Saturday morning of the Spring Training trip has certain traditions and we continued them this year.
First we woke up (relatively) early, drove over to Goodyear, and had breakfast at the Black Bear Diner. Then it was over to the Indians’ Player Development Complex to watch the morning warm-ups and practice at 9:00am. We were a little too early, as the inner gate didn’t open until 9:30am. This year, Rick Danberg seemed to be missing … there was no one talking to the crowd, giving out the day’s schedule, telling stories, etc. Everyone was just milling around waiting so I really missed his talks. We caught the occasional glimpse of a player in the weight room and also saw Terry Francona walk out to his car. The players didn’t actually come out to practice until around 10:40am, which seemed a lot later than in past years. We watched the warm-ups and then tried to shag some fly balls during batting practice (my brother and I came up empty, my sister got one though).
We left batting practice a little early to head across the street to the ballpark right as it opened at 11:30am. We got our drawstring backpacks (today’s fan giveaway) and had time to walk around the park, take some more photos, and get lunch. Today was the final Battle of Ohio (or The ‘Nati vs The Land) with the Indians taking on their fellow training complex team the Cincinnati Reds. It was another beautiful day March baseball in Arizona. We were sitting behind home plate near the guys with the radar guns and high-speed video cameras (recording the Indians pitchers) and also realized (later) we were behind starting pitcher Trevor Bauer‘s dad. The Indians were the home team for this game and guess what? The home team won again, keeping the streak alive. The Indians topped the Reds 8-5.
The traffic out of Goodyear was heavy which was due (we learned) to an I-10 closure for construction. Waze had us take the Loop 101 north to avoid the closure, but that dumped us into even more traffic because of the Garth Brooks concert at the Cardinals’ State Farm Stadium. Finally back at the hotel we started packing up our luggage for our flights home tomorrow while watching a little more NCAA tournament basketball.
Then it was time for our final Saturday-end-of-trip tradition: dinner at Rustler’s Rooste. We had 6:30pm reservations but ended up waiting (as usual) about half an hour. This gave us time to hang out on the balcony and watch the beautiful sunset over the valley. Dinner was excellent, as usual. I broke tradition (kinda) by not getting (just) a steak, but a mixed grill platter of filet medallions and swordfish, which was really good (no rattlesnake this year).
On the drive back to the hotel the highway road signs were showing “Thunder rolls lightning strikes. Drive safely.” My brother figured out this was a Garth Brooks reference, nice! We had to get right to bed once we arrived back at the hotel: we have to be up at 3:00am to get to the airport. Ugh.