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Category Archives: Spring Training

Tales from Spring Training both as a fan and as a pro. Autograph hounding, sunburn, parking in people’s lawns, meeting ‘old timers,’ seeing young prospects, tales from the clubhouses and press boxes of Florida’s Grapefruit League and Tampa’s Legends Field.

March 16, 2008: Run Through

Today’s game at Legends Field (soon to be re-christened George M. Steinbrenner Field, but they haven’t had the official ceremony yet, though the local government already voted in the change) was almost like a Real Game! With Real Excitement!

It’s difficult for fans who live and die by the Yankees to grasp just how laid back Spring Training games can seem. Winning the game is not the goal. Each player has things that he is working on, like mastering a specific pitch, or testing the health of his knees, and so on. Getting in shape to play in April is the goal of playing in March… (click title above to read whole article)

March 15, 2008: Duncan Donuts, and other Tampa tales

Shelley Duncan, the player who landed at the center of the controversy after his slide into Rays 2B Akinori Iwamura, had the following to say after the game. “It was a normal baseball game. We could just play baseball.” When asked if conversations at first base were any different than usual, he said no, there was just the usual “standard first base talk,” which led the writers to ask… so… what is standard first base talk? “Oh, you know, I always say hi,” Duncan explained. “You know, if they walked, congratulations on your walk. That kind of stuff.” And if the batter had been hit by pitch? “Where’d he get you? Was it a cutter? Does it hurt? Don’t rub it! Doooon’t rub it!” Click title above to read whole article.

March 8, 2008: Spring Rolls

It is raining, freezing and cold here in the North, but I am heartened as I spend this Saturday afternoon listening to Spring Training broadcasts from Florida. As it turns out, it’s chilly and rainy in Florida, too, which is not really what I want to hear, but, well, there are many things about the […]

March 10, 2007: Simple Pleasures

“It was a tidy little game at Legends Field tonight. The Yankees scored four runs in the second, in a nine-man inning kicked off by Alex Rodriguez. Alex had a much better day than Wednesday, tonight playing flawlessly in every respect both offensively and defensively. Also, everyone in the audience–in my section anyway–noticed that tonight he played with his socks high…”

March 7, 2007: Sprung!

“At Legends Field tonight, people were complaining of the cold. The temperatures were in the mid-sixties, the wind on the cool side. Speaking as someone who left Boston yesterday where it was eight–yes (8)–degrees with a wind chill of minus-thirty, all I can say is: hah! It’s lovely here in Tampa and don’t you forget it! The game, like the temperatures, was not so hot, being scoreless for seven innings, but as any newcomer to Spring Training quickly learns, winning and scoring runs is not what its about…”

March 30 2006: Yearbook Entry (Last day of spring training)

“Carl Pavano has a sore ass. Boo boo on the bum, sustained when he tripped and fell trying to field a ground ball and made a play at first base the other night. That is the final tidbit of news from Yankee camp this year. As I write this, the Yankee bus is visible from the press box at Legends Field, making its way to Tampa International Airport where a charter awaits the players and staff. They are on their way to Arizona for two exhibition games (supposedly make-goods attached to the Randy Johnson deal), and in usual Yankee style each player and coach is decked out in his finest leisure suit…”

March 25, 2006: Simple Pleasure

“Baseball travelogue: Saint Pete. Today’s travels took us to Al Lang Field, spring home of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. This venerable old park was built in 1916, and the grandstand has been variously rebuilt at different times through the years. The Braves, Yankees, and Cardinals all used the park during their tenures in St. Pete, but nowadays it belongs to the Rays, whose home ballpark is just on the other side of downtown…”

March 24: Close Enough to Touch (Yanks At Phillies)

Our last game of the trip, right in nearby Clearwater. This was the field where, last year, I almost blacked out when Derek Jeter walked by. Well, having had my close encounter with Jeter for the year already, I figured my health was in no danger this time around. The weather was perfect, sunny, clear, […]

March 23: All The Way To/From Texas (Yanks at Rangers)

It’s a two hour drive from Crystal Beach to Port Charlotte, which meant we had to get up quite a bit earlier than we were used to in order to arrive in time for BP at 10am. Yawn! My parents had to be on a plane back to Jersey that day, and Heather and Julian […]

March 21: Bombs Away (Tampa Bay at Yankees)

Oh no, rain again? I got up the next morning and it was nice out. But as the day went on, the day got grayer and colder. Brrr. Isn’t this Florida? We had definitely been in little danger of sunburn since that one day at Wide World of Sports. The weather was as unsettled as […]

March 18-19-20: Rain=Baseball Drought

Three days in a row of dissatisfaction with baseball followed. First, on Sunday March 18 the Yankees played the Red Sox in Fort Myers, a game I could not get tickets to no matter how I tried. Last year’s game I tried to buy phone, and they told me the Yankee game was the one […]

March 17: Fencing (Yanks at Blue Jays)

After seeing the Braves in Disney, we drove to a little Cuban restaurant we knew of in Kissimmee, stuffed ourselves with black beans, rice, shredded beef, and the like, and then drove to the Tampa area. We were staying in my parents’ retirement house in Crystal Beach, like we did last year. They still aren’t […]

March 16: Old Friends Yankees at Braves

Green as I may be in the world of baseball, I’m not a rookie anymore. This is my second trip to spring training, so I knew a little of what to expect. And even though I had never been to see the Atlanta Braves play before, I found myself on familiar ground. The Disney Wide […]

March 26: Spring Training 2001

One of the great things about being a baseball writer is that you never lack for a metaphor, a symbolic hook, or an irony. I just sat down at my computer, having gotten off an airplane from Florida an hour ago, and what do I see outside my window here in Boston? Yes, my friends, […]

March 22: Right Place, Right Time (Blue Jays at Yankees)

Another day, another trip to Legends Field, right? Wrong. Because this time the weather finally turned clear! It was still chilly for Florida, but the sun was bright and the breeze snappy as we pulled into the parking lot a good three hours before game time. Surely there was no excuse for the Yankees to […]

Mar 17 2000: Spring Training Day Five – Day Without Baseball #2

So, as mentioned above, we couldn’t get Braves tickets. And as with the Red Sox game we missd,the Yanks creamed ’em (this time like 24 to 7 or something). Apparently, the Braves had a split squad day, and sent all their rookies to Legends Field. Steinbrenner reportedly went “ballistic” over the dis, but hey, the […]

Mar 16 2000: Spring Training Day Four – Sarasota

After the game in Clearwater, we dropped Dad off at the airport and he went back to New Jersey (he’d already been on vacation when we met him, playing golf in Orlando, so we had to let him get back to work). That evening we were supposed to pick up corwin (my significant other) and […]

Mar 15 2000: Spring Training Day Three – Clearwater

Among the games we did NOT see in our week in Florida were the Red Sox game in Fort Myers and the Braves game at Legends Field. Despite my best and earliest efforts, both games were sold out before I could get tickets. So technically, Day Three of our vacation was a Day Without Baseball, […]

Mar 14 2000: Spring Training Day Two – Legends Field

On March 7th we got up early with the intention of getting to Legends Field in time to see morning batting practice. We really didn’t know what to expect, only that we’d heard that practice started 3 hours prior to games. So we pulled our rental car on the gargantuan parking field adjacent to Raymond […]

Mar 14 2000: Spring Training Day Six – Dunedin

Dunedin’s stadium (Grant Field) was the closest to the house of all the places we went. It was about seven miles, actually, so even though we went early to the game to see BP and fielding practice, we didn’t have to leave very early. We did our best to eat up the food in the […]