Michelle Ioannou, MetsBlog | Twitter |
There is something to be said about watching Mets baseball in February in 80 degree weather under the warm sunshine. It's a beautiful thing that everyone should get to experience.
I spent this past weekend down in Port St. Lucie solely as a fan -- no credentials, no interviews, no special treatment -- and I loved it.
I feel like for some there's this notion that you need to be a writer, part of a group going, or already in Florida to go and experience the Mets down at First Data Field, and this just isn't true. For those of you who have yet to go, or for those of you who haven't thought that it was worth it to go, I'm here to tell you otherwise.
Spring Training is so much more than just going to a game. Before every home game, the Mets have open workouts starting at around 9:30 a.m, where every player (the big names, the unknowns, the roster invites, the non-roster invites, etc) are out there with the coaches practicing, and just having fun. You're mere feet away from them watching this -- you're not in the stands, you're not watching from above. You're standing on the same level, watching them interact both each other, coaches, and the fans.
That's right, this is the time you can get autographs, and many players are very willing to come over and sign anything for you. I saw one little girl who was wearing a Spring Training hat covered with about 20 autographs.
I was standing by the fence with a group of people when Yoenies Cespedes came over and just started signing through the fence. And let me tell you, he stayed and made sure every single person in that group got an autograph before he left that area. It was quite remarkable, and pretty awesome. As you can imagine, there were lots of smiling faces. Cespedes was not the only player to do this, by the way. I could sit here and give several other examples, but that would turn this article into a 2,000 word piece on autographs...
Now for the game itself -- I know, I know, you're probably thinking "why should I go all the way to Florida to see them play a game when they're just coming back up here?" (at least that's what my 89 year old grandfather asked me). But you're watching a game that is all about getting practice, having fun, and building camaraderie. Yes, some players have the pressure on them to prove themselves to make the team. But compared to the pressure of the regular season, it's stress-free for most.
I also can't mention PSL without mentioning the infamous Duffy's. Not only is this one of the most popular places to grab food (and drinks) in the evening, but the players go as well (yes even when SNY isn't hosting hot stove there).
I went Saturday night for dinner after the Mets played the Cardinals, and Amed Rosario was there with some friends for dinner. About an hour later, Asdrubal Cabrera came with his family to eat and spend time together. The beauty of all this? They were just like any other people there. For the most part, the fans just let them be. And because of this, players feel comfortable going out to these casual places in PSL.
Have I sold you yet? This isn't a sales pitch, I swear, I just truly had a fantastic experience and wanted to share it with you all. Plus, it was quite easy to go down to Florida for the weekend, and a great excuse to escape the cold gloomy winter in NYC to cheer on the team we all love. If you have a free weekend in March, or already know your schedule for next year, look into it, and maybe I'll see ya there.