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By Travis Politakis

With Florida being a prime location for MLB teams to host their spring training, it gives many baseball fans at UT an opportunity to go watch Major League talent at a minor league price.

The New York Yankees host spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field, which is only 15 minutes from UT. Depending on the time of day, an Uber ride to Steinbrenner field can cost around $11. Steinbrenner Field is one of the best spring training stadiums around as it is replicated to look like Yankees Stadium in the Bronx, NY. It gives fans the New York City feel, with Florida weather.

“The environment and atmosphere there is so awesome,” said senior sports management major Samantha Taskey, member of gameday operations for the Yankees. “You’re closer to the players and the stadium gets louder…all the fans that travel for spring training are so happy and excited to be in Tampa so I get to meet so many fans with awesome stories.”

Due to their legendary status within the league, tickets can range from $25 to up to $80 according to seatgeek.com.

“UT students would definitely be missing out if they don’t catch at least one game at Steinbrenner field,” said Taskey. “Not only is the Stadium itself really beautiful and recently renovated, but it’s super close to campus and parking is usually pretty easy.”

According to Taskey, Steinbrenner is smaller compared to the Yankee Stadium, but because of that there is a easier access to players in case fans would like to get autographs or pictures with their idols.

On top of that, the Yankees are coming out of one of their most successful seasons yet,   having made the Playoffs in two of the last three seasons and winning 100 games in 2018. All-Star pitcher Luis Severino is predicted by many to potentially win the Cy-Young Award in 2019. They also have infielders Troy Tulowitzki, Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres who are all on track to exceed fan expectation.   The Yankees were able to upgrade their bullpen in 2019 as they added solid talent such as Zach Britton, James Paxton and Adam Ottavino. The team are also in a position to sign superstar free agents Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, who still remain unsigned.

“If you think about the caliber of players on the field from Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton hitting moonshots at the plate, to CC and Severino getting it done on the mound — it’s a stacked team with the potential to win it all every year,” said Taskey.

The Yankees also host teams such as the 2018 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox during spring break, along with the Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles.. With a large number of students from the northeast at UT, baseball fans are in a great location to see their team during spring break at Steinbrenner Field.

Another location that is great for UT students to catch spring training is Spectrum Field in Clearwater, home of the Philadelphia Phillies. Spectrum Field is about 20 miles from UT and a $30 Uber drive. Spectrum Field is a great stadium with a coastal vibe and allows fans to have close access to the players. The Philadelphia Phillies host teams such as the Tampa Bay Rays, Houston Astros and the Toronto Blue Jays. Tickets for a Phillies game at Spectrum field are relatively cheap as they range from $26 to $40 with seats close to the action.

Spectrum Field is in a great location as it is close to Clearwater beach. Students can spend a day with friends at Clearwater Beach and then catch a Phillies game at night.

The Phillies are starting to become a solid team after a few years spent reevaluating their roster. They showed flashes of greatness in 2018 with pitcher Aaron Nola receiving an All-Star bid and first baseman Rhys Hoskins elected to the Home Run Derby in just his second year as a pro. The Phillies added All-Star shortstop Jean Segura in the offseason, along with former MVP Andrew McCutchen and one of the top relief pitchers in David Robertson. The team recently made a blockbuster trade, acquiring All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto, hoping to add some offense to their lineup.

The Phillies are expected to make a leap in 2019 and are hoping to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Spring Training is a perfect opportunity for fans to see what teams are showcasing ahead of next season.

Other spring training locations include the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton and the Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota. These teams are further from UT’s campus than the Yankees and Phillies, but are still great places to go for a day trip.

The Pirates play at Lecom Park in Bradenton and tickets are relatively cheap ranging from $19 to $45. The Pirates have talented young players such as Chris Archer, Josh Bell and Starling Marte.

The Baltimore Orioles play at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota Florida. Ed Smith Stadium is replicated to feel like historic Camden Yards in Baltimore and also allows fans to have close access with players. Tickets usually range from $20 to $50. The Orioles host the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and the Minnesota Twins during spring break.

Travis Politakis can be reached at travis.politakis@theminaretonline.com

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