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

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