Today brought me to Tampa, Florida to see the Bronx Bombers in their Florida habitat. Like I have been reporting, Spring Training is where you need to come and visit if you really want to feel baseball the way it should be felt, up close and personal.
I have seen few Boricuas and other Latino sports writers around and the reason is that they are all probably in Miami (six hour drive) to cover tonight’s Puerto Rico VS USA game. That is probably the most important baseball sports game-taking place in Florida and in the nation.
The winner moves on to the semi-finals (the final 4) of the World Baseball Classic. Since the final games are being hosted here in the USA it might look awkward if the USA was not represented. Anyway, I keep questioning myself and wonder if I should have left earlier to go to Miami and be there for tonight’s important game?
For now I am here in Tampa and covering the 10,650 people who also took time to watch this game between the Yankees and Marlins.
It is always a pleasure to visit Steinbrenner Field. After coming here for so many years you get to know everyone since the retention rate of these employees from guards to stadium personnel is much higher than Yankee stadium in the Bronx.
Just like with the Mets these are some of the nicest people you would want to have check your bags, ask you for ID, ride the elevators with, or charge you for lunch. If only we could trade these employees in for those in the majors life would be so sweet.
Like in other Spring Training facilities there are a lot of seniors who live here and love to see their favorite team before migrating north for eleven months. Here like in other stadiums you see the grandparents and the grandchildren, the snowbirds who flew down from the winter cold and many tourist that come to Florida who are also Yankee fans and want to catch a game before heading out to the beaches. These baseball games and atmosphere lends itself to that form of enjoyment.
Back in the stadium, walking into the Yankee clubhouse was a bit strange since I hardly recognized most of the players. The Yankee’s have some injuries so some of the regulars were not there and Spring Training is a time to bring in a whole bunch of prospects and dwindle down until you have what you believe might be the best winning combination.
I did get to chat with Curtis Granderson (we will post his interview separately) and he told me his arm is recuperating well and that he is optimistic that he will be back in the lineup soon.
I was also able to meet Mr. Hank Steinbrenner, who I found to be a totally down to earth individual yet yields so much power, if only he could spend more time in the Bronx.
By the way, the Yankees won 7-3.