Archive for March, 2007

The Captain Is Gay For Spring Training

Days Until I Am Married:  200

Current Weight:  177

If spring training baseball was a dude, I’d be totally gay. (and I’d be the bottom after the last couple of games I saw…)  This weekend I caught two games, and both were a blast.  On Saturday I finally caught a game here in Sarasota.  I live about five minutes from Ed Smith Stadium, the spring training home of the Cincinnati Reds.  I had yet to go to a game this year but luckily my second favorite team, the Philadelphia Phillies were in town on Saturday.  My uncle drove down from Tampa, and we spent the afternoon cheering on the Phillies (I even busted out my old Jim Thome Phillies shirt!)

Right now in Sarasota there is a big fight over whether or not to build a new stadium for the Reds.  After seeing the stadium in action, my vote is yes.  What a dump, definitely the crappiest stadium I’ve ever seen a major league team play in.  The stadium in Springfield, Missouri is nicer.  However, the game was actually quite fun to watch.  The Reds had their ace, Bronson Arroyo, on the mound and he was lights out.  Not looking forward to the Cards playing against him.  The reds looked pretty damn good, the Phillies not so much.  The MVP whom I happened to go to college with, Ryan Howard, stuck out twice and looked pretty bad the whole game.  Regardless, I think that the Phillies are going to win the NL East, I’m calling it right now.

It was really fun seeing the fans of two other NL teams in action.  The Reds’ fans were pretty happy-go-lucky, even though they were outnumbered at their own ballpark.  The Phillies fans were pretty loud and rambunctious, and actually heckled their own players quite a bit.  One guy about ten rows back from me yelled a ton of crap every time Pat Burrell stepped into the batter’s box.  Being from St. Louis, home of the respectful baseball fan, I found this quite amusing.  My uncle said it was pretty on par for Philly, commenting that the fans used to constantly heckle their biggest stars, especially Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt.  It was funny, but it really made me appreciate being from St. Louis.

Speaking of which, my trip to Roger Dean stadium really made me appreciate good old St. Louie.  Megan and I had a three hour drive each way on Sunday just to make it to the game.  The Cardinals’ spring training stadium is on the Atlantic side of Florida, which means we had to drive from one coast to the other.  It was way worth it; the stadium is gorgeous!  The complex still looks brand new, and is chocked full of palm trees and Cardinals logos, my own little slice of heaven.

Megan and I spent the first 30 minutes in the team store buying way too much stuff.  After the shopping spree, we went up to the party deck for a reception.  My grad school alma-matter, UMSL, had an alumni reception on Sunday.  Of the 50+ alumni in attendance, Megan and I were by far the youngest people on the party deck.  But what a reception:  Free drinks and food bar, great view from the patio of the players warming up, and two awesome guests – John Rooney and Mark Lamping.

First John Rooney, the new Cardinals radio broadcaster, spoke for a good twenty minutes.  He told a few good stories and talked about the upcoming year.  Mark Lamping, the Cardinals current president, spoke once Rooney was done.  He talked more specifics about the season, and even took some time to answer questions from the alumni.  I took this golden opportunity to bring up the bullshit contract with Direct TV and asked him what he was doing about it.  He told me that he wasn’t a big fan of the contract either, but that the decision was made by the commissioner.  So basically, the president of the Cardinals agrees with the assertion I made in my last blog:  Bud Selig is an idiot and an asshole.  That’s all the proof I needed.

Both men were nice enough to take a picture with me, which was awesome.  I got a photo with two employees of the Cardinals, and I look better than both of them.1

Right before Mr. Lamping was nice enough to pose for a pic, he took time to personally put a jinx on the day’s game.  He mentioned all of the starters playing in the game and when it came time to discuss the starting pitcher he said “Anthony Reyes has only given up one run so far this spring.  He’ll end up having the best spring for any of our pitchers, as long as he doesn’t give up five or six runs today.”

Of course, Reyes looked terrible in the game and gave up five runs.  He had no movement on the ball, and kept elevating his pitches too high.  The rest of the team looked pretty solid.  It was Jim Edmonds first day in the lineup this year, and he saw the ball really well for being so rusty.

Once again, the most impressive player on the field was Scott Spezio.  He played the outfield better than Duncan did, and he hit a couple of well placed doubles.  I think that he’ll end up with a lot of playing time this year and I think he should be the right field starter for opening nite.  With only a week till opening day, most of the starters stayed in until the 6th.  We left top of the 7th.

It was a great weekend for baseball.  The weather has heated up considerably in the past week; I actually got a bit burnt from being out in the sun for two days straight.  I’m excited that baseball season begins next week, but I get bummed out when I realize that I’m not going to any games at Busch Stadium this year.

