It takes far more than talent to become the best athlete in your local park league – or among the best in the world. It takes practice, practice and more practice, and this adage is particularly true with team sports. Competitors must work to hone their individual talents while meshing with their teammates to create a winning squad.
Which brings us to our L.A. Angels of Anaheim, who will appear at home for the first time on April 9. However, if you ask any of the Halos, April 9 will be more than six weeks into the real season; the squad’s first spring training game took place on Feb. 23, when they battled the Chicago Cubs at Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.
Angels fans willing to make the drive to Tempe, located 6 miles from Phoenix just off Highway 10, can see their favorite players practice their craft up close for a fraction of the regular-season cost. Diablo Stadium seats only 9,600 – including space for a sizeable crowd relaxing on a grassy berm located beyond the outfield fence (see above). Tickets range from only $12 to $47.
Fifteen Major League teams – including the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants – take to the field every year as part of the aptly named Cactus League, sharpening their skills and giving their competitors, fans and the media an indication of how things may shake out during the regular season.
With the addition of All-Star outfielder Josh Hamilton, the Halos are expected to field a powerful squad in 2013. And let’s not forget the considerable talents of Albert Pujols and second-year phenom Mike Trout, last year’s American League rookie of the year and a wunderkind many consider to be the best Major League newcomer in a generation. angels.mlb.com cactusleague.com
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Poultry in motion
Anaheim Ducks fans throughout Orange County, as well as National Hockey League fans throughout the nation, breathed a collective sigh of relief when the long and contentious NHL lockout ended on Jan. 12. This month, the Ducks will appear at Honda Center on March 1, 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24 and 27. At press time, the Ducks have lived up to their “billing,” with a 12-3 record (one of the losses occurred in overtime). ducks.nhl.com
A 5k with St. Paddy
Before jogging to the nearest Irish pub, lace up your running shoes and head over to Concordia University in Irvine, the site of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Dash, on March 17 at 9 a.m. The 5k course runs through Concordia’s campus. Age-division runners will be awarded for the best times. The event includes a St. Paddy’s T-shirt and related goodies. Registration is $30 through March 14 and $35 thereafter. racewire.com/stpatsdash