SportsCenter Spring Training tour a treat for anchors and reporters

They say hope springs eternal, and in Major League Baseball, hope is never more prevalent than in February and March.

All 30 MLB Clubs disperse for warm weather in either Florida and Arizona. Maybe it’s the sunshine, maybe it’s the warmth, but everyone feels like they have a chance in the season ahead. Excitement is in the air and the game’s premier players begin preparation for the long, grueling grind of a 162-game season.

This year, SportsCenter is hitting the road for its first Spring Training Bus Tour, and it’s bringing new names and faces to its Grapefruit League and Cactus League coverage: SportsCenter anchors Sara Walsh, Bram Weinstein and Jay Crawford and Washington D.C.-based bureau reporter Britt McHenry.

The quartet discussed their enthusiasm about SportsCenter hitting the road and offered up some of their favorite Spring Training memories as well (box at bottom of post).

Britt McHenry: I was so pumped to get this assignment. Not only does it take me back home to Florida for a few weeks in the middle of a brutal winter (although the first week was a bit chilly), it’s given me an opportunity to make invaluable contacts for the season. As a bureau reporter, we often bounce around to breaking news or whatever sport is making headlines, so it’s been a delight to really hone in and sink my teeth into baseball-specific coverage. I got to see my family in Melbourne, Florida after covering the Nationals and have worked with a solid crew including producers Shari Greenberg, Brian Franey and our cameraman Jose Collazo.

SP Jay & Boone

Sara Walsh: We’re always excited to take our weekend SportsCenter on the road for spring training. It seems this year, more than most, fans aren’t just looking forward to the return of baseball, but the return of baseball weather! The start of Spring Training (we hope) means the end is near for all of the frigid temps and snow we’ve gotten all over the country this year.

Bram Weinstein: I’ve never been to Spring Training. This is one of the bucket list things happening. I’m really excited to go down and experience it. I’m so glad we’re continuing this [SportsCenter On the Road]. It’s been invigorating to the brand and fun for us to be involved. To go from massive SEC game and Spring Training baseball and Super Bowl, it’s been a great experience. As for this weekend, what I’m most excited about is that I kind of hit the lottery. I’m going to be with the Washington Nationals – my favorite team – this weekend. I got to be a part of the Stephen Strasburg “This Is SportsCenter” spot, my favorite player, and now Strasburg and now I get to go to camp.

<center>Spring Training memories </center>
Jay Crawford: I’ve been a diehard baseball fan my whole life – a [Cleveland] Indians fan at that – so usually Spring Training was the peak of our excitement through the ’70s and ’80s. So much hope in March. So much frustration April to September. The 1990s changed all of that. Thankfully!

McHenry: As a kid, I’d go with my dad to [Miami] Marlins camp and [Brevard County] Manatees games when the season started. I’d always buy a hot dog, some dip-n-dots, ice cream and a mini-bat or souvenir of some kind. Everything seems possible this time of year.

Walsh: I was lucky enough to be spoiled on Spring Training baseball from a young age. As a kid growing up in the Tampa Bay area, I thought everyone just had Major League teams move into town during the spring. Prior to the Rays coming to town, we really took advantage of being able to watch so many teams play close to our home. It was always a special time of year, and there was always a buzz around the city and surrounding areas. Two years ago, I was visiting home and took my grandma to a game. She lives near the Blue Jays complex in Dunedin and it was packed in the middle of the day. I remember Oma looked at me and says, “Does anybody work?” Not during spring training, Oma! Although I’ll gladly work at it!

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