Spring Training: Fun in the Sun? Or Just a Hole in Your Pocket?

cactus_st_logo

MLB.com

Well, it’s that time of year again.  That time of year where we get to stay in Cleveland and sit in the snow, literally, as we watch the Cleveland Indians equipment bus drive off into the sunset (again, literally)  towards the sunny region of Goodyear, Arizona.  It’s a bittersweet feeling as we know the season will be starting soon, but it pains us all to sit here and watch as they get to play in the sunny desert, and we, well, don’t.  However, there is a way to escape all of this snow here in the big CLE, and there is a way to follow the bus all the way to its destination to watch your favorite players sit on the bench and watch the rookies play, but the question is…is it really worth it?

To me the answer is yes, even with some bumps that I will explain.

Ever since I was little kid, I always dreamed of not only playing in the MLB, but also going to the land of the sun to play in spring training.  In fact, sometimes on hot days playing ball as a kid I would pretend that I was doing just that, and that I was trying out for the current Cleveland Indians team…adorable right?  Anyway, as I said, it has always been something that I have wanted to see and do, it’s something that really shows not just how much of a fan you are of the team, but of the game itself.  It’s almost like a right of passage into the true “fandom” that exists.  Ironically, last summer I actually was IN Arizona and drove right by all of the stadiums where teams would play, the only bad part was that it wasn’t during spring training.  I would see “Home of the ____ Spring Training!” Every time I saw one of these I would slow down and just admire what I was looking at.  It was a place where past greats have started and where future greats would be starting right in front of my eyes.  I was kind of like one of those kids looking at a brand new video game, wanting to just sit there and play for hours.

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cactusleague.com

Sadly, as I was looking for ways to actually make my dream come true, I was quickly shot down by what the “business” side of the game has done to it.  Believe it or not, the actual tickets themselves aren’t the problem.  Tickets range anywhere from $15-$50.  Really not that bad for a game in a smaller stadium with players that might not even ever make the team.  When I saw that I finally thought that I would be going to my first spring training game!!…then I saw the other components.  Flights to Phoenix were nearly triple, and a good hotel couldn’t be found for less than an arm and a leg (around $200 a night).  Right…RIGHT?!  To be that close to finally achieving something I’ve wanted for so long, only to have it collapse in front of me hurt the most.

It truly saddens me that something this cool and this awesome could be made so unaffordable to the heart of the people who watch the game in the first place, the people who CAN’T afford all the luxuries.  Oddly enough, the main problem wasn’t even the MLB!  It was everything else that thought it would be cool to suck the life, and money, out of the people who made it all the way out to Goodyear.  Unfortunately, that’s the way of the world now though, you see something, and try to make as much money off of it as possible!  Maybe some day this will change, but until then, I guess I’ll just keep saving so I can pay my dues…pun intended.

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wikipedia.org

However, even with all of the annoyances about how business have taken advantage of the very people that support them, let’s put that aside.  It still is SPRING TRAINING.  To some, that’s no big deal, but to me that’s an experience that is almost like the SuperBowl.  It’s a side of the game and a side of the players that you have never seen before!  You can watch the game and all, but still be so close and so wrapped up into it that you almost feel like you’re the coach making the roster!  If you love the game and the Tribe, then there is no doubt in my mind that this is a one of a kind experience for you.  Especially if you love warm weather and palm trees!  And sand…lots of sand.

Long story short, I still believe that it is worth it, and it is worth the extra overtime it will take to get there, unless you live nearby.  Baseball is an amazing sport and something that is good any time of the year.  That mixed with the cool combination of seeing players a lot closer than usual, and in a more relaxed setting makes it even cooler.  So if you’re really into the game of baseball and want to see where it all begins each year, then I recommend you keep pushing ahead, save up those frequent flier miles, and keep dreaming about the day you will step off in Goodyear, Arizona for your first Tribe Spring Training game!  In the end, it’ll all be worth it.

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Was ’95 really the golden year of Indians Baseball?

BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed

I was just surfing around the interwebs today and came across something that hit me right in the nostalgia, and it was this article.  “13 Reasons the ’95 Indians Were the Greatest Team Ever.”

You can find it here.

