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)
As I mentioned in my last post, the hubby and I are headed to Clearwater in March for some Spring Training! I had anxiously been counting the days until today, when single-game tickets went on sale this morning at 9 am. Since one of the games on our agenda is the March 17th Phillies vs. Yankees game, I needed to be ready to order the moment the tickets went on sale.
The games against the Yankees are always tough to get, because, well, it’s the Yankees. And of course, they are the current World Champs (as if I could forget that). And the 17th is
St. Patrick’s Day, when the Phillies look like this:
Kind of like a team of Christmas elves.
Therefore, of the three games I wanted to purchase, this one was the priority, the one to order first. So I made sure I was all caffeined up, at my computer, credit card in hand, well ahead of 9:00. I decided to at least go as far in the purchasing process as possible ahead of time, so I clicked on the ticket icon and a new window opened up, telling me that only a certain number of customers are allowed access at one time, to make for a more “pleasant” purchasing experience. Hmph. In the meantine, a timer kept counting down until the next time it would refresh. I decided to let it keep going, and a few minutes before 9, I had access!
I entered the quantity, selected the seating location, and got taken to the next screen – the frustrating one with the jumble of letters and numbers you’re supposed to enter before being allowed to actually buy the tickets. After agonizing over whether or not the “W” was capital or lowercase, I had my finger poised to click the moment the clock hit 9:00.
Nine o’clock came, I clicked, and was immediately told that there were no seats available in the level I’d chosen, BUT there were berm tickets available. What!?!? How could the berm be all that was left ALREADY?? Beggars can’t be choosers, so I accepted that option and continued on to the other two games.
The whole time I’m going through this process, the little clock at the top of the page kept ticking away the miniscule amount of time they allow for completing the purchase, or else the tickets are “released”. After all three games were ready to be purchased, I continued to the next step, where I could log in if I was a returning customer, or create a new account. Aack!! What to do?
I’d purchased Spring Training tickets before, but that was three years ago. I didn’t think my account would still be active, and even if it was, what password might I have used? So I chose “create new account”. After entering all the required information and submitting, it told me my email address was already in use! Try again!
By now I only had about 45 seconds left. I tried to go through the process again, using my other email address, but as I was cursing and hyperventilating, time ran out. “Sorry”, the browser told me. A string of profanity that would fry your ears issued forth.
I quickly went back through the whole process, cryptic letter combinations and all, and decided to try what my husband had suggested – my “usual” password. It worked! Hallelujah! I was finally able to exhale, my morning’s work completed.
Only 56 days and counting…
The World Series is over, and it didn’t turn out quite the way I wanted it. I guess the people at Macy’s weren’t psychic or magical after all.
Congrats to the Yankees, winning it last night 4 games to 2. The Yankees seemed to be able to capitalize on almost every miscue the Phillies made in the Series. The Phillies played hard, but in the end the magic ran out, and there would be no come-from-behind victory.
Surprisingly, I’m not in as bad a mood today as I thought I’d be. I’m not going to think about baseball the rest of the day (well, try not to, anyway).
I’m going to relax in front of the TV tonight, catch up on missed episodes of Desperate Housewives and CSI: New York, and not have to get a brain cramp while trying to beam positive thoughts to the Phillies. But I’ll be back tomorrow with a collection of random World Series thoughts :-).
Actually, the words running through my mind last night were much more, uh, colorful than that, but if I use them here they’ll just get asterisked out by the filter that protects our delicate sensibilities.
I was downright giddy after Cliff Lee’s Game 1 gem, so giddy in fact that I never got around to blogging about it yesterday. Now that good mood has been replaced by one a bit more foul. I keep reminding myself that my rational mind knew the Phils wouldn’t sweep the Yankees, that there would be at least one loss, but that doesn’t make it any less unpleasant.
As I have a tendency after a loss to think not-very-nice thoughts about the opposition and the vast majority of their fans, thoughts molded by my formative years spent growing up in northeastern Pennsylvania surrounded during the summer by very annoying denizens of NYC who chose to vacation there while complaining that nothing was as good there as it was in New York, making me wish I could tell them all to go back home if it was so much better there, but…oops, sorry, got sidetracked there a bit…and darn it, I was going to once again abide by my not-saying-anything-at-all-if-I-couldn’t-say-anything-nice rule, but my fingers betrayed me.
Anyway, Ryan Howard can add a less glamorous “award” to his NLCS MVP trophy, the dreaded Golden Sombrero.
Yep, Howard struck out four times last night; three times against Burnett and once against Rivera. Not good, Ryan, not good. Please get back in the groove you had against Colorado and L.A.
Recent history would suggest that the Game 2 loss is not a portent of doom – the Phillies lost Game 2 of last year’s World Series and this year’s NLDS and NLCS, and all of those series ended up turning out pretty good for the boys in red. So I’ll get my bad mood out of my system today, and be ready to watch on Saturday as the series moves to Philadelphia (after washing the bad luck out of everything I was wearing last night, of course).
