That Awkward moment when…

goodyearWe  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.

sdafI 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.

No?

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.

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Answering the Age-Old Question

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.

Florida

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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?

Pros

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.

Cons

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.

Arizona

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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.

Pros

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.

Cons

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.

Conclusion

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.

Why Spring Training is Important, and Why it is so Fun to Watch

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Well, it’s that time again.  All the snowbirds head down to their choice of warm and sunny paradise – Florida or Arizona.  Whether you are a fan of the humid, sticky swamps of the Florida lowlands, or the hot and dry sands of the Arizona desert, most people agree on one thing – Spring Training is fun to watch.

To some people, Spring Training seems like a “boring” adventure.  Games where after the 5th inning, the players are people you have never even heard of, and probably won’t for a long time.  However, if you’re a super-fan, this time of the year means something entirely different.  It’s a time when summer is finally around the corner (the best time of the year) and the game we all love so much finally returns.

 

If you’re lucky enough to live near one of the ST hotspot areas, you’ve probably enjoyed a beautiful March game with a smaller crowd and lower gate prices.  Relaxing, watching younger players try to make their way onto the field of the Majors.  Something that has been their dream since they were a kid.  Once the season starts, the crowds will commence, the prices will be raised, and you most likely won’t be on a sunny beach or desert.  It’s also great to watch if you aren’t able to travel.  Games that are nothing but slow paced entertainment that lets the mind, and the body, slow down for a few hours.  This is party the reason Spring Training games have gained popularity in the past few years.

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It’s not because the obsession of baseball is growing, but because people are beginning to appreciate the games more.  Spring Training games are nothing but fun, and it almost makes it seem like you can play again (I have thought about this more than once), because you actually get to see people make mistakes.

Spring Training is also important, not just to the fan to watch some exhibition games in the sun, but for the players.  Not just for the rookies, but for the veterans as well.  It’s one of the few times you will get to see veterans make mistakes, and that can actually be nice to see…oddly.  It makes the players seem human, and you can actually watch them work on things, something that really isn’t seen in other sports.  As for the rookies, well, they make mistakes too… but that’s okay.  These players, some which are as young at 18, get to play with players they only dreamed of playing with as a kid.  Sometimes, in the 9th inning of these games,  you get to see young kids come up to the plate, smiling ear to ear, as their dream of playing in the big leagues is finally drawing near.  That, is something to see.

So enjoy it.  Soon, the games will actually mean something, stats will be important again, and you will probably have to go back to a place that doesn’t have a beach.  There’s nothing better than relaxing and watching a baseball game in the sun, and Spring Training is just that, and more.