Then again, I get even more bummed out when I think about watching the season on a computer screen.  Hopefully John Kerry will raise some hell at the Senate hearings this week make this bullshit deal go away.  I’ll try and stay positive by mentioning that I’ve lost another pound, bring my grand total to an even dozen.  The weight just keeps falling off, must be a side effect of my spring training fever.  In a few days the Cardinals will leave Florida and return home.  I will miss them greatly.  To anyone who is lucky enough to be going to opening day:  drink one for me.

Ciao,

The Captain

1  That would be pretty hard to pull off with two other employees.  Well, excluding of course Mike Shannon’s drunk-ass or Al Hrabosky’s Kenny-Rogers-looking-ass.

The Captain Has Spring Training Fever

Days Until I Am Married:  207

Current Weight:  178

March Madness has broken out in Florida like the plague.  Two distinct strains have been identified, the College Basketball Virus and Spring Training Fever.  Guess which one I contracted.  If you said the Virus, you are sadly mistaken.  I think the whole NCAA bracket phenomenon is as ridiculous as it is impossible.  Trying to predict the who the winner will be out of 64 teams is like trying to predict who will be World Series Champs on Opening Day.  It’s pointless; everyone just picks the teams that should win (i.e. the Yankees).  I also think the entire premise of determining a champion based on a playoff system with 62 single elimination games is faulty.  However, most of the state seems to love it.

Winning the National title in Basketball last year and Football this year has made the Florida Gators quite popular around these parts.  I could give two shits.  By coincidence, the Gators won this past weekend which means they are headed to the next round in St. Louis.  So sports fans here in Florida are wishing they were in St. Louis, and sports fans in St. Louis wish they were in Florida.  Me, I couldn’t be happier.

I have a full blown case of Spring Training Fever.  I attended my first ever Cardinals Spring Training game this past week, and I am officially hooked.  I had yet to attend a Cards game so far because they play most of their games on the other coast of Florida.  However, I was lucky enough to catch the Cardinals while they were in Fort Myers playing the Twins this past week.  I was especially lucky enough to find a good scalper before the game, and I ended up with sitting in the second row behind the Cardinals dugout.  I had a great view for what turned out to be a great game.

St. Louis’ newest pitcher, Kip Wells, threw five shutout innings.  He even struck out Justin Morneau, the American League MVP last year.  He did a great job of keeping the ball down and forcing a lot of ground outs.  He was exciting to watch, and I think he will do well pitching for the Redbirds.

Wells was opposed by Johan Santana, the American League Cy Young winner for two of the past three seasons.  Seeing Santana pitch in person, I can understand why he is so praised.  His stuff is the best I’ve ever seen and this was only spring training.  Now I know why everyone says he’s the best pitcher in baseball.  What was more amazing to me was that the game was on his 28th birthday.  Unbelievable that this guy is the same age as me.  And what did Santana get for his birthday?  Three outs from the best hitter in baseball, Albert Pujols.  Big Al had some pretty good hacks, but came up empty all three times at the plate.  I would have like to see Albert get a hit, but watching the best pitcher in the game vs. the best hitter in the game was still pretty frickin’ rad.

I also felt lucky that the two players I was most interested in seeing had just made their spring training debut.  The Cards new second baseman, Adam Kennedy, was playing in his second game and my favorite player, David Eckstein, was in his first game of the season.  The pair pulled off a sweet double play, and Eckstein even got a hit off Santana.

The rest of the Cards looked pretty good as well, particular Spezio.  Well, they looked good until the fifth inning.  That’s when the entire team left the field and the backups started playing.  This is entirely a spring training phenomenon, replacing the entire team in the middle of the game.  It makes sense why this is done, but it also really disrupts the flow of the game.  Watching a Cy Young winner be replaced by a guy who won’t even make the team is a bit strange.  Accordingly, we left in the sixth after the B-Squad hit the field.  Still, five solid innings.

Besides Spring Training, the other highlight of my week was the concert I attended on Saturday.  This was the first concert I have seen since I moved to Florida, and it was awesome.  It was my favorite new band, the Silversun Pickups.  More about them in a second.

The concert was at a small club in Ybor City, which is Tampa’s equivalent to Soulard.  We arrived at Ybor City oblivious to the fact that it was St. Patrick’s Day.  This was unfortunate, since we parked on the wrong side of a Parade.  For some reason there was a Mardi Gras type giant parade on Saturday for St. Patty’s Day, complete with floats and people throwing beads.  Since when does St. Patrick’s Day feature beads and girls flashing?  Megan and I found ourselves staring at a club on the wrong side of a parade.  So we had to walk all the way to the end of the parade just to cross the street.  I had a flashback from Mardi Gras last year.

When we finally made it to the club, we ended up waiting two hours for the band to take the stage.  I don’t want to sound like an old man, but when the doors open at 9, 12:30 is a bit late for the headliner’s first song.  It proved well worth the wait, the Silversun Pickups were amazing.  They played all eleven songs from their debut album, and sounded spot on every song.  Anyone who is reading this should check them out.

