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Scenes from Spring Training: Phun with the Phillie Phanatics Part 4

Mar 15, 2010, 10:50 AM EDT

Remember that thing Tom Verducci wrote back in December about how the Phillies are turning into the Yankees?  I thought that probably overstated things, but there is at least one thing they have in common: Obstructed press box views in their spring training ballparks:

Press Box Clearwater.JPGI was able to position myself to where I could see most of the field and crane my neck to see the parts I missed, but given how the Phillies seemed to get almost every detail right at Bright House Field, I was surprised to see this kind of thing. Of course, the fans don’t have obstructed views, so maybe this was an intentional move designed to screw with reporters a bit. If so, I’ll give Philly credit for either excellent priorities or a nice, if somewhat harsh, sense of humor.

By the way, the dude on the left in that pic is Buster Olney. A minute after that picture was taken, Olney opened the window in front of him and returned to that exact chin-in-hand position. A minute after that a foul ball bounced off the facade of the press box and somehow ricocheted through the window. Olney caught it with his left hand without otherwise budging. It was a pretty swift move. Certainly the coolest thing you’ll ever see Olney do, and certainly swifter than some of the reporting he did regarding the Phillies that day.

By the way: Ruben Amaro called Olney’s Howard-for-Pujols rumor “lies.”  Who knows where Buster came up with that one, but I did see Olney talking to a bunch of Philly reporters earlier that morning. I have no idea what they were saying, but I’d like to think that the Philly guys were peddling that stuff to Olney to see what he’d do with it. I further imagine that when Olney’s report went live yesterday they all called each other to say “Ha! Olney bought it!”

Anyway, there was a game on Saturday:

  • Jamie Moyer wasn’t with the Phillies. Reason: The rain messed with the schedule and to keep him on track they scheduled him to pitch against the Blue Jays’ b-team up in Dunedin today.  For the third time this spring. I’m not big on predictions, but if the Phillies and Jays meet in the World Series, and the plane carrying the Jays’ starters goes down in a cornfield, thus pressing the backups into service, I’m giving the edge to the Phillies. Moyer probably owns them by now. (UPDATE: Or not).

  • As the game began the wind was blowing out to right at approximately 158 m.p.h. Carl Pavano was the Twins’ starter. As such, I predicted 12 Ryan Howard home runs. Sadly he didn’t deliver.

  • Oh, forgot this bit from before the game: The Phillies were taking infield practice when the coach hitting the fungoes yells out “$500 for a perfect infield!”  As soon as he said that, Ryan Howard bobbled an easy one. Then Utley threw one away. Then Polanco bobbled one. By this time they’re all laughing their heads off and can barely field the ball.  During the game: no infield errors for the Phillies.

  • Jimmy Rollins came to the plate to Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day.” I have no idea if he was doing that before, but this was the first time I had noticed it. Either way, I like Jimmy Rollins about 123% more now than I did before Saturday.

  • The grounds crew dragged the infield after every two innings, which is way more frequent than you usually see. Bonus: no “YMCA,” “Thank God I’m a County Boy” or “Cotton Eyed Joe.” Grounds crew members are professionals. Maybe some of them like that song and dance stuff, but I bet more of them prefer to simply do their jobs.

  • So much for the wind: both Carl Pavano and J.A. Happ were on point. Pavano threw a perfect three innings. Happ only gave up one hit and struck out three in four innings. The game hummed by.  Way crisper and regular-season feeling than any game I saw last week.

  • Best beer guy of the spring was at Bright House too: “Beer!beer!beer!beer!beer!beer!beer!” He sounded like he could have been a member of the Asylum Street Spankers.

  • Official attendance: 10,501,
    which is largest in Phillies spring training history. This is the second time that has happened at a game I attended last week, the first being at the Twins-Cardinals game. I had no idea I was so popular.

  • Shane Victorino made a two base error that allowed a run to score, but it was nice to see him replace his divot in the OF grass.

  • Antonio Bastardo came into the game and quickly blew up, allowing four runs on five hits in a single inning of work. You may be surprised to hear that some fans began doing a clever little play on words with his last name. Bet he’s never heard that before.

  • Jacque Jones came into the game to play right field. According to the little media notes they handed out, Jones is 10th all time in homers for the Twins. I never would have guessed that in 100 years.

  • Matt Tolbert had a hell of a day after coming in to spell Orlando Hudson at second. In a single inning:  average-speed grounder hit to him and he pulls a Roger Dorn Ole job on it to put a runner on first. Next up: infield popup. The infield fly rule is in effect so it doesn’t matter if Tolbert catches it or not, but it is an easy fly and he drops it. Couple plays later, no runner on first this time, popup to second. Alexi Casilla runs over from short, ignores Tolbert’s “I got it” and catches the ball himself, saying more or less everything that needed to be said about Tolbert’s defense. Orlando Hudson: you are in no danger of losing your starting job late this season.

  • Cody Ransom comes in for the Phillies and hits a home run. Between the homer and the fact that he doesn’t have to talk to the feds about Dr. Galea, the New York tabloids dust off last year’s stories and begