Indians’ Camp an Isolating Experience

Bob Young of the Arizona Republic is reviewing the new Cactus League spring training complexes. Yesterday was New Dodgertown. Today it’s the Indians’ new place, where he found some unhappy folks:

Their complaint wasn’t with the ballpark itself, but with the “Recreational Complex” that includes the team’s development facilities, clubhouse and practice fields. For some, the only thing missing from the place is razor wire.

“It’s like Fort Knox,” said Jennifer Cuenot of Brooklyn. “They’ve distanced the players physically from the fans,” said her father, Randy Cuenot, who lives in Columbus, Ohio. “Newer isn’t better. You can’t get near anyone. There’s security everywhere.”

Bill Russell – a 20-year Indians season ticket holder, not the former Dodgers shortstop – agreed. “I’m actually insulted here,” said Russell, who is the father of 6-foot-8 White Sox pitcher Adam Russell. “I could care less about autographs, but when you come to spring training you want to be able to get close enough to see who’s taking batting practice or stand behind a fence and catch home run balls. Occasionally you’ll see a retired player who you can talk to. You don’t have any of that here. I enjoy spring training more than I do the regular season, or at least I have. … I hope they do something about it because they’re going to lose some true fans if they don’t.”

Quite true. It’s been a while since I’ve visited spring training, but my sense is that folks don’t go so watch semi-competitive baseball games played by minor leaguers and NRIs. They want to walk around, rub shoulders with ballplayers, and pretend to be scouts or beat reporters or something. That’s awful hard to do from a distance.

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  1. GBS said...

    I’ve yet to attend Spring Training, but when I do go (to see the Cardinals), I sure hope the experience is quite a bit better than the one described here.

  2. largebill said...

    I went to Spring training for the Indians three or four years ago and had a much better experience than described.  My brother-in-law and I were at one game and our seats were so close to Shapiro that we had a couple relatives call our cell phones saying they saw us on TV.  Players were very accessible in Florida.

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