Growing up in New England as a Red Sox fan, Fenway Park quickly became one of those places that I had to see when I was a kid. When I was 10 years old I got that chance and I can still remember the feeling of seeing the ballpark for the first time because I still get it every time I go back. On television, Fenway seems huge with the "Green Monster" overlooking the entire stadium. Then when you walk in you realize that the park is small, intimate, and a great place to watch a game.
Today is Fenway's 100th birthday and for a century now it has been America's greatest ballpark. It is on almost any sports fan's bucket list of "places to visit before you die" and with good reason. No ballpark has ever been open for 100 years, no ballpark still standing has seen as much history, and no ballpark is as connected and important to a sports franchise and its fans.
It's crazy to think just five days before Fenway opened the Titanic sunk in the Atlantic Ocean, and it's crazy to think of everything that has happened since 1912. There have been 18 presidents, two world wars, the invention of the television, and something named "Snooki" became a pop-culture star.
Needless to say, people in 1912 never thought that Fenway would still be standing in 2012, but it is and by the looks of things it isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
No team went through as many changes as the Miami Marlins did this past offseason, and their fans have taken notice. Changes included getting a new name (the Florida Marlins became the Miami Marlins), hiring outspoken manager Ozzie Guillen, moving into a brand-new 37,000-seat stadium (that features an over-the-top structure in center field, see left) and signing prized free agents Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle.
If those moves alone didn't add to excitement among baseball fans, the team has become a sleeper pick to win the National League East Division and possibly the World Series. The team's first test will be the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals on opening night, April 4. The game has created a buzz around the city and has caused Miami Marlins tickets for this game to have a higher average on TicketNetwork.com than any other opening day game this week.
It's almost April, which will hopefully bring some spring weather (without the relapses into winter that filled up March here in CT). April will also bring some pretty great live events, plus April Fools Day, National Welding Month and National Karaoke Week (my favorite!). Check out the preview of April live events below!
Coachella: For the first time, the festival will span two weekends, starting April 13 and going through April 22. Top headliners include Radiohead, David Guetta, Florence and the Machine, Gotye, and Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds.
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Nickelback: Nickelback is teaming up with Bush, Seether and My Darkest Days for their latest tour, which kicks off April 10 in Moline, IL.
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Crosby, Stills and Nash: The trio is back again with a US tour starting April 17, continuing all the way through September.
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Last week we gave you a guide to the Grapefruit League in Florida; now we turn our attention west, to the Cactus League in Arizona. The remaining 15 teams from Major League Baseball call Arizona home for Spring Training: eight from the National League and seven from the American League. Two teams from the Cactus League, Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners, have already begun reporting to camp, apparently trying to get a jump on the rest of the league. The remaining teams are set to open camp on February 19, which is the voluntary report date for pitchers and catchers.
What to Look For
Pujols Changes Uniforms – First baseman Albert Pujols surprised the baseball world (especially in St. Louis) this offseason when he left the Cardinals and headed to L.A. to play for the Angels. I guess when someone gives you a $254 million contract, you don't mind leaving the team you just won a World Series with.
Theo Tries to Break Another Curse – In 2004, Theo Epstein helped the Boston Red Sox break an 86-year curse to win the World Series. In 2012, he joins the Chicago Cubs as their new President of Baseball Operations and will have a lot of work to do if he wants to break the 103-year curse that every Cubs fan has suffered through. Good luck with that.
Rangers Welcome Yu Darvish – The Texas Rangers fell just short of winning the World Series last year and are hoping their latest addition to the pitching staff will help. Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish joins the club and should provide a lot of fanfare surrounding Rangers Spring Training similar to the welcome that Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka received in 2007 when he came over from Japan.
Now that the NFL season is over, it's time to look forward to the Major League Baseball season, and that all begins with Spring Training 2012. All 30 MLB teams will begin to report to camp in just a couple of weeks, so what better time to take a look at all the teams and give you a guide to this year's Spring Training? Today, we will take a look at the 15 ball clubs that play as part of the Grapefruit League in Florida. Next week, we'll shift west and look at Arizona's Cactus League.
What to Look For
Grapefruit League Tickets
JetBlue Park – The newest ballpark in the Grapefruit League, JetBlue Park is the new home to the Boston Red Sox and located just a few miles away from their old home, City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, FL. The stadium was built as a mini-Fenway Park featuring a 37-foot "Green Monster" in left field and will seat approximately 11,000 fans.
New-Look Marlins – No longer the Florida Marlins, the Miami Marlins will feature a whole new look for the 2012 season and Spring Training will be the first chance for fans to catch a glimpse of their team. Along with a new logo, the Marlins also have a new shortstop in Jose Reyes, who joined the team this off-season from the New York Mets.
A Prince Moves to a New Kingdom – First baseman Prince Fielder surprised almost everyone just a few weeks ago when he decided to sign a nine-year, $214 million contract with the Detroit Tigers. He will debut in his new duds at Joker Merchant Stadium in Lakeland, FL, when he reports to camp in just a couple weeks.