So I’m in Ft. Lauderdale today, here to speak with some Orioles before their big spring clash against the mighty Washington Nationals.
If you have a normal human head, you hate coming here for spring training. The stadium is badly outdated, and Ft. Lauderdale is too far away from the other outposts. From a logistics standpoint, it makes little-to-no sense having a team here. Hence, when their lease expires in (I believe) two years, the O’s will bolt. Can’t blame ’em.
That said, I love coming here. As boys, my brother and I would visit my Grandpa Nat and Grandma Mollie (I miss them very much) in Ft. Lauderdale, and I made certain one of our seven afternoons in the Sunshine State would be devoted to catching the Yankees work out (they were here before the Orioles moved in). Because we always came down the final week of February, there’d never be any games to watch. But I didn’t care. I’d stand along the railing, screaming for autographs, watching Ken Griffey, Sr. (my favorite ballplayer) jog to and fro; cheering as Andre Robertson and Bobby Meacham worked on their bunting. My grandparents and brother could care less, but I was hooked. In one hand I’d hold a pen, in the other a 25-cent roster, purchased from a small truck out front. Through the years, I snagged a Who’s Who collection of signatures from forgettable Yanksâ€”Brad Arnsberg, Clay Christiansen, Roy Smalley. Come to think of it, I was such a sports geek that I was the one guy yelling for the reporters to come over and sign. To this day, I may be the only human with a Yankee program signed by Channel 7’s Jerry Azar.
The point is, I love baseball. But I really love nostalgia.
This place reeks of it.