There are times when writing down what is going on in the real world is simply not an option. Having to live through it day to day, and then write it down of a weekend is just adding insult to considerable injury, so this week I am going to block out the real world from these ramblings and instead, do a random blog about something I do want to write about.
The premise upon which many of you come here each week is the ever loosening connection between this blog and Florida. For most weeks of the year, it is hardly mentioned, and then most years, around springtime, we raid a symbolic piggy bank and book another trip, and for those few months, these pages are crammed to the rafters with my self satisfied smugness as I trot out all the things that we are planning to do.
I doff my blogging cap to those proper Disney/Florida bloggers who stay true to their original theme, at all times, and can write article after article that actually helps people plan a trip or at worst enjoy one vicariously. So as I need to not write about last week, this blog will attempt to be a “proper Florida blog”.
Now, there are millions of Disney blogs, and with a casual glance at google I suspect there is not a piece of Disney property that has not been blogged to death. With this in mind I have chosen my subject carefully, and I hope that it can therefore actually be useful to some readers, as it may be something they have never thought of doing, or didn’t know where to start.
When you’ve been a few times, you start to look outside the gates of Disney for other attractions and activities, especially if your partner threatens to confiscate your crown jewels if she has to watch Spectromagic again on the next trip.
With this as motivation, I can get quite creative. Many folks who are multiple Florida visitors, first of all fall in love with the razzmatazz of Disney, but over time there comes a realisation that it isn’t only those forty odd square miles that hold you in their spell. The magic extends, first to off property eateries, and other theme parks, and eventually to an admission that your love affair is with the atmosphere and excitement of the US itself. Now I know that us visitors to Florida are not seeing the real America. Still, my generation were raised on a staple diet of US TV shows that have engrained comforting stereotypes into our minds, so that when we encounter them for real, we are once again that eight year old boy sat in front of The Streets of San Francisco in his pyjamas, marvelling at the sheer scale of the country and Karl Malden’s nose.
One way we have discovered to unearth a little of the real America, is to attend a baseball game. We have not yet attended a major league affair, preferring instead to get closer to the action with a minor league game.
With a non sport friendly wife, and two teenage girls who would rather eat their own earwax than watch sport on TV, I must admit, my main driver for selecting a minor league game over major was that the cost per ticket was $7 each rather than something like $50. Should they get bored after the first innings then I would have no issue in abandoning the event without having to sulk for the rest of the holiday.
However, I am very happy with that choice as the atmosphere, and family involvement is excellent, and we have had an absolute ball (pardon that pun) on every occasion.
On our first visit we chose the Daytona Cubs as our team. Admittedly this was driven by our location, as we were spending a couple of days by pool and sea at Daytona, but the choice was a good one.
If you want to see which team suits your location, then The Official Site of Minor League Baseball is the place to go. Here you can see all the teams, their schedules and book tickets.
We arrived early on game night, and were welcomed despite our accents and lack of baseball knowledge like one of the locals. We noticed right away that these games were a big community event. Everyone seemed to know each other, and we soaked up the pre-game build up eagerly, looking out onto the empty diamond.
The players began to warm up, the girls picked out which ones were “fit”, and I suddenly realised how ridiculously fast they threw that ball!
What became apparent very quickly was that the ball game itself was almost a side-show to the endless flow of entertainment and games laid on to keep everyone happy. You will know that US sports all take at least seventeen hours to complete, and all the breaks in play were used expertly with games of all sorts.
There was a burrito eating competition. If only I had known beforehand, I could have claimed glory for the UK!
At times the game itself broke out, and we all enjoyed that too, with my rudimentary run down of the rules being enough for the women folk to take an interest.
Every end of innings brought ever more creative games onto the field, with the most surreal being three Dads having to catapult sponges at the floodlights whilst watched by two girls from Hooters. The Premier League have much to learn.
With a couple of beers from a passing vendor, and every food stuff you can shake a stick at on sale, you want for nothing. The atmosphere is friendly and fun, and the result of the game pretty irrelevant from what we could see.
Towards the end of the evening, all the kids gather at one end of the field, and then when given the signal they “run the bases”. This looked like great fun but I fear I just missed the age cut off.
The evening went on for hours, with more and more fun as it went. With us needing to drive back to Orlando, and a touch of raining coming in we decided to leave as the game went into extra time tied at…well, I have no idea what the score was, but we were all smiling as we left.
I remember that drive home being one of the worst experience of my life, as torrential rain and pitch black roads made for a tense hour and a bit. I think I went the whole journey without blinking or talking.
So if you have a spare evening in your plans and want to sample just a little of the life outside of the sterilised walls of the theme parks then I would heartily endorse a night at the ball game. However, one word of warning. On our second visit, to a different team, the following year I bought myself a pretzel. If they ask if you want it with salt say no. There was an inch think layer of the stuff all over it, and I was thirsty for about three weeks afterwards.
Other than that, enjoy the game!
Till the next time…..