Arizona kills Florida with better spring training joys: Golf & otherwise
One of the things that makes Dave Berner such a good host of TravelGolf.com’s weekly podcast is his ability to ask questions that others never think of. He asked me a question on a recent show which opened my eyes to a truth that had been staring me in the face unnoticed.
It’s like the beating Ryan Howard puts on the baseball. Sure, Howard - the most exciting player in the game - practices in Florida, but that’s it. The not-so-Sunshine-State’s lone advantage.
Look, spring training in Florida is great. I did several stories on the state’s baseball golf connection. I grew up a Tigers fan and they’re the only reason Lakeland even exists. It can be a blast going to these small town spots.
It’s just not as good as Arizona spring training. For one thing, it’s impossible to beat the convenience.
Nine teams hold their spring training in the Phoenix valley. You can drive from stadium to stadium in no time, pick and chose the games and teams you want to see. In Florida, almost every trip between team camps is a haul.
You smell your car exhaust more than the fresh grass of the outfield.
Another thing working in Arizona’s favor - and by favor we’re talking a Ronald Reagan over Michael Dukakis landslide - is the weather. Newsflash: It rains in Florida. A lot. In the Arizona desert, nothing is going to postpone those games or workouts.
Plus, the golf’s just better. Florida has some great golf, but it’s flatter than Ellen DeGeneres.
If they put a milk carton on a tee in the muggy state, it’s considered a wowing elevation change. (Coincidently, I believe courses do put milk cartons on every tee whenever our own Tim McDonald plays them).
By contrast in Arizona, you can be playing through actual mountains.
Chalk up another landslide for Zona. No wonder why two more major league teams are committed to abandoning the tired Grapefruit League for the Cactus League by 2009.
The only category in which Florida holds an edge is history. Speaking of that, stay tuned for McDonald’s first-person account of riding the train with Babe Ruth.
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Of course, everyone has their preferences, but seriously, "they're the only reason Lakeland even exists"?
I'm not sure which month you were in Florida, but the Tampa region averages about 2.3 inches of rain for March. Phoenix, for example averages 1.1 inches. I really hope you're not drowned in 1.2 inches of rain. Rain, by the way, that when it does come usually hits Lakeland about 4 in the afternoon. After the games are over.
Finally, one of those teams leaving the "tired Grapefruit League" is the Indians. They came to Florida in 1993 when they left the "tired Cactus League." Let's face it, the teams use the existence of the two leagues in an effort to get the best stadium deal. It's not about which league is the best.
Even if you're 70, which you don't look to be, you can't imagine a time when the Tigers were the only game in town. Lakeland is a vibrant and growing community.
"A total of 274 spring training games were played in Florida last year with only one game canceled because of rain." - Tampa Bay Business Journal
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