We are blessed here at BCB with members who are excellent photographers. You have, of course, seen David Sameshima's photos of the construction project, and here I present to you photos from BCB reader redivy, better known in the real world as Jon Gudorf (yes, he gave me permission to tell you that).
You probably saw his photos of Mike Olt in midair (see photos 4, 14 and 70) during spring training. I asked him to send me a selection of his best photos from his visit to Mesa.
So, here they are, with some thoughts he emailed to me about his visit:
With all the talk about "Back to the Future II" in which the Cubs win the 2015 World Series, it's a reminder that Spring Training really is about looking back and looking forward. Spring Training, for me, is something to look forward to from the moment it ends. This is partly because I live in England, and so it is the one time I get to see live games and break the dismal spell of winter. It provides a look into the future of the team, not only for the coming year, but for years ahead. This year, above all others was the best vision into the future that Cub fans have had for a long time. Almost all of us will get caught up in a blown save, a miscue on the bases or a strikeout in a key situation this year. And it will seem, at times, like the promise of a better team has all been a mirage. Perhaps I'm naively hopeful again, like I was 30 years ago at my first spring training, but this time I do think Theo & Co. are building something not seen on the North Side since the 1930s when Hack Wilson tortured baseballs. I was extremely fortunate to attend spring training going back to sometime around 1983, when my parents first brought me to the desert to search for Gila monsters amongst the boulders and autographs on a scorecard. I was a baseball card collecting 12-year-old with braces, and the importance of securing the autographs of Gary Woods and Mel Hall seemed of monumental importance. The most memorable of all was seeing Harry Caray wander down a main street in Old Scottsdale one morning well before game time. He saw my Cubs hat, waved and said "Hey, a Cub fan!" and came sauntering over in his Bermuda shorts to give me an autograph on my hat. He was one of a kind. So many people I talk to owe their emotional attachment to the Cubs thanks to Harry. He enabled all of us who had a youthful rooting interest to keep that bond no matter where we may have moved to over the years, with the help of cable and WGN America. No one knows exactly what will happen on the field in 2015, but for me the season has already been won. Spring Training this year has renewed my sense of optimism that I was only 75 percent sure of the past two years. I even borrowed a Sharpie pen off of a young kid who asked me who No. 76 was. I told him he might just turn out to be the best player of his young lifetime to wear a Cubs uniform. I got myself an autograph for the first time in 25 years. Some guy named Bryant.
Enjoy this pictorial look back at spring training, which, as Jon said, gives us a hint of possible greatness to come.