Baseball Memories · Spring Training

Spring Training 2009

We just got back from a great weekend in Arizona– complete with 3 Dodgers games and some great, warm weather.

photo: family at surprise stadium

Obviously, a highlight was seeing the Dodgers new complex at Camelback Ranch, but it was also fun to see them play at Surprise Stadium against the Royals  (where we are pictured above) and Goodyear Ballpark against the Indians (also brand-new). We didn’t get to see Manny play but we got to see lots of other players up close and personal.

In the near future, I’ll be posting reviews of the venues we visited, noting especially how they rate as far as family-friendliness, but in the meantime you can check out our photo album and get a little taste of our baseball weekend in the desert.

View our photo album!

Oh, and I found a great license plate that would work for me:

photo: mlb girl

the ocean & baseball– perfect!

Family Fun · Spring Training

10 Reasons To Take Your Family To Spring Training

This will be our third year in a row heading out to Spring Training… we went to Arizona two years ago, and last year we spent a week in Florida. We can’t wait to see a few Cactus Leauge games this weekend (and be sure to check back next week for a recap!). In the meantime, here are few reasons why we love Spring Training and think it makes for the perfect family vacation.

Chiquita at Dodgertown, Vero Beach

1.  Weather~ Whether you go to Florida or Arizona, you’re bound to get some warm days, which will put you even more in mood for baseball, in my opinion. With so much of the country still experiencing winter in March, it can be a much-needed reprieve to hit up some baseball games near the beach or in the desert.

2.  Intimacy~ When else are you going to be able to get so close to the field and to your favorite players? We’ve had great experiences with players being open to signing autographs and even seen them posing for pictures on occasion.

3.  Practice~ Sure, getting to the game early to watch batting practice is cool, but it pales in comparison to leaning against a chain-link fence, just yards away from a handful of Major-Leaguers shagging fly balls, or right behind the backstop while your favorite hitter takes a few swings.

4.  Cheap (& Good) Seats~ Even at the newest of Spring Training facilities, you can still get great, close-to-the-action seats for reasonable prices (which is more than I can say for every third spring’s other baseball event).

5.  Atmosphere~ There’s a certain electricity to Spring Training- I’m not sure if it’s due to everyone finally thawing out from a cold winter, the anticipation of Opening Day or possibly just that loud beer-guy with the big hat who sings about his Bud Lights that he’s selling.

6.  Lawn Seating~ If you’ve got little ones, you know how hard it is to get them to sit in a stadium seat or a lap. Enter the berm seating area, which most Spring Training fields offer. We’ll be sitting exclusively in the grass in Arizona this year, and we’ll be sure to let you know how Chiquita fares.

7.  Scouting Rites~ Be the among the first to scout out your team’s new roster, and because the big guys don’t always play very many innings, you’ll also get a chance to see a lot of the up-and-comers.

8.  Proximity & Variety~ With minimal driving, you can easily see say, five different games in five different ballparks in five days or less in either Florida or Arizona. At Spring Training You can get a taste of a variety of MLB teams and fans without leaving your one vacation destination.

9.  Location, Location, Location~ You can get to Spring training in a reasonable amount of time from almost anywhere in the country (either by car or plane) thanks to the two leagues being so spread out. Some of us are lucky enough to be able to drive it one day (ie, Southern California to Arizona), but last year, getting out of Colorado in March was well-worth a flight to Florida.

10.  Sheer Awesomeness~ I think every baseball fan should make it to Spring Training at least once. You feel almost like an insider, taking part in the behind-the-scenes aspect of Major League Baseball. And if you have a family of young baseball fans, this is a perfect family vacation that can easily be catered to a weekend trip for a couple of games or a week-long escape complete with multiple games, theme parks, golf and/or other excursions.

Baseball Memories · Spring Training

Spring Training Travels: 2008

This post was written and posted on our family blog last year. I don’t have a whole lot of game details here since at the time we were blogging it was posted on our family blog. We had a great week of baseball (5 games), golf and sightseeing in the land of the Grapefruit League, and we were stoked to be able to make it Dodgertown Vero Beach in its last year.

batting practice

We had an awesome time on our trip to Florida for Spring Training. It was hard to come back to cold, brown Colorado after a week in warm, green Florida! Here’s a synopsis of our trip…

Saturday, March 1~
We arrived in Orlando, and headed to Downtown Disney to have dinner. We had yummy fish ‘n’ chips at an Irish pub and a yummy cookie from the sweets shop (we always used to love those cookies from Downtown Disney CA!). From there we headed to Melbourne, FL where we stayed the night.

Sunday, March 2~

We drove south down Highway 1 (just like in CA!!) to Vero Beach, where we went to our first Dodgers game at Holman Stadium at Dodgertown. It was awesome! We sat on the outfield grass which was perfect for Chiquita to crawl around on the blanket and play with her toys. She felt the grass for the first time and did not like it!! Then we met David’s parents at the campground where we were staying, in nearby Ft. Pierce. There were lots of “snowbirds” there including many from Quebec, and I enjoyed saying “bonjour” to them and little more French here and there.

dodgertown vero beach sign

Monday, March 3~
We went to Dodgers game #2 at Dodgertown. David & his dad “played golf” at our campground- it was 3 holes – sort of between mini golf and regular golf. 🙂

Tuesday, March 4~
Dodgers game # 3, also at Dodgertown! This was a night game; we had great seats and got free pint glasses that were given away in honor of the Dodgers’ 60th anniversary in Vero Beach. We got there plenty early to be able to watch some practice and we got James Loney (1st baseman)’s autograph and manager Joe Torre’s. We also got interviewed by a local tv news reporter about our trip to Dodgertown (we never got to see it though). Before the game that day, David & his dad played golf (lots of water hazards = not very fun game), and my mother-in-law and I took Chiquita swimming at the campground.

