Ever since I purchased my Spring Training tickets last week, I need only imagine myself sitting in the sun in Osceola Stadium, right behind the bullpen, and I immediately go into an alpha state. There's just something about Spring Training that brings on a mood of total relaxation and euphoria. I don't even have to be there; just thinking about it makes me happy.
Every year the big decision is when to go? Early in March, I'll get to see more of the minor leaguers up for their cup of coffee. But the starting pitchers only throw a couple of innings. If I go late in the month, after most of the young guys are sent back down to the minor league camp, I'll get to see the final roster guys, and the pitchers will be up to 5 or 6 innings. This year, it's all complicated by the World Baseball Championship. The Spring Training games start early - in late February - and end late - in early April. But some of the major league players may be gone, playing for their home countries' WBC teams. It would be a bummer to miss seeing Oswalt, who's going to be the USA team ace.
In the end, it usually comes down to figuring out which week has the most home games, since I don't want to drive all over Central Florida to go to the games. Besides the starters often stay back home on away game days. This year, the best week for me is smack in the middle of Spring Training. While I generally don't care which teams the Astros are playing against, I did end up with a good set: Starting with the Yankees, ending with my arch-enemy Mets. The Nats in the middle - good chance to take some photos for my local friends. The Reds (our division) and the Rays (last year's AL champs) round it out.
The next big question is who can I sucker into going with me? While my son Josh (the Yankee fan) would enjoy it, he's busy with his last semester of law school. Older son David went with me once in 2005, and that was enough for life. Husband Robert, who couldn't care less about sports events, has gone to Kissimmee at least part of the week for the past 3 years. My daughters don't like baseball, and my friends think my passion for the Astros is unnatural. But this year I found the perfect Spring Training partner - my sister, who was an Astros fan years ago, and who's celebrating her 50th birthday right in the middle of March. It will be a nice gift for both of us - I'll treat her to Spring Training and she'll treat me to being with someone who actually wants to be there!
I'm not really in a rush for Spring Training to arrive. Now that I've scored my tickets (good seats, bought in the presale), I'm enjoying just thinking about being there. There's just something about a field of green, speckled with dozens of young men in tight pants, that puts me in a great mood.