Phillies Spring Training Tips and Tricks
I had the distinct pleasure of attending a Spring Training game down in beautiful Clearwater, Florida. I’d like to take this opportunity to share some tips and the experience of winter baseball.
1.) Jump on tickets early, search Craigslist in the area and in Philly, or scalp tickets at the hotel. One of the better tips I received was to talk to your hotel’s concierge who may have been left extra tickets from other guests or are trying to sell them. Craigslist is a great way to find last-minute tickets, and scalping has never failed me. Wait until the first inning is in progress and you usually can score face-value or less tickets.
2.) Spirit Airlines and Southwest fly from Atlantic City and Philadelphia respectively. Expect to pay about $250 roundtrip. Spirit Airlines will nickle and dime the heck out of you like $20 one-way for overhead luggage and I think picking your seat is about $30. I think Southwest edges out in this competition.
3.) Stay in the St. Petersburgh/Clearwater area. I have to admit the beach really isn’t that nice. In my experience there are a lot of annoying, dirty high schoolers clogging the oceanfront. There are some nice hotels along the beach, however, where there are great rooms and private pools/lounge chairs. Obviously, the further inland you head, the cheaper the hotel rates will be. I’ve heard great things about Hotels.com and Priceline where you bid for your hotel in a specific zone. Pro tip: start with a narrow width search and slowly expand so you do not run into limited daily search restrictions. You will need a car wherever you drive so don’t expect taking public transit is an option.
4.) Brighthouse Field has a ton of grass-seating (like lots of Minor League stadiums). To me, this design brings back memories of Little League summer games, but without the annoying mosquitoes. Most games are during the day so be sure to slather on the sunscreen (keep it to SPF 15 and under, don’t forget that Vitamin D) and drink plenty of water to avoid heat exhaustion, which can overtake you quickly. Sun poisoning isn’t pleasant either, as my cousin once found out the extremely hard way.
5.) The Florida panhandle is very susceptible to quick-developing thunderstorms so don’t forget an umbrella or poncho. Pro tip: wear your bathing suit to the game so after that 20 minute storm passes, you can dry off quickly. Enjoy that refreshing shower and perhaps a rainbow.
6.) Don’t expect to see the starting lineup for the whole game. Starters are often pulled after the 3rd inning, so don’t get your hopes up for a bottom of the 9th Ryan Howard strike-out. However, pitchers are rotated in fairly frequently, and look for the spring training invitees, the future of our franchise—John Mayberry Jr. and Domonic Brown. Tyson Gillies may be there with a bag of powder.
7.) Autographs are generally easier to get in spring training and the players are more accessible and friendly. Spend the late morning watching BP and then head to the home dugout to hang by the field. Talk to the players and have them sign your baseball, glove. picture, etc. Pro tip: hand your gear to the nearest small child and they will get your stuff signed pronto. Ballplayers love kids.
8.) If you have the time, make the trip to the Kennedy Space Center over across the panhandle. The drive isn’t long and there’s a gem of a small place in Cocoa Beach, La Quinta Inn & Suites. It’s cheap and the original Mercury astronauts lodged there during their training and missions. The crowds are fantastic and knowledgable space fanatics. It would be a shame if you never saw a shuttle launch in person. Only 2 remain, so get there ASAP. The views from the Causeway are the best the general public can access, but prepare to pay top dollar for the tickets. Spend a day or two at the Visitors Center which has a full-scale replica of the Shuttle Stack, IMAX movies, a tourable SST, and amazing exhibits. There are brunches and Astronaut talks available with question and answer sessions.
That’s about all the tips I have for now so be sure to email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, hotels, and pictures.