The Ace outside Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida. - Shawna Sastamoinen
In which I recap my five days in Clearwater, FL, home of beautiful beaches and the Phillies' training camp. Herein, our watching a game sitting behind a fellow who knows everything.
After a few days in Orlando, visiting the various component parks of Disney World (wherein we saw several Domonic Brown shirseys in Fantasyland); my wife and I drove the nearly two hours across the Florida peninsula to Clearwater, hoping to enjoy warm weather, sandy beaches, and a libation or several.
Even the unseasonably cold weather that hit early in the week (seriously, there was a NOAA warning for 50 degrees) is markedly improved from Fairbanks, AK, and we're something like 400 miles from a real beach (let alone a warm beach), so there was fun to be had all around. The big draw, though, was the Phillies. We took in four games: the 15-2 laffer at the hands of the Dominican Republic, the Roy Halladay / Stephen Strasburg matchup win over Washington, the Aaron Hicks Show with the Minnesota Quadruplets, and finally, the 14-7 laffer at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Despite coming away with a 1-3 record, you'd be quite hard pressed to get me to trade this week for another. I've had a blast. Watching minor leaguers play like minor leaguers; getting autographs from nearly all of the Phillies broadcasters (I'm only missing Jim Jackson now); even getting a "how ya doin'" from GM Ruben Amaro. It's been an awesome week; here are some of the more basebally highlights.
Sitting behind Wannabe Scout Guy. This dude did. Not. Stop. Talking. For. The. Entire. Game. Actually, I can't say that, because he left with one out in the ninth against Washington, depriving me of a good three minutes of insights. But he had so much to say beforehand, too.
- When Tommy Joseph allowed a passed ball, moving up an ultimately erased runner in a 6-0 game: "Aw, catch the ball! I coulda caught that. For all you get paid, you gotta hang on to that."
- When Freddy Galvis drew a 10-pitch walk (showing some impressive foul-contact skills): "You gotta swing the bat, man! Ain't gonna drive in runs with the bat on your shoulder!"
- Explaining to another fan what OPS is (it's displayed on the jumbotron here!): "It's a bogus stat. They generate it with some computer formula instead of the actual numbers. It starts with slugging percentage, but I forget what the OP means."
- When Ender Inciarte attempted a bunt in the 8th: "That's good, that's good. It's good to see the kids work a bunt." Inciarte was out on three pitches, of course.
- When a foul grounder was rolled past third, and Domonic Brown neglected to take more three strides after the foul call: "ARE YOU EVEN GONNA MOVE FOR THAT ONE?"
- When the Hooters' Girl ballgirl (seriously, that's a cute promotion, but it needs to go away) misplayed a foul roller for perhaps the third time: "YOU'RE TERRIBLE."
- When Chase Utley leaped and just missed hauling in a line drive (one that Ozzie Smith probably doesn't get): "He's never been a good fielder. [Robinson] Cano would've snagged that."
- When Josh Fields (subbed in for Howard) went oppo-boppo: "He's gotta be our third baseman next year. Look at that power."
These quotes are as close as possible to verbatim. But then, suddenly, with one out in the top of the ninth, he and his "student" got up and left. I suppose Amaro needed his notes typed up shortly after the game or something.