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.


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.

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