Baseball is about the only professional sport I actually follow, and with the 2007 season starting up in about a week I thought I would impart to you, my honored readers, a couple of the things I'm doing to get myself excited about the coming season.
I am a Texas Rangers fan, but living in Southern California severely limits the number of Ranger games I can watch. But the Rangers' spring training facility is in Surprise, AZ, a modest 5 hour drive from the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. So March 9 found my roommate Zhitnik and I headed for Surprise to catch a pseudo double header at Surprise Stadium. The first game was Rangers vs. Cubs, and the Rangers won. The second game was a couple hours after the end of the first game and featured the Angels against the Royals. The Angels won. Since Zhitnik is an Angels fan, it was nice that both out teams won.
The atmosphere was much more laid back than with a regular season game. And yet, we were surrounded by serious baseball fans instead of the often ambivalent people you get in regular season games who are there just for the experience of taking in a game, but don't really care about the players or the outcome. Also, things felt more intimate due to the stadium being much smaller than a major league baseball park. We opted to pay through the nose to get the best possible seats, and ended up paying $20 per ticket for seats 3 rows behind home plate and 4 rows behind the Angels' dugout. If there are any baseball fans among my loyal readership, I urge them to consider taking a trip out to spring training. There are seven different venues to choose from in the Phoenix area alone, which allows for the serious baseball fan to catch just about half of the Major League Baseball teams over a relatively short period of time. Though we only caught two games, it is something that we both really enjoyed, and are already planning to do it again next year (and maybe bring a bigger group with us).
P.S. Special thanks goes out to Graf Spee for letting us crash on his couch so we didn't have to fork over money for a hotel.
I did online fantasy baseball last year for the first time and really enjoyed it. So this year I wanted to do it again, and maybe have another team in a different league as well. Zhitnik was looking to start some fantasy Baseball In Our Local Area (kudos to Lemming for coming up with the title) so I joined up in that league. We were looking at all the different statistics we could track, and some of them were absolutely ridiculous due either to their excessive frequency (like put outs) or incredible scarcity (like balks and shutouts) or their total randomness that often has very little to do with the actual player involved (like batters getting hit). After having a good laugh at these stats, we got the brilliant (misguided? absurd?) idea of creating a league that only keeps track of the lame statistics. Zarphnogg was kind enough to set it up, and of course I joined. So now I have three fantasy teams to play with, and at least one of them should do pretty well (though I'm hoping my best performance doesn't come from the team in the lame stats league).