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.
Go to Batting Practice
At the big-league parks these days most teams don't even open their stadium when the home side is taking batting practice. If they do, it's a small corner of the outfield. At spring training, fans can still have their run of the place. While the teams do restrict fans to certain areas, if you want to arrive early and see infield drills or the morning workout, you can. Just head for the practice fields, peppered around the stadium in most cases. For a 1:05 p.m. game, most teams hit the field as early as 9 a.m. for throwing, conditioning and stretching. Batting practice starts at 10:30 in most cities.
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