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Fantasy Travel: Let's Go Mets

Carol Sottili

My husband, Bud, is spending the week living out his fantasy. No, not that kind of fantasy. He's in Port St. Lucie, Fla., at N.Y. Mets Fantasy Baseball Camp -- experiential travel at its finest. It cost a bundle (more than $4,000), but it's a once-in-a-lifetime event, a 50th birthday present for a lifelong Mets fan. He's in good company -- many of his fellow campers received the trip as a 40th or 50th birthday present.

He's reported in a couple of times and here are some nuggets for anyone looking to make believe he or she (no women this time, but they are invited and several have participated in past camps) is a big leaguer:

A couple of major leaguers showed up yesterday (reliever Duaner Sanchez and pitcher Ambiorix Burgos), but the camp is being run by former Mets' players. Quote from Bud on the second day of camp: "I was having breakfast with Ed Kranepool this morning . . ." Ed Kranepool! Didn't he play on the 1969 Miracle Mets team that won the World Series? Yup. And Ron Swoboda is there too. Wasn't he the one who made that awesome catch to rob Brooks Robinson of a hit in the same World Series? That's him. And to think that Bud didn't even bring his old baseball cards for them to sign! (His mother probably threw them out).


Sure it's not the same as staring down the fireballing Pedro Martinez, but who doesn't want to star on their own "Field of Dreams"? (Reuters/John Sommers II)

Even if you're in good shape, you're going to be sore after playing game after game. Bud, who exercises most days, has done fairly well, but there are plenty of guys hitting the whirlpools. But don't worry if you get injured. There are major league trainers on hand to fix you up. Bud walked into the training room looking for a Band-Aid for a blister, and his wound was treated by the trainers as if he were Seaver getting ready to pitch in the World Series. Part of the whole fantasy thing.

It may be fantasy camp, but the arguments with the umps are big league. Bud's team lost a game after the other team appealed an early start from third, and the guy was subsequently called out. Let's just say that call didn't go over well. They were robbed!

Still to look forward to: Kangaroo Court, when the participants get fined for things like having a Luis Vuitton equipment bag or taking a Blackberry to the fields ( the money raised is donated to charity). And on Saturday, a game where the former big leaguers square off against the fantasy players.

Listening to his stories, I've wondered about what type of travel experience would be an equivalent fantasy for myself. Perhaps going birding in Central America with Kenn Kaufman, David Sibley and Julie Zickefoose?

Share your ideas for a trip that would fulfill your fantasies (and keep it clean!).

By Carol Sottili |  January 25, 2008; 8:11 AM ET  | Category:  Carol Sottili
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You may have to know craft beers and breweries to appreciate this but last year there was a brewers' brewery tour that brought together Rob Tod of Maine's Allagash Brewing Co., Adam Avery of Colorado's Avery Brewing Co., Sam Calagione of Delaware's Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Vinnie Cilurzo of California's Russian River Brewing Co. To draw a baseball analogy, that would be like hanging out at spring training with Cal Ripken, Tony Gwynn, Jim Palmer and Tom Seaver.

I wasn't on it but I wish I had been. Imagine riding with that quartet on a bus across Belgium (and Belgium is to beer what France is to wine) stopping in at breweries big and small, discussing beers and raising glasses with both those American brewing rock stars and the Belgian brewmasters who often brought out something special to show off to their VIB (Very Impressive Brewer) visitors. Maybe a better than baseball comparison would be tasting your way through Michelin-starred restaurants in France with the cast of the TV program "Iron Chef".

Posted by: Beer Geek | January 25, 2008 10:48 AM

I was on Bud's team, and you forgot to mention that he reluctantly pitched (it was hard finding guys ready to risk their arms falling off!!!) and he was practically unhittable! He pitched two complete games and gave up something like 2 runs cumulatively. THAT was living out a fantasy! Thanks for your article. Harmon Skurnik

Posted by: Harmon Skurnik | January 30, 2008 9:04 AM

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