Lots of Chicago Cubs fans make the journey to Arizona for spring training each year. Here, one Cubs fan describes his experience.
Back in 2015, I had the opportunity to go to spring training for the Chicago Cubs in Arizona for the first time. I went to a total of five games. It was a magical experience, and for the next few years, I was hoping that someday I’d get to go back.
In September of last year, I decided that I was going to go again. I saved my money doing side jobs for a few months so that I could buy plane tickets, a rental car, and game tickets, while a good friend got a career in the area and offered to let me stay with him for free. I almost couldn’t afford to go.
For six days, I followed the Cubs around the Phoenix area. I went to a total of seven games, visiting five of the Cactus League’s ten ballparks. Each one has its charm, and though I liked some better than others, each one, in its way, served as a reminder of what baseball is all about. In spring training, the ballparks are smaller, and the game is simpler. It’s preseason, so wins and losses aren’t as important as the ability to enjoy the game at the beginning of the season in (mostly) beautiful weather.
Fans also get to see players they might not usually see the rest of the year. In most spring training games, the “regular” players only play for a few innings before giving way to other guys who are trying to make the team or otherwise get the attention of the coaching staff. So don’t expect to see Kris Bryant or Anthony Rizzo play all nine innings.
Still, so many fans make the trip each year for the reasons I mentioned above. Here, I’ll describe my experiences this year, taking a little time to represent each of the stadiums I visited.