PHOENIX â€“ No amount of sunscreen could keep me from looking like a lobster when I looked in the mirror this morning.
Donâ€™t get me wrong, Iâ€™m not complaining.
We had a great day in Arizona yesterday. Operation Go Full Throttle And Donâ€™t Sleep Until Youâ€™re Home continued in full force after I filed my last blog posting, and ended (for me, anyway) about six hours ago when I hit the hay.
We began with breakfast in downtown Phoenix at Chloe's Corner, inside CityScape. Eating outside is normal here; presumably doing it behind some sort of group yoga class isnâ€™t.
Moving quickly, we checked out of the amazing Palomar and arrived at Maryvale nice and early, two hours before game time. That allowed us to meander through the minor league complex. I had a great conversation about both baseball and life with Al LeBoeuf, who was the Nashville Sounds hitting coach last year and is now a scout while he recovers from cancer.
We talked about our mutual friend, Seth McClung, whoâ€™s now pitching in Mexico. We watched bunting practice, as a bunch of teenaged Brewers prospects received encouraging words from a coach I didnâ€™t recognize.
It was perfect.
Perfection became more perfect when we stowed our press passes in the yacht that is our rental car, grabbed our baseball gloves and aired it out on the putting green quality grass that is omnipresent at Maryvale. Mind you, I havenâ€™t even picked up a baseball since last summer, but our plan was to throw the baseball around until our arms fell off.
For this game, we had the opportunity to pay a little more attention than the day before. We alternated between the press box and seats behind home plate. We bought $50 Spring Training T-shirts. We ate funnel cake. We even watched a little baseball, as Khris Davis belted two tape measure homers.
But we just didnâ€™t have enough time to stay for the whole game, since plans were made for us. We left in the seventh inning, and on the way out, I saw one of those Spring Training scenes that will be forever etched in my mind.
Nori Aoki was taking a ton of extra batting practice, as Japanese players tend to do. Just him and his translator. He was hitting ball after ball after ball off a tee, then he switched to this soft, slow-motion swing. He was sweating and working very hard in this extremely hot weather. But he stopped his work out to say hello in very good English. He thanked us for stopping by. This is a special kind of a player.
Now famished, we scarfed down carne asada burritos at my beloved Filibertoâ€™s and took the 40 minute drive north to our next hotel, the Scottsdale Links Resort.
While we only had 90 minutes before our dinner reservation, we could at least scope this place out. Our three bedroom hotel room was larger than my first house, and better furnished, too. Itâ€™s a great place for families, with tons of room to roam and activities to keep the little ones happy. The "trim level" here isnâ€™t anywhere near as high as the Palomar, but itâ€™s both huge and comfortable.
We have a full kitchen and laundry room. We also have an excellent selection of saltwater pools and hot tubs. We sat in both of them for 15 minutes before we showered and hopped in a long cab ride for dinner in Old Town Scottsdale.
We met up with the generous people from the Phoenix and Scottsdale CVBs at the Brat Haus for a very filling meal and, finally, a little relaxed conversation. These groups make this trip possible, setting up our lodging and our meals, and Iâ€™ve gotten to know them over the 15 years Iâ€™ve visited Arizona.
Of course, they thought that picking a gourmet brat restaurant would resonate with our Milwaukee readers, and the owner of this new, popular place does actually hail from the Midwest â€“ Minnesota, to be specific.
We nibbled on big pretzels before our brats arrived. I ordered the spicy brat â€“ everything here is locally sourced and ground on site. It tasted really good, but not like a Milwaukee sausage. Long and skinny, it was char grilled â€“ drier and more well-done than what we have at home. The moisture came from the root beer infused caramelized onions. I love that a gourmet brat place works in this city, and I left very, very full.
But not too full to not avail myself of the Scottsdale nightlife experience, which being the Saturday before St. Patrickâ€™s Day, was as crazy as can be. We visited old favorites, including the Coach House and Hotel Valley Ho, before hopping on a golf cart â€“ because thatâ€™s how super cool public transportation is in Scottsdale â€“ and cruised the Old Town St. Paddyâ€™s day block party.
