Cheap Seats

Jupiter Journal, March 20, 7 am

Somehow I need to find the strength -- and the will -- to drive 1,133 miles from the paradise of south Florida to the St. Louis metropolitan area.

It usually isn't easy. But things are especially tough this time around. Why? Because it was just that good.

I haven't seen a drop of rain since I crossed the Florida state line a week ago. And the high temperature has been between 76 and 81 every day for the last week. When it comes to the opinion of this winter weary midwesterner, it doesn't get any better than that.

But it has also been a great trip because, after a winter of trying to figure out how to find the money to re-sign Albert Pujols or how to pick up the pieces if the Cardinals don't keep the best player in baseball, it was a welcome relief to concentrate on the game of baseball instead of the business of baseball.

It has also been an especially good trip because my son, who will soon be four years old, went from essentially being a precious piece of luggage to becoming an active participant this year. He's been to spring training every year of his life. But he couldn't have told you if he was at the ballpark or on the moon. In fact, he doesn't remember being at the hotel we stay at, the pool we swim in or Roger Dean Stadium before. This year he has told me several times how glad he is that I took him on vacation. How much he likes to swim and how he loves when I "take him out to the ballgame."


He has told everyone we've met for the last three days that we were going to move here forever -- just as soon as his dad won the lottery. I don't have the heart to tell him my tickets didn't pay off...

Anyone who is a Cardinals fan... Or a baseball fan for that matter... Needs to come to spring training just once in their life. People ask me if I don't get bored doing the same thing every year. But I live for it. The atmosphere is so pleasant and the weather is such a welcome relief... I have said before if I had the chance to go to every spring training game in exchange for giving up my season tickets and not going to a single regular season game, I would do it in a heartbeat.

Spring training makes baseball what it used to be, a game instead of a business. I can't stand to think that I have to wait 51 weeks to start all over again.