Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The New Dodger Town

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
PHOTOS BY CANDICE EBLING

If there is ever a team in The Grapefruit League that I enjoyed covering, it was the Los Angeles Dodgers.

I enjoyed taking the two hour trek from Deerfield Beach to Vero Beach.

The Dodgers were always cooperative to us whether the Detroit Tigers played or some other team.

I had great memories speaking with the likes of Managers Tommy Lasorda, Grady Llittle and pitcher Jerry Reuss.

To this day, we like to drive up to Historic Dodger Town as the place looks fantastic.

There is nothing covering the fans should it rain at Holman Stadium which had a capacity of 6,500. There were no shortage of practice fields. Historic Dodger Town had dorm rooms for the players to stay.

Down the third base line the fans were very close to the players and there were no shortage of conversations. I can recall a conversation I once had with Derrel Thomas.

But as I sit in the Press Box here at Camelback Ranch which which holds 13,583, this is a different environment in The Cactus League. The seats are tan and the stadium is brown. It has that desert feeling.

There are no dorm rooms to house any players. There are lots of practice fields all over the complex.

The Dodgers share the stadium with the Chicago White Sox.  In 2009 both clubs began their first season.

Each team has State Of The Art, year round working facilities along the left and right-field lines which they use for rehabilitating players. They also have their executive offices.

The Dodgers use the facility for their low level rookie league, which is the Arizona League. They play in the back fields.

The Glendale Desert Dogs play in the Arizona Fall League where the best MLB prospects show their skills in the stadium.

In front of one of the entrances, there is a statue of Lasorda and another of White Sox Hall of Famer Frank Thomas.

On this day, there was a different feel as the Dodgers faced the Milwaukee Brewers.

The game was scheduled to start at 6:05 PT but due to rainy conditions in the area, it was pushed back to 6:35 PM PT.

What was great when I picked up My Credential was I had clubhouse access.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get in the clubhouse as well as my colleagues because today was the first day MLB banned the media because of the Coronavirus.

I talked to a Dodgers writer and he said it's inevitable that the regular season will get delayed because of the virus.

Dodgers Outfielder Mookie Betts, in the photo and President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman talked about all aspects of the inconveniences of the Coronavirus. They also told us that despite the virus, there is still a season to prepare for.

Earlier in the day, the NCAA Announced that March Madness will be played without fans in the stands. Also, all spectator sports are evaluating what steps will take place to avoid placing there fans in danger.

Before the end of this game, The NBA suspended the rest of the 2019 season when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert was diagnosed with the coronavirus.

Tonight, the Brewers entered the game with a 10-6-2 mark while the Dodgers are 9-7-1.

These are two teams that made the 2019 Players. Milwaukee was 89-73 while the Dodgers had the second best record in baseball at 106-56.

Both were ousted by the World Series Champions Washington Nationals.

The Dodgers defeated the Brewers 4-1 in front of 8,364. The game was called because of rain in the bottom of the seventh inning.

But as I look at this venue, now that I've seen all of the stadiums in the Cactus League, this one ranks in my top two.

Having been to most of the Grapefruit League stadiums, Camelback Ranch is easily in my top five.

Was it tough seeing the Dodgers leave Vero Beach, FL?

You bet it was.

But the reality of the situation is it's just a four hour drive from Phoenix to Los Angeles and a 45 minute flight. The move was inevitable.

Aside from what I've written, the photos tell the story about the Dodgers new home.

Next stop, Dodger Stadium.

The last time I went there was during the 1984 Summer Olympics when I watched the US team play against South Korea.

Camelback Ranch is definitely a must see if you come to Arizona for Spring Training of the Arizona Fall League!

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com. He is the Founder of The South Florida Tribune and it's Broadcasting Network. 

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