Baltimore Orioles: Final spring game in Sarasota
The Baltimore Orioles will close out the home portion of the spring training schedule at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota this evening as they take on the Atlanta Braves. I’ve said this a couple of times this week, however I can’t get over how bizarre the schedule is for the Birds here at the end of the Grapefruit League schedule, playing Atlanta three times in a row (twice in Orlando and once in Sarasota). I suppose that aside from the fact that the teams are going back-and-forth between the two parks, it almost mirrors a series in a way.
The end of the regular season is always somewhat sad for players and fans come October, and I suspect that the same is true with the end of spring training for communities like Sarasota. It’s been said here and in numerous other places time and time again, but the Orioles and Sarasota really embrace one another. And it’s a partnership that exists on a year-round basis – not only in February and March.
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Ed Smith Stadium serves as the home of the Gulf Coast League Orioles, as well as a training and workout facility for the
Photo: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
[Baltimore] O’s year-round. We often hear about injured players heading down to Sarasota to work out over the course of the regular season. However the fact is that while the O’s are a year-round institution in Sarasota, spring training is when the relationship is at it’s most intimate. The O’s move almost their entire operation to Ed Smith Stadium, and the Sarasota community returns the favor by embracing the Orioles and their fans.
However as I said, it’s probably always a little sad when Sarasota has to relinquish the Orioles to their true home, Baltimore. Yet the community goes on supporting the Orioles throughout the regular season as well. I recall that there was a group of Ed Smith Stadium workers who were getting together to watch games as the team made it’s stretch run to the 2012 post season. The point is that as soon as the O’s relocated their spring camp from Fort Lauderdale to Sarasota, they were embraced by the local community in a big way.
Ed Smith Stadium’s completion has also coincided with the resurgence of the O’s, and I would submit that it’s no coincidence. Now that players have a first class facility in which to work out from the very beginning of baseball activities (until the end), training can be at a better pace from point to point. The fans have responded to the new facility as well, as the O’s drew over 89K fans last season at Ed Smith Stadium. And they’re on par to better that this season. Incidentally, whereas when the Orioles played in Fort Lauderdale they had a tough time getting other teams to come to play them, now teams are lining up to have the O’s host them at Ed Smith Stadium.
This is all a testament to a mutual commitment by the Orioles and Sarasota to create a family and community environment that is beneficial both to the club and the local fans. And the great news for Sarasota-area Orioles fans is that they don’t have to give up the Orioles just yet, as the Birds open the regular season in nearby Tampa on Monday.
However as they close the home slate of games at Ed Smith Stadium tonight, I hope that the O’s and the local community tip their caps towards one another for another great camp on Florida’s gulf coast. Ubaldo Jimenez will make his final start of the spring tonight, and he’ll be opposed by Atlanta’s Shelby Miller. Tonight’s game will also be the final MASN telecast of the spring.