Friday, February 15, 2008

The Drugged-up Boys Of Summer Are Back

Major League Baseball isn't played during the day when the sun is out the majority of the time. And the stadiums are big and the tickets for the fancy seats are really expensive and it's hard to emotionally get attached to players who are muscled up on designer drugs.

But here in the Tampa Bay area, we have six weeks of glorious spring training baseball when it's still awfully cold out there in most of the rest of the country.

It's when the big teams from up North come to the area -- such as the Yankees in Tampa and Phillies in Clearwater and the Blue Jays in Dunedin and the Tigers in Lakeland and the Pirates in Bradenton.

And the games are mostly played when the sun is way above the horizon. And the spring stadiums are small and quaint and the tickets to get into the games are not devastating to your wallet.

Which is why Bicycle Stories is proud to present its 2008 Tour de Spring Training. I'll be pedaling to spring baseball sites around the Tampa Bay area and offering you reports you won't see in the papers.

First stop: Yankeeville at Legends/Steinbrenner Field off North Dale Mabry in Tampa.

On the first day of spring training, you park at Legends/Steinbrenner Field for free, stroll right into the big concrete stadium bowl for free and watch Hideki Matsui take his cuts under a cloudless blue sky in the middle of February for free and remember when you were a little kid and watching baseball for the first time.

Everybody is a Jaba Chamberlain fan at Legends/Steinbrenner Field.

One word for you Mr. Securityman: Coppertone.

Yankees pitchers are getting in great shape by jogging on a practice field.

You're looking at the hard-working media in action. It's a tough job to bathe in the Florida sunshine and write stories about how Jorge Posada is working on his throws to second base.

Here are the new rightfield bleachers. More seats, more cash. By the way, at Yankee Stadium, the hard-core fans who sit in the rightfield bleachers are known as the "Bleacher Creatures" and they're famous for their Yankees lineup roll call when Yanks players in the field acknowledge the Creatures' chants of their names.

No comments: