Yesterday was our annual trip to the best ballpark for Spring Training: Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Florida. The Baltimore Orioles had held their Spring Training games their since 2011, after signing a 30-year agreement to train at the stadium.
There are more pictures to come, but a preview is below.
Yesterday, we visited the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, Spring Training home of the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros. The Nats beat the Mets 7-4 with Max Scherzer pitching 5 innings, striking out 9 and allowing 1 run. It was a good game, but the ballpark itself was a bit of a letdown. I’ll write a more detailed review and post better pics later, but for now I’ll just give you a preview. Check out my pictures below.
And so the journey begins – Spring Training here we come! We successfully navigated the parking lot, security, and the line at Starbucks and are waiting impatiently at our gate. We got super cheap flights to Ft. Lauderdale and we have our tickets in hand. The only drawback so far is the swarms of spring breakers at the airport. But even that can’t keep us from our four top teams.
On deck tonight: Mets and the Nats. Tomorrow: Yankees at Orioles. My BBFF (best baseball friend forever) was born in New York. He can’t help it. I, on the other hand, have better taste.
I’ve alluded before to the tension between an Orioles fan and all things New York Yankees. But, I must admit, I’m softening in my old age. I mean, after watching some of the current Yankees grow up in the minors playing against my beloved Baysox, I’ve grown somewhat fond of the Baby Yankees. We’ve seen Austin Romine, Aaron Judge, and Gary Sanchez. And now they have Giancarlo. And I do love Tanaka. They are no longer the despised Yankees of my youth. Of course, they did just let go of Danny Espinosa, so they’ll have to make up for that.
So, this week I’ll be sharing some pictures of my adventures in Spring Training.
As Spring Training games get underway, here are some stats from the Orioles on the economic impact of the Orioles on Sarasota, Florida:
Yesterday was like Christmas with MLB giving us the gift of the full Spring Training schedule. I’m filling out my calendar already …
Psssst. Wanna hear a secret? This is probably the greatest Major League secret of all time: during Spring Training you can go watch Baltimore Orioles minor league spring training games at the Buck O’Neil Baseball Complex at Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota, FL. You can get as close as a Little League game and watch the up-and-coming Orioles perfect their skills. And you don’t even need a ticket. It’s the coolest thing EVER!
I was a little nervous at first. There wasn’t anything on the Orioles’ website or other Spring Training websites about the details of minor league camp. After all, for at least the last couple years, there has been information on spring training for the O’s minor league players on various websites. So I wondered why nothing was published this year. Nonetheless, we approached tentatively, just as players began leaving the facility’s building. Not wishing to disturb them, we slowed our pace. After the first group of players passed us, we walked up to the stands, not much larger than your typical local baseball field’s seating area, and took our places. Soon we began seeing familiar names and faces: Henry Urrutia, Adrian Marin, Drew Dosch, and Glynn Davis – all Bowie Baysox players.
Zach and Caleb after Zach’s 1-inning outing.
But then I noticed two more familiar players: Caleb Joseph and Zach Britton. Britton was scheduled to get some work in at minor league camp the day we went. We got to see Zach Britton in action, close-up, at minor league camp! This was one of the best spring training experiences I’ve ever had! (Oh, by the way, Zach threw 12 pitches and struck out the side.)
We got to see our favorite minor leaguers at a game that felt like it was just for us. There were only a few other fans, a bunch of minor leaguers, and us. Of course, there were also no announcements, no scoreboard, and no other distractions. Just simply baseball – and totally awesome!
MLB has been posting great images of Spring Training this week – the images below let us compare Spring Training now to Spring Training then.