Scenes from Spring Training: Finding cool things in Scottsdale

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Scottsdale is a strange place. It was once named one of “America’s most livable cities,” but most of it gives off an air of exclusivity, telling you that if you don’t like golf, trendy restaurants and expensive planned communities, you’re not going to enjoy yourself very much here.  Which is fine for Scottsdale, because there are a lot of people who like those things, so this is all my problem, not Scottsdale’s.

But there are little exceptions, I’m finding.  One exception is a nice cozy establishment called TT Roadhouse where this reporter replenished himself last night. Fine place. Dark with a good jukebox. Good beer and an unassuming clientle that, at least last night, was on the safe side of excessive hipsterism, the presence of PBR on draft notwithstanding. It made me happy that such a place exists in a town like Scottsdale, suggesting that no matter how far our Republic slides sideways, there will always be something good and cool surviving in the cracks.

Another nice thing is Scottsdale Stadium, spring home of the San Francisco Giants.  It opened in 1992, which was an awkward time for any ballpark to have been built, what with the new wave of nostalgic joints not yet crashing over the ballpark construction industry and the march toward opulence not yet firmly taking hold. A park built at that time ran a pretty high risk of being a utilitarian nightmare.

Scottsdale Stadium avoids that, however. Part of that may be the result of a recent renovation, but the bones of the place are solid, strong and altogether pleasant. The first pitch is a couple hours away, but it all seems like a pleasant and efficient baseball game delivery device. In this — and in its in-town, on-the-grid location — it reminds me a lot of City of Palms Park in Fort Myers where the Red Sox play.  I think I’m going to enjoy myself today.

When I got here I headed down to the Giants’ clubhouse and checked that scene out a bit. More on that later.  For now, though, know this: the Giants are a very relaxed bunch. A veteran team doing veteran team things.  There are reminders that they are the reigning World Series champs everywhere you look. It’s written on signs and shirts and most conspicuously, on that freshly-painted logo behind home plate, still roped off as I type this and the Giants take the field for their pregame workout.

A pregame workout that I’m going to go check out now and report back to you later.

The Braves cave, a little anyway, on their outside food policy

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On Friday the Atlanta Braves announced a new policy for outside food, prohibiting ticket holders from bringing in their own. This was a reversal of their old policy — and the policies of the majority of teams around the league — which allowe fans to bring in soft-sided coolers with their own food and beverages, at least as long as the beverages were sealed.

The Braves claimed that the policy change was “a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league,” but this was clearly untrue as no other teams are cracking down on outside food like this. If there are new security procedures, everyone else is able to accommodate them without an opportunistic crackdown on fans bringing in PB&J for their toddlers. It seemed more likely that this was a simple cash grab.

Today the Braves have reversed the policy somewhat:

While they’re looking for kudos here, this is likewise an admission that the “security” stuff was bull because, last I checked, security procedures aren’t subject to popular referendum and aren’t changed when people complain. What really happened here, it seems, is the Braves, for the first time in living memory, were called out by the public for their greed and realized that even they have some responsibility to not be jackasses about this sort of thing.

Still, a gallon bag policy is not the same as it was before. You could bring coolers into Turner Field and still can bring them into most parks around the league. But I guess this is better than nothing.

Donald Trump may throw out the first pitch at the Nationals opener

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It’s just gossip now, but Politico is hearing that Donald Trump is in talks to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Opening Day. The Nats are not commenting. Neither are the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League, who no doubt feel slighted given that the president effectively is a local.

With the caveat that, on Opening Day, tickets are likely to be more expensive and thus you’re likely to have a lot more rich people and friends-of-the-owners in attendance, thereby ensuring a more conservative crowd, I’m struggling to imagine a situation in which Trump strolls on to a baseball field in a large American city and isn’t booed like crazy. He’s polling as low as 36% in some places. He’s not exactly Mr. Popular.

Oh well. I look forward to him three-bouncing one to Matt Wieters and then grabbing his phone and tweeting about how it was the best, most tremendous first pitch in baseball history. Or blaming Hillary Clinton for it in the event he admits that it was a bad pitch.