Before I get into my coverage of our final two games, you may recall me mentioning in my last entry that I thought Ed Smith Stadium looks like a motel. Well, I dug through my old photo albums, and found a photo from our visit in March 2000. At the time, it was the spring home of the Reds. Since then, the Reds have relocated to Arizona for Spring Training, and Ed Smith is now home to the Orioles. Here it is:
Unless it’s been refurbished in the past 10 years, this is what the exterior of the part behind home plate looks like. All those railings and doors look just like a motel to me.
March 16 – Day 6
After yet another mouth-watering breakfast at the Inn at the Bay, we made our way to Bright House Field for today’s Phillies-Tigers game. If I haven’t already mentioned it, the Inn at the Bay serves the most awesome breakfasts. We’ve stayed there five times, and we’ve almost never had the same breakfast twice. They are so filling, most days we don’t even need lunch!
Once again, we arrived when the gates opened. New Tiger Johnny Damon signed some autographs (for Phillies fans!) during batting practice. I’m still not too happy with Johnny over that stolen-base-thing last October:
Cole Hamels was on the mound for the Phillies, going five innings with 2 hits, 1 run, and 4 stikeouts. He was looking pretty good this day:
Detroit’s Justin Verlander didn’t have such a great day, giving up home runs to Domonic Brown and Ryan Howard. Overall, he went 3 1/3 innings, with 4 runs on 3 hits:
Speaking of Howard’s homer (his first of the spring), it came on the swing immediately following this shot:
During a pitching change, Johnny Damon, Adam Everett, and Brandon Inge discuss the fly ball that got lost in the sun and just dropped into the Bermuda Triangle of turf between all three of them for a hit. They all appear to have sunglasses – guys, weren’t you using them?
Phil Coke came on in relief of Verlander, and proceeded to give up Domonic Brown’s second homer of the day, a two-run shot. Phil’s pants look like they have enough extra fabric at the bottom for a whole ‘nuther pair:
Domonic Brown had a great day at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two homers and an RBI single. As thanks, he got reassigned to the minor league camp after the game:
New Phillie Danys Baez came on to pitch a scoreless inning in relief:
Greg Dobbs, playing third in place of the injured Placido Polanco, makes contact. Dobbs went 1-for-3 and scored a run:
Jimmy Rollins stops to sign some autographs on his way to the clubhouse. This may have been a mistake, as he was stuck there for the next 10 minutes while fans continued to flock down the aisle. Jimmy is actually one of the most fan-friendly Phillies, so he didn’t seem to mind:
Something I hadn’t seen before was a post-game batting practice. After the final out, the cage was wheeled back on the field, and Raul Ibanez, Carlos Ruiz, and Shane Victorino took additional BP. Shane seemed to be working on his bunting. Afterwards, Raul Ibanez and his son walk to the clubhouse with Charlie Manuel:
On the way out, we stopped for a photo of me in front of the entrance to the ballpark. Since I’m always the one taking the pictures, we need visual proof I was actually on this vacation:
March 17 – Day 7
St. Patrick’s Day dawned rather gray and dreary. On our way to the ballpark, it even rained a little bit. This had me concerned, because our “seats” for today were on the berm, the grassy area beyond the outfield fence. I wasn’t looking forward to sitting on soggy sod.
Not to fear though. By gametime, the skies had cleared and it turned into a sunny, pleasant afternoon for our final day in Florida.
During Phillies BP, Charlie Manuel had a chance to check out the mini-sized Charlie Manuel bat that will be given out to kids on July 6:
Randy Winn and Brian Schneider are loitering behind the batting cage. Something has made Winn grin, though Schneider looks like he just ate a bug:
This trio of trouble is yukking it up at the expense of their fellow fielder, who just muffed a grounder during pre-game warmups:
Mark Texiera and Alex Rodriguez wait their turns in the batting cage. Just what is that huge wad hiding in A-Rod’s cheek? Gum? Sunflower seeds? Some chew? His ego?
Phillies broadcaster Chris Wheeler was on hand to sign copies of his book, “View From The Booth.” Yes, I bought one. There are some who don’t really like Wheels as a broadcaster, but I’ll be interested to read his take on things:
Just before the game started, I met up with Confession of a She-Fan‘s Jane Heller and got interviewed by her on the She-Fan Cam. Click here to read Jane’s coverage of the game, and see the video clip.
