I can't wait until I'm retired in years from now and (hopefully) I'd be able to go down to Florida for a month and go to a bunch of Mets ST games. Seems like something that would really be enjoyable.
It is enjoyable, but some things about it can drive the baseball purist nuts.
Frinstance, established major leaguers are not required to travel to away games. I found this out few years ago. Teams are required to have only so many established platers travel, so senior guys usually do not make the trip.
You rarely see established players for more than one or two ABs.
Teams on the west coast of Florida do not travel to the east of Florida. A home team winds up playing the same teams several times. The Braves at Disney World are in the middle of the state and get teams from both coasts. The Astros used to be in Kissimmee, also in the middle of the state, but they may have moved. The Tigers are close to the middle of the state and east coast teams may go there. That's as close as the Mets get to Tampa where I am. Last year, under some special arrangement, they came to Tampa to play the Stinkees at the end of ST. Before that, I cannot remember the last time they were there.
The players supposedly like the Arizona ST sites better because they are all close together and there is far less travel. Weather is better there. Much less humid and less rain than Florida.
On the plus side…it is a great way to see the rookies. I got a good look at Beato at one game and was fairly impressed with him. I thought he would have done better. This year I will be looking for d'Arnaud.
You get to see the players in a different light. One guy that really impressed me as a personable guy was Jeff Francoeur. He could not have been nicer. Ozzie Smith also impressed me at a game in St Petersburg several years ago. Scott Hairston also seemed like a nice guy. They definitely act different in ST. If you ever go, get there early and hang around the fence line. They seem like real people.
The ballparks…there are no bad seats and things are far more informal and easygoing. I've been to about eight or nine of them and I like the older ones better. They are less structured. They seem to have local groups (a lot of retirees) running the concession stands, BBQs, vendors etc. and it kind of adds to the experience. My favorite is Marchant Stadium in Lakeland and the one in Bradenton…the only professional ball park in the US without lights. Disney World and Steinbrenner Field are both nicer, but not as comfortable. I dunno…can't explain it. Steinbrenner Field, reportedly, does not allow fans to go down to the field level before the game unless you have a ticket for that area. This seem to take away from the ST experience…but that's the corporate image Stinkees. I also wasn't overly impressed with the field at Port St Lucie. I think they could have done better.
An article in the papers last year rated the Phillies ballpark in Clearwater as the best ST site. Can't comment on that as I cannot bring myself to go to see the Phillies. I did like their old stadium that they used before they started ragging on the Mets.
If you ever get the chance to go, don't pass it up…no matter what the park and whoever is playing. I look forward to a few games every year.
Yeah, I never expected it to be like an in season ML game, but something that I could just sit back and enojy baseball. Not have to worry about the score, or if Terry is going to leave in Edgin against a right handed batter, or the fact that the second base umpire is missing every call. Just good, fun baseball.
Spring Training baseball is just a lot of fun. You just have to remember you can't trust what you're seeing. The game is much slower than it will be up north in April, and different players respond in different ways to the slower game.
Some get flatfooted and have trouble getting their adrenaline going and turn in lackluster performances. Others look like superstars in the slower game. You have no idea what either group is going to look like once it counts.