In my maiden voyage to Spring Training, I lived the high life on Tuesday, sitting just seven rows behind the Rangers' dugout at Surprise Stadium for $26.
On Thursday with the blazing desert sun not being a factor, we decided to take in a night game from the cheap seats, and it definitely had its pros.
Sure, the vantage point is a bit wacky from 400-plus feet in front of home plate, but have you ever watched a pro baseball game sprawled out on blankets, barefoot in the coolest, most lush grass you've ever set your bare feet on? I hadn't either, until Thursday's loss to the Brewers.
The lawn was great for families, as our toddler was able to run around and be as crazy as she wanted with no seats or aisles to hold her back. I missed it, but tons of people vouched for what might've been the highlight of the trip so far as Adrian Beltre was jogging on the warning track in pregame and my 2-year-old Super Ranger fan daughter yelled "Go Beltre!" at the top of her little lungs. He smiled and waved at her.
That might've turned the tide on her favorite Ranger, who has always been Shin-Soo Choo. Choo hasn't played in either of the games we've been to and has been nowhere to be seen, and Beltre's waving and smiling at her from 20 feet away!
Anyway, back to the game environment. When the sun went down in the first or second inning, it was suddenly a beautiful night in the 70s or maybe low 80s. But that grass. Man, that grass. It was so lush and cold, it no lie made you chilly — so much so that when the game ended you were actually cold and warmed up when you left the lawn and made the change to concrete.
It was definitely a family-friendly experience, whether it was the best seats or not, and if you have little ones, I can't recommend enough sitting on the lawn for a night game.
At the end of the night, we said goodbye to Surprise Stadium for the trip, as the Rangers play in Peoria on Friday before we head back to the land of mosquitoes and hail storms on Saturday, but not before Beltre's favorite young fan said her goodbyes to the Rangers' home away from home.
Next up? Still up in the air. We'll either hit that Rangers-Mariners game in Peoria, which is a split-squad game for the Rangers (boo!) or we'll do kids stuff (museums, etc.). Either way, it's been an awesome trip and something I could definitely see myself doing every year.