The best thing about my spring break trip to Florida was the chance see how some baseball players are progressing towards the season’s start.

However, even at the games, baseball wasn’t the only thing going on. Several things caught my attention throughout the week.

The first thing happened before I even left Rochester.

After I went through the metal detector at the airport without making any noise, security pulled me aside and used that wand on me. For some reason my right shoe set it off, so I had to take my shoes off and send them through the x-ray machine.

You know what? I didn’t mind one bit. If delaying me by less than five minutes helps keep weapons off the planes, then I’m all for it.

After a long day of flying and sitting in airports, I decided to turn in early. Unfortunately, I was woken up by a loud noise at 11:25 p.m.

My father informed me that it was a fire alarm, and I actually asked if that meant that we had to go outside.

So I now have an unhealthy mental association thanks to all of the fire drills at UR. Apparently, my first thought after hearing a fire alarm is, “I don’t have to go outside if I can stand the noise.”

After almost an hour and a half, we were finally allowed back into the hotel. The fire was apparently caused by a dryer in the laundry room.

About 45 minutes into Monday’s game between Atlanta and St. Louis, one of the umpires pulled out a bag of tobacco and shoved a big wad in his mouth. I know that most people don’t pay attention to the umpires unless they make bad calls, but they should still try to be role models and set good examples for the young fans of the game.

Not many players signed autographs at either of the Braves games, but there were star signatures to be had at each of the other three games.

Juan Gonzalez and Alex Rodriguez both signed at the Rangers’ game against the Twins. I got a Gonzalez autograph because there was a girl, probably about 12 years old, right in front of Gonzalez who handed my ball to him.

The Red Sox players were great about signing. Manny Ramirez, Nomar Garciaparra and Johnny Damon all signed before the first game and Nomar, Damon and Shea Hillenbrand signed when they came out of the game.

I got Ramirez, Damon and Hillenbrand, but I missed Nomar both times. I wasn’t going to get Hillenbrand, but he signed for so long that I figured I might as well.

If Hillenbrand doesn’t stick with the team, he can take comfort in the fact that he’s a nice guy. He signed, posed for pictures and talked to fans for well over half an hour after he left the game.

Ramirez signed again before the second Boston game I went to, and Luis Tiant also gave out some autographs.

New owner John Henry also made an appearance at that game. He signed autographs, talked to fans and posed for pictures while being interviewed for almost an hour before the game started.

I like the increased friendliness and visibility of the new ownership group. John Harrington was behind the scenes in all aspects of the team and you got the sense sometimes ? probably unfairly ? that he didn’t care about the team that much.

The new ownership group gives me the feeling that the crap that went on in the past won’t be tolerated anymore.

The strangest sight of the trip was recently fired Boston general manager Dan Duquette signing autographs in the stands at Boston’s game against Florida. Apparently he’s back to just being a fan of the Red Sox. It must be nice to collect a million-dollar salary for doing nothing.

The baseball season is great, but spring training can be just as much fun.

Jacobs can be reached at

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