On Friday night THC (and the Mrs) visited Surprise Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers, completing his plan to see all ten spring training ballparks in the Phoenix area. He has now revitalized his baseball viewing habits, seating techniques and ballpark eating strategies and feels ready for the regular season.
Surprise turned out to be THC's favorite stadium, although somewhat of a pain to get to. The stadium itself is well-designed, with broad open concourses and food stands placed where you can also watch the action unlike some of the other parks (Hohokam, Peoria) where you have to go inside. Parking is easy and very close to the stadium (see some pictures below).
The game featured the Royal's young star pitcher Yordano Ventura throwing seven no-hit innings. Ventura's fastball was consistently between 96 and 99mph. He also threw what might have been a slider around 92 as well as several different types of off speed pitches between 83 and 88 keeping the Seattle Mariners hitters off-balance all night.
Other THC favorites were Goodyear Ballpark (Cincinnati Reds/Cleveland Indians), Maryvale (Milwaukee Brewers) and Sloan Park, home of the Chicago Cubs and the largest stadium. Special mention needs to be made of Camelback Ranch, home of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox. The park is terrific but is oriented southeast instead of northeast like the other parks. The result is that if you are there are a day game there's little shade and you risk being burned to a crisp and your ashes swept up by the cleaning crew at the end of the day. However, the Dodger training fields are idyllic with trees bordering them affording shade for spectators.