(Originally published 10/19/15 on OaklandClubhouse)
The Arizona Fall League is the premier annual prospect showcase in baseball. Kimberly Contreras breaks down exactly what the Arizona Fall League is and how you can check out the action.
THE BASICS OF THE ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE
Let’s review some basics about the revenue-generating Arizona Fall League.
The Mesa Solar Sox’s roster is comprised of coaches and top prospects from the Athletics, Angels, Cubs, Marlins, and Rays organizations. Manager Mark Johnson (Cubs – Myrtle Beach), Pitching Coach Steve Connelly (Athletics – Beloit), Assistant Pitching Coach Jeremy Powell (Marlins – Greensboro), Hitting Coaches Brenton Del Chiaro (Angels – Inland Empire) and Dan Dement (Rays – Bowling Green) and their team of top prospects play home games at Sloan Park, the spring training and player development home of the Chicago Cubs.
- Each of the six teams in the Arizona Fall League, represents five MLB clubs.
- Three games are scheduled six days a week.
- Games are played Monday through Saturday at 12:35pm.
- Evening games (6:35pm) are often, though not always scheduled.
- Because the entity is a product of Major League Baseball, no evening games are scheduled on days that would conflict with the World Series.
- Before heading out to a game, it is strongly advised to confirm information via thehttp://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/events/afl/index.jsp website.
- Individual game tickets (under $10 each) are available for purchase at each stadium’s box office on the day of game, only.
- General admission seating. No advance or online sales.
- Berm / grass seating is off limits at all facilities. You will be asked to return to the seating bowl.
- Gates and ticket offices open 1 hour before first pitch.
- Each stadium’s ticket office is adjacent to the Main Entrance
- Parking is free.
- One concession stand is open during each game. Beer, soda, water, snacks and other items are available for purchase.
- Line-ups and some souvenir items are available for purchase,
- If a game is tied at the end of the 9th inning, it will either end in a tie or one more inning may be played.
- Several games in November are televised on MLB Network. However, there is usually no regular radio or video broadcast. Follow via GameDay from the Fall League website.
- Digital timers / clocks are in each stadium to continue reinforcing the Pace of Play initiatives that debuted in 2014.
- “Automatic Ball” = timing violation by the pitcher
- “Automatic Strike” – violation by the batter
UNSPOKEN RULES OF ATTENDING FALL LEAGUE GAMES:
- Balls and bats fly into the stands just as much as they do during MLB games. Fewer people in stands means everyone has to be alert when the ball is in play
- NEVER turn your back on the field
Seating bowls echo where they are not full. Do not say anything that you don’t want everyone to hear.
- There are times when only a handful of fans / scouts are in the stands. Use common sense:
- Don’t carry-on a conversation while in the seating bowl – no one wants to hear it.
Don’t harass the players – verbally or otherwise.
- Especially when the crowd is sparse and voices echo. Yes, there is a championship game at the end of the season, but this is more of a “showcase” league, otherwise there wouldn’t be pitching changes every inning or two.
Each stadium / facility is operated separately. Each has its own quirks:
Camelback Ranch, Glendale:
- They check bags like the MLB stadiums do.
- If it’s a hot/ sunny day, the seating bowl is a frying pan. It’s the way it was designed.
Peoria Sports Complex:
- Stay in the seating bowl area
- Stay OFF the berm
- Parking is the biggest issue, just as it is during spring training. Unless you arrive 2 hours prior to game time, don’t even try to park in the lot off Osborn. Many options, including a covered parking structure just north of the stadium; free to park
- Ticket office and only entrance is off Osborn
- Helicopters, carrying trauma patients, often land at the hospital across the street.
Sloan Park, Mesa:
- Ticket office / entrance is off of Rio Salado, on the east side of the lot (closer to Riverview Park.)
- The side entrance (west side of lot) is for players, staff and personnel
Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, Scottsdale:
- One entrance, via Pima Road
- Often, large events scheduled in the public areas close to the street – such as the Taco Festival.
- Parking, traffic flow can have you trapped where you don’t want to be
- No signage / communication of parking, logistics, entrance options (or lack thereof) to assist those attending Fall League games not only creates frustration but unsafe driving conditions; only option is to drive all the way around the facility, but there are no options to enter the stadium.
- Front line staff is contracted – meaning they don’t know anything about the game.
- If you plan to attend a Fall League game at SRF, be sure to check their website regarding other events on the same day.
You’ve probably heard of (or heard) Susan Price (aka: Superfan). She’s the platinum haired woman with the booming voice who, when the big league club is not playing at Chase Field, can be found at every local minor league game of her beloved Arizona Diamondbacks; this time of year, this means the Salt River Rafters. Her unwavering support and encouragement, even after the worst outing of a player’s career thus far, is part of what makes “her” boys adore her! Susan’s intentions are focused on the boys, but not because she wants anything in return. She wants nothing. I’ve known Susan for almost 10 years and I’m convinced that if everyone had a “Susan” in their professional life, the world would be a much better place.
Say Hello to Susan when you see her, just don’t do interrupt her when she’s watching her boys doing pre-game drills. Just appreciate her passion, and her kindness. She is the best.
There is another woman who attends games as well. She waves big flags. She is not Susan.