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Greetings from the Grapefruit League

Feb 28, 2014, 7:59 AM EDT


LAKELAND, FLORIDA — Hello, folks. How’s the weather? Here’s it’s just dandy. A bit nippy now — only about 50 degrees at 7:30 AM — but I suspect it’ll get much nicer as the day wears on, so don’t worry about me any. I’ll be just fine.

Thus begins my annual trek around spring training. This year, for the first time since 2010, I’m in Florida. I’m a bit ambivalent about that. Arizona is such a much more convenient place for this sort of thing. The parks are closer together and the planning much easier. And, while neither is ideal, if I have to choose one vibe or aesthetic over the other, the Arizona thing beats the Florida thing in my mind. But I suppose people’s mileage varies.

One benefit Florida has is more marquee teams. Yes, east coast bias and all of that, but there is value in going to see the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Braves, Phillies and all of that. They’re popular and fans of those teams have been underserved in our spring training coverage over the past few years, so here we are. I am excited to revisit those teams and those fan bases in the spring.

I’m also excited to see Masahiro Tanaka tomorrow. He goes in Tampa and I suppose I’ll be one of a gabillion reporters there. I am getting a bit of inadvertent Yankees overload, though, as by coincidence they’re here in Lakeland where I am today to play the Tigers. And they’re going to be in Dunedin on Sunday where I planned to go to catch that ballpark as a fan (never been there). I think that’s it, though. On Monday I head toward the gulf and points south and will see some other teams. I’m not making it to the Atlantic coast to see the Cards and Mets and Nats because, well, Florida is hard to do in a week.

Anyway, I’m heading over to the Tigers’ clubhouse to see Baseball’s Most Handsome Manager and talk to some Tigers players.  I’ll be checking in later today here, and I’ll be tweeting photos and observations all day via my Twitter feed.

  1. tfbuckfutter - Feb 28, 2014 at 8:04 AM

    Hah… I’m right by Joker Marchant right now.

    Be careful on our interstates. The drivers are terrible.

    • historiophiliac - Feb 28, 2014 at 8:24 AM

      I hate you so much right now.

      • tfbuckfutter - Feb 28, 2014 at 8:56 AM

        Hate my buddy who works at some of the establishments that are frequented by the players. He’s served Verlander often.

      • kalinedrive - Feb 28, 2014 at 12:43 PM

        The Tigers often eat at the Texas Cattle Co. in Lakeland. One year our waitress told us a little story about Todd Jones having been there the night before, and how she told him his American Express Black card had been declined. Years later my brothers and I were eating there when Todd and his wife were walking out, and I looked up and saw him walking by our table and said “Hi Todd” and he stopped and talked to us for a few minutes.

      • tfbuckfutter - Feb 28, 2014 at 1:02 PM

        Bobby Higginson lives somewhere around here too.

        As does, not that he’s a Tiger, but Matt Diaz.

        And Lance Niekro is the head coach at Florida Southern College I believe.

      • tfbuckfutter - Feb 28, 2014 at 1:08 PM

        I also used to know a girl who was engaged to Matt Joyce.

  2. brewcrewfan54 - Feb 28, 2014 at 8:16 AM

    I would love to see 50 degrees right now.

    • karlkolchak - Feb 28, 2014 at 8:59 AM

      Yeah, even in DC that sounds like heaven today.

    • zzalapski - Feb 28, 2014 at 9:32 AM

      I would kill for 50 degrees. I would even listen to Joe Buck pontificate about Randy Moss for 50 degrees.

      • Old Gator - Feb 28, 2014 at 12:07 PM

        I’ve got plenty of degrees left over down here. Wanna borrow some?


    • historiophiliac - Feb 28, 2014 at 10:08 AM

      We’re supposed to hit almost 60* today, but it’s raining, if that makes it less annoying.

      • raysfan1 - Feb 28, 2014 at 10:57 AM

        Freezing rain tomorrow

      • historiophiliac - Feb 28, 2014 at 11:30 AM

        Our weatherpeople said Sunday. Earlier for you?

      • raysfan1 - Feb 28, 2014 at 11:38 AM

        Well, tomorrow night into Sunday.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 28, 2014 at 11:47 AM

        Hmmm, maybe Monday won’t be so bad after all. I was worried about that.

      • nocryinginbaseball07 - Feb 28, 2014 at 3:34 PM

        This is what I love best about Hardball Talk. The article started out talking about spring training, and devolved into a discussion of citrus and cholesterol. Quite reasonable. Over at Pro Football Talk, it’s all football, football, football. No originality. So glad baseball season is back!