Pretty bold right? RIGHT?  I mean, they were some of the coolest players to ever play the game, and we all new something was going to happen whenever Thome stood at the plate, but to call them the GREATEST?  Well, I actually agree, call me biased but still.

Okay I get it, we didn’t win the world Series in ’95….or in ’97…but that’s not always the thing that matters most to me.  To me, the most important thing is to have a team that inspires, and a team that is just plain fun to watch, which we all now the ’95 team was.  We had Lofton stealing every base he could get a foot on and arguably one of the greatest pitching cores in the modern era.  So why WOULDN’T you call them the greatest?  I know I know, we “blew it” and “couldn’t finish it off,” but neither could a lot of other amazing teams.  Juxtaposing to the NFL, Payton Manning, one of the greatest QB’s to ever play the game has one ring…ONE.  So don’t count that against them.

I’ll admit that I was pretty young when this team was around, though I will keep that hidden to save my age.  However, even though they left us on the doorstep in the end, they were probably THE MOST fun team to watch that entire decade.  From the year we were #1 in all offensive stats to the record book claiming 12 run comeback against Seattle, this team was just plain awesome.  They were the guys the inspired me to play and the ones that I will forever think of as my baseball idols.  Their popularity can be proven just by the fact that they had a sold out line in the recent tribe fest and attracted a MAJOR crowd when giving their panel before their autograph session, so even though they didn’t come through, they are still the greatest.

BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed

This led to me think about our team now.  Honestly, that last playoff loss hurt, and it hurt A LOT, and while I don’t agree with everything they did that day like putting in Salazar, it still was amazing just to have playoff  ball back here.  Long story short, we didn’t win (spoiler alert), but we did bring some of that magic back and I began to get those amazing feelings that the ’95 team brought us.

So in closing I want  you to think about one thing:  First off I want  you to know that the ’95 Indians WERE the greatest team to play that decade, and I honestly don’t think many people even outside the city will deny that.  Second, I want you to think about that magic, and if it has returned with the youngsters (and Giambi) of today’s team.  To me, it has, and I think that some day, maybe years down the road, we will be having this same conversation with the ’13 team of old, even if that pennant is ever illusive.

An Introduction to Cleveland Indians BasePaul Blog

indexI have always liked writing, though I never really thought I was any good at it until I just kept doing it over and over.  Ironically, I still don’t like to read all that much unless it pertains to either really weird things like zombies or communication theories.  Odd right?  Anyways, there has always been one thing that I particularly enjoy, and that is the game of baseball, namely Cleveland Indians baseball.  So much so that I ACTUALLY changed my name to basePAUL.  Well, not quite, but that would be pretty cool if I could.

Ironically, being all into the baseball scene being a player for over 10 years and always following the sports since I was a kid, I still never really got into the “stats” portion of the game.  Probably because, let’s be honest, I really wasn’t that great of a ball player, though I tried.  This led me to NEVER want to look at my own stats, let alone anyone elses since I knew they were going to be so much better than mine, so I just avoided them.  This actually led me to a pretty cool thing, it let just enjoy the game itself, not only on my level, but on the MLB level as well.  I didn’t care about how many homers a guy had, or what his slug percent was. I loved the back story, the underdog, and the big comeback.

The cool thing about baseball is that each game is a new story, a new chapter, and a new beginning.  Since the season is SOOOO long (not complaining) with 162 regular season games, it’s almost impossible to be “playoff bound” a month or two in, so unlike every other sport, there is always the sense of drama.  A game can go anyway at any time, and since you play a series with a team, there is no guaranteed outcome.  One game can be a blowout for the home team, the next a blowout loss, and finally a walk off win.  Every day and every game is a new story that can lead to something amazing and fun, and if the game doesn’t go your way, there is always tomorrow.c

The Indians are especially good at this, as you know from their up and down years over the past 30 seasons.  While it seems like we might have a “curse,” I really don’t think this is so.  We have something that’s special.  We don’t have a team that is ALWAYS bad (sorry Astros), and we don’t have one that’s ALWAYS good (I hate you Yankees).  We are right in the sweet spot that makes every game a great story, and one that I think we should all share with the world.

So this blog is just that.  A blog about the life, the memories, and fun, and the excitement of the Cleveland Indians.  Join me, every day is a new ride, so let’s hop on.

P.S.  7 days until P/C report!