The annual rite of baseball, hot dogs and golf in Arizona and Florida
With temperatures all week in the mid 70s in the Houston area, it’s pretty easy to think about two of my favorite things: baseball and golf. This week, catchers and pitchers reported to spring training sites in Arizona and Florida. That will be followed by full squads next week. This is the annual ritual that lets us know all is right in the world.
A couple of years ago, I got to see the A’s spring opener at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. I can’t even tell you who won the game, or who they played, but I remember the experience of being there stimulating all five senses. There was the smell of hot dogs, roasted peanuts, beer, suntan lotion and freshly cut grass. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the fans dressed the part. The green grass field was perfectly manicured, just as the golf courses are in the Scottsdale area, and the chalk lines were perfectly straight. Sitting in the bleachers behind home plate, we could feel the warmth of the sun, which bordered on uncomfortable, so we eventually sought retreat in a shaded area. And then, there was that magical phrase, “play ball,” followed by the sound of the ball pounding the catcher’s mitt, the inevitable crack of the bat, and the crowd cheering the first hit.
Some would say that was a meaningless game, and it is in the standings, but it was far from meaningless for those of us who love baseball. The only thing that could make it better was that we got to play golf the day before. Honestly, it’s hard to beat a spring training baseball/golf vacation.
Baseball golfers (I just coined that phrase) have two great choices this time of year: Florida or Arizona. My colleague, Brandon Tucker, just wrote a piece on golf and the Grapefruit League in Florida, and we also just posted my story on Cactus League baseball and golf in Arizona. Basically, the majors are split right down the middle between both states. The main difference is that spring training in Florida is spread throughout the state, while everything in Arizona is within the Phoenix area now. Either way, it’s a good time.
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The Masters and MLB Opening Day, just a few days apart .... what sheer bliss!
Unless, of course, like me, you root for the Mets ... or, for that matter, the Astros!