Pickens' Perspective: Go to MLB spring training, and cross it off your bucket list
Published 2:00 pm, Thursday, March 31, 2011
Every sports fan has a "bucket list."
Most of them have your quintessential huge sporting events on it too: World Series game; Super Bowl; NCAA Final Four; They are also the subject of debate depending on what kind of fan you are.
And if you're a baseball fan, spring training should be on the list.
It doesn't matter who you go with. Well, OK, it does. But, going to spring training games, especially if you're from the northeast, is awesome.
My dad and I have gone seven of the last 10 years, including this year. We've been fortunate to do this, but every year in Novemeber when the weather gets cold, we start talking about "the trip to Florida," and all seems right with the world.
This year we deviated from the script, going to Arizona. The only real difference was the length of the flight and time zone change. It was warm and sunny and there were Major League Baseball players playing games.
I think we've developed the perfect formula to get spring training right. If you buy your spring tickets the instant they go on sale, you can end up sitting within five rows behind home plate like we did for three games on this trip.
More InformationFact box
I'll give fair warning on this, though. The cat is out of the bag with spring training. It isn't a cute little trip to take anymore. It takes planning, and some money set aside, especially for hotels and incidentals.
But it is so worth it.
Where else can you watch Andruw Jones play shortstop, as we did on our first trip in 2002? Where else can you sit amongst scouts clocking Clayton Kershaw's 94-mile-per-hour fastball and 69-mile-per-hour curve ball with radar guns, which happened this year?
Where else can you sit next to Ken Griffey Sr., as I did in 2004? Or catch a foul ball (2006)? Or watch Pedro Martinez follow Curt Schilling in a game (2004)? Or get within 10 feet of Reggie Jackson, Al Kaline, Bob Feller, Yogi Berra, Lou Brock, and other Hall of Famers, who are in uniform as "instructors?"
Where else do you get to see up and coming stars, before they are stars? Ryan Howard, Robinson Cano and Kevin Youkilis were three of the guys we noticed on the early trips. This year's young batch of stars will likely be Starlin Castro of the Cubs, or Gerardo Parra of the Diamondbacks.
Whether you have buddies who would be game for the getaway-- Florida is a lot cheaper than Arizona, and has more local teams-- or a trip with your dad or family, there is fun in store, bonds formed and memories created at spring training.
Plus, it'll cross something off your bucket list.