The calendar reads Feb. 14. For most, specifically candy salesmen, florists, restaurateurs, jewelers and greeting card producers, this means Valentine's Day.
For baseball fans this year, the date suggests a much higher calling: spring training begins.
In Clearwater, that means the Phillies are back in town, working out at the Carpenter Complex, 651 Old Coachman Road, just north of Bright House Networks Field.
In many respects, this is the best way for baseball fans to bond with the players. Workouts are free to the public and concessions are often sold. Fans can get right up next to the baseball field and in many cases, shake hands with the players as they walk by.
Often, players begin working out around 9;30 a.m. daily.
But there's much more surrounding spring training. Here are some tips:
There is a limited amount of parking at the Carpenter Complex so if you plan to watch practices, get there early. Additional parking can be found just south of the complex at Bright House Field and in the shopping complex parking lot adjacent to the southeast of the stadium.
Even more parking can be had just short walk further south on Old Coachman at the Joe DiMaggio Complex, 2450 Drew Street, on the northwest corner of the intersection of Old Coachman and Drew Street.
Fuel up for the morning at the eatery which boasts the best breakfast in Clearwater, Lenny's, located just a long foul ball down the right field line from Bright House Field at 21220 U.S. Highway 19 North. It's a known Phillies fans hangout and the lines waiting to be served is a sure sign of good grub.
After watching practice, time to wash out the dust in your mouth at the Tilted Kilt, 2571 Drew Street just across the street south of Bright House Networks Field. The establishment caters to baseball fans and is a popular hangout after practices and spring training games.
Another spot for food is Buffalo Wild Wings, 21688 US Highway 19 North located in the adjacent parking lot southeast of Bright House Networks Field. Plenty parking, seats and more importantly, flat screen TVs make this a place for sports fans to mingle.
Baseball fans with a severe hunger for an old fashioned sitdown meal or a giant pizza may want to hop in the car a short distance to Capogna's Dugout, 1653 Gulf to Bay Boulevard. The longtime family-owned eatery is a long-time sponsor of Phillies spring training games and has been a Mecca for hungry and thirsty sports fans for decades.
Want to work off the calories from the food and drink? Bike trails meander past the Carpenter Complex through some of Clearwater's scenic areas and parks. It's a great way to watch a Phillies practice and take in some rays and nature while getting a brisk workout.