The stadium-by-stadium, cross-country road trip is great in theory – cheer the Sox, boo the Yanks (or vice-versa) then make fun of the last-place Cubs – but it takes time, planning, and a lot of gasoline. Save yourself the 3,000-mile drive and head to Spring Training instead. You'll be scarfing hot dogs, munching peanuts, throwing back beers, and watching team after team in a series of intimate stadiums. And you'll do it all in one long weekend.
A flight to Tampa (home to Steinbrenner Field and the Yankees) from LaGuardia will run you about $400, and once you're there, it's fewer than 100 miles to the camps of eight other teams, including the Tigers, Phillies, Blue Jays, Orioles, and Pirates. If you can get yourself to Phoenix, it's even easier: none of the 15 teams at 10 sites are more than 65 minutes apart.
The games played in Florida and Arizona don't count, but the memories are real. Here's how to get the most out of your early March trip.
Drink With the Players
The players are on an early schedule throughout spring training. Most report to their facility for a workout or breakfast around 7:30. If they're not scheduled to play that day, they're out the door by 2 p.m. and on their way to the golf course – especially the pitchers. Due to the early wake-ups, you're more likely to rub elbows with ballplayers on the links than at the clubs. Though you might bump into Yogi Berra at LeRoy Selmon's, a sports bar near Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Try IMG Academy Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla. or Raven Golf Club at Verrado, Buckeye, Ariz. if you want to bump into some more modern stars.
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