Friday, March 4, 2011

The 1st TV baseball of the spring

Yesterday, for the firstt time this spring, I got to watch a baseball game, and enjoy it.

The Detroit Tigers, my favorite team, played the Atlanta Braves, at the Braves spring home, at Disney's Wide World of Sports, in Orlando.

The announcers, Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser, and Bobby Valentine, are the new Sunday night announcing team for ESPN.

They did a great job, as did their sideline guy, Buster Olney.

There have been games on the MLB Network, but until yesterday, I just watched those games in passing.

I've never had the pleasure of watching a game there, but every time i see a game on TV, or talk to someone who's been there,  the complex is raved about by everyone.

I'm sure my favorite player, Tigers outfielder Brennan Boesch, was giving the park high raves after yesterday's game, after the slugging outfielder hit a monstrous shot to right field in the 2rd inning for his 1st HR of the spring.

I must admit, I've been very slow to spring baseball this season.

My wife and I have moved recently, and my health has not been the best, but yesterday's game on ESPN has jump started my baseball clock this year, and I hope to pay closer attention the rest of the spring.

I like big league spring training, it is a great thing for baseball fans.

No other sport has what baseball has in spring training. 

Fans of every big league club make plans to take time off in March to travel and see their favorite club play baseball in the warmth of the Florida and Arizona sunshine.

Hope, as the old saying goes, "springs eternal."

Every fan, even the lovable south siders of Chicago, believe that this will be the year the team they have followed as a young boy or girl will win the World Series.

I as lucky as a young baseball fan, the Tigers were very good in the late 1960s and early 1970s, winning the World Series in '68, and the A.L. East in '72.

Some fans, like the youngsters following the Pirates, aren't as fortunate.

Their Bucs haven't had a team play meaningful baseball since Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla left them after the 1992 season.

But those young fans will be right there this spring, cheering on the Pirates, watching those young players run out ground balls hard, diving after line drives in the gaps, and raring back for a little extra on their fastball, hoping to impress the manager and coaches, trying to get to the big leagues.

I hope to get to a spring game, or maybe two, this year, and I'd love to get to Lakeland, where the Tigers play baseball.
It's the 75th Anniversary of the Tigers playing their spring baseball in the city of Lakeland, the longest such relationship of any big league club and a city.

I also will try and get down to Viera, Florida, about 2 1/2 hours down the road from my home here in Jacksonville.

The Tigers will be there later this month to play the young Washington Nationals, and hey, maybe I'll get to see a good game, it's not scheduled to be a split squad game, so players from both teams should be of the big league variety, getting ready for the opening of the regular season on March 31st.

If you can get to a spring game, go, enjoy.

Sit in the sunshine, bask in the glory of your youth, of the sandlots, of those Little League games, of those games of catch in the back yard with your Dad, or your brothers, or your friends.

It's spring time, and that means the great American Pastime, baseball, is here once again.

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