We try the buffet this morning at the hotel restaurant (very good), and throw the ball around the yard again for a little while before we head over to HoHoKam Stadium. Cubs-White Sox is a hot ticket, and we have general-admission lawn seats. I don’t want to get there too late.
We roll up at about 11:15 for a 1:05 game, and the parking lot is getting pretty full. We wander around a bit and discover a group of kids holding baseballs and notebooks and pens, waiting by a gate. So, we join the crowd and wait. Sure enough, the players have to run this gauntlet to get from the practice field to the clubhouse behind the dugout.
A golf cart pulls up and out pops Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez. They’re in a hurry and wave off the crowd. Then Derrek Lee and Mark DeRosa arrive and also demure. Lou Piniella also strolls by, and stops for a couple autographs. Then it’s Daryl Ward and Kosuke Fukudome. I think Daryl Ward signed an autograph, but that was it. We’re starting to get the idea that this is a good place to maybe get a close look at some players, but not the place to get a signature. We give up and go find the gate for the lawn seating.
This is great. We are baking in the heat on the lawn at a Cubs game, and it’s snowing back home. High temperature for Mesa is 88 today; higher than normal. More heat than I was expecting.
The game is a dramatic one. The lead changes hands a few times, but the Sox are up most of the time. The Cubs battle back to tie it in the bottom of the 9th and again in the bottom of the 10th.
And then both teams leave the field. A tie? Really? Ten innings is all in Spring Training? Curtis paraphrases Tom Hanks in “A League of Their Own,” stating, “There’s no tying in baseball.”
Denied a win, but not suffering a loss to the White Sox, we file out with the rest of the fans whose brains have been stewed by ten innings of sitting in the sun… just like ours.
A half our later, we’re in the hotel pool, trying to cool down. Then dinner and bed. The Spring Break adventure is winding down. Sunday’s agenda is mostly about getting back to Madison without getting stuck in the snow somewhere. (And returning the blanket to the airline, covered with dead grass and peanut shells.)
Looking back, it seems like our visit to Grand Canyon was a month ago. Seeing baseball in these little parks sure is nice, especially when the rosters are fat with so-so players, and the stars are a bit rusty. This feels like baseball is supposed to feel. There are a lot of young people at Spring Training. They’re forming their own baseball traditions, celebrating their team’s victories and suffering their defeats. There are a lot of old folks here too. They’ve seen it all a million times, but they keep coming back.
Ah, the promise of spring. The world turns, and the circle is unbroken.