SPRING TRAINING HOLD UP

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

It’s that time of year again…Spring Training for Major League Baseball descended on Arizona over the past few weeks.  Avid baseball fans rejoice at the prospect of a good year ahead and come to check out new talent and old favorites.  For those of us who live in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area we breathe a sigh of relief each year when the baseball tourists finally clear out.  Not that we don’t appreciate them – after all, the ridiculous add-on fees to rental cars, hotels and baseball tickets are what keep our property taxes down.  But after a month of crowded roads, restaurants filled to the rafters, and way too many sightings of white legs in Bermuda shorts, we’re happy that this week brings an end to the annual rite of Spring.

 

On the upside, Spring Training brings with it an abundance of good people watching.  Similar to the Phoenix Open golf tournament, hoards of young women see this sporting season as their opportunity to meet (and perhaps marry!) either a rich athlete or a wealthy sugar daddy.  Resplendent in their spike heels and halter tops, they cruise the ball fields like mongoose seeking its prey.  Just to give you a sense of how versed these women are in the sport they watch, a friend told me the other day that at the Phoenix Open a young lovely asked if my friend knew who the golfer was on the green.  Without missing a beat my friend responded, “Ben Hogan“, which generated a knowing nod from the questioner, clueless and no doubt tucking that little piece of info into her memory bank so she could later brag to friends about seeing Mr. Hogan in action.  The “super fans” are also worth watching – those people who don everything with their team’s logo, from hat to socks.  One can only imagine why they dress that way.  More perplexing still are the people who have jersey’s configured with their own names on it – as if anyone would believe that the balding, 250 lb. fan once was a baseball god.

The final numbers on Spring Training attendance won’t be out for another week but pre-season predictions were that it would be a “down” year.  And that was before we had unprecedented rain, cold and snow.  I can’t imagine anyone with a lick of sense is surprised by that.  I took a look at the pricing for tickets to the San Francisco Giants game the other day: $442 for the box behind the dugout.  For ONE game!  Just for comparison, in 1973 a box seat for the whole season was $468.  Granted, you can get a seat on the lawn for $25 (actually the only “seat” is yours, planted on a sloping piece of grass) but I can tell you from personal experience that sitting on a lawn for an entire baseball game is highly overrated unless you’re 20 years old. I was thinking about this pricing the other day when I read about Mike Trout’s $430M contract with the Angels.  How can a baseball player possibly be worth that much?  Today’s tickets are outrageous and out of reach for most families, while the average MLB salary in 2018 was $4.47M.  So now even Spring Training baseball joins the ranks of football, hockey and basketball in being unfriendly for family outings.

Clearly there are plenty of people who can afford to attend these events.  In 2017 Americans spent $56 billion (yes, that’s a “B”) to attend sporting events, according to a study by CreditCards.com. The amount includes the cost of tickets, transportation, and food and drinks. If you want to buy a hat you can tack on another $20.  If you have a lot of kids who want a hat…good luck.  Just to put the $56B in perspective, it’s more than double the $27 billion-plus that was spent on book purchases in 2015.  America – what a country!

8 comments on “SPRING TRAINING HOLD UP

  1. Awesome analysis Suzanne. You have a wonderful way with words and a razor sharp way of expressing what is happening out there. That kind of salary for a baseball player is unbelievable!!!! Thanks for keeping us on our toes and informed!!!

  2. Really loved this, Suzanne. Shows our priorities here in the U.S.A.!
    I’ve always been amazed seeing all of the logos at sporting events! Why? Do you care who the person next to you is cheering for?
    I don’t!
    Keep these columns coming!💛

  3. Been cold all this month in Surptise Az. To me this isn’t baseball weather. Now the last week of March it has become time to go see a ball game. I like to sit down the 1st. Baseline side of our stadium because about the third inning you have shade. Shade feels good at 90 degrees. We have the Kansas City Royals and the Texas Rangers. In our Del Webb home two thirds of those who own houses go home. Free finally free. Lots less of traffic, restaurants, and high golf prices. May first rates drop. Fly away snow birds. So long. Etc. Gary L.

  4. Always look forward to a good laugh from your blogs. Wow,this one is too funny! No matter what the occasion, the Americans find a way to party! One wonders who works for a paycheck when soooo many people attend these events during the day!

    • Totally agree, Sharon! How about a meet up for Ivy and Dash? Not to mention you and me! Would love to catch up before you take off for the summer. xo

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