Orioles spring training tickets go on sale at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 16. If that doesn't tell you that baseball season is right around the corner, what does?
The countdown to spring training has officially begun, and in case you're on the fence as to whether you want to make the trip down to the Orioles' first spring training in Sarasota, a handful of O's fans took a break from planning their trips to share their plans with the Orioles Buzz.
One O's fan, Monte Schisler, a real estate agent in Lewes, Deleware and long-time fan of the IronMan, called his spring training plans the "trifecta." With family in Florida, he uses his spring training trip to see the O's, visit family, and play golf in the warm, sunny weather.
Schisler said he'll attend "two or three (games) at spring training and will likely take in a dozen or so games at Camden Yards."
"(It's) up close and personal with the team," Schisler said of why he travels from Deleware to Florida to attend spring training with the Birds. "You see them enjoying the game. They're fresh and not worn out with the wear and tear of the season. I'm a fan of trying to find one or two 'up and coming' players and getting a ball signed and then seeing how they progress during the year."
Fellow Orioles fan, Heath Bintliff of Atlanta, Georgia plans to visit Sarasota in early March. (You might also recognize Heath as the keeper of the O's blog Dempsey's Army.)
"I haven't been (to Orioles spring training) since 2006," Bintliff said. "I live in Atlanta, so Sarasota is an easier drive than Fort Lauderdale, and that tipped the scales...(There are) good beaches in Sarasota too, which makes my wife and kids happy!"
Bintliff said he won't miss the Orioles' old stomping grounds in Fort Lauderdale.
"Ed Smith is a much nicer park. I am going to the minor league facility in Sarasota for one day. If that goes well, I may go back to watch those guys play for a second day," Bintliff said. "At first glance, I think Ed Smith will need more shade! I don't do autographs, but I hope the players will be VERY available for kids. They were back in '06."
From Deleware to Georgia to Sarasota itself, Jim DeLa said he was "thrilled" to see the Orioles land in his hometown.
"I watched them in Miami and St. Petersburg and hope to get to several games this spring," DeLa said. "There are more concession areas at Ed Smith (than in Fort Lauderdale), and now that I have kids, some play areas would be nice (in the new facility)," he continued.
So whether you live in Baltimore, close to the Orioles' regular season home, in Sarasota, close to their new spring quarters or anywhere beyond or in between, think about a trip to sunny Sarasota to watch the first of the O's in 2010.
I know some warm weather sure sounds appealing to me, let alone the O's and the start of baseball season.
"Spring training, to me, is baseball for love of the game," Schisler said. "I'm a kid at heart, so I take a sharpie and a camera and soak it all in. If you've never been to spring training, put it on your bucket list. There's nothing else like it."