You might have noticed that I haven't been around for the past few days. Well that's because Kalina and I went down to Florida for a long weekend and enjoyed the Orioles games in Sarasota on Friday and Saturday. It would have been nice if the O's would've bothered to win one of the games for us, but the weather was beautiful and we had a great time anyway. I'll have a rundown on my autographs later this week but let's just say that I did pretty well.
We started out on Friday by going to the O's Minor League complex at Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota. We didn't know what to expect, but pretty much you just roam around these four fields where the O's minor leaguers are working out. From what I understand, the single A and lower guys were around that day to play the Twins' minor leaguers, while the AA/AAA players were on the road to play at the Twins' complex.
It was amazing and the autographs were easy to get, especially if you could recognize the players before waiting for them to walk by to see the names on their backs. Most of them were pretty cool about signing, even on a fairly hot day. There were even some former Orioles Major Leaguers working as instructors, most of whom also signed willingly.
After workouts, the players split into two groups to play games on two of the four fields. There weren't many fans around to watch the games, but we were literally surrounded by the minor leaguers who had the day off. Everyone wearing black in this picture currently plays in the O's organization. It was like an alternate reality where almost everyone in the stands were also players. Cool stuff.
We then drove over to the NEW Ed Smith Stadium, which is also in Sarasota, about a fifteen minute drive away. We had been to some games last year before the stadium had been renovated and almost everything was different. These gates were one of the first things we noticed as we came up to the stadium. They're very similar to the gates at Camden Yards, so it made us Orioles fans feel like we were back at home.
This awesome bat/banner display is just inside the main entrance to the stadium. I hope the O's can add another banner to it soon.
Here's a view of the press boxes and retired numbers from the inside of the stadium.
Me and a giant Oriole Bird bobblehead. Now how can I get this back to my house?
This sign, inside the left field gate, was probably our favorite addition to the stadium. Sometimes the small things really do make a difference. We're such big fans of the all the Orioles affiliates and it's cool to see them get some recognition.
And here's the wackiest beer man in Sarasota. I don't know his name but he's hard to miss.
ICE COLD BEER! tweet tweet tweet
CONTEST UPDATE: Kirk's Giants continue to lead the way with an 18-8 record, while the 18-9 Tigers and 15-8 Rockies could easily snag the lead. With just over a week to go, most teams are still in the running. Good luck everyone!
Looks like you had a real good weekend. I'm looking forward to seeing all the autos you got.
I was down for the March 11, 13, and 14 games. We decided not to follow the O's to Kissimmee on the 12th, and checked out a Pirates-Phils game at nearby McKechnie Field in Bradenton instead. Several people, including a player we met, said McKechnie was a dump, but I thought it was great. It had an old-time baseball feel to it, and the food options were exceptional.
After the game at McKechnie, we made our way back to Sarasota and went to the greyhound track on University. While waiting in the line for concessions, my brother noticed that Troy Patton was behind us. We got to talk to him for a while, and he was very friendly. He said he was there to soften the blow of being sent down that day. He also mentioned that Terry Crowley was there, but we didn't ever see him. Meeting Troy like that was definitely the highlight of the trip.
Ed Smith was fantastic. They did a great job of blending the Camden Yards feel into the local architectural style. There were so many cool little details and nods to the O's, I'm sure you could keep picking them out forever.
Some of the people sitting near me complained about the beer vendor with the "pickle" on his head and his whistle, but I noticed he didn't have much voice left when he spoke. He probably needs the whistle to get people's attention.
Zach-I'll start showing off the autos today. I surprisingly got them scanned last night.
Matthew- Sounds like you had a great trip too. That's awesome about meeting Patton like that!
And I've been to McKechnie a few times and have really enjoyed it. Maybe the facilities for the players aren't as nice. Thanks for your take on the stadium!
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