We actually got there a little late for this party, which had been rolling for hours. Still, we didnâ€™t miss anything at Dos Gringoâ€™s, a favorite of Giants fans and baseball writers alike. That insanity went on for hours and hours before we took the worldâ€™s most convoluted and expensive cab ride back.
Just 24 more hours of shenanigans to go.
Weâ€™re heading way west to Glendale for todayâ€™s Brewers-Dodgers match up, then dinner in Tempe tonight. Then, who knows?
Between Las Vegas and Arizona, I feel like Iâ€™ve been gone for a month, even though itâ€™s actually been four days.
Again, not complaining. At. All.
The word "epic" is overused, but this trip has already attained that status â€“ and itâ€™s not over yet.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Andy Tarnoff
Published March 19, 2015
My 18th annual Brewers Spring Training trip is now complete, and I'm back in chilly Milwaukee, which actually feels a little better after a few days under the beating hot sun of the desert. This trip was a good one. A really good one. New experiences, old friends and lots and lots of baseball. But you probably know about all that if you read my blog entries this week.
Published March 18, 2015
When I left off yesterday, I was feeling tan, rested and ready for baseball, and we made the 30-minute drive from Talking Stick Resort to Peoria Stadium a little before noon. Brewers fans were out in force for the game against the Padres. St. Patty's Day revelry was in full effect.
Published March 17, 2015
I've said this before, but sometimes Spring Training feels a lot like the movie "Groundhog Day." Events, games and trips tend to run together, because with only a few variations, you're basically doing the same thing every day (and of course, that's a very good thing). But yesterday, we did something that we've only done one other time in 18 years: we didn't go to a Brewers game.
Published March 16, 2015
When you've been awake for 24 consecutive hours, due to an early flight, a time change and the excitement of an 18th consecutive Spring Training trip to Arizona, it's understandable to make a few bad decisions. Fortunately, the only one I regret is that humungous carne asada burrito from Filiberto's at 2 a.m. Mountain Standard Time, before collapsing into a few hours of sleep at the Talking Stick Resort here in Scottsdale.
Published March 10, 2015
Every year - since 1998 - I've made the trip to Arizona to watch the Brewers get ready for a long, long season of baseball. It's my favorite work/fun trip (edging out even Las Vegas) that I get to take, but with all the fun and sun in the desert, it's surprisingly easy to forget to pay attention to the baseball on the field.
Published March 9, 2015
Mequon native Tom Wachs knew he wanted to be a meteorologist a young age. After working in several smaller markets, he returned to his home last year, and even in a tough, demanding job, he's loving every minute of it. We caught up with Wachs to talk tornados, technology, and what it was like to dress up as a clown at his last job.
Published March 4, 2015
When Brewers fans talk to me about Spring Training, I always see the same look in their eyes. "I've always wanted to do that," they say wistfully, like Arizona exists in some far-away land, where you sit right next to the field and talk to the players in between in innings. Well, actually, most of that's true. Except for the far-away land part.
Published Feb. 18, 2015
Doctors are very clear with their warnings that alcohol will not warm you up in the dead of winter. So, obviously, unless you have a Saint Bernard with a little flask of brandy, you should not drink to thaw yourself out during these subzero temperatures in Milwaukee right now. You may, however, drink to take your mind off winter. And it being Bar Month, we tracked down some excellent cocktail recipes from our sponsor brands.
Published Feb. 18, 2015
Karen Leahy, a CPA and Milwaukee native, doesn't really talk about her other career - something she's been doing straight through since the '80s. "I'd rather be known for brains than beauty," says Leahy, who is also a successful part-time model. "I should have been a boy," she says, nuzzling her dog in her chic Downtown condo. "I like cars, sports and sex."
Published Feb. 9, 2015
As we trudge through another winter, thinking we've got it the worst - and we hear about it the most on TV - industry insiders say that's not quite right. Everyone, everywhere complains about their city's weather and its weather coverage. Yet for the most part, every TV station reports on it the same way. Here's an in-depth look at the changing face of Milwaukee weather.