In between BP and game time, the Phillies changed from their usual red and white uniforms to their bright green St. Patty’s day jerseys. Joe Blanton took to the mound for the Phillies. Blanton had a Blanton-like outing, going 5 innings, scattering 7 hits and giving up 2 runs:
The last time my husband and I came to Spring Training, in 2007, we saw the Phillies host the Yankees on St. Patrick’s Day, and Andy Pettitte started for the Yankees. Three years later, we are seeing the Phillies host the Yankees on St. Patrick’s Day, and Andy Pettitte is starting for the Yankees. Deja vu!
Randy Winn scores for the Yankees, as the throw to Carlos Ruiz is late:
Ryan Howard tosses the ball to first to get the out:
The Flyin’ Hawaiian can’t fly quite far enough, as this ball got past Shane Victorino for an extra-base hit:
The Phillie O’Phanatic get a bit, um, friendly with the third-base umpire. The mind shudders to imagine the offspring that would result from such an unholy union:
The luck of the Irish was with Jayson Werth as he lauched a three-run homer, which sealed the outcome of the game in favor of the Phillies:
Final score: Phillies 6, Yankees 2
Later that evening, we met up for dinner with Jane and her husband Michael, as it turned out that they were staying just three blocks away from us in St. Petersburg. We all enjoyed a delicious meal, and great conversation. The time flew by, and since we all had flights home the next day, finally had to bid each other good night.
Our flight home was much better than the first – no turbulence, and my husband and I actually got to sit next to each other this time.
(all photos by me, except the one of me, which was taken by my husband)
Today’s entry is going to be a short one, because right now I’m developing a wicked headache. I’m not sure if I’m getting a cold, or my allergies are acting up, but all I know is that my sinuses are doing something which is resulting in post nasal drip, which is causing me to sneeze and cough. The coughing is now unfortunately giving me a headache.
Anyway, a few quick thoughts from the holiday weekend.
Phils Take 2 of 3 From Yankees
Brett Myers pitched well on Friday to lead the Phillies to a 7-3 win, which I recounted in my last entry.
On Saturday, J.A. Happ went 6 innings and would have been in line to get the win, as the Phillies were up 4-2 going into the bottom of the ninth. Then Brad Lidge entered the game and all hell broke loose. Johnny Damon walked to lead off the inning, and then with one out, A-Rod homered to tie it up. Robinson Cano then singled and subsequently stole second, so that Melky Cabrera’s bloop into short center allowed him to score the winning run. Yanks win, 5-4.
The way the Yankees reacted, you’d have thought they just won the World Series. Heck, even a come-from-behind-in-the-ninth win should be old news for them, as they lead the majors with 17 come-from-behind wins, with nine of those coming in the final at-bat.
Sunday, Cole Hamels allowed two runs in six innings of work. The Phillies had a slim 3-2 lead going into the bottom of the ninth, and once again, Brad Lidge blew the save. This time the game went into extra innings, with Carlos Ruiz knocking in the game-winning run in the top of the 11th, giving the Phillies a 4-3 victory.
John Mayberry, Jr. Makes His Debut
Mayberry made his major-league debut in Saturday’s game, and made a splash by hitting a 3-run homer for his first big-league hit. He also added a double, to go 2-for-3 on the day.
Why, just last Tuesday I saw John taking some big cuts at the Lehigh Valley IronPigs game:
What Is Up With Lidge?
Brad Lidge blew two consecutive save opportunities this weekend. Is his knee more of a factor than he and the Phillies are letting on? Is the pressure of living up to the expectations that resulted from last season’s perfection getting into his head? Is it something else entirely? Whether the issue is physical or mental, I hope the Phillies and Lidge soon figure out what is wrong, and please, please, please take steps to remedy the problem. We need a healthy and effective Lidge!
Monday of the Marlins
Other than Ryan Howard, the Phillies offense was lackluster yesterday in a 5-3 loss to the Marlins. Howard provided all the offense, with a two-run homer in the first, and a solo shot in the sixth. Jamie Moyer allowed 4 runs, with three of them coming on a home run by Wes Helms in the fourth, after Moyer walked the first two batters of the inning. Helms went 3-for-4 on the day with 4 RBIs.
Hey Wes, how come you never had games like that when you were a Phillie?
