Cactus League Tour - Day Four

Day four - our final day in in Phoenix for the Cactus League.  We had a decision to make.  We had vowed to see 4 ballparks in 4 days.  With 16 teams training we chose the best games possible each day so we could see our favorite teams and players.  The Pads and Angels were must sees.  And we agreed the Reds were in.  That left day four and my son really wanted to see the San Francisco Giants.  As a Padre fan I loath all other NL West teams.  I respect the Giants, even like some of the players and manager Bruce Bochy,  but they are constantly beating up on my Pads so I'm not a fan of the team.  There was one other option that was in the general area of the Giants ballpark.  The Rockies and Diamondbacks (also both NL West teams) built a new complex a few miles from the Giants facility.  I mapped it on my phone, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, and was surprised by the satellite view.  The complex was still under construction with backhoes sitting in the stadium bowl.  If nothing else, this was going to worth a drive by to check it out.  So we set out extra early with the plan to drive by both stadiums, get a vibe for each, and then pick our game for the day.  The San Francisco Giants play at Scottsdale Stadium.  It's built right into this working class neighborhood.  Right up our alley!  Great old stadium with lots of local flavor.  But to be fair we had to drive by Salt River Fields and check it out.  It's only about 10 minutes away but it's a world apart.  It's on the outskirts of town.  Their neighbors are sprawling malls.  Not our scene.  The facility is indeed brand new.  The backhoes are gone.  It looks like a country club.  Every blade of grass has seemingly been manicured.  The players have every amenity they can imagine and some they can't, I'm sure.  The walkways between fields are landscaped and pristine.  It's an impressive facility and I look forward to checking it out next time we're there, but for this last day of our trip, our sensibilities lie with the "inner city" and Scottsdale Stadium.  So after our brief tour of Salt River Fields at Talking Stick we headed back to Scottsdale Stadium.  The Giants were playing the Chicago White Sox.  No big draw there.  We were there to see the World Champion SF Giants.  My son has many favorite players on the Giants - Pablo Sandoval (Kung-fu Panda), Hunter Pence (who he's convinced hits the hardest ball in all of baseball), Buster Posey, and Sergio Romo, to name just a few.  The big side show of the day was the display of the World Series trophy, which the Giants won last October.  You could have your picture taken with it by a professional photographer.  It's smaller that it looks on TV, but still pretty cool.  Another pleasant surprise was the SF Giants starting line-up.  While we had become accustomed to seeing a bunch of scrubs start and play in the games we had seen thus far, SF looked to be starting almost all of their regulars, including one of their regular starting pitchers, Madison Bumgarner.  So if I was going to endure watching the hated Giants, at least I was going to see the "real" SF Giants.  Just like the previous 2 days we arrived in plenty of time for my son to get on the first base rail and get some autographs.  This time, like the Reds, the players were out and signing, chatting up the crowd.  Many of the regulars took time to sign and pose for pix. Far cry from the previous day in Tempe and the Angels.  The game was fun even though the Giants ran out to a huge lead.  And as if to prove my son's point, Hunter Pence hit a rocket shot to straight away center he legged out for a triple.  We spent much of the game wandering and checking out the various angles and features of the stadium.  Just as we were getting ready to leave the Chi Sox loaded the bases and the PA announcer alerted the crowd of a pitching change. "Coming in to pitch for the Giants, Brett Bochy."  We decided to stick around and see how manager Bruce Bochy's son would fair in this situation. was not pretty.  Brett allowed 7 runs in 2/3 of an inning.  He gave up a ground rule double and a grand slam allowing the Chi'Sox to come back from a 7 run deficit and tie it.  At that point we decided to call it a day.  Our tour of Spring Training and the Cactus League had been a great experience.  But we had a long drive ahead of us.....

Starting Line-Ups

World Series Champion Angel

Chalking the Lines - Actually painting....

Pregame stretch

Angel Pagan honing his swing

Hunter Pence signing autographs

Beer Man!

Sergio Romo getting in some work - Da' socks!

Chi'sox Bullpen