On-sale dates for 2014 spring training tickets

Happy New Year, everyone.  Now that last night’s distilled spirits have frightened away the sugarplum fairies in your head, it’s time to turn your attention to spring training.  Thanks to the good folks at SpringTrainingOnline.com and their informative email newsletter, we have below the on-sale dates for individual Grapefruit League spring training tickets. 

The BBB made one update to the list, however.  The Pittsburgh Pirates offer an “Early Bird Presale Opportunity”, which simply means the tickets go on sale three days earlier, at an additional cost of five dollars.

Because the teams’ websites are remarkably inconsistent in terms of where to click to get spring training ticket information, the BBB did most of the heavy lifting for you.  So that you may more easily give your money away to athletic millionaires and the billionaires to whom they are beholden, each link below will take you to a page that reasonably approximates where you can purchase tickets.  Not every teams’ page provides the on-sale dates listed below, but we must assume SpringTrainingOnline.com has at its disposal secret connections providing that information.

Atlanta Braves: Now
Boston Red Sox: Now
Toronto Blue Jays: Wednesday, Jan. 8, 9 a.m.
Philadelphia Phillies: Thursday, January 9, 9 a.m.
New York Yankees: Friday, January 10, 10 a.m.
Detroit Tigers: Saturday, January 11, 10 a.m. ET
Miami Marlins: Saturday, January 11, 10 a.m. ET
Minnesota Twins: Saturday, January 11, 8 a.m. CST
St. Louis Cardinals: Saturday, January 11, 10 a.m. ET
New York Mets: Saturday, January 18, at 10 a.m.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Saturday, January 25, at 10 a.m. (Presale: Wednesday, January 22 at 9 a.m. ET until Friday, January 24 at 11:59 p.m. ET.)
Baltimore Orioles: Saturday, January 25, 2014
Houston Astros: January (date unspecified)
Tampa Bay Rays: January (date unspecified)
Washington Nationals: Saturday, Feb. 1, 9 a.m. ET

Here is a 2014 master schedule for the Grapefruit League, also provided by SpringTrainingOnline.com.

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Matt Silverman’s New House and Coffee Pot Park

On Saturday mornings, late mornings really, the purveyor of this site wakes and delights in the vast stretch of free time laid out before him, before he must return to work again and suffer the awfulness therein again. He stumbles out of bed achingly, yet looking forward to the peacefulness and lack of productivity that accompanies prolonged sessions on the internet, and indulging every random curiosity, usually baseball-related.

This past Saturday morning found yours truly on a baseball website that shall remain nameless for reasons discussed soon enough. This particular post on this particular website briefly mentioned that Tampa Bay Rays President Matt Silverman recently purchased a mansion in the St. Petersburg area. This article linked to another article that went into almost exact detail as to the street name, distance from Tropicana Field, and prior owners of the home. Although this information is probably a matter of public record, and therefore within the bounds of journalistic propriety to release for public consumption, we here at the BBB feel Matt Silverman would probably rather not have his home address revealed to all of you out there on the internet.  Some of you are frightening.

However, knowing that we are of reasonably sound mind, the BBB, exercising its every random curiosity, endeavored to determine the exact house purchased by Mr. Silverman and we succeeded in that regard. Through a series of sequential calls placed by an informant to a series of public pay phones along Bayshore Boulevard, we were finally directed to a clandestine meeting with none other than Don Zimmer, waiting for us at a public park bench. He gave us the exact location. Don-Zimmer

As stated before, we are uncomfortable sharing that information with you unwashed cretins, but suffice it to say, Mr. Silverman lives somewhere in the vicinity of what is known to the locals as Coffeepot Bayou, as delightful a name given to a bucket of water as there ever was.

masonic lodge

So, where are we going with this? Well, readers of the last post will recall Baseball in Tampa Bay, by A.M. de Quesada. This book provides two photographs of particular interest to the topic at hand. One he describes as being of Coffee Pot Park, which he tells us was the spring training home of the St. Louis Browns in 1914, the Philadelphia Phillies from 1915 to 1918, and the Boston Braves from 1921 to 1937.

Coffeepot Park?

Coffeepot Park?

De Quesada describes the other photograph as being of Waterfront Park, which according to Charles Fountain in his book Under the March Sun, which we uncovered while Google-searching, was located more to the south, where 1st Avenue South meets the bay.

Waterfront Park?

Waterfront Park?

In fact, Fountain’s book states that the Boston Braves actually played at Waterfront Park, not Coffee Pot Park, when they began their Florida spring training era in 1922. We actually suspect both photos are of Waterfront Park, based on their similarity to each other and other images we’ve seen. But that’s really not the point of all of this. The point is that beginning in 1914, the era of spring training in St. Petersburg had begun and it began at Coffee Pot Park. Based on several sources, this fact is clear.

Knowing this, we began to wonder about Mr. Silverman’s new house and its proximity to Coffee Pot Bayou. Obviously, he is a baseball man. He might appreciate the history of this location and its seminal role in spring training.  So, we began to wonder, did Matt Silverman just buy a house on the very spot where spring training in St. Petersburg began in 1914?

