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Scenes from Spring Training: Red Sox Nation South Part 2

Mar 11, 2010, 9:00 AM EDT

As I walked down to the field I realized that the fates kept placing me at the park where the biggest news of the day was going down: Nathan’s UCL on Tuesday and Nomar’s retirement on Wednesday.  Upon realizing this I thought that I should charge the other writers $500 a head to hear where I’d be heading today so that they too could be where all the action was.  Then I was humbled:

“Hey! Where you headin’?”

The tone implied that I was not at the friendly Minnesota Twins’ complex anymore.  Not that the person demanding to see my papers and to know my destination was unpleasant with me, exactly. Just far, far more businesslike than what I’d become used to the previous few days. This was all a part of that major league vibe I was talking about, at least compared to the other camps. Whereas at Port St. Lucie and Hammond Stadium you end up seeing the same three smiling employees over and over who quickly come to recognize you and generally leave you alone, City of Palms was crawling with employees checking credentials and making sure you never go where you’re not supposed to go.  I dunno. Maybe they just do it with unfamiliar faces like mine. I mean, I’m guessing they don’t constantly ask to see Amalie Benjamin’s press pass.  Like I said before. I’m kind of an interloper everywhere I go this week.

But regardless of the reason, that vibe continued all morning. You can’t get quite as close to the batting cages in Sox camp as you can elsewhere. You can’t wander quite as far down the lines.  When you start taking pictures of stuff, someone starts watching you a little more closely.  Again, this isn’t unfriendly or anything — it’s not like anyone was ever rude to me — it was just much more, I dunno, formal.

Still, I did manage to wander a bit, and since I’m probably into the tens of thousands of words with these things thus far, how about a nice photo tour?

Maddon Fungo.jpgTito 1B.jpgUnlike La Russa, who couldn’t be bothered, Joe Maddon hit fungoes and Tito Francona played some first base during infield drills.  Hands on managing. I like it.  Know what else I like?  This machine:

fly ball machine.jpgJust a pitching machine set on a higher trajectory for fly ball practice, but there is something immensely satisfying about the “clunk” noise it makes as it shoots each ball into space.  I’d like to get one of these for the home.  Query: would I catch more hell for bringing one of those things home, or two of these things?

Hello girls.jpgYep, Hooters girls, wandering around giving out coupons by yelling “free beer!” to everyone.  This and any number of other promotional activities going on in the concourses are the sorts of things that led to that big league vibe I was talking about. I realize that every ballpark is essentially a giant marketing experience, but it’s taken a bit farther at City of Palms. As too is the Super Fan thing:

Cowbell Kid.jpgYeah, this guy is a Rays fan, but there were Sox fans dressed up just as loopy.

And though it’s hard to believe, neither the active managers, the Cowbell Kid, the fly ball machine nor the Hooters girls were the best thing about the pregame at City of Palms.  This was:

Lego Fenway.jpgThat’s right: Lego Fenway Park.  When I get back to Ohio I’m heading straight to the Lego store to buy everything I’ll need for Lego Tiger Stadium.  Then I’ll be heading down to the basement for a while. If you don’t hear from me in two weeks, forward my mail.

  1. RobRob - Mar 11, 2010 at 9:26 AM

    When you’re buying up all those Legos for your Tiger Stadium project, be sure to pick up the Lego wrecking ball.

    Too soon?

  2. Craig Calcaterra - Mar 11, 2010 at 9:29 AM

    Yes. Too damn soon. [Cries]

  3. TF in Tampa - Mar 11, 2010 at 9:53 AM

    Ahh… Craig. Work, Work, Work!
    Florida-Sunshine-Baseball blogging-Hooters Girls offering free beer!
    Did I forget to mention work? Where do I sign up?

  4. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Mar 11, 2010 at 10:10 AM

    Just a pitching machine set on a higher trajectory for fly ball practice, but there is something immensely satisfying about the “clunk” noise it makes as it shoots each ball into space. I’d like to get one of these for the home. Query: would I catch more hell for bringing one of those things home, or two of these things?

    You have to be careful with those [JUGS] machines, just ask Stuart Scott =\
    I also like:

    Yep, Hooters girls, wandering around giving out coupons by yelling “free beer!” to everyone.

    Because apparently just being Hooters girls isn’t enough, you have to utlize a “free beer” slogan.

  5. peteinfla - Mar 11, 2010 at 10:47 AM

    Craig – I suspect that if you bring home option 2 from your query, you will also hear a clunk similiar to the one the pitching machine makes, as whatever blunt object available meets the back of your head. Followed by darkness. Still, might be worth it huh?

  6. Ryan - Mar 11, 2010 at 11:43 AM

    “Then I’ll be heading down to the basement for a while.”

    yeah, because you weren’t heading there already? :p Blogger, mothers basement, you know the rest.

  7. mcgatman - Mar 11, 2010 at 12:29 PM

    So Craig, lemme get this straight? You’re trying to decide whether to bring one of the Hooter’s girls home or both of them? I think that’s a decision that makes itself.

  8. Old Gator - Mar 11, 2010 at 1:13 PM

    He had to dodge all those monitor lizards. Don’t make fun of him.
    Meanwhile, howsabout a visit to Legoland? Think I’m kidding? Hell, look at this:
    The stadium would not be at all out of place there. They have entire freaking cities made of Lego blocks and you can look right into a Lego block mine in Siberia. Personally, I like the one in Germany, with its new “Lives of Others” surveillance ride, and the one near London where you can throw pound coins into a wishing well owned by the Windsors. If your daughter gave you a joint for your 60th birthday, like mine did, save it till you get there. You won’t be sorry.

  9. peteinfla - Mar 11, 2010 at 2:04 PM

    I was at Legoland this past weekend during my family’s annual pilgramage to the shrine of the mouse. Remarkable what these people have created with the damn Legos. Sea serpents, castles and spaceships. Kind of embarrasses me when I make a simple car with my 5 year old!
    Great daughter you have? How can I get my kids (the teen agers – not the 5 year old) to get me something uselfull and thought provoking for my birthday?

  10. Old Gator - Mar 11, 2010 at 2:58 PM

    My wife did stand-up comic poetry recital and was a fringe cabaret compere in London for years. I was…well…me. So her mother was Monty Python English and I was a Grateful Dead Floridian. What the hell kind of daughter would you expect us to have?

  11. TF in Tampa - Mar 11, 2010 at 5:33 PM

    You are much more blessed than I, as I am a childless child, and I outgrew Legos a long time ago.
    So, in order to receive the gifts of unspeakable value such as the one from your daughter, I must rely on my old gang, the boys in the hood, from back in Jersey. Although these days we prefer to smoke a good tasty Cuban and enjoy a snifter of your favorite grand liqueur, mine being Grand Marnier.
    Craig’s in Bradenton maybe Tampa by now going to the Yanks/Braves game, if its not rained out. So he survived any lizard attacks. Now all he has to worry about is the tornado warning we’re under here right now!

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