Today is the first workout for the entire Red Sox team, and in honor of the big event I thought I’d do a little spotlight on Jet Blue Park at Fenway South. Jet Blue Park is Boston’s Spring Training complex down in Fort Myers. It just opened last year and is a beautiful facility. The complex has six practice fields, top of the line training equipment for the players, and the stadium for the major league team. The main stadium is modeled to look like a replica of Fenway, including the famous Green Monster wall in left field. The dirt, the grass, nearly everything you can think of was copied as closely as possible. I was told that the manual scoreboard used to be at Fenway, and was saved and trucked down here for true authenticity. The stadium seats about 11,000 people, and like Fenway, sold out every game last year. The complex sits on a large lot of open fields and sticks out like a baseball oasis in the middle of the area. It truly has become a destination sought out by Red Sox fans from all around the country.
I’ll be honest. I kind of didn’t really get the appeal of Spring Training games until my parents came down to Fort Myers last year. In my mind, the games don’t matter all that much in the grand scheme of things, and I was kind of blown away by the number of Boston locals that seem to flock down each year. I could chalk it up to an escape from the cold weather, but judging on the price of airline tickets, I’d say there are plenty of cheaper alternatives. This speaks not only to the die-hard love of Red Sox fans, but also to the experience that people get at Jet Blue Park and at Spring Training games in general.
After years of dating, my parents had still never seen Ryan play. They tried of course, but if one thing is certain in baseball for us families, it’s that the circumstances will always change when you’ve planned in advance. Spring Training, now that’s something we can (hopefully) rely upon for some stability. My family entered Jet Blue Park on a beautiful, sunny afternoon for a day game. The views from everywhere are great; the stadium looks brand new and really shines in the sunlight. Best of all, you have great proximity to the field from most of the seats. The limited numbers give fans a very intimate experience with the game and the team. Fans get an up close and personal view of their favorite players for just a fraction of the cost that you’d have to pay at Fenway. My dad was awed by the big name players, while my mom was mostly checking to see who had the best butt in baseball pants. You feel like you can walk up and shake their hands, that is how close you are. And with the smiles on the players faces, you might just get some recognition in the stands. The mood amongst the fans, the staff, and the players is so upbeat! Security and staff members from Boston, Pawtucket, and Portland all come down to work the games from their homes in New England. It is the start of a two month reunion down here in Fort Myers. And this is why I have learned to love Spring Training games so much. Everyone is happy to see each other, giving hugs and high fives for every good thing on the field. The pressure of the season, or this year’s win streak, and the pressure to compete in such a high-stakes environment haven’t kicked in it. The entire stadium is jittery and buzzing with excitement. Every person in attendance is here because they love the game of baseball. The first full team practice today means one thing is certain: It’s finally baseball season.
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