Spring is Arriving

We’re into the last month in Tucson this winter, so Karin and I are starting to focus on getting to see some attractions that we’ve not yet hit as we wait out the month of March. One thing we wanted to try for the first time is “Spring Training.” The Seattle Mariner train up in Peoria, North of Phoenix, and that’s only about two hours from Tucson. So after checking how they would handle pandemic rules, very well, we headed for the “Valley of the Sun.”

We took the back road to avoid I-10. Interstates are fast, but the worst way to see the country. And I knew that Arizona highway 79 would let me avoid actually going into Phoenix. It also set me up for a stop on the way in Tempe. I wanted to see if one of my memories from childhood still worked.

When BD married mom we all moved to AnnArbor, Michigan. That meant we were close enough to visit Grandma Fischer in Cheektowaga outside Buffalo, NY often. Over many visits BD introduced us to where he grew up, and that included trips down to Ted’s Red Hots, the hotdog stand down at the Peace Bridge in downtown Buffalo.

Best hotdogs evah, and where I learned as an 11 year old to like onion rings. These weren’t the overly breaded frozen stuff you get in most places. These where hand breaded onions that were never frozen. At Teds they deep fried them to a crunchy, sweet and salty perfection. If you’re from Seattle the best way to understand this is that Ted’s is basically the “Dick’s” of Buffalo. Are there better dogs somewhere? Sure, probably. Just like there are better hamburgers than “Dicks”. But if you want a foot long dog grilled over charcoal with a nice set of burn marks on it, whose skin snaps and tastes like your childhood when you bite it, you want a dog from Teds.

At least that’s how I remembered it.

Teds Hot Dog Stands are still going strong back in Buffalo, but I haven’t been there in decades. I learned a few years ago that before his passing Spiro Larios, son of the original Ted, retired to Tempe, and opened one last Teds Hot Dogs, in the desert. It’s still going strong 35 years later, winning all kinds of awards as the Best Hot Dog in the area. Well, I had to go.

And, sure enough, the Teds in Tempe makes them the same way as they do in Buffalo. You can get standard dog or foot long. They grill them over Charcoal, and you just let the folks at the grill know what you want on it. The standard is special spicy sauce, mustard, relish, onions, and a pickle spear. But you can get it anyway you like. Mmm. And yes, the onion rings are still the same, and good.

You couldn’t ask for a better lunch before heading out the the Peoria Sports Complex to see the Mariners play the Texas Rangers.

So first things first; Covid Safety. The team is limiting seating for games. Normally they can have 10 thousand. For the game we went to on Wednesday March 10th there were only 1,000 fans in the seats or out on the grassy outfield. We were behind home plate, but you could see on the grassy hill out past the wall there were chalked boxes on the grass to show where families could sit….and stay socially distant from others. Basically, you have most of an entire section to yourself. You’re supposed to wear your mask unless you’re eating or drinking something. Most folks did walking in, but took them off while in the seats. But you were so far away it was hard to get too worked up about it. As I said, we had most of a section, and the view was perfect.

As I said, view perfect. Sadly, the Mariners where anything but. Holy crap, I know it’s Spring Training….but as we sat down in the middle of the first inning, the Rangers already had a 4-0 lead. Final score Rangers 17, Mariners 5. To borrow from the Seattle Times coverage; “…Six Mariners pitchers combined to give up the 17 runs — all earned — on 18 hits with six walks and five strikeouts. Of those 17 hits, six were homers and three doubles.” Manager Scott Servais said post game, ““We just didn’t pitch well. We had one of those days.”  Understatement.

I pinged my friend in the front office. Her reaction…”Hey, it’s Spring Training. They’re working on the outfielders’ neck maneuvers as they watched those homer fly, fly away.” Nice that they practice all aspects of the game. 😉

April 1st home opener for the Mariners is only three weeks away. They even hope to have some fans in T-Mobile Park for the game. That would be nice if it can be done safely.

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