After a few days of waiting to find out who would be the Phillies’ World Series opponent, the Yankees sent the Angels back home, defeating them in Game 6 of the ALCS. I was kind of hoping they’d go to Game 7, so the winner would only have one day off, they’d be nice and tired, and hopefully CC would not be available the first game or so. No such luck.
Nonetheless, destiny was fulfilled, and I will not have to hear those freakin’ thunder sticks booming out of my TV any more.
So why do I say “destiny”?
If you’re a regular reader of Jane Heller’s Confessions of a She-Fan, you may recall an entry she wrote back in February, after consulting a tarot card reader on the fortunes of the Yankees this season. Here’s an excerpt from the tarot card reader’s comment clarifying the results of her reading:
… So, for all of you fans out there that would really like to see the Yankees win the championship, keep your thoughts and feelings positive and in this way we can co-create a resonant field of success that energetically supports their win. It’s just quantum physics.
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)
Bombs Away in the Bronx
I was a bit apprehensive about the Phillies’ visit to the new Yankee Stadium, given the way balls have been flying out of it, coupled with the propensity of Phillies pitchers to give up those gopher balls. True to expectations, seven balls left the yard tonight.
Jimmy Rollins set the tone for the night by going deep on the very first pitch of the game. There was no looking back after that, as the Phillies never trailed during this game. How many times has that happened so far this season? Don’t know off the top of my head, but I don’t think it’s a very big number.
Carlos Ruiz, Jayson Werth, and Raul Ibanez joined Rollins in the hit parade, with Ibanez hitting his league-leading 16th long ball. This chick is starting to dig it!
Brett Myers pitched masterfully, going eight strong innings while giving up three runs. All three came on the Yanks’ share of the dingers tonight, but thankfully all three were of the solo variety, by Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and Mark Teixeira.
Phils win, 7-3. Yay!
Flushed Away in Flushing
You may have already heard about this, but I can’t resist bringing it up. Since it involves a Mets fan and a toilet, I’m surprised the Philadelphia columnists didn’t have a field day with it. Nonetheless, I learned about it on Thursday in a totally non-baseball blog called Lost in Suburbia, written by Tracy Beckerman, published author and fellow Penn Stater. Click HERE to read her take on it.
Seems that at a game last week at Citi Field, a female Mets fan lost a gold tooth in the toilet. For reasons known only to her, she tried to retrieve it, getting her arm stuck in the toilet in the process. According to other coverage, the toilet continued flushing over her arm the whole time, which appears to have been rather lengthy, as EMTs were unable to pry her loose and workers from the company that installed the toilets had to be called in to help. She was eventually freed, but the tooth was not recovered.
OK, how does this happen? If you feel a tooth about to fall out, would you lean over the toilet? And even if it is gold, it’s a toilet, for crying out loud! A public toilet in a ballpark, no less. Unlike your home toilet, Lord knows what’s been in there. Just let it go, and make an appointment with your dentist the next day!
I Need Your Opinion
While lamenting my inability to make the Latest Leader’s List in a comment on the community blog, I noticed a comment from another blogger that thought there were too many blogs with the word “rant” in the title.
I’m familiar with, and often visit, Julia’s Rants and the Rockpile Rant, but how many more are there? Just a quick look uncovered Rainiers Rants, Wrigley Rants, Phillies Cheers/Rants, Random Reds Rants, and the daily rant (who I guess doesn’t feel the need for capitalization). And how many more might there be?
So the question I’m now contemplating is whether or not I should change the title of my blog. Maybe all these different rants are confusing to the blog readers. Do I need something clever to catch the eye? Let me know what you think.
Happy Memorial Day Weekend!
I will be incommunicado this weekend, traveling with the family to the Jersey Shore (or as they say in Philly, going “down the shore”) for a visit with relatives. Here’s wishing everyone a happy and safe holiday weekend!
The first part of our stadium quest had gone past pretty quickly, with 10 stadiums visited within a span of four years. That was because this was the BK era. No, not Burger King; Before Kids.
Kid number one was born in 1998, so we were on hiatus for awhile. Come the year 2000, we felt he was old enough to stay with Grandma and Grandpa for a large enough chunk of time that we could begin to resume The Quest.
June 14, 2000 found us on a bus trip to New York City to visit that cathedral of baseball, Yankee Stadium. We decided on a bus trip because we could relax on the bus and leave the driving to someone else, and we were a little wary of the idea of driving into NYC ourselves. Once we got there and the bus had parked, I felt justified in this decision. The area immediately around the stadium didn’t seem like the nicest part of the city.
This days’ matchup would have the Yankees hosting the Boston Red Sox. Our seats were waay up in the upper level, so the picture quality is a bit less than I would like (keep in mind that I am scanning these photos into the computer, and it doesn’t seem to like me to use too high a resolution, so they might look a bit grainy).
Here is the view from our seats during the pre-game batting practice:
I must say that the upper levels of the stadium were incredibly steep, almost enough to induce vertigo. Good thing I only had one beer this day!
