Sunday, March 23, 2008
Tour De Spring Training: Viera And The Nationals
I took some time to visit the East Coast of Forida and captured some spring training baseball and some pretty outdoors environmental action.
The Washington Nationals, which used to be the Montreal Expos, train in a suburban-style development called Viera outside of Melbourne right off an I-95 interchange. It was built originally for the Florida Marlins in the middle of a cow pasture, but the Marlins moved to Jupiter (the city not the planet) and the Expos moved from West Palm Beach to replace the Marlins in Viera. Now, there are a lot of county government buildings and big-box development and even a new high school on the grasses where the cows use to roam near the spring stadium.
The stadium is a lot like the generic spring training ballparks in Jupiter (Marlins and Cardinals) and Port St. Lucie (Mets) that are off I-95 and not much different from driving to a big sea of asphalt outside a mall in Florida.
It's nothing like the best three places to watch Florida spring training in my book:
1. Dodgertown in Vero Beach
2. Phillies' stadium in Clearwater.
3. Indians' ballpark in Winter Haven.
But it's still spring training -- which means a relaxed atmosphere to watch real, live Major-Leaguers up close.
For you Marlins fans out there, that's Mark Kotsay of the Braves right before he rocketed a ball over the centerfielder's head. I recall Kotsay was a young guy with the Marlins a decade ago before he played with the Oakland A's.
Hey, don't leave early.
Oh Stan, where are thou?
Halfway in the middle of the game, fans are gathering along the Braves path to their bus to get into position for autographs.
I'm guessing the Nats mascot is an eagle.
When I saw this fella, I began channeling Latin and uttered, Americanas Springtrainingus
Ah, spring training -- it's not about the baseball.
Life in the bullpen during spring training games -- a catcher checks his nails, a pitcher stretches.
It was a home game for the Washington Nationals, but it seemed like the Braves fans constituted half the crowd.
I had left the game and saw this guy pedaling along the road outside the stadium.