Ah, spring baseball! Let's hum a few lines for old times' sake: "Take me out to the ball game/Take me out to the crowd/Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks." So those are the words. No mention of pregame parades around the field or goody bags filled with baseball cards, gate prizes, and free memorabilia. Guess expectations for young fans of yesteryear were somewhat simplistic; crowds and peanuts sufficed.
This week, kids can come to a game, walk on the field, and get some free perks. The Orioles present "Little League Day" on Sunday, March 21, when Baltimore takes on the Boston Red Sox at Fort Lauderdale Stadium (5301 NW 12th Ave.). Events include a pregame parade around the diamond for all players and an official announcement of each team's attendance over the loudspeakers. Kids will also receive goody bags donated by the Batter's Box. Orioles Operations Manager Greg Bader knows what's in store for these Little Leaguers: "This will be a day the kids will never forget. Little League players will be on the same field at the same time with their heroes. It's a great experience."
As for the game itself, it promises to be a pretty good one. During the off-season, Baltimore turned its lineup into an offensive juggernaut with additions like Javey Lopez, Miguel Tejada, and Rafael Palmeiro. Boston also made a number of key acquisitions over the winter, adding much-needed help for the pitching staff. Curt Schilling brought his 2,542 career strikeouts and 98 mph heater to Yawkey Way, and former Oakland closer Keith Foulke signed on as well. So Sunday, you'll get a sneak preview of how the Boston pitchers plan to handle Baltimore's rejuvenated batting corps 19 times this season.
The first pitch for the Orioles and Red Sox takes place at 1:05 pm. Kids' tickets for the reserved right-field section cost $3, and adult tickets cost $7. Call 954-776-1921. -- Russ Evans
Madden as Hell
Gamers limber up thumbs for PS2 gridiron war
John Madden is an American institution. The man had a short yet brilliant coaching career with the Raiders. He then went on to television-analyst fame alongside Pat Summeral and Al Michaels, two pigskin legends in their own right. Madden endorses everything from Outback Steakhouse to Ace Hardware, and he treks around the country in a pimped-out touring bus complete with a Jacuzzi and plasma televisions. And, oh, don't forget the most important point on his résumé: He has a kick-ass video game as popular as any other on the toy store shelves. Generation Xers know Madden more for the video game than for any of his other achievements. It's those gamers who will assemble for the "Inaugural 2004 Madden NFL Tournament" at Hot Shots Sports Bar (3868 N. University Dr., Sunrise) on Sunday, March 21, beginning at 1 p.m. Only 32 spots are available for the contest, which costs $20 in advance to enter or $25 on the day of the event. Competition will be played on four PlayStation 2s simultaneously, with the tournament progressing in a single-elimination format. First prize is $250. Call 954-326-8626. -- Russ Evans
Ommmmmm My Gosh!
Yogatta try this!
Hey, yogis and yoginis, stick this in your Guinness Book of World Records: The Jai Ma Yoga Lounge (2623 NE 209th St., Aventura) holds its first "Sun Salutation-a-Thon" from 6 to 10 p.m. today. If you understand the commands "Plank -- Chataranga -- Upward Dog -- Downward Dog -- Warrior One," then gather pledges (like, 25 cents for each sun salutation you perform) and help raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which brings happy experiences to kids who suffer from life-threatening medical conditions. "This is an opportunity to do karma yoga, or yoga of service," Jai Ma founder Eden Goldman says. "There's really no other opportunity for the yoga community to get together." Lest everyone melt into one giant karmic knotted hairball, Goldman is capping the number of sun salutations at 108 (a sacred number in Hindu culture). "I've never even tried to do that many," he says in the cheery, radiant voice that only a third-generation yogi could have. Call 305-466-2015, or visit jaimayogalounge.com. -- Deirdra Funcheon
Why leave the Budweiser-guzzling and worm-spearing to the guys? This weekend, members of the fairer sex can get in touch with their inner redneck during a "Ladies, Let's Go Fishing!" seminar at the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame (300 Gulf Stream Way, Dania Beach). Learn how to tie knots, cast lines, handle boats, and back up trailers during Saturday's session. Use grapefruits to practice hook insertion, and try reeling in a "human fish." For diva types who like the idea of landing a massive wahoo but hate getting fish snot on their bikinis, the curriculum also includes "slime avoidance," says Betty Bauman, a.k.a. Billfish Betty, organizer of the annual event. A $105 registration fee includes instruction, equipment rental, a goody bag and admission to a Friday-night party (live entertainment features women singing "fishing songs" and dancing with rods and reels). For an extra fee, opt to go fishing on Sunday, either aboard one of three boats or from a pier. No experience is necessary. Call 954-475-9068. -- Deirdra Funcheon