I've spent the past two springs at a lot of spring training games and been to every team's stadium and/or headquarters in the Valley.
The day after I arrived here, with the U-Haul truck still outside the house, in fact, I was off to cover spring training. And even before that, I came down to Arizona to cover the Seattle Mariners for about a week at spring training over several years.
All that said, the pace of the games is slow and laid back, and so there has to be something more to the game for some fans to keep them coming to Peoria, Glendale, Phoenix, Goodyear, downtown Scottsdale, Surprise and now Salt River Fields. I'm not much of a purist and I like those sideshows, so keep reading, if you could, for my top five from Arizona spring training.
No. 5: Sonic Drive-In Fast Food Race, Peoria Stadium.
At Mariners and Padres games you can be the lucky fan who gets to finish the lyrics to a Jimmy Buffet tune for a prize. But it's more fun when a whole section wins something, which is what happens when people dressed as a Tater Tot, cup of soda and a hot dog race around the bases. The funny part is when those three oversized costumes are right next to the Padres dugout just before they take the field. Wonder what those Seattle opponents right next to them think.
No. 4: Teams' efforts to replicate food items from home city ballparks
At Camelback Ranch you can eat Dodger Dogs and Chicago Dogs. Brats at Maryvale for Brewers games. Garlic fries at Giants games in Scottsdale.
No. 3: "Weather report" at A's games
Baseball is a kid's game right? At each game a kid is selected to stand on the dugout and read the temperatures in the visiting team's city, Oakland and Phoenix. The kids get into it and they get a cheer from the crowd.
No. 2: Postgame music after wins
When the Giants win (and they have plenty this spring), someone cranks up the volume of Tony Bennett's "I Left My Heart in San Francisco." When the White Sox win at Camelback Ranch, it's the song Buddy Guy made famous, "Sweet Home Chicago." When the Dodgers win at Camelback Ranch, you get Randy Newman's "I Love L.A."
Blues Brothers interlude before I get to No. 1:
No. 1: Sausage races at Maryvale
There's a sausage for everyone in this five-link tradition. It's just like the one they do at Miller Park in Wisconsin, and it never gets old. Just watch and laugh: