Friday, February 22, 2013

By Ellen Bell, Columnist --

I’m a creature of habit. I like traditions and rituals and history. Maybe that’s why I’m a baseball fan.

So, when I make my annual trip to Tempe for Spring Training, I look for the familiar faces and places that remind me that even in a world full of constant change, some things still stay the same. There are rituals and reminders that welcome me back every year, letting me know that another season of Angels baseball is about to begin.

Like saying hello to Casey, the poolside bartender at The Buttes, who makes a mean post-game margarita even if it’s 50 degrees and cloudy.

There’s Joe, Bill and George, my super senior buddies on the Tempe Diablo Stadium crew who greet me with the hug and smile reserved for old friends. Trust me. If you’ve never seen George dressed as a leprechaun during the St. Patty’s Day game you haven’t lived.

Then there’s Mark the Beer Guy, the iconic, 6’8” vendor whose booming, “Cold Beer Here!” can bring tears to my eyes. Incidentally, if you tip Mark, he’ll give you his latest “Mark the Beer Guy” trading card as a souvenir. According to his stats, he pours right.

But I really know that spring has sprung when I’m sitting in the stands at about 9:30 in the morning, feet up and coffee in hand, watching the Angels run out onto the grass for the first time. 40 years may have passed since I saw my first ballgame, but the sight of players hitting the field always makes my stomach flip. It’s something that never changes. And it never gets old.

What are your Spring Training Rituals? What experience makes you say, “baseball is back”?
Love to hear what you think!

Listen to "A Fish Like This" Tribute song to Mike Trout's Greatness

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