The Final 2014 Game at Salt River Fields

Just a short 24 hours ago we were cheering and welcoming the Diamondbacks back from Australia and celebrating the beginning of another season of Spring Training at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Now today we are saying farewell to this impressive venue as Spring Training comes to a close and the regular season is about to begin, again. No, seriously it really was yesterday that we were welcoming the Diamondbacks back to Salt River Fields.

I thought last year was weird when Spring Training started early so that players could get ready for the World Baseball Classic then return to the Major League Baseball teams to prepare for the regular season. This year was even worse. The good news was that the Spring Training started a week earlier. The bad news was there was a week of Spring Training lost so that the Diamondbacks could fly to Australia, have their pictures taken with a kangaroo and drop two games to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Moving DayWhat was even worse is that after a two-game slide to open the season they had to fly back across the world and play two games at Salt River Fields and two exhibition games at Chase Field. At this point I have no idea what day it is, who we are playing, where we are playing at, and whether the games count towards the standings.

I have to admit, the ending of Spring Training (the normal ending, not the ending-that-turns-into-a-beginning-that-ends-in-an-ending-a-day-later one) is a slightly emotional time of year. When Spring Training starts it is filled with excitement and wonder. By the end of those six weeks you are eagerly awaiting the start of another season with the hopes that this might be the year when your team is the last one standing and there’s a parade through town where people cheer a trophy.

It’s also sad to be leaving Salt River Fields for another season. Since its opening, it has become a favorite of fans and players throughout the Cactus League. The venue is amazing with the scenic views of the far off mountains to the architecture where 80 percent of the fans are in the shade by game end. It has something for everyone.

The Diamondbacks make it extra special with their fan-friendly focus where fans are allowed to wander around the back practice fields getting close to the action while players work out getting ready for the major league and minor league seasons.

Spring Training games are a chance for fans to get close to the players and every game feels more like a company picnic softball tournament than a Major League game. The level of play feels just a little rusty but is still the most enjoyable time a baseball fan can spend.

It gives you a chance to work out the kinks before the season starts and get an amazing sun tan at the same time. There are still two games remaining at Chase Field before spring is officially over but the end is near.

As the final out is recorded I look around one last time at Salt River Fields. Club personnel are busy loading gear into trucks to take to Chase Field. It won’t be long until baseball season is officially here; it’s not a moment too soon.

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