We made it! To opening day! That’s fantastic! But…what happened to the fields in Arizona? Florida?… What happens next?
Truth be told, I love Spring Training. Whether it’s in Florida, or in Arizona, for some reason, the excitement and anticipation just bleed through every pitch. From the veterans who’re just working on their swings, to 18 year-old rookies who are trying to make their dreams come true. It never disappoints. However there is one thing that bothers me. The fact that it just…stops.
The start of the regular season is great and fantastic, but I always feel unfulfilled, and almost abandoned. I understand that once ST wraps up, the bags are packed, and extended ST begins. So really, there is no end to it. Though I would appreciate some sort of “final game” or “final ceremony” to cap it all off.
I am not saying there needs to be a nationally syndicated program all about the final game like the closing ceremonies of the Olympics, but something would be nice.
The thing is, I highly doubt I am alone in this thought process. To me it was always confusing. There is so much lead up to the beginning of Spring Training, such as social media campaigns. But when it’s over, it’s almost like people just abandon the parks overnight. You’d think they’d want SOME sort of closure. Or maybe not.
Maybe it’s just better to move on, and not dwell about the warm weather of our past.
Ladies and gentleman, the day has FINALLY COME! That day… is OPENING DAY! I will give you a moment to collect yourself.
Now that you have that out of your system, let’s go over the checklist of everything you’ll need for the big day.
Wait a minute… does something seem weird to you? Oh yea.. the winter apparel. But why would you need that? Baseball is the game of summer!
That, right there, is the question I have been trying to answer for years now. As a huge Indians fan born and raised here in Cleveland, Ohio, those last two items have been an all-too-real need for me. Which is the topic of this post.
For most of the fans, even though they live in colder areas, they at least have a dome, or roof, so it can be 72 and sunny year round.
Not Cleveland…or Boston… or New York…
I understand, domes and roofs are very expensive, and can be technically difficult. However, I would prefer not to turn purple from frostbite during the 7th inning stretch. It’s miserable. Even the players hate it, that’s why some carry a “warm weather” clause in their contracts.
So if you live where it’s warm year round (I hate you) enjoy it. Not all of us will be in T-Shirts on opening day. Some of use will have to huddle together in our overpriced seats covered in snow. Though I am used to it by now.
If you’re any sort of baseball fan, around this time of the year you will always begin to hear the age-old question surrounding spring training. Just which is better, Arizona or Florida? While the answer to some is a simple one, based entirely on their own experiences or preference, there really are pros and cons to both. Both offer a great experience with some great games. However, to make the decision a little easier, let’s examine each in detail.
The sun, the sand, the palm trees – sounds like paradise to me. No matter what your preference for the season, who can deny that Florida is a pretty fantastic place to visit. But is it the ideal place for Spring Training?
First things first, it’s Florida, one of the most beautiful places in the country. So even if this isn’t your first choice, you’re definitely going to love it. The warm sunshine, the beautiful land… and people. You really can’t ask for much more. Florida also hosts spring games for some of the best teams in the league, i.e. Boston, New York, St. Louis, etc. The entire time Spring Training is going on, it’s like a constant party, and constant baseball. It’s essentially any fans dream. You fly down, enjoy a game, then sit on the beach. If you’re into relaxing, this is definitely the spot for you, and you won’t regret your choice. However, this doesn’t mean it has drawbacks.
As stated earlier, Florida is a fantastic place during March. But… that’s about it. Unlike Arizona, when the teams pack up their bags and head out of town… so does everyone else. It’s almost as if training just never happened at all. If you want a place with constant baseball, this place isn’t for you. But if you’re into a pretty intense month long vacation? Pack your bags now.
Another thing. Since it’s the tropics, it can be humid, and unbearably so. Coming from someone who lives in Ohio (sometimes more humid than Florida…) take it from me, this is NOT something that is enjoyable. Its sticky, uncomfortable, and can make even the “luke-warmest” of days into a hellish nightmare.
Florida is also very expensive, and dollar to dollar, almost twice as expensive as a trip to Phoenix. Finally, not to be blunt, but it is an older crowd. If you want nice relaxed people (except after the games) Florida is for you. You want a younger crowd with more physical activity? Might not want to head to South Beach.
While it might seem like the desert would be the last place anyone would want to go, once you head out to Phoenix, you will definitely reconsider. Known as the Mecca of baseball, it’s a fantastic place for any level fan… if you like heat.
What most people don’t realize about Arizona is the secret beauty that it holds. The landscape is breathtaking, the culture is vibrant, and even the plant life is unique and stunning. Where else can you see saguaro cacti? There might not be beaches, but there are pools around every turn.
Besides the physical beauty, Arizona is also a great choice to head to for Spring Training. While some of the teams are more of the teams that tend to rank lower, you’re always guaranteed to see great games in great stadiums that consistently outrank all of the Florida fields. In fact, some teams have even requested to leave FL because of the high quality fields in AZ. Also, the fields are free to check out when there aren’t games going on, unlike FL. AZ also has baseball going on 365 days a year. Whether you see Spring Training, regular season, or even just practice league (which you can watch for free), there is literally something always going on down at the fields.
AZ tends to draw younger crowds, people who enjoy hiking in the White Tank mountains, or Thunderbird Canyon, so you won’t get all the crazy partying FL can come with. It’s a much more physically active place. Also, it’s much cheaper than FL. Games cost, sometimes, half as much as games in FL. The nightlife, restaurants, and other things are also much cheaper. But it still isn’t for everyone.
Just as you would think, AZ is hot… REALLY hot. While it won’t hit the 120 degree days that August and September can carry, you probably will flirt with triple digits. The good thing is there is essentially no humidity, so it really is a dry heat… but 110 degrees is still 110 degrees.
As AZ gets more popular over the years, this is causing another con – travel prices. Plane tickets can be absurdly priced, same with hotels. You pretty much have to plan a year in advance…seriously. Also, if you don’t like hiking or seeing culture… or care about mountains… AZ isn’t for you. It’s more slowly paced, and the non-baseball events are mostly physical, like hiking.
If you can handle it however, it’s a great place to check out, and you won’t leave disappointed.
Whether you like beaches, or deserts, there is for sure going to be a place for you to love. I also suggest trying both out for Spring Training, because who knows, you can always be surprised.
…Or you can head to the ORIGINAL site of MLB Spring Training…Hot Springs, Arkansas.