Part of the annual CJS Rendezvous is taking in a couple of meaningless baseball games in the beautiful March Arizona weather. Since we’re hooked up in Tucson, we’ve always been just a short hop away from Hi Corbett, and an across town jaunt to Tucson Electric Park. There’s nothing like pre-empting the end of the winter dregs with the refreshing tonic of warm weather, and the greatest game on the planet. You feel like you’re cheating nature. And you’re not alone. Per capita, spring training baseball draws more alarmingly old people than your average city council re-zoning meeting or Saturday morning trip to the bank.

And thanks to the incompetence of the City of Tucson, CJS has spent its last year enjoying Rockies pre-season baseball in our very own backyard. Here are some thoughts to send it off properly.

Since we’d never been to Tucson Electric Park, and since our trip fell so early on the calendar this year, we checked out the Rockies across town at the home of the Diamondbacks. This park was much newer, although you’d never know since it’s on the ass end of Tucson. According to a friend who lives down there, apparently this park was supposed to sit right in the center of downtown and revitalize the area. Thanks to the aforementioned city fuckups, they pushed it out to nowheresville where it’s surrounded by a lovely grouping of jackshit.

The park itself is delightful, although paying for parking at a Spring Training game feels like sacrilege. Sure, it was only $5, but so was our seat on the lawn in right field. Part of the charm of seeing a game at Hi Corbett Field is scrambling for parking either in the lot nearest the stadium (impossible), the line of cars that back in on the adjoining street (difficult), in the lot by the community center/police station/I’m not sure next to the stadium (possible), in the El Con Mall where there’s a shuttle (prideless), or somewhere in the lawless morass that surrounds the area. Going to a Spring Training game with sufficient parking seemed somehow wrong.

Lawn seats at Tucson Electric are where it’s at. The grass is soft and sweet-smelling. The views are terrific. The restrooms are nestled nearby. And best of all, the beer vendors come by frequently since they know all the drunks (read: CJS Staff & spouses) don’t spring for good seats, they save their pennies for booze! All in all, a great day. And that’s amazing considering I’m about as flexible as Brian Dennehy, so I avoid sitting on the ground like I avoid touching someone else’s cold sore.

What’s weird about Tucson Electric Park is that they play kooky organ music renditions of loungy crooner songs. Ever heard “The Way You Look Tonight” played by a ballpark organ? It’s wildly disorienting. Like backing out of your driveway into a giant octopus. You hear it and… what the hell is this? I know this song. Why is it being played here?

Considering the Rockies destroyed the D-Bags 11-1 and we celebrated at the nearby In N Out Burger, our first (and likely only) trip to Tucson Electric was a huge success.

Hi Corbett gave us a warm hug in our last Rockies exhibition game but tempered it with the same no-bullshit “I’m leaving forever soon, David” candor that Wilford Brimley gives his grandson in Cocoon. I awoke early to buy tickets for our game the first day they went on sale and scored choice seats in Section AA, Row 1, right behind the Rockies dugout. Whenever a groundout ended the inning, the 1st baseman would toss the ball right into our section. Some retched motherfucker behind me snared one as I’m not tall enough. Thanks a lot, Dad! Couldn’t have been taller, huh?

We managed a parking spot in the rec center/police station/I’m not sure and chowed some Chik-Fil-A before the game which served as perfect preamble to the glorious $6, 32 oz beers offered by our fair team. A mere 24 oz were offered at Tucson Electric for $7.25, so, as usual, the Rockies win again.

Two delightful Spring Training anecdotes emerged from the tired clichés of baseball storytelling faithfully like Punxatawney Phil every February 2. First, some idiot behind us blamed a fielder losing a fly ball on the “high Arizona sky.” Someone always drops this line of bullshit on you trying to blame the sky for missing a fly ball, not several months of dedicated laziness on the part of whichever player ends up in the bus leagues next week. Second, the PA guy got a player’s name wrong. This always happens, but not usually to a 4x All-Star. Poor Paul Lo Duca got called Joe by our PA announcer which incited merciless calls of “Nice hit, Joey!” from our section for the rest of the game.  

It’s true that we love baseball enough that we’ll probably trek up to outside Scottsdale for a couple of Rockies games next year, but it won’t be the same. And why not? On a random Thursday night when you’re half in the bag, you obviously head down to the grocery store to pick up another case of beer, some Totino’s party pizzas, a box of donuts, and some club soda for gin rickeys. What you don’t expect is to see an unshaven Ryan Spilborghs in his sweatpants buying a bottle of wine.

Trying to be unobtrusive as she gawked at Spilly caused Lady E to bump into the tabloid rack, carom off the candy bars, and bang into the cart. I made awkward eye contact with him. And we drove a little too slow watching him climb into his ride in the parking lot which I’m sure put him on high alert. We were all a little too hepped up on goofballs to say anything, but in retrospect we should have.

Now that the team’s going to Scottsdale, we won’t have the chance. And that’s what sucks most about no more baseball in Tucson. It felt like home. It felt like family. It felt like you all lived in a tiny insular world. And now it’s gone.

 We’ll miss you, Tucson baseball. And we hope that wine was good, Spilly. Sorry for acting so weird. Next time join us for a beer.

edagger@crujonessociety.com