MLB Playoff Bound: Phoenix by Ultimate Sports Fan, Andrew

The first week of October is a special time for sports travel as the MLB playoffs start. After realizing that there were zero sporting events to attend in Los Angeles this week, I did the next best thing – fly to Phoenix for Game 1 of the NLDS between the Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks without missing any work. Here were the steps involved:

1) Bought my plane ticket on The one way fare was $121 from LAX to PHX and they had a flight that would arrive Phoenix at 6:20 pm. I left work at 3 pm and made it to LAX in plenty of time for the 5:05 pm flight.

2) Since Chase Field is only about 15 minutes away from the airport, I knew I could make the first pitch (7:07 pm PT) if Southwest was on time (which they normally are). A short cab ride later and I was at the ballpark.

3) I planned to buy a ticket outside the stadium. Most people would not fly if they did not have their game tickets in hand. However, by checking and, I knew tickets were selling for around $20-30 and that buying a ticket would not be an issue. Also, I did not want to purchase a game ticket ahead of time just in case the flight was late. Since Southwest does not charge a change fee, I could just head home if the flight was delayed.

4) Buying the ticket was a completely new experience for me as well. I talked to the first scalper I saw and offered him $10 for a ticket. He accepted the price and handed me the ticket – I handed him the $10. After looking at the ticket, I noticed it was Standing Room Only. I asked for a different ticket and he said the transaction was final. I asked him to give my money back (surprised he was not trying to upgrade me) and he said no and that we could talk to the police officer. The police officer said, “This is what we call a civil matter.” I decided not to push it since getting into a MLB playoff game for $10 is a good deal – SRO or not.

5) Cubs’ fans were everywhere. I found a seat in the bleachers but ended up standing for most of the game anyway. Muhammad Ali was at the game and introduced in the 3rd inning. Mark Reynolds’ (who started the season in AA Mobile, Alabama) hit a home run in the bottom of the 7th inning that landed about 10 rows in front of me.

6) After the game, instead of staying at a hotel, I decided to go out for dinner and drinks until 2 am (closing time of Phoenix bars) and take the 6 am flight back to Los Angeles. I went out for dinner at Networks Bar and Grill in the Hyatt Hotel next to the ballpark. They had a nice outdoor patio and since it had been over 90 degrees during the game it was still very warm. The place closed at 1 am so a handful of Cubs fans walked over to a dive bar that stayed open until 2 am.

7) At 2 am, I took a cab back to the airport, checked in for my flight and slept at the gate until 5:50 am when a Southwest employee woke me up asking me if I was on the 6 am flight. We landed at LAX at 7:20 am and I was in the office by 8:45 am.