Between my out-of-town excitement, I managed to lose another pound last week.  Diet and exercise really work!   Running every day had gotten easier and easier, especially since I finally bought a new pair of running shoes.  I’ve upped my daily routine to four miles, and I actually enjoy it.  I’m starting to actually feel the results of my hard work, and it’s awesome.  And by it I mean everything.  Life is good.

Ciao,

The Captain

The Captain Has The Dish On The Commish

Days Until I Am Married:  214

Current Weight:  179

Commissioner Bud Selig is an idiot and an asshole.  Since Bud decided to sign an exclusive deal with Direct TV, I will not be able to enjoy watching Cardinals baseball on my home television this year.  I live in a high rise building, and there is literally no way for me to hook up a dish to my television.  The commish decided that money was more important than letting a fan like myself watch the game.

Granted, the exclusive deal he signed worth approximately ten gajillion dollars would be hard to turn down.  However, his greedy short sightedness is preventing me and countless other baseball fans from voluntarily giving our cable providers $100 to watch baseball.  I can’t believe Bud doesn’t see any problem shutting out numerous baseball fans.  Predictably, he responds by saying that mlb.com has a subscription available for all of the games on streaming video.  Fantastic, after a day of staring at a computer screen all day, I can come home and stare at another computer screen.  Not only that, but I get to pay more money to stare at the shitty, pixilated lameness that is streaming video.

So, I’m at a bit of an impasse.  Do I pay $120 a year to semi-enjoy watching baseball, or do I refuse to pay money for shitty service.  Unfortunately, I am leaning towards ponying up the cash.  Last season I opted not to buy the baseball package, and I had to settle for watching the 2 games a month that got national coverage.  It sucked.  Even though the Cardinals are bound to get more nationally televised games this year, it won’t do me much good.

The Tampa area Fox affiliate always broadcasts Yankee games, and I mean always.  Last summer I had to miss a Cards-Cubs game of the week on Fox because Tampa was broadcasting a Yankees-Angels game.  The only three cities in the country that didn’t get the Cards-Cubs game were New York, Los Angeles and Tampa.  The only nationally televised games I can watch are on ESPN, and that network is ridiculously east coast biased.  So, it’s either the internet or nothing.  I’m curious as to other people’s opinion on my dilemma.  Should I give money to support a greedy idiot who is selling America’s pastime like a drug dealer, or should I take a stand and suffer for it?

As you can probably tell, I’ve got baseball on the mind.  Spring training is in full force down here, and I am set to attend several games in the near future.  I’ll be discussing spring training quite a bit in my next few blogs.  For now, I will concentrate on other topics.

First up, the weather:  It’s gorgeous!  Last Tuesday was probably the unofficial end of chilly weather in Sarasota.  From now till the end of the month, highs will be in the upper 70s to low 80s.  We went to the beach twice this past weekend, and they were the most crowded I’ve seen them since I moved to Sarasota.  Everyone was enjoying the weather; it looked at felt like the official start to spring in Florida.  The weather was also fantastic for our afternoon boat ride on Saturday.

Which bring me to my second topic:  boating!  It had been a month since I’d been out on a boat, (I know, poor me…) and I missed it more than I realized.  With the temperature back up, I’m planning on going out every weekend I’m in town.  If you’re reading this and think I sound like an asshole, you’re probably right.  Let me make it up by extending an invitation to everyone reading this:  come visit me in Florida and I will take you out boating as much as you want.1

Megan and I went out by ourselves on Saturday and took a nice relaxing trip around the bay.  While I am still learning the finer points of operating a boat, I already feel quite at ease on the water.  Next weekend I will be taking my offshore test, which will allow me to take boat out into the Gulf of Mexico.  Good times.

This brings me to my final topic:  exercise!  My routine is apparently working, since I lost another pound this week.  This brings the grand total to ten pounds lost since the New Year, or one pound a week.  If I keep this pace up, I will lose forty pounds by the wedding.  That probably isn’t going to happen, and it isn’t really my goal.  I’m mostly concerned about getting rid of my gut.  To that end, I’ve worked hard at actually trying to enjoy the process of getting back in shape, and so far I’ve really enjoyed it.

Being in Florida helps out a lot.  My daily running route is full of interesting things to focus on, from the bay to palm trees to the wildlife.  For example, on Saturday, Megan and I saw two dolphins playing in the water while on our morning walk.  One of the dolphins floated along the surface of the water for two or three minutes right underneath us on the bridge.  Stuff like that makes exercise much more interesting.  Getting back in shape is the coolest.  And on that note, I’ll end this blog so I can go on a run.

Ciao,

The Captain

1  Boating offer not valid in the month of October.  Sorry, I’ll be a little busy then.  Offer also not valid to anyone who has ever hit on my sister.

