Everyone always says that you have to get to Clearwater to experience Phillies Spring Training. For the first time, I had the opportunity to go down to Florida and watch the Phils as they gear up for the regular season.
The experience was unlike any other and the best part was that it was shared by a couple of thousand other Phillies fans.
Heading to the airport on Monday afternoon started just like any other flight. Getting dropped off, and heading through airport security and TSA was as fun as always. But the next part was where the moment started to set in.
Sitting in the waiting area for my flight to Tampa, I was surrounded by Phillies fans. Everyone on the flight down seemed to be heading down to watch the Phils. Jerseys, shirts, hats, and some Phillies pajamas were fully displayed.
While the actual in-air trip was a nice and quiet venture, it was a cool feeling knowing that everyone heading down would end up in Clearwater this week.
Anytime you enter a stadium for the first time, it is a special feeling.
By finally checking Clearwater off my list, I can now say I have been to every Phillies-affiliated ballpark. Traveling to watch the team is something that I can safely say is a true passion of mine.
The stadium was unlike any other I have ever been to. It was on the smaller side, as most minor league parks are, but behind the outfield, you could see the practice fields the Phillies use. Spending time in between innings to check up on the guys not playing in this afternoon’s game was a cool alternative to checking my phone or grabbing some food.
Getting a drink from Frenchy’s, however, was a bucket list item. After years of watching Phillies Spring Training on TV, Frenchy’s was always a topic of conversation. Getting actually to order something from the bar at the field was an exciting feeling.
As for the actual game on the field, there wasn’t much to write home about.
Nick Castellanos hit a 2-run home run in the first, which was a welcomed sight. As someone who continues to campaign for Nick and believes that he will bounce back this season, it felt good to be able to see him go deep in person.
If you’ve listened to the 11,000 and Counting Podcast, Philly Sports Network’s exclusive Phillies Podcast, you will also know that I have been advocating for Scott Kingery to make this team. Seeing Scott play centerfield and smack the ball around the field brought a smile to my face.
The Phillies would end up losing this one 15-5 to the Atlanta Braves. The outcome had no effect on my mood, however, as getting to head down to Spring Training was a dream come true.
If you haven’t gotten the opportunity to go to Phillies Spring Training, please try and make time next season to get down to Clearwater. It was a fantastic experience, and I look forward to being able to enjoy multiple games in 2024 and beyond.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Dean
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