Spring has sprung!

February 17, 2009 at 10:46 pm | Posted in Baseball, Rays | 10 Comments

All is right with the world again, now that spring training has begun across Major League Baseball.  It’s hard to believe that it’s that time of year already.  Finally, baseball fans can focus on their favorite players, their favorite teams, and the upcoming 2009 season instead of worrying about what team will sign Manny Ramirez and why A-Rod used steroids six years ago.  OK, so the media will keep talking about Manny and A-Rod, but at least it’s now easier for fans to move past those things and turn their attention to what’s happening on the field.

It’s been great for me over the last few days to read the many new articles in the St. Petersburg Times and the Tampa Tribune about the Rays players reporting to spring training, and the optimism with which they all speak about the new season.  The first pictures of Pat Burrell in Rays colors have come out, including this one of Burrell and Evan Longoria:

Photo credit: St. Pete Times

Photo credit: St. Pete Times

We’re only a little more than a week away from the Rays first spring training game, against Cincinnati on February 25.  And we’re only 48 days away fom Opening Day!  It’s going to be awesome to watch the Rays this year as the defending American League champions.  I can tell that they’re even more confident after their experiences last year, and I think that they’ll be an even better team with the additions of Pat Burrell, Matt Joyce, Joe Nelson, and others.  We’ll also get to see David Price in the starting rotation all year, B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford fully healthy, and Evan Longoria take his game to a whole new level.  I wonder if he can beat out A-Rod as the starting third baseman on the A.L. All Star team now that A-Rod is more unpopular than ever.  Anyway, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Rays finish with even more than the 97 wins that they had last year.  The A.L. East race is going to be amazing this year, and it’s very possible that the Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees will be the best three teams in all of baseball.

One of the things that has kept me busy over the last few days, and one of the reasons why I haven’t posted since Saturday, is the planning of a trip to Florida that my wife and I will be taking in March.  It works out great for us – she will have a few weeks off from work, and we’re both eager to get away from the daily grind and spend some time in the warm sun.  And most importantly, we’ll get to see some spring training games!  I’ve never been to a spring training game, so I’m really looking forward to it.  This will be the Rays first season in their new facility in Port Charlotte, which is about 90 minutes south of the Tampa Bay area.  I’ll be excited to see my favorite players in action up close, and hopefully I’ll have a chance to get some autographs and photos with the players.  You can be sure that I’ll be sharing my experiences with you on the blog.

I’m planning to go to the game against the Orioles on Saturday, March 21 in Fort Lauderdale, and the game against the Yankees on Sunday, March 22 in Port Charlotte.  I’m hoping to meet up with Brian from 30-year old Cardboard, and Mario from Wax Heaven in Fort Lauderdale.  If any other bloggers or readers are from Florida or will be in Florida during that time, let me know if you’d like to meet up at one of the games.  After the game in Port Charlotte, we’ll be driving to the Orlando area to spend the week in Disney World.  We went to Disney during the summer of 2005 and had a great time, and my wife has been wanting to go back for a while.  I got a good deal on staying at the Coronado Springs resort on the Disney property.  I’ve never stayed at one of the Disney resorts, so it should be interesting.  I might be able to sneak in a Braves spring training game at the Disney Wide World of Sports complex sometime that week too.

If anyone has tips about the best times to get autographs and photos during spring training, or any tips on things to do or see at Disney, I’d love to hear it.  It feels great to know that baseball is back, and I have a fun trip to look forward to soon…

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10 Comments »

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  1. Have fun at Disney! We’re taking Isaac and his sister in June with the buy 4 nights, get 3 nights free special at the Coronado Springs too! Need to take notes on what to do / not do for us!

  2. Yeah I’d love to hear any Spring Training tips as well. This will be my first year going, although we’re headed to AZ.

  3. I’m looking forward to your trip next month. I’m going to find some stuff about where and how to meet players from the traveling team at FTL Stadium. Something tells me that the stadium will have a lot more visitors this year when the Rays are in town comared to last spring.

  4. Have Fun Dave! I cant wait fot the Mets Rays Matchup later this year!

  5. Great blog–I’m an intern with the Twins Spring Training and their minor league single A team, the Ft. Myers Miracle. Have a great time at the games, it’s awesome to see them up close! take a look @ my blog sometime for some Spring Training insider info!

  6. Dave – here is what I have found out about Ft. Lauderdale Stadium:

    1 – the home team has their own parking lot alongside the stadium itself. It is gated, with 1 ‘security’ officer. There are several large holes in the fence where players may go to visit with the fans. I have seen this lot in the past and it’s very tiny. I doubt that a roster with 40+ players and coaches can get all of their cars in their. Unless they’re carpooling, they are parking in other areas as well.

    2 – the visiting teams do not have their own private lots. There are several smaller lots around the stadium for people to park. Hopefully once the games have started we’ll be able to find out if the guys travel together on a bus of if they drive their own vehicles. I’ll also keep an eye on some of the other ‘autograph sites’ to see who reports success in meeting visiting team players in FTL. I’ll follow up with them so you have the best possible chance of seeing a few Rays before or after the game.

    More to come later…

  7. Natalie – I’d be interested in checking out the blog as well – what’s the web address??

  8. Rays vs O’s on the 21st? I might have to drive over to Ft Lauderdale for that one!

  9. natalieplatt.wordpress.com

  10. My wife and I went to Disney world for our honeymoon. It was awesome! The biggest tip I can give is ALWAYS utilize the “Fast-pass”! you take your park ticket, put it in a machine at almost any ride, and you get a ticket that says “come back between these times” and lets you take a shorter line. This saved us a LOT of time on awesome rides like Rockin rollercoaster and expedition everest (which turned out to be our 2 favorite rides). Another tip is don’t under estimate Animal Kingdom, its really an awesome park, with awesome food (Tusker house in particular).


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