Cut4 Spring Training Road Trip, Day 7: Chrome cars and a little luck o' the Irish
Some of the Cut4 staff has traveled south for spring, taking shelter in beautiful sunny Florida to enjoy the sights, sounds, foods and fans of MLB's Spring Training. As we venture through the many stadia of the Grapefruit League, we'll keep you updated on what it's really like to check out 15 MLB teams, explore the backroads of the Sunshine State and watch a whole lot of baseball. Past recaps: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6.
Today's lineup: Orioles, Tigers
Team visited: Orioles
Ballpark: Ed Smith Stadium
Miles driven: 191 miles
By Matt Monagan
Ed Smith Stadium, home of the O's, was the final stadium stop on my Grapefruit League tour and it was just as beautiful as the first three:
See ya later, Grapefruit League pic.twitter.com/5hZRW4enq2— Matt Monagan (@Mono11) March 17, 2015
Baltimore fans came out in full force and almost willed their team to a comeback (the Twins held on for a 10-9 win). They also came out in full force for the Saint who drove all of the snakes out of Ireland.
Lookin' good, Cal!
And the man of the hour.
Having undergone renovations five years ago, the Sarasota ballpark mixes some classic Florida/O's orange architecture with modern amenities. Their sausages are delicious -- just as they are up at Camden Yards -- and many families from the Maryland-area were in attendance. And if they needed to find their way home, all they had to do was look at this sign just inside the left-field gate.
No place like hOme pic.twitter.com/rVRWCX4vMF— Matt Monagan (@Mono11) March 17, 2015
Hope to see you again next spring.
Team Visited: Tigers
Ballpark: Joker Marchant Stadium
Miles Driven: 54.7
After a delayed start to my Spring Training escapades, I made my first drive from Clearwater to Lakeland on Tuesday to take in the Nationals-Tigers game. Along the way, I passed a sign for DINOSAUR WORLD (nearly deviating from my plan of attending a ballgame to frolic with a T-Rex), and Plant City, which I assumed would look like the Stephen King short from Creepshow.
Once I arrived in the town, I fell in love. The sun was shining -- or it could have just been the glare off of Alfredo Simon's car:
Alfredo Simon's car should be parked in the Louvre. pic.twitter.com/SoJej4TuW9- Michael Clair (@clairbearattack) March 17, 2015
Though I heard a rumor of the promised land where Yoenis Cespedes' Lambo and one of Justin Verlander's classic cars would be parked, my search came up empty. Perhaps only those who are pure of heart or who have sipped from a magical fountain can seem them.
Driving through the town to the field, you could sense that this was a team that had been in the city for generations, a neon sign at the nearby dentist's office rotating between office information and "Go Tigers!"
It's a particular quirk of Florida Spring Training -- while Arizona is certainly more convenient for teams and fans with the tight cluster of teams, their proximity also prevents such passionate secondary fan bases to burst forth.
Once in the stadium, I was on shirsey alert. I saw a Whitaker, Lamont, and Inge among the Verlanders and Cabreras:
Hedwick and the Angry Inge. pic.twitter.com/B3RwEDUhW8- Michael Clair (@clairbearattack) March 17, 2015
But my heart thrilled when I saw two men wearing Dean Palmer and Bobby Higginson St. Patrick's Day jerseys sitting next to each other. The gentleman in the Palmer jersey told me that "most people don't even know who Palmer is anymore." If we don't remember our third-base past, we are doomed to repeat it, or something.
It shouldn't be surprising that I found this pot of jersey gold, though. After all, there was a leprechaun bat boy in attendance.