- Brett Pauly
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It's a ritual unlike any other in sports because it draws casual baseball fans and seamheads to perennially sunny spots where the games don't even count.
And that's what makes spring training so fantastic: It's a chance to get away from home, where it may be frigid, or even snowing in Northern climes, and travel to a warm setting where the dispositions of major leaguers are as sunny as the locales.
Indeed, the laid-back atmosphere, in every sense, is a major draw for fans.
"You get six weeks with the players when everybody is relaxed," said Hal McCoy, who covers the Cincinnati Reds for the Dayton Daily News.
"Games don't count. Statistics don't count. So basically the players are very happy and you spend time with them every day and you get to know them.
"It's all downhill after spring training for everybody."
That's quite a statement, but certainly very believable from a writer's perspective.
And perhaps it's not far off the mark for everyday spectators, whose chance to get autographs, snap photos and otherwise get up close and personal with players clearly is best at the spring-training complexes in Florida and Arizona.
From our vantage here at ESPN SportsTravel, it represents a chance to provide you with all the details you'll need to make your spring-training foray as special as possible, from updating you on team and facility facts, providing game schedules and ticket information, and even offering special travel deals and golf packages.
So welcome to
ESPN SportsTravel's 2007 Spring Training Guide
• Grapefruit League Overview
Information on the 18 teams who set up camp up in Florida.
• Cactus League Overview
Nine teams train around Phoenix, with three more in the Tucson area.
• Travel Ten: What I Love About Spring Training
It's best when the sun is out and it's 12 degrees and snowing at home.
• The Road Warrior's Top 10
ESPN.com columnist Jim Caple offers his favorite spring training spots
All you need to plan your preseason trip.