Wednesday, March 5~
We drove to Port St. Lucie to see the Dodgers play at the Mets. I got Nomar’s autograph, and David got Tommy Lasorda’s! After the game we packed up the camp and headed up to DisneyWorld, stopping for a delicious southern dinner at Cracker Barrel.

tradition field, mets' spring training
Thursday, March 6~
We spent the day at Epcot which was very fun (despite a little sprinkling of rain) and then came back to our campground, Ft. Wilderness, for a very entertaining dinner show. When we got out of the show, it was pouring rain!

Friday, March 7~
The guys played golf once more- this time they had more fun on a very nice course! Our last baseball game (#5) was a Braves/Tigers game at Disney’s Wide World of Sports, a huge sports complex, that includes the Braves’ stadium, lots of sports fields and the gym where my brother & I both competed for cheer nationals back in the day. Memories! We then headed to a cool area called Disney’s Boardwalk, made to look like an old fashioned Atlantic City- like waterfront area. We ate at the ESPN Club, which is like a smaller, slightly more intimate ESPN Zone- when we first arrived there were some real ESPN people (Orestes Estrada and someone else) doing a broadcast in the restaurant! Then we walked around a little bit and got another yummy Disney cookie!

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Saturday, March 8~
Adios, Florida!

View Our Photo Album From This Trip!

Baseball Memories · Spring Training

Spring Training Travels: 2007

Well, it looks like our March “Would You Rather” decision got made for us by the cold virus. We were hoping to make it to the WBC tonight, but it looks like David is a little too far under the weather. So, instead, I decided we’ll just psych ourselves up on our upcoming Spring Training trip which is this weekend, and in the meantime, reminisce about our past travels to see both the Cactus League and the Grapefruit League.

Two years ago, when I was very pregnant with Chiquita, we headed out to Arizona for a baseball version of the “babymoon.” We went to two games and only stayed one night but had a great time (besides the blown tire on the drive out there).

The Angels have a beautiful training center at the Tempe Diablo Stadium and we drove straight there to catch a game, from our home which was then in Orange County, CA. (We’re technically Dodgers fans but I like to consider the Angels as our American League team). We had awesome seats (for a very reasonable price) and enjoyed a good game against the Padres.

angels' tempe diablo stadium

We stayed in Downtown Phoenix, and walked around the Diamondbacks’ ballpark which we’ve yet to visit (hopefully this year!), and then the next day saw the Royals take on the Cubs at their field which they share with the Rangers in Surprise, AZ. The field is really nice but our “surprise” was the amount of traffic we had to go through to get into it. Again, the seats were good and so was the baseball.

Royals Spring Training

You can view our photo album here and stay tuned for some 2008 Spring Training nostalgia tomorrow.

Baseball Randomness · Spring Training

Manny Link Love

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One of the biggest stories of the off-season has been the saga of Manny and the Dodgers. We know that they finally made a deal, but Manny is one of those guys that is always in the news.

Here are a few recent Manny-Related Links from around the blogosphere for ya.

Spring Training

Would You Rather… (March Baseball Edition)

In high school, some friends and I got our hands on a book called “Would You Rather…” that contained tons of silly scenarios where you were forced to choose between two odd items.  It would ask things like,”Would you rather run a marathon in wooden shoes or ride 200 miles on a bike with no seat?” or “Would you rather be in extreme heat or extreme cold?”  Not exactly life’s greatest conundrums, but these questions made for very good conversations between bored high school boys.

Today I would like to present an early season version of Would You Rather…  Here it is:

Would you rather attend spring training for your favorite team or the World Baseball Classic?

First off, you may be wondering why there is a choice.  Why can’t I just go to both?  Well, the assumption is made here that the average baseball fan is not bursting at the seams with money to spend on tickets for every game within 100 miles.  If money were no object, I’d have Dodgers season tickets and a downtown loft to stay in so I wouldn’t have to drive home after every game.  Anyways, let’s take a look at what each event has to offer.

For some fans spring training signals the start of another uncertain campaign as they wait for the young talent on their favorite team to bring it all together and turn in at least a winning season.  And for the lucky few, spring training serves as a reunion of sorts for last year’s victorious squad.  But regardless of last year’s results, this year’s spring training is always brimming with hope for the season that is about to unfold.  There are new acquisitions to observe and young talent to check out.

While spring training games are not nearly as competitive as the regular season, there is no ballpark in the major leagues that will allow fans the type of access to the players that is achieved at spring training facilities.  Autograph seekers and camera-wielding fans alike are often sent home happy as players are much more open to posing for pictures and signing an autograph or two.

Every three years, a handful of big leaguers from each team is pulled from their respective team and asked to compete for their country in the World Baseball Classic.  The only catch is that the Classic is right in the middle of the spring training schedule.  With representatives from professional leagues around the world, the intensity of this competition has proved to be on the opposite end of the spectrum from spring training games.  I was fortunate to be living in Orange, CA three years ago when the WBC came through Angel Stadium in Anaheim.  My wife an I attended a game between Japan and the USA.  With so many great players on both teams, the game nearly had a playoff atmosphere.

I have attended both events so my answer to the question is anything but a no-brainer.  However, this year I bought Dodgers spring training tickets for games played in Arizona (a five and a half hour drive) when I could buy WBC tickets for games played at Petco Park in San Diego (about an hour from my house).  There is still a chance that I will break down and buy some tickets to the WBC, but for now my baseball bucks will go to spring training.  Being closer to the action during the game and seeing the players up close is a big draw for someone like me sho is used to sitting in the top deck at Dodger Stadium.

Now it’s your turn. Spring Training or a WBC game?