We knew the location of the home, which is near the bayou depicted in the Google Maps image above. We also knew that there used to be an old ballpark located near Coffee Pot Bayou. But where exactly did the old ballpark used to be? De Quesada never mentioned that fact. At first glance, that Masonic Lodge on the bayou’s northwest corner seems like the likely spot. Look at that big open space of greenery and the bent land boundary adjacent to the water where an outfield wall could have been. That’s gotta be it, right?

Nope. The Masonic Lodge’s webpage, which details how it came to be, has no mention of it being on any hallowed ball park grounds.

OK, so where do we search next?

Wikipedia! And here, on its sacrosanct pages, where every single fact is 100% accurate, we find something helpful:

In 1965, Fred Lieb wrote that the park was located at First Street North and 22nd Avenue in the “Granada Terrace” section of the city.[4] In 1966, Ken Goldman also wrote that the address of the ballpark had been at “First Street North and 22nd Avenue” which by today’s map would place the park southwest of Coffee Pot Bayou.

All right, now we’re diggin’ where there’s taters. Back to Google Maps! Back to Google street view! First Street North and 22nd Avenue!

1st N and 22 AVE

street

But wait a minute… it’s just an ordinary house. And some trees and stuff. Where’s the old ballpark? Where’s the grandstand? Where’s the line of Ford Model Ts? At least give me one of those bronze historic landmark signs! C’mon, Google Maps, gimme something!

To make matters worse, this was not the location of Matt Silverman’s new home. Not even close. In fact, it was probably a 10-minute drive away.

Our disappointment notwithstanding, the search had been fruitful nonetheless. We discovered a new book to read, the previously mentioned Under the March Sun, which, by all accounts and online previews, appears to be a well-written wealth of information on the topic of spring training, which began humbly enough and is now big business.

So what’s the appeal of exploring these old parks? It’s silly to romanticize that time period and the games which took place there. Most players were probably just eager to get it over with and move on to the regular season when the games really mattered.  However, some probably had a fondness for the seasonal return of baseball in a place that was warm, even during the winter, where they could fish in the bayou between practices. Now, almost one hundred years later, it’s nice to ponder the beginning of it all, the early years of what became Major League Baseball as we know it, with its enormous stadiums, fervent fan bases, and legions of scouts and reporters and bloggers. It’s just kind of neat to think about that on a lazy Saturday morning in December.

Minors Imitating Majors: Nick Goody

james_brown's_celebrity_hot_tub_party01

You may click to enlarge the Funk.

You may click to enlarge the Funk.

There are some among us whose style, whose carriage, is so unique we are compelled to imitate it.  We should forgive ourselves of this, and rebuke those who would deny us our imitation, for we are but mortal and cannot be expected to throw on the bedraggled rags of shabbiness when the vestments of divine Funk are near.  Like Eddie Murphy robed in the sweaty velvet of Soul, we dip our toes into the Celebrity Tub that is HOT, and in the process, stave off banality for one more day.

Nick Goody

So Please, Please, Please, join me in remarking that Nick Goody, number 58 of the Tampa Yankees, resembles Jonathan Papelbon, also number 58, of the Philadelphia Phillies.  Let us enumerate as we contemplate the ways in which they are similar:

1.       Pre-pitch flat back

2.      Pre-pitch hanging right arm

3.      Pre-pitch left foot double tap

4.      Pre-pitch glove positioning at right shoulder

5.      Mid-delivery left knee raise across body

6.      Mid-delivery high right leg whip

7.      Post-pitch hop

 

First, the exemplar (Sep. 30, 2012):

Now, the mimic.  The official BBB videographer, who it seems is apathetic towards the lint on his lens or he would have done something about it by now, captured video of Mr. Goody at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin (Aug 29, 2012):

The attentive viewer will note Mr. Goody discourages stolen base attempts by expediting his knee raise while third base is open and a runner is on second, but that doing so is unnecessary while second and third bases are occupied.

This has been the second installment of Minors Imitating Majors

Jim Thome is Trying Hard to Get to Third Base

On March 5th, 2012, at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida, Jim Thome was 6 foot 3 inches, 250 pounds, and 41 years old all day long.  Also on that day, Jim Thome was the stuff of legend, having previously hit 604 home runs, amassed 71.5 career WAR, and maintained a career .406 wOBA and a 145 wRC+ over his 21-year career.  For all of these number-y type reasons, he probably should not have stayed in the game after hitting a double in the fourth inning of an early March spring training game.  But he did, and the official BBB videographer, who is not very skilled but means well, was there to capture the moment.

Now, when Jim Thome enters the field of play, he takes it.  He takes it, and he enters it, like a stallion takes and enters a mare.  Nay, he enters the field of play, taking it in the process, on a chariot pulled by forty magnificent stallions, each named in honor of glorious notions like Dominion, Liberty, and Emancipation, to name but a few.  He then dismounts the chariot and enters the batter’s box trumpeting his presence with appendage extended, batting implement erect and purposeful.  The elegantly trotting stallion train exits stage left, shitting copiously and indiscriminately a carpet of perfect white doves, each destined for the heavens on wings whispered by angel’s breath.

Then Jim Thome hit that double and when he ran the bases, all 250 pounds and 41 years of him looked like this:

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