup reminiscent of the restaurant’s namesake, there is a ton of baseball memorabilia. It’s like the National Baseball Hall of Fame, except with a more gothic twist. I highly recommend it, though I can’t comment on the food.

One worry did hit me, however, as I was walking downtown. I had forgot the sunscreen at home and, being a very pale Minnesotan, was already turning pink from the desert sun. I decided to get into the stadium as quickly as possible, hoping my seats wouldn’t be directly in the sun.

Once I got in to Chase Field, however, I remembered that the stadium has a pretty advanced retractable roof. When I got to the field, I looked up and saw they had the roof closed leading up to the game. Fans were spread out across the seats, taking in the cool air circulating in the stadium. For my skins sake, I was definitely relieved.

I got my food, a decent hotdog and a cold beer, and found my seats in the outfield. Thinking they’d decided to skip the heat and keep the roof closed, I finished my food just before the first pitch. To my surprise, right before the team took the field, the roof opened and, suddenly, we had a outdoor night game, free of any dangerously hot sun shining down on people. I was immediately impressed. I thought of the new Vikings stadium and how something like this would be great for Minnesota.

The next day I decided to take a stroll down to Cubs Park. I couldn’t get inside, just look through the gates, but it looked like a fitting tribute to Wrigley Field in Chicago. The inside is full of lights, signs and other parts of the park reminiscent of the Chicago’s regular season home. I’m hoping I will be lucky enough to cover some games there in the future, but I will definitely take in a number of games come spring. I almost became a Cubs fan once, but decided against it for a number of reasons. While I still won’t be a Cubs fan, baseball is baseball and watching a game is always fun.

All in all, I’m excited to live in Phoenix. My program is only a year, but it will be nice to try out a city before I decide to permanently live there. It will come down to two factors, mainly what I’ve talked about: heat and baseball.

If I can take the heat, there’s seems like no better place for a baseball fan.

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