On the mound for the Red Sox was this guy:
The Yankees had Roger Clemens starting that day. He only pitched one inning, not even long enough for me to have taken a picture. Clemens walked two on 28 pitches, though no runs were allowed. He was removed after the top of the first due to a strained groin, and replaced with Ramiro Mendoza.
Even without the Rocket, the game was a classic matchup of these two teams. The Yankees scored first, in the bottom of the first, with a run scoring on a bases-loaded walk to Jorge Posada.
Here is a shot from the top of the third, as Jose Offerman, who had walked to lead off the inning, is out on a force at second. Derek Jeter tosses the ball to Chuck Knoblauch:
Boston finally evened it up in the top of the seventh, on a solo home run by Nomar Garciaparra.
The Yanks went back on top in the bottom of the eighth, when Tino Martinez hit a monster shot to the upper deck in right field, off of Tim Wakefield. In this view of the outfield, you can see the scoreboard – Yankees 2, Red Sox 1.
In the top of the ninth, Boston had a chance to tie it up against this guy:
Jeff Frye singled to lead off the inning. But the threat was eliminated with a strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out double play – Trot Nixon was called out on strikes and Frye was erased in this play at second:
Down to their last gasp, Nomar grounded out to the pitcher to end the game. Yankees win, 2-1. By now I had a splitting headache from the tension of such a close game – and I didn’t even have a rooting interest in either team! Thank goodness I could sleep it off on the bus ride home.
A Cautionary Note:
Since this was the first new stadium visited since the birth of our son, of course we decided to bring him a little something back. So what do you get a two-year-old? Without thinking of the possible ramifications, we got him a little cap, of course! And that was our mistake. He wore that thing constantly for at least the next three years, until it was finally so faded and frayed that I threw it out. In the meantime, he decided that the Yankees were his favorite team (!) and demanded a new cap. This was sacrilege in a Phillies household! So always make sure to get your child your own team’s cap before any others.
Next stop, Pacific Bell Park in beautiful San Francisco.
(all photos mine)
Before I get started with my visit to the home of the Texas Rangers, I’ll answer the question I asked last time about my visit to Coors Field. If you recall, I said there was something unusual about Hideo Nomo’s no-hitter on September 17, 1996.
Nomo is best known for his body-twisting windup. On the night of the no-hitter, he pitched almost the entire game from the stretch! Due to the poor footing on a wet mound, he abandoned his windup after the first inning.
Just some more baseball trivia to fill up your mind!
The Ballpark In Arlington
My husband and I traveled to Texas in May 1997 to visit my brother, who lived in Irving at the time. In case you’re not familiar with Texas, Irving is in between Dallas and Ft. Worth.
[unrelated aside: My brother has since moved, to another town in the DFW area called Flower Mound. Flower Mound? Is there anyone else besides me who finds this name funny?]
Of course, we wanted to go to a game! On May 18, 1997 we saw the Rangers take on the Yankees at what was then known as The Ballpark In Arlington.
As you can see, the stadium appears to be out in the middle of nowhere, in a large field. And it was, sort of. There may have been more construction around there since then.
The scoring started right away, with Juan Gonzalez hitting a two-run homer for the Rangers in the bottom of the first. Charlie Hayes then hit a solo shot for the Yankees in the top of the second. The starting pitchers, David Cone for the Yankees and Darren Oliver for the Rangers, settled down after that.
The weather during the game was beautiful and sunny, and let me tell you, it gets hot in Texas in May! This particular day was umbrella day at the stadium, and I could have used mine to shield myself from the sun rather than rain.
[another aside: Since the umbrellas wouldn’t fit into our luggage, we had to carry them on the plane on the way home. I wonder if we’d even be allowed to now, given the current regulations for air travel! Not that we could have used them as weapons, they weren’t very sturdy.]
The Rangers held on to win the game, 4-2. Cone took the loss, pitching the whole game. Oliver got the win, with ex-Yankee John Wetteland getting the save.
In the effort of full disclosure, I must point out that this was not our first visit to the stadium, though it was the first time we saw a game there. In February of 1996, on a previous visit, we took a tour of the stadium. I guess not too many other people were thinking about baseball in February, as we were the only three people on the tour. So it was like our own private tour!
Here is a shot of my brother and husband sitting in the dugout:
And one of my brother and I (or me? I’m not sure which is correct) at the top of the dugout steps:
I’m the one on the left.
Everything looks very wet in these pictures because the field was being watered at the time. After the tour, we ate lunch at the Friday’s located beyond the right-field stands. My brother got one of the largest burgers I have seen:
It looks like it’s the size of his head!
The Ballpark In Arlington has undergone a few name changes in the intervening years. It was known as Ameriquest Field for three years before settling on its current name, Rangers Ballpark In Arlington. Still kind of a long name – what it needs is a catchy nickname! I’ll put my mind to it another time.
Up next, Comiskey Park.