Dan Shaughnessy

Snow comparison: Florida is better right now

By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / February 13, 2011

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — There are so many reasons that it’s better to be in Fort Myers than in Boston today.

I’m not usually much of a weather guy. I always felt sorry for my parents’ friends who traded their drafty New England farmhouses for some pre-fab condo in a sterile courtyard near an orange grove and an Olive Garden in central Florida. It struck me as an unholy swap. I’ll take the snow and ice if it comes with a neighborhood, lifelong friends, and memories.

This year is different. Life has been too hard in the Hub. Give me heat and humidity, even if it comes with a Perkins and pawn shop on every other block.

Give me the warmth of the sun.

Give me pitchers and catchers.

Give me baseball.

You should be here, too. Here are just a few reasons why:

You might walk past a car in the parking lot of your hotel and detect the smell of cigar smoke coming from the open window on the driver’s side. Upon closer inspection, you might find Luis Tiant sitting behind the wheel, enjoying one of his Cubans.

You might see the manager of the Red Sox sitting in the courtyard by the hotel pool. You might congratulate him on one of his daughters getting married during the offseason. You might make a joke about the cost of the wedding.

You might go to the Red Sox minor league complex at the end of godforsaken Edison Road (Homer Simpson hasn’t seen this much toxic waste) at 6 a.m. and maybe that’s how you’ll finally connect with Carl Yastrzemski and ask him how he’s feeling. Yaz has been our baseball J.D. Salinger in retirement, but he still enjoys working with minor league hitters in the early morning fog — before he goes fishing for the rest of the day.

You won’t confront a snow-forced “faceoff’’ every time you’re on a secondary road and there’s a car coming in the other direction. The streets here are snow-free and wide. You don’t have to visit the body shop every time you bang into a wall of concrete/snow. Nobody calls for a tow truck if you park on the side of the road for a moment. It’s shocking for those of us who just got off the plane from Ice Station Zebra/Boston.

You might have dinner at the Fort Myers Ale House at the Intersection of Metro Parkway and Colonial Boulevard. The Ale House is where 23-year-old Jonathan Papelbon watched the Red Sox play the Cardinals in the 2004 World Series while he was in the Fall Instructional League. Three years later, Papelbon was the man on the mound when the Sox won the Series again in Denver.

You might ask new slugger Gonzalez, “Yo, Adrian, what’s up with No. 28?’’ It’s not exactly steeped in tradition. It was worn by lunkheads Steve Crawford, Jeff Stone, and Doug Mirabelli. It was also worn by Jack Billingham, Diego Segui, Dennis Bennett, and Wilbur Wood. It was Joe Rudi’s uniform number during the half-hour he spent with the Sox in 1976.

If you visit a NASCAR bar, you might be able to get them to put a hockey game on one of the televisions (then again, you might not).

You won’t need to refill the wiper fluid in your rental car.

You might see Bobby Jenks, all 275 pounds of him, practicing covering first base on balls hit to the right side.

You might make a trip to Cape Coral to hit in the batting cages at Mike Greenwell’s Bat-A-Ball Family Fun Park. Ask Greenie if he’s been able to get cheatin’ Jose Canseco to give up the 1988 American League MVP award.

You might get your shirt signed by ballplayers who are far less burdened than they are during the season.

You might bump into Joe Mauer at Bistro 41 if you go to dinner in the Bell Tower Shops.

You might bump into Jerry Remy if you travel south to Naples.

You might see the Boston College baseball team eating at the Outback.

You might be able to catch up on all the movies you missed while you were shoveling snow. Unfortunately, the theaters are a little behind the times here. I think they just got “Titanic’’ at the Bell Tower cineplex.

You might see Johnny Pesky sitting in a folding chair, autographing baseballs at City of Palms Park.

You might sell some of your old gold at one of Larry’s Pawn Shop outlets.

You might see the grueling single lap the Sox run to kick off the first full-squad workout after the first team meeting (an NFL two-a-day schedule, this is not).

You might find yourself sitting next to Stephen King.

You might make a short trip to the Sanibel Harbor Resort, which was the site of Dan Duquette’s poolside press conference after he was fired in 2002.

Sorry. It’s just better to be here right now. Let me know if you can’t make it down and I’ll send you a postcard featuring the coveted Mayor’s Cup.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist.

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