Thursday, July 23, 2009

This is a wrench in the Spring Training schedule

I saw this item in my RSS reader from earlier today from JOEL SHERMAN in the New York Post.

The Orioles are moving out of Fort Lauderdale (which is on the east coast, about 90 miles south of Port St. Lucie) over to Sarasota (on the west coast of Florida, about 150 miles due west of Port St. Lucie, on the other end of state road 70). To be fair, Fort Lauderdale Stadium was in more need of renovation and improvement than Shea Stadium was.

The O's replace the Reds who trained at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota from 1998-2009, with the Reds moving to a new complex in Arizona that they'll share with the Indians (another Grapefruit League refugee).

So, what does this mean?.
It means no more road trips to Ft. Lauderdale. It likely means losing 6 Spring Training games off the schedule against the Orioles (since no team is moving in to replace them) to be replaced by teams playing in the eastern two thirds of Florida, and it means the Mets will have only 3 teams within 100 miles to play games against (thanks Joel Sherman for doing the math on that one - 2 teams train in Jupiter which is like a second home to me on my Spring Training trips, and the Nats in Viera, about an hour north).

It probably means another bus trip each to Disney to play the Braves, Kissimmee to play the Astros (about 2 hours each), and Lakeland (to play the Tigers, probably 2 1/2 away), or more exhibition games against closer division rivals Florida and Washington. It could even mean a bus trip all the way to the Gulf Coast to visit the O's, Pirates, Rays, Red Sox, Twins, Yankees, Phillies, or Blue Jays. It means more long bus trips for the players, or less games if they won't get on the bus.

It means one fewer option for the fans to take a road trip (like I ever considered going Ft. Lauderdale if the Mets weren't playing there, and have passed on it even when they were).

Combine this with the movement from last year when the Dodgers left Vero Beach empty and the Indians left Winter Haven, both in favor of new complexes in Arizona, and it means a lot more long bus rides for players and a lot less options for fans for 2010 when compared to the 2008 Spring Training.

For all the latest news on Spring Training sites, and some early Spring Training schedules (usually sometime in late October), visit SpringTraining Online.