Spring Baseball in Arizona


The impetus of so many of our trips around the country is Alex’s quest to watch a pro baseball game at every one of the 30 MLB stadiums. Surprisingly, he had never been to Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, despite it being relatively close to us here in California. But he had been to Scottsdale (right next to Phoenix) more than once, because it’s the home of the SF Giants for spring training each year.  Unfortunately, during spring training the Arizona Diamondbacks are also not playing in their home stadium at Chase Field, so you usually can’t attend both things at the same time. Well, this year was the perfect exception!

Enter the World Baseball Classic. Similar to the world cup for soccer, players leave their various pro teams and instead play for their countries. Due to the pandemic, this was the first WBC in six years, but it’s supposed to happen every three. There were 4 different host cities and tournament pools: Tokyo, Japan; Taichung, Taiwan(!); Miami, Florida; and conveniently for us, Phoenix, Arizona. We got to watch the first game for Team USA, versus Great Britain. 

Long lines to get into Chase Field! Full of baseball fans wearing all sorts of different MLB team jerseys. Pretty fun to see.

Flags for the five teams in the Phoenix pool: USA, Canada, Colombia, Great Britain, and Mexico.

Lots of festive folks dressed to the theme for USA and for Britain. Unfortunately the stadium experience left a lot to be desired, with 20min waits just to get these nachos or to do anything, really. They definitely understaffed the event and closed a bunch of things despite it being more popular than a normal MLB game.

This was our one night of cheering for Mookie Betts, plus his fellow Dodger Trayce Thompson, brother of Warriors’ Klay Thompson. Trayce was playing for team Great Britain via his father being from the Bahamas (you’ll realize how much imperialism is still alive when you start watching these international sporting competitions).

Pretty great seats, very close to home plate. There wasn’t much to their lounge though. 

But yay, we got our stamp! Stadium #22 of 30, in the books.

And Team USA won!

Our verdict: one of our least favorite stadiums, haha. They closed the dome, making it super hot and stuffy even though it was a pleasant 60-something outside. And there wasn’t much to see, no fun touches or interactive elements. Its most interesting feature was this swimming pool and hot tub, but it is only accessible to special ticketholders. Well, we’ve checked it off and never have to come back! Hah. Later, back at our hotel, we watched a bit of the WBC in Taiwan, which was amazing! US baseball environments have nothing on Asia, where they have dedicated cheerleader teams who have personalized songs for every single player, and the entire stadium chants and dances along too. It’s really something else. Definitely on the list to go to a game in Taiwan or Japan next time. Team Taiwan did pretty well in the beginning, but their pool ended up in a 4-way tie, and they didn’t make it to the next round. Hope they get to host again and do even better next time!

The next day, exploring a bit of Scottsdale.

Cactus themes abound.

Happened upon a little outdoor festival with live music on our way to the museum.

Such an impactful exhibit, in both the content and and my realization that this is all artwork by our contemporaries, addressing the issues of our times. Second image is from a series by Safwat Saleem, Concerned but Powerless.

William Powhida, Possibilities for Representation.

Ann Morton / Phillip K Smith III.

James Turrell Skyspace.

Also very fun, I spotted my friend Pamela’s book in the museum gift shop and of course purchased it to take home!

Next, it was time for the SF Giants game versus the A’s. All from the Bay but playing in Arizona for spring training!

It’s a vibe! Very fun, small stadium, sitting on the lawn, enjoying the sunny weather.

Back to the hotel for a little break before dinner, just in time to watch the beginning of the Oscars. And in fact the Oscars are so long, we didn’t even miss anything important by the time we came back after dinner at the Mission (delicious)  and watched Everything Everywhere All At Once  finish sweeping all the awards!

Our final day in Arizona, we made a trek to the famed Pizzeria Bianco (thanks Netflix Chef’s Table). It’s supposed to be one of the best pizzas in the world. In Phoenix, of all places. The wait was supposed to be 2 hours (turned out to be less), but luckily they have a nice bar next door where you can hang out and wait.  One of the most pleasant long-line experiences ever!

All delicious. Would actually consider doing it again. But I think the thing about this pizza was figuring out how to do local ingredients really simply and beautifully. That idea has certainly caught on in the years after this place was first established, so it’s practically par for the course at this point, and you can find similar concepts that have sprung up since, all over the place.

Final record store visit. Found a Yo-Yo Ma record! First time ever seeing one, pretty rare since his fame coincided with the height of the CD era. 

Another work break at Kahvi, some shopping around Roosevelt St., and dinner at Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.

So nice to enjoy baseball, springtime weather, and superblooms in Arizona!

Anna Wu is a wedding and portrait photographer based in San Francisco. She compulsively documents and blogs all of her daily adventures. Follow her on instagram and view more of her professional work at annawu.com.