Best Budget Seat at a Cardinals Game 2009 | Section 437 | Arts & Entertainment | Phoenix

Let us not forget, the Arizona Cardinals are the improbable NFC champs. They took us all the way to the Super Bowl last year. If you don't go to a game this year to show your support and at least say, "Thank you," you deserve to live in Tucson. Tickets, however, are pricey; some cost as much as $430 each. Don't waste your money. Section 437 is where it's at. For $40, you're not even sitting in the nosebleed section, and you have a great parallel angle of the field. There are $60 seats where the view is a little better. However, for a true fan — who just spent three hours in the parking lot with a 30-pack, a funnel, and your most immature friends — by the time you actually get inside the stadium, you shouldn't care where you're sitting.

In case you've forgotten — and judging by Phoenix Coyotes attendance records, you have — Phoenix has a hockey team. For how long is anyone's guess; they did just file for bankruptcy and almost moved to Canada (where people might actually go watch them). Well, while they're still here, is there anywhere to sit in Arena and not feel like you just got robbed? Of course! We've got the best seat in the house for you, for only $15. Right in the corner of the arena, section 205 gives you a great angle on all the action without the high prices that are keeping Phoenicians from actually going to the games. Hockey is an awesome sport. Check it out (while you still can).

After the Diamondbacks' atrocious season, it's hard to believe that anyone would still want to go to a game, no matter how cheap the seats are. It's a good thing they're in the same division as the Dodgers or they might not ever fill that place again. Chase Field is one of the best stadiums in all of baseball, and to be honest, there really isn't a bad seat. The best seat for your buck, though: anything in Section 108. Section 108 offers a great view of the field and hovers right over the opposing team's bullpen. And for $15, you can do something in Section 108 that you can't do in any other section of the stadium: Scream your head off at the opposing pitchers while they warm up. To any true fan, that's almost better than sitting in the dugout.

For the softballer who gets drunk in the parking lot before the game, and doesn't hold twice-weekly practice, any dusty old field will do. For the serious athlete, Big League Dreams Sports Park has the only fields worthy of such talent.

The park has eight replicas of iconic professional baseball stadiums like Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, and Yankee Stadium, scaled down to softball field-size dimensions. At Big League Dreams, you can hit one over Fenway's "Green Monster," touch the ivy at Wrigley, or take the mound at Yankee Stadium.

The stadiums will make you feel so much like a professional baseball player, you're gonna want to do steroids.

Best Place to See a Spring Training Game, Old School

Phoenix Municipal Stadium

The "ballpark village" known as Goodyear Ballpark, Cactus League home of the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds, cost $100 million to build. Camelback Ranch Stadium, the spring digs of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox, features a fish-filled lake, a sunken playing field, and practice fields that mimic the exact dimensions of Dodger Stadium and Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field. By comparison, the city's dear old Phoenix Muni may seem a little drab, but if you're an open-air baseball geek, the preseason home of the Oakland A's has everything you require: warm sun, cold beer, a perfectly groomed field, and cozy environs with not a bad seat in the 7,885-seat house. And with the red buttes of Papago Park towering over the left-field fence, Muni exudes the kind of old-school Cactus League charm that even 100 million bucks can't buy.

Best Place to See a Spring Training Game, New School

Camelback Ranch

Picking your favorite spring training ballpark is like picking your favorite Beatle: Even if you're comfortable with your choice, you have to concede there are certain merits to the options you've passed up. Still, having been to every park in Arizona, we give the nod to Glendale's $100 million Camelback Ranch, home to the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers. As one of the brand-new Cactus League parks, it's got all the amenities of Chase Field in an intimate setting that mirrors the atmosphere in the best old-time ballparks. Parking is a cinch, the ushers aren't as Draconian about seat-sneaking as what you'll find at, say, Peoria Sports Complex, and the Chicago-style hot dogs are cheaper and tastier than the ones the Cubbies sell in Mesa. The architecture is what really sets this park apart, though: The copper-colored oxidized steel shell of the grandstand blends beautifully into the surrounding countryside, the gently sloping lawn unfolds gracefully inside the gate, and the Gabion stone retaining walls add a fresh modern touch. The overall atmosphere is still far from a finished product, and will come as the park is broken in, but it's already our favorite place to watch a game.

Sports are cool and all, but we like cheering for our favorite team sans the beer swilling, chicken-wing flatulence, and bro-dude'ing. For something more our non-jock speed, we like to watch the big game at the First Amendment Forum at the Walter Cronkite School in downtown Phoenix. The school shows the majority of the ASU football games (both home and away) as well as some ASU men's basketball clashes and the Super Bowl on a big projection screen. There's no cover and free popcorn is served.

We talked to a great many Phoenix sports fans in the lead-up to the Super Bowl, but only one really sticks out: Clayton Jacobson of Parker, Arizona. Jacobson is a California native, the son of the man who invented the Jet Ski, but has adopted the Cards with a fervor we'd love to see in all local sports fans. Jacobson, who figured prominently in our cover story about Cardinals fans and also got his mug on the front page of the Arizona Republic, has the homemade signs and head-to-toe team gear, sure, but what really impressed us is his attitude. Jacobson absolutely refused to endure the self-defeating attitude of the namby-pamby Cards fans eager to throw in the towel after every setback in the Redbirds' historic season, even threatening hometown fans with physical violence when they expressed doubt in their team during the NFC Championship game. There's definitely no one in town we'd rather watch the game with than Jacobson.

We're Gambo & Ash evacuees. Ironically, we've gravitated to the time slot formerly held by the Valley's No. 1 sports-gab team, who remain at the top by being abrasive, controversial for its own sake, and downright mean to their yahoo callers. (Representative call from last March. Ash to a caller: "You're a moron." Gambo: "Yeah. You should go stick your head in a toilet.") Obviously, some people like that out-yahooing-the-yahoos kind of thing. For us, it's grown stale.

When John Gambadoro and Mark Asher quit XTRA for a big payday at KTAR in late 2006, they left a sucking p.m. vacuum at their longtime radio home that was finally filled early in '09 when the tandem of Dan Bickley and Mike Jurecki moved from morning drive to afternoons to compete directly with G&A.

Bickley's the Energizer Bunny of local sports, holding down afternoon drive 20 hours a week and — for his real job — cranking out crackerjack column after crackerjack column for the Arizona Republic. Bickley's a first-class radio presence — literate, knowledgeable, the ultimate hale-fellow-well-met. Longtime reporter Jurecki is an NFL/Cardinals insider and a straight shooter bar none.

Colin Cowherd is that know-it-all kid on the playground who all the big, stupid kids wanna slug. But while the meatheads grew up to be janitors and solid-waste technicians, Cowherd parlayed his wit and wiles into this big-time gig with "The Mothership" — ESPN Radio.

And don't he know it.

He's the most arrogant SOB on the 'waves (well, not counting Rush Limbaugh) and our pick for most fearless. In addition to calling it like it is in the general sports world, the former baseball play-by-play man and TV sports anchor frequently bites the hand that feeds, sticking it to the powers that be at ESPN.

Mostly, though, Cowherd's show is an oasis for the non-meatheads of the world, particularly those on the West Coast. Though The Mothership keeps him close to the vest in Bristol, Connecticut, the Washington State native purposefully plays to Western markets, especially Southern California and Phoenix. The Herd is the best consistent place to go for national analysis of the Arizona Cardinals and Phoenix Suns.

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