The Captain Is Officially A Floridian

Days Until I Am Married:  222

Current Weight:  180

It’s official, I’m a Floridian.  Granted, I technically became one when I obtained a Florida driver’s license back in November.  However, I considered myself a Missourian (or Mizzurahan as they’d say back home) who happened to live in Florida.  Well, my trip to St. Louis erased that fallacy from my mind.  Being back in St. Louis made me realize how much I had changed in the 8 months since I moved to the Sunshine State.  The following is a brief list of some of the changes I noticed:

1.  I have the thin skin of a Floridian.   I was freezing the entire time I was home, despite everyone insisting that the weather had warmed up.

2.  I am tan like a Floridian.  Everyone I saw remarked at how tan I am, when in reality it’s not that I’m tan it’s that everyone is really pale.  In a city full of pale people, I ended up looking like George Hamilton.

3.  I’m used to high prices like a Floridian.  I was constantly remarking how reasonably priced everything in St. Louis is, i.e. gas, food, drinks, prostitutes.

4.  I expect good roads full of bad drivers like a Floridian.  I was amazed at how everyone in St. Louis was at least semi-competent behind the wheel, and equally as amazed at how shitty the roads are in St. Louis.  I seriously thought I was going to die due to all of the road construction.  That lane shift on southbound 170 is ridiculously dangerous.

Regardless of me feeling a bit like an outsider in my home town, I was super excited about being back in the show-me state.  The five months since my last visit is the longest amount of time I’ve been out-of-state since I was four.  Nothing much had changed since I left, which was actually quite refreshing.  I managed to pack a whole lot in the 60+ hours I spent in St. Louie.  Everything but sleep.  I didn’t get more than four hours any of my three nites in town.  So much to see, so many people to do.  Being a part of a wedding made my schedule even more jampacked.

Megan and I arrived on Thursday afternoon, and didn’t see each other again until Saturday morning.  The first two stops we made in town were Dierbegs and Imos.  I ate a medium pizza in like 3 minutes, it was so awesome.  Florida has the worst pizza.  I had dinner with my family that evening, and stayed up late that nite drinking at the Barbara house.  On Friday I spent some time with my mom during the day, and then went out big time Friday nite.  After attending the rehearsal dinner for our friends Jamie and Rachel, several members of the bridal party (including the groom) headed to Blueberry Hill.  The rest of the nite contained hands down the most partying I have done so far this year.  Unfortunately, I am not at liberty to discuss the events of that particular evening.  Suffice to say a good time was had.

All day and all of the nite Saturday was consumed by Jamie and Rachel’s wedding, which was actually quite a good time.  The weather was horrible; it felt like a cold monsoon blew into town.  In other words, not too bad for St. Louis in February.  The nicest part of the whole day was the fact that Megan and I were both in the wedding party, so we actually got to spend most of the day together hanging out with our friends.

After the reception, we stayed up late drinking again at the Barbara house.  So late in fact, that I almost considered not going to bed, since our flight left early on Sunday morning.  I did manage to grab a couple hours of sleep, mostly because I knew that Sunday was going to take some endurance.  We had two layovers on the way back to Florida, which made for quite a long day.  We made it back to Sarasota in time to watch an hour of the Oscars before we passed out.

As it turned out, Monday and Tuesday were quite hectic as well.  Megan had two days to unpack and then repack.  She left on Wednesday for a week long trip for work.  She was in Baltimore from Wednesday till today, and then flew to Miami where she will be until Wednesday this week.  She’s been quite busy, and I have been quite the opposite.

I spent the weekend lounging around in my underwear drinking heavily.  How strange that this was the exact state I was in the last time I wrote a blog.  Since that last blog, I managed to lose another pound.  More accurately, since my last blog I probably gained three pounds, and then promptly lost four pounds.  I ate a ton of crap while I was in the Lou, and then came home and hit the ground running.  It was nice to spend a couple of days stuffing my piehole with St. Louis favorites like Imo’s, Pasta House, Steak n Shake, etc.  By the time I got back to Florida, I felt so friggin bloated.  Glad I got it out of my system.

Being in St. Louis really made me evaluate my life here in Florida.  This was mostly due to the fact that everyone I saw asked me a)  How do you like it down in Florida?, or b)  Do you miss St. Louis?  My answer was the same to everyone:  I miss the people but not the place.  I love living down here, but I really wish my friends and family were here to keep me company.  In Florida I take a lot of walks on the beach by myself.  In St. Louis I spent a lot of time having good conversations in cars caked with dried road salt.  Both activities are great, for completely different reasons.  It was great seeing so many people that I love, and it was also great taking off my jacket when I stepped out of the airport in Florida.  More than anything, my trip St. Louis made me really look forward to our wedding in October.  My favorite people in my new favorite place, I can’t wait!

Ciao,

The Captain

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