Friday, March 7, 2008

Spring Training

I've always felt that there was something a bit magical about Fenway Park. If you've seen Breakfast at Tiffany's, maybe you understand the idea that there are places in the world where nothing can be wrong; or at least places that can make you feel that way. I've just always found Fenway to be one of those places. When I was a kid, the place seemed so huge, but all my favorite sports stars from TV were right there, up close and personal - I guess baseball parks generally are this kind of place, especially to kids.

But even today, a few years ago was the first time I had been at Fenway in years - it must have been 2003 or 2004 - before they won the series in '04, anyway. And isn't it interesting how there are certain events around which there will always be a "before" and an "after"? The 2004 series win is one of those times. Anyway, when I finally went back, and Yawkey Way had been all opened up (or closed off, as it were), for pre-game festivities, with Rem-Dog doing the pre-game show right out there, and the smell of sausage and peppers, and everyone wearing their Sox gear - it was like magic to me. I was immediately aglow with happiness, and the $7.50 a beer price tag wasn't even such a bad thing. Ever since that day, I have busted my ass to get tickets for as many games as I possibly could, and to spend as much time in that park as I possibly could, whatever the cost. And everytime I go, I have that same happy, glowing feeling, just by being there. Nothing can be wrong when you're at Fenway.

I recently discovered a whole new kind of magic, in the form of Red Sox Spring Training in Ft. Myers, Florida. Last weekend, we flew down on Friday morning, went to three games in three days, and flew home on Monday. We didn't get close enough for autographs or meet any players or anything, but just being there was so great. On Friday, as soon as we picked up our car, we went straight to City of Palms Park, because the two trophies were in town and on display for pictures, so we got pictures with the trophies. That was totally unexpected and awesome. Then we were able to go on a tour of the park, which let us walk on the field and sit in the dugout and everything. When we went down there, we had tickets for Friday night and Saturday afternoon games against the Twins at their stadium, so we were just glad to get to see City of Palms at all. But the ticket fairy wa sitting in front of us at Saturday's game, and she sold us her tickets for Sunday's game at home. So we also got to go see the Sox play at home, which was a surprise. City of Palms on game day is just as great as Fenway. And what makes it so neat is that so many of the fans that are there have flown in from all over the country, like they're on a little pilgrimage to Spring Training - for so many of us, a little respite from the long, cold, baseball-free winter.

Now we're back home in the cold, waiting for the proper season to start in a few more weeks. We get to change the clocks next weekend, so that will at least make the time more enjoyable, with a little more daylight and everything. Anyway, here's some of the pictures from our weekend getaway: