Spring Training

I had the opportunity to go to Port St. Lucie, Florida last week. In case you didn't know, it's the Spring Training home of the New York Mets. As big a baseball fan that I am, it's really hard to believe that I've never been to a Spring Training.

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Naturally, I wanted to go to as many games that I could. Fortunately for my wallet, the Mets only had two games scheduled that week at their stadium, Digital Domain Park. One game was against the St. Louis Cardinals (which made my travel buddy Shane happy, since he's a Cards fan), the other against the  New York Yankees of the National League, the Miami Marlins. The Marlins handed out blank checks to players to field a team for their new stadium, which they could do without paying a payroll "luxury tax", because of the new park. Being the 50th anniversary of the Mets becoming a major league franchise, scheduled the Cardinals as their first game, just as they had done in 1962 (thanks to the New York Times for that tidbit).

The games themselves were rather fun. We got to see lots of prospects that both teams put in to gauge their ability to play on the major league level. On the whole, I'd say the Mets in about three years will be a force to be reckoned with; for now, I'll just be happy if they finish at .500 (81-81).

After the game, we went to try to get some player autographs. Shane was much more successful than I was. He got Kyle McClellan's signature on a ball.The Mets disappeared into their clubhouse, and many of the guys who'd been in the game had showered and left the stadium as they were taken out of the game.

I did, however spot former Mets pitcher, and current team television broadcaster, Ron Darling. I asked if I could have my picture taken with him. He was gracious about it, but he wanted it to not take very long, as I'm sure he wanted to get back to his hotel and unwind. It doesn't tarnish the moment for me; he still took the time to do what he really didn't have to do, and I'm cool with that.

As for next year (yes, I'm planning on going back), I'm going to do a bit more research on how I can manage to get some player autographs, and remember to buy tickets at the stadium on game day. Why? We got much better seats buying the tickets in person. The seats we got for the Marlins game were first row behind home plate, and I didn't have to pay any of the fees that I did when I bought the tickets for the Cardinals game online.