As some of you may or may not know, I spent last Thursday to Sunday out in beautiful Phoenix, Arizona watching the Milwaukee Brewers play some spring baseball. It was my first time out to Spring Training and I must say, if you’re a baseball fan, it’s a must at some point in your life. After almost missing my connecting flight and meeting up with two other friends that flew in from around the country, we were ready to watch some good old fashioned Brewers baseball.
The day before our first game, we decided to take a drive down Camelback Road in order to scope out the surroundings and visit the gift shop to get stocked up on some Spring Training gear. Surprisingly, there weren’t many people there and the field was a sight to see. The park was open to the public to just walk around wherever and looked immaculate in the 84 degree sunshine. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any Brewer sightings that day, but that night we did sit down the bar from Rickie Weeks and company, which was pretty cool to see them out enjoying what Phoenix had to offer.
Waking up on Friday morning was like Christmas for us. We got decked out in our Brewer garb and headed out to Maryvale Park to watch them take on the Los Angeles Angels. I met up with fellow Fan Cave Top 50 finalist, Matt James (@MattyJay27) at the game and we talked a bit of baseball and life before we each sat down in our seats. There was certainly a marquee pitching match-up as Zach Greinke was throwing against Dan Haren. Pujols was scratched from the lineup, but Ryan Braun was going to get the start after sitting out the day before. I must say, there were some “Needles!” shouts and other jeers in Braun’s direction, but he still lined a seeing-eye single up the left side of the infield for his 2nd hit of Spring Training. If anyone was concerned with Zach Greinke’s value, he earned some applause as he fanned 9 batters through 5.1 IP and left the game with a 2-0 lead. That being said, the Brewers’ prospects couldn’t hold it together behind John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez as the whole team looked a little sluggish, giving up 6 runs in the last three innings. For Angels’ fans, you can easily notice the power that Mark Trumbo brings to the lineup, as he hit a big fly over the fence. Hopefully LA can squeeze him in during the regular season.
My friends and I decided that it wouldn’t be Brewers’ baseball without a tailgate, so for Game 2 against the Chicago White Sox, we went to Walgreens and bought a one time use grill, got some fresh bratwurst and hot italians from the deli and a case of Milwaukee’s own Miller Lite. We got to the game two hours beforehand and certainly drew a lot of attention as we were one of the first groups partaking in this long-standing tradition. This match-up featured hurlers Randy Wolf and Chris Sale. Let’s just say it was off to the races as the Brewers scored a run in the 2nd and 3rd, followed up with two in the 4th. Yet, as has been the case throughout Milwaukee’s recent history, the bullpen came in to relieve Wolf, but it was all downhill from there. The White Sox played some small ball and took advantage of the weaker relief pitching staff, scoring three runs in the last three innings to overcome the Brewers’ offense. The perks to be taken away from this game were that Alex Gonzalez and Norichika Aoki both had two hits and showed they were comfortable with their new team.
For Game 3 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, we were going to get there really early and see what autographs we could muster up, but no thanks to the Saturday night festivities, we weren’t in the shape we needed to be to get there hours before the game. Instead, we got there an hour before, hung out in our seats 4 rows behind the dugout and just relaxed. Milwaukee had a Split Squad vs. LA Dodgers at Maryvale and a SS vs. the Royals (in which Brewers’ prospect Scooter Gennett hit for the cycle). We were in for another pitching treat as it was reigning Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw against Shawn Marcum. I am very pleased to follow that up with the fact that I saw Aoki’s first homerun in the United States get belted 400 feet off of Kershaw in the 3rd inning. Weeks had two hits and drove in a run, while the Brewers pitching staff combined to throw a 3 hitter. Axford looked shaky again, but I have faith he’ll be ready by the time the season comes around.
My friends and I stuck around a bit longer, not wanting to leave the wonderful weekend that was Spring Training baseball, but we all had red-eye flights home that night back to our homes all over the country. With all that being said, you should definitely get out to Arizona or Florida to watch some baseball at some point. I can’t pack in every little detail into this article, but if you want to know more, please don’t hesitate to ask me on Twitter! (@FalconKP)
-Kurt “KP” Peter