The Phillies and Marlins meet again tonight, with Joe Blanton facing off against Andrew Miller. Come on, guys, let’s get back on the winning track!
(photo by me)
My original plan was to write about Fenway Park yesterday, and Dodger Stadium today, so they would be separate entries. But my son commandeered the computer last night to work on a school project. I begrudgingly admitted to myself that that was more important than blogging. Since he didn’t finish until 10 pm, and I don’t think too clearly after that, I decided to just combine the two today.
I also want to give a little shout-out to The Ken (that’s what it says in the “Read About Me” section) over at How About Dem O’s, Hun! I “borrowed” the idea of the stadium travelogue from some of his recent entries about parks he’s been to – check it out!
Our stadium quest picked up steam in 1996, with eight new parks visited in a two year span. The first on the list was Fenway Park.
A friend of mine who had once worked in the cubicle next to me had moved to Massachusetts, and we decided to go visit her for a long weekend. While there, we thought it would be fun to check out the storied home of the Red Sox, Fenway Park. So we asked her to order some tickets to a game, since in 1996 there weren’t as many easy options for buying tickets online as there are today.
So on April 27, 1996, we made our visit to Fenway. We got a later than expected start that morning, and just missed one train and had to wait awhile for the next. Once we got to the stadium, we didn’t have any time to wander around and explore Yawkey Way or any of the surrounding areas, and had to find the will-call window to pick up the tickets.
After we made our way to our seats, we realized that one of the many support beams that hold up Fenway was directly in our field of view (note to self – in the future, always order your own tickets). And because we were in the shade and it was only April, it was a little chilly.
I hate to admit that I really don’t have too many memories of the actual game. Nothing notable happened, and the Sox got blown out 10-0 by the Kansas City Royals. Future Sox (and Yankee) centerfielder Johnny Damon was patrolling the outfield for the Royals that day.
Here are a couple pictures I took of the field:
This one shows the Green Monster before seats were added on top of it:
The only benefit of this lopsided score was that many fans left early, so we moved to a vacant area of the right field seats that was in the sun, and therefore much warmer. Here’s a photo of a warmed-up me, with a lot more hair than I currently have (I’m the one on the left):
We will definitely need to make a return trip to Fenway one of these days!
Our next stop was later that year, when I had a business trip to Los Angeles. Since my site visit was on a Monday, I decided to go out early and spend the weekend, so my husband could accompany me. So on September 15, 1996, we went to see the Dodgers play the Cardinals at Dodger Stadium.
One of the unusual things about Dodger Stadium is that it’s easy to miss if you don’t know exactly where you’re going. Whereas most stadiums are rather large and easy to spot from afar, Dodger Stadium is sort of nestled in between some hills, and not visible from Sunset Boulevard, the road we took from our hotel. Having actually been there several years earlier with a friend, I knew this.
On my first visit, my friend and I were also driving down Sunset, and unknowingly drove right past the stadium, even though the concierge at our hotel told us to “drive down Sunset, and you can’t miss it on your left.” Well, we missed it and pretty soon were driving into a rather seedy-looking area of L.A. We turned around and did eventually find it – you would think there would be a large sign saying “Dodger Stadium” with an arrow, but no, all we saw was a tiny square sign on the side of the road with a stadium-shaped symbol on it. So this time I was ready.
[This may not be the case anymore, but at the time I thought they would have better signage.]
We got there without an unintended side trip, parked the car and went to buy tickets. The weather was beautiful – warm sun, comfortable temperature. We were in the first row of the upper deck, just to the first base side of home plate, with a great view of the field.
Looking back at the box score of that game, what is pretty amazing is that at that time, the previous four N.L. Rookies of the Year were Dodgers – Eric Karros (1992), Mike Piazza (’93), Raul Mondesi (’94), and Hideo Nomo (’95). Also on the field that day was Todd Hollandsworth, who would later be named N.L. ROY for 1996. Though Nomo was not pitching that day, Karros, Mondesi and Hollandsworth were all in the lineup. Piazza came in as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the eighth, and was called out on strikes to end the inning:
The Dodgers held on to win the game, 6-5. All in all, an enjoyable day at the ballpark. Dodger Stadium is another ballpark that I would like to make a return visit to in the future.
Up next, Coors Field.
(all photos mine)