    • asimonetti88 - Feb 28, 2014 at 11:24 AM

      I assume Craig is saying that in jest, but it is dipping down into the 50s this weekend here in Southern California, and it is too much.

  3. cackalackyank - Feb 28, 2014 at 8:26 AM

    You will be fine as long as you don’t play loud music while wearing a hoodie near a movie theater. Would not want to force some irate Floridian into having to stand his ground.

  4. proudlycanadian - Feb 28, 2014 at 8:45 AM

    I would like to start a petition to change the name from “Grapefruit League”. I was never a big fan of grapefruit (it sure does not look or taste like grapes), and was not upset when I was told to stop using it because it interferes with my Lipitor. My suggestion is “Alligator League”, but I am sure that others could come up with a better name.

    • dan1111 - Feb 28, 2014 at 8:51 AM

      That’s just sour grapes.

      • proudlycanadian - Feb 28, 2014 at 8:57 AM

        Grapefruit is sour and is only palatable if a lot a sugar is added. As we know, too much sugar is bad for your health.

      • thefugitivekind - Feb 28, 2014 at 9:04 AM

        Nicely done sir.

      • Old Gator - Feb 28, 2014 at 9:57 AM

        Grapefruit is rich in ketones and vitamin C. There are numerous cultivars of grapefruit – like Texas red grapefruit – which are ackcherly sweet but tart. Pomelos and “uglifruit,” the latter being a cross between grapefruit and tangerine, the former being an earlier type of grapefruit (think of it as a citrus coelocanth) are also sweet but tart and still high in kentones and C.

        Moreover, even your conventional white Indian River grapefruit can be sweetened without sugar: sprinkle cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice over the top of the grapefruit, and you might also add a little butter. Put it under the broiler for a few minutes until it browns slightly. Remove from the oven and let it macerate in its own juices for a few minutes. Voila! You’ve turned a fruit that could make you suck your face into your mouth into a sweet/tart/fragrant breakfast gourmet treat.

        Add a maraschino cherry on top if you’re big into carcinogenic food coloring.

      • dan1111 - Feb 28, 2014 at 10:06 AM

        @Gator, I knew someone who swore that sprinkling a little salt on top of grapefruit would make it taste sweet. I never tried it, though, because I like it sour.

      • Old Gator - Feb 28, 2014 at 12:12 PM

        I tried that years back, probably on the advice of the same black peak hatted crone who advised you. All it did was make the grapefruit taste salty – which was not totally unpleasant, by the way.

    • raysfan1 - Feb 28, 2014 at 9:54 AM

      Actually, tree-ripened grapefruit is wonderful and needs no sugar added. The problem is that the fruit used for canning or shipped out of state is all picked green.

      • Old Gator - Feb 28, 2014 at 9:59 AM

        I make yuzu-grapefruit muffins with Texas ruby reds and yuzu marmalade. Dear Buddha.

      • proudlycanadian - Feb 28, 2014 at 10:27 AM

        Doesn’t matter if tree ripened grapefruit tastes good. Not many people get to eat it, furthermore it still negates the effect of Lipitor. I still want to see a different name for the “Grapefruit League”

      • raysfan1 - Feb 28, 2014 at 12:05 PM

        My sympathies for having to medically control your cholesterol levels.

      • Old Gator - Feb 28, 2014 at 12:09 PM

        He’d have less cholesterol if he ate fewer eggs and more grapefruit.

      • APBA Guy - Feb 28, 2014 at 12:41 PM

        This is true, but counter intuitive to non-Floridians. When I lived in FL, my job growing up as a kid was to pick 2 grapefruit from the tree behind our house. I’d put those in the refrigerator and take out two chilled ones for my mom to slice. Maybe needed a touch of sugar for my 6 year old taste, but usually not.

        Many years later, I still get up early and pull two off my mom’s tree when I’m visiting.

    • historiophiliac - Feb 28, 2014 at 10:58 AM

      grapefruit > cactus

      • proudlycanadian - Feb 28, 2014 at 11:01 AM

        Many people prefer cactus juice over grapefruit juice. I do not drink either.

      • raysfan1 - Feb 28, 2014 at 12:03 PM

        Grapefruit marmalade…prickly pear cactus jelly…both good.

        Grapefruit pie (same as Key Lime pie except using grapefruit juice instead of lime juice)…awesome.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 28, 2014 at 12:11 PM


      • Old Gator - Feb 28, 2014 at 12:10 PM

        Damn! I must try that! Same recipe, just substitute grapefruit juice for key lime, eh? Of course, you could wind up needing Tommy John surgery after trying to zest a grapefruit….

      • raysfan1 - Feb 28, 2014 at 12:15 PM

        That’s what my mama says, OG.

  5. apkyletexas - Feb 28, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    I’m sure that your leaving out my Pirates from your “marquee” teams list was just an oversight. We must be part of the “and all of that” group.

    Better step your game up, Craig, or we won’t let you wear any of our awesome gear this year.

    • zzalapski - Feb 28, 2014 at 9:31 AM

      Try having more than one winning season in the last twenty years, and then maybe people will consider the Pirates a “marquee” team.

      • apkyletexas - Feb 28, 2014 at 10:00 AM

        Thanks for explaining my joke about my favorite team for me. Very useful.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 28, 2014 at 9:31 AM

      Going to Bradenton next week!

      • apkyletexas - Feb 28, 2014 at 9:59 AM

        That’s more like it. Tell us what a Gerrit Cole 101 mph fastball looks like if you see one out there.

      • proudlycanadian - Feb 28, 2014 at 10:39 AM

        You should be watching JoeyBats19 against Cole today. Bautista has had a hot start this spring.

      • proudlycanadian - Feb 28, 2014 at 1:51 PM

        That kid Cole was OK today. He only gave up 2 runs in 2 innings today against a lineup that featured 4 regular hitters. Contrary to my expectation, Bautista got the day off as did Encarnacion, Reyes, Lawrie and Melky.

      • apkyletexas - Feb 28, 2014 at 2:43 PM

        Pirates have their pitchers working on specific pitches right now. Liriano pitches a couple of innings against the Yankees, and was pitching almost all sinkers – Hurdle wouldn’t let him throw a fastball. I’ll be interested to see what Cole was throwing today.

        Pedro Alvarez has a couple of doubles today. We’ll need him to have a huge year. He was amazing in the playoff series against the Cards.

  6. rbj1 - Feb 28, 2014 at 9:15 AM

    “A bit nippy now — only about 50 degrees at 7:30 AM — but I suspect it’ll get much nicer as the day wears on, so don’t worry about me any. I’ll be just fine.”

    Be careful Craig. -3 here in Toledo, with more snow for the weekend. Right now I can totally relate to Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Not guilty by reason of winter.

  7. georgewashingtonsghost - Feb 28, 2014 at 9:44 AM

    I’m glad you’ll be in Florida this year. Can’t wait to read your stuff on the Tigers!

  8. Old Gator - Feb 28, 2014 at 10:03 AM

    Well Craigster, you need to be as careful about salvator and Nile monitor lizards over that side as you do about pythons over this side. Consult my classic guide to the feral monitor lizards of the Florida Gulf Coast before you leave your hotel basement for a quick refresher. You know where to find it.

  9. kalinedrive - Feb 28, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    A “cold front” came through yesterday so we have clouds and a 50% chance of rain today and will only hit 79°, but the weekend looks to be sunny and in the low 80s. I’ll be driving up to Jupiter to see the Tigers @ Marlins on Sunday the 9th, 11th row seats behind the Tigers dugout. It will be odd not seeing Jimmy sitting in his chair next to the dugout, but I’m hoping some of the marquee players will make the trip.

    • Old Gator - Feb 28, 2014 at 12:15 PM

      Have a nice drive up. Ever walked the creekfront in Jupiter? Some great little restaurants in the old village part of town.

      • kalinedrive - Feb 28, 2014 at 12:38 PM

        No, I have never hung around after a game in Jupiter. It’s only an hour’s drive from home (Pompano Beach) so it’s almost as convenient as JoeProDolShark (whatever) stadium, and a nicer way to spend an afternoon. I have an extra ticket since my lady friend much prefers the Renaissance Festival over sports, so if I can’t get one of my friends to go, I’ll offer it to you.

  10. chiadam - Feb 28, 2014 at 12:14 PM

    If there was a Dick Move HOF, and there should be, rubbing in the weather would go in on the first ballot.

  11. themanytoolsofignorance - Feb 28, 2014 at 12:35 PM

    Look at that. A byline and everything. Just like a real reporter.

    • historiophiliac - Feb 28, 2014 at 1:21 PM

      No equipment bag pictures. 😦

    • jwbiii - Feb 28, 2014 at 2:11 PM

      He’s doing real reporting now, rather than the usual news aggregator thing.

  12. jaturso - Feb 28, 2014 at 12:43 PM

    “Here’s it’s just dandy. A bit nippy now — only about 50 degrees at 7:30 AM…”

    No one likes this about you.

  13. yordo - Feb 28, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    Don’t come back. Find a new job.

    • Old Gator - Mar 1, 2014 at 9:11 AM

      Don’t come back. Find a new blog site to infect.

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