I went out to Arizona this past weekend for spring training and caught a couple of Dodger games at Camelback Ranch. I sat in “The Berm” behind left field and also along the left field foul line next to the Dodgers bullpen which was cool because you could see the pitchers up close and truly how big they are. They were good seats, and if you aren’t right up against the fence security does a good job of making sure everyone is seated when the ball is in play. The field to me is that of a major league stadium in a spring league setting unlike Tempe Diablo Stadium which fits my vision of a spring league stadium that I just happened to also visit over the weekend. I am not saying one is better then the other, they are just different.
The facility at Camelback Ranch has more glitz and glamour, with all the extra practice fields for both the Dodgers and White Sox’s, the water fall and lake features, and just the way the main stadium was designed with the concourse leading to the outfield berm seats. The stadium also has a rustic look to it with all the stone and what I would call a weathered metal façade of the box seating behind home plate. It fits in with the architecture of the area, and could see that design used to decorate someone’s mansion. The only negative critique I have of the stadium is that the only place I noticed the name of the stadium displayed was above the scoreboard and wished they had it displayed over the entry way into the concourse, or at the entry way behind home plate.
Even though the Dodgers didn’t win either game I attended, nor could they muster up much offense (except Manny) with all the starters in the lineup, I had a great time there and even wound up getting autographs from Andre Ethier, Ned Colletti, and Rafael Furcal.
My favorite Dodger moment of the weekend was actually getting Raffy’s autograph because he spent around 30-45 minutes after the game signing for the fans while he was in his car with his family. I know that doesn't sound like a big deal, but what he did after that was. After I got his autograph and walked to my car, there was a group of young little leaguers asking who was in the car. I told them it was Raffy and they were bummed they had missed him. They then saw him driving away from the crowd by the player parking lot and ran up to the end of the road before he had to turn and began to chant his name. He stopped his car and began signing baseballs and other items for them. It was something that left me with a good feeling: seeing a guy of Raffy’s status stop a second time and sign for a group of little kids that are very impressionable.
I look forward to visiting “The Ranch” next spring and checking out some of the other seating sections and enjoying some more Dodger experiences.