Falling in Love with Fall Ball

Watching the SF Giants' prospects during Arizona Fall Ball

Watching the SF Giants’ prospects during Arizona Fall Ball

Relationships are funny things. I don’t know when, exactly, my love affair with baseball began. I do know growing up my brother played on a team, my mom worked the concession stand and my dad was the umpire. As I sat in the stands I was provided a wonderful opportunity to practice my flirting skills because many of the boys thought I had influence over my dad’s choice of balls and strikes. They obviously didn’t know my father! In fact, as I look back, I suspect that if they showed interest in me, he might have actually had a smaller strike zone for them . . .

Over the years, boys came and went but the one flirtation that grew more attractive over time, was the game of baseball. Many people don’t understand this so I’ll put it in relationship terms.

Anticipation and agony. Every relationship begins with an element of anticipation. “Will he be fun to spend time with? Will he drive me nuts? Will I want to see him every day? Will he have a compassionate world view? Will he make me laugh?” Looking forward to discovering the answers to those questions is part of the fun and many times the answers are delightful surprises. Admittedly, sometimes anticipation, especially during time of not seeing each other (like October to March), can become a delicious type of agony and boy, does baseball provide plenty of that! Whether it’s the next pitch, the next hit, the next steal or the next awesome play, this is a game where anticipating the next move can be the difference between winning and losing. Lest we forget, the Giants’ motto for years was “Torture!” for a reason. . .

Chemistry and candy. Why, you may ask yourself many times,  do I put up with the agony in this relationship? Because the chemistry is off the chain. You know what I’m talking about here. That undefinable, oh so alluring element that keeps you wanting more. All  great teams have it. As a lover of baseball, you can spend months analyzing the elusive chemistry of 25+ men; discovering their stories, their likes and dislikes, their strengths and weaknesses, wanting them all . . . to succeed as a team, that is. Oh and don’t forget they provide some pretty awesome eye candy. That can keep a gal quite interested over an eight month season!

Having faith and fun. Like any good long-term relationship, you need to have faith. It’s what keeps you committed through the ups and the downs. Baseball fans worldwide know this in their hearts. Faith in their team, year after year, is akin to a religious experience. I’ve met baseball fans around the world and regardless of language or cultural barriers, if I wear my Giants jacket, I have an immediate friend (or possible grudging “foe” if they happen to be a Texas, Detroit or Kansas City fan). Finally, I think the most important thing for a successful long-term relationship is a sense of humor and fun. It is, after all, a game!

Now all of this is as preamble to the best kept secret in baseball and like a potentially jealous lover, I’m hesitant to share this with you. But love of the game wins out, so for all of you that adore this game as much as I do, go to Arizona Fall Ball. For $8 dollars ($6 if you are 55 or older), you get any seat in the house and can see the up and coming prospects from teams around the league. This is an invitation-only, instructional league and each team is a combination of five professional teams. My “home team” is the Scottsdale Scorpions showcasing the Giants, Twins, Indians, Red Sox and Tigers. It’s here that my dad, ever the die-hard fan and my own personal scout, first reported that he thought a young catcher named Buster Posey showed some good skills. He liked a young kid at first base, Brandon Belt, and thought a short stop named Brandon Crawford had quick hands, good footwork and hair that was too long. It’s here I first heard about Joe Panik, Andrew Susac and Kelby Tomlinson. This season’s crop was no different as Giants’ prospects Christian Arroyo and Mac Williamson helped the Scorpions win the league title.

So for those baseball fans who like their relationships the old fashioned way; easy going, intimate and a ton of fun, book your trip to Scottsdale for next fall. And fall in love with the game all over again.

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