January 14, 2007

Book Review: Florida Spring Training

Florida Spring Training: Your Guide to Touring the Grapefruit League, 3rd Edition by Alan Byrd
Intrepid Traveler
ISBN: 978-1-887140-68-3

Florida Spring Training: Your Guide to Touring the Grapefruit LeagueFlorida Spring Training: Your Guide to Touring the Grapefruit League is a guidebook to the spring training experience in Florida. It talks about things like whether it's difficult to get tickets, where you should sit in the stadium if you want to get some shade, the best food on the menu, and the best best places to get autographs.

The objective details in this book are complete and helpful, especially before your first visit to a park. The opinions in this book, on the other hand, are often inconsistent, irrelevant, and annoying. For example, consider this paragraph from the intro to the chapter on the Reds' spring training site, Ed Smith Stadium:

There's little to like about Ed Smith Stadium. While it comes close in size to some of the League's intimate older parks, it's missing the things that would make it quaint. For instance, there's little to say “Wow!” about. Well, aside from the “Big Red Smokey” and the rib tips, there's nothing to say “Wow” about. And the lack of the Wow-factor hits you as you walk into the stadium and notice that there is no roof over the main concourse. Do not go to Ed Smith Stadium if there is a chance of rain. You will get wet.

This paragraph drives me crazy, for no fewer than three reasons:

  • It's wrong: there's a lot to like about Ed Smith stadium. There's ample parking, Siesta Key nearby, and our favorite team plays there.
  • The word “Wow” is used differently three times, demonstrating the need for a thesaurus and a copy editor. While that doesn't affect the usefulness of the book, it does make it difficult for me to read.
  • The paragraph starts out about how there's nothing to like about the stadium, and ends up being about getting wet in the rain. The chapter goes on to complain about the color of the seats and lack of activities between innings. The subjective evaluations are just all over the place.

But now that I've got my complaining out of the way, I'll tell you that none of that stuff really matters. This is a reference book, after all, and is best used for its facts. Those seem to be complete, and the ones I can verify myself are accurate.

The first time spring training goer will find a lot that's helpful in this book. For example, in the chapter on the Washington Nationals, you find this note:

There is a parking lot next to the stadium. It is reserved for employees and handicapped parking. However, it does not say that anywhere. you won't find out until you drive in and get turned away.

Nice thing to know in advance.

The multi-team spring training goer will also find a lot that's helpful in this book. Chapter 20 is completely dedicated to itineraries for spring-training trips, with recommendations for which parks to see in which order. If your spring training trip isn't focused around a single team, this book will save you a lot of energy in searching out details from disparate web pages. However, if you need to find more details, it does provide addresses for those disparate web pages for your convenience.

The spring training autograph seeker absolutely must have this book. There is a heavy emphasis on autographs: it tells you when to go, where to stand, and what to do. Personally, I don't give a flying flip about autographs, so I mostly skipped over those parts. Maybe for future editions they'll consider listing the local watering holes frequented by the players: now there's a detail I'd be interested in.

Florida Spring Training is available at bookstores nationwide, through online bookstores, and at www.TheOtherOrlando.com.

Comments are closed.