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Looking forward to Spring Training: A beginner’s guide

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Never been to Spring Training? Going in 2019? Here’s some things to keep in mind.

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Milwaukee Brewers v Kansas City Royals Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

It’s almost that time of year folks! Pretty soon pitchers and catchers will report to Spring Training and Spring Training games will follow shortly. Spring Training is one of my favorite times of year because it’s the only time you can see your favorite big leaguers on the same field as some of your favorite teenage prospects. Arizona is beautiful in February and it’s a wonderful escape from the often dreadful Kansas City weather. If you’re planning on going to Surprise to see some early Royals action this spring, here are some things to keep in mind while planning your trip.

1.) Book your flights ASAP

If you don’t already have the Hopper app, download it. The Hopper app identifies airline prices on the market and tells you exactly when to book. Hopper suggests you should be booking flights from KC to Phoenix for Spring Training RIGHT NOW. You can currently leave Kansas City on Friday 2/22, the day before the Royals first ST game, for $236 on American Airlines. That price is only going to get exponentially higher as we get closer to February. Planning on flying to Arizona? Book now.

2.) Make sure to check the location of your hotel

The Royals Spring Training complex is located in Surprise, AZ, which is roughly a 40 minute drive from downtown Phoenix. The Royals first game, on Saturday, will be played in Surprise. Their second game, on Sunday, is played in Mesa, AZ, which is roughly 10-15 minutes from Phoenix, in the opposite direction of Surprise. There are plenty of hotels to choose from when staying in Phoenix, just make sure you know where you’ll be visiting before you book. Uber is in Phoenix, so there’s no problem getting back and forth between sites, just make sure you center your hotel to minimize Uber costs!

3.) Buy your tickets online before you go

You can almost always find good deals on game tickets online. There are currently tickets to game one on Seat Geek for $14. The lines at Surprise Stadium can sometimes get lengthy and, from my experience (it’s entirely possible you’ve had different experiences), the tickets online are often cheaper than tickets at the box office. Skip the line and save a few bucks by buying tickets online before you get to the game.

4.) Take plenty of things to be autographed

One thing that plenty of fans love about Spring Training is the opportunity to get autographs from their favorite players. The games don’t matter, players are happy to just be back on the field, and are almost always willing to sign a few autographs. Take a few baseballs or your favorite jersey, show up an hour before game time and see if you can’t get your favorite Royals player to sign something for you before the game.

5.) Pack some warm clothes

The weather in Arizona can be both beautiful and fickle. Last year I attended the Royals second game of the spring at the A’s stadium in Mesa. The sun was beating down on the fans behind home plate for the first 6 innings or so, and it felt like it must’ve been 90 degrees. Then the sun started setting behind the press boxes behind home plate and the temperature felt like it dropped 50 degrees. Make sure you have a jacket for when the sun goes down. It seems counter intuitive, but deserts get cold at night.

6.) Make sure to eat at an In-N-Out Burger

There is a lot of hype surrounding burger joints like In-N-Out and Whataburger that can’t be found in Kansas City. Having eaten at both, I can tell you that In-N-Out Burger is objectively better than Whataburger. If you’ve never eaten at an In-N-Out, and you’re headed west for Spring Training, make sure to slide in and get a burger. To be fair, it’s not life changing, but it’s a fun place to stop in and get lunch before a baseball game and you can’t get it at home, so enjoy.

7.) Go play a round of golf

Phoenix is home to some beautiful golf courses. The Talking Stick Resort has one of my favorite golf courses that I have ever played on. TPC Scottsdale, the PGA course, is in the Phoenix area. Take a morning before the games start and play a round of golf on one of Arizona’s beautiful courses.

So there ya go. Spring Training is one of my favorite times of the baseball season. The games don’t matter, and the level of play is certainly not as good as playoff baseball, but there’s nothing like watching all-world players play with minor leaguers on the same field. The weather is fantastic, baseball has returned, and the Phoenix area is just generally beautiful. Hopefully this helps if you’re headed out for the first time this spring.