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.
March 8, Florida
Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles (Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota – 1:05 p.m.; tickets from $16) This is a split squad home-and-home day for these teams, which means half of each roster will play this afternoon game in Sarasota, and the other half will play a night game in Fort Myers. Count on the front-line Orioles players to stay at home, while some of the top Boston players might decide to skip the night game and make the trip to Sarasota. If you're looking for talent on the field, along with the shorter drive, stick with this one.
Credit: Michael Ivins / Boston Red Sox / Getty Images