Any baseball fan that doesn’t want to live a life full of regret would jump at the chance to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Major League Baseball game. If that bucket list experience isn’t enough, how about accommodations at one of Scottsdale, Arizona’s trendiest hotels and transportation to/from Los Angeles?
I imagine winning the lottery feels a bit like getting a call from Chevrolet with a pitch for the aforementioned agenda. The word “yes” couldn’t form in my mouth fast enough, and before I knew it, MLB Spring Training had begun. But why me, and why Chevy? Here’s the scoop:
Since 2006, Chevy and its dealers have supported youth softball and baseball around the country, donating more than 135,000 equipment kits, renovating 9,400 parks, and impacting 6.7 million boys and girls. Though Chevrolet has worked with the MLB for years through its Youth Baseball initiative, it is strengthening its relationship by sponsoring Play Ball — a collaboration between MLB, USA Baseball, and USA Softball.
Chevy’s service to the community and longstanding partnership with the MLB doesn’t explain why I won the baseball lottery, but I’ll pretend that this review of the 2017 Chevrolet Malibu (my automotive companion for the 700-mile round-trip sojourn from LA to Scottsdale) is important enough to warrant the honor.
Fantasies aside, it’s difficult to imagine a more comfortable vehicle for the six-hour road trip than Chevy’s new Malibu Premier. With high quality hide lining just about every interior surface, heated and ventilated seats, a ridiculously quiet cabin, and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, the Malibu is a rolling luxury suite. With so many miles to cover, it’s fortunate that the Malibu is frugal, too. Its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder may churn up an impressive 250 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, but it also returns 33 mpg on the highway.
The Malibu needs just a single tank of fuel to teleport me to the Saguaro Hotel, a vibrant oasis within Scottsdale’s Old Town sector. Surrounded by shops, bars, restaurants, and coffee spots, the Saguaro is an ideal place to crash between Spring Training games. With my first game still hours away, I take a minute to relax in the heated pool, chatting with fellow guests about our weekend plans. Like myself, many are here for Major League fun, but others simply need an escape. Scottsdale’s dry heat and teeming nightlife is the perfect recipe for a vacation.
Before my moment of truth on Sunday, Chevy rounded up tickets to a Dodger v. White Sox game on Saturday. With temperatures in the upper 90’s, I’m grateful for the Malibu’s remote start system, which turns on the air conditioning and cools the vehicle before I set off for the stadium. Once inside the park, I find my way to some killer seats behind home base, lather up with sunscreen, and watch the Dodgers pummel the Sox 10-2 (sorry Chicago fans).
Back at the hotel, I have just enough energy to peel off my clothes and climb into bed. What feels like moments later, my alarm is blaring. It’s 8AM on Sunday and I’m due at the Angels’ field in two hours. There’s just enough time for a java run, so I high tail it to Regroup Coffee + Bicycles for a pour-over.
Slowly coming to life, I take stock of the Malibu’s exterior design. At the front, the midsize sedan takes inspiration from the sharply styled Camaro. LED daytime running lights and a two-piece grille grab appropriate attention. In profile, the Malibu’s raked roofline mimics a four-door coupe, 19-inch aluminum wheels, and a defined character line give the car an athletic stance. At the rear, an integrated lip spoiler and conservative taillight designs maintain the Malibu’s clean exterior.
Enough fawning, it’s time to get down to business. In short order, I’ve made it to the stadium and am ushered down to the field. My nerves are going ballistic as I shake hands with Angels’ catcher Tony Sanchez. As I’m announced, “automotive enthusiast and writer, Miles Branman,” I walk to the mound. Struggling to take in the joy and pressure of the moment, I almost miss my cue “okay, Miles, let’s play ball!” I enter the wind-up, still unsure of how hard I want to throw the ball. As the ball parts from my hand, I’ve settled on a light pace. For what seems like an eternity, the ball makes its way 60 feet to the catcher’s glove. It’s no strike, but Sanchez scoops up the low pitch easily enough. I let out an immense sigh of relief, assured that I won’t make it on Sports Center tonight.
Thanks to Chevy and the MLB, I may have the best “two truths and a lie” icebreaker imaginable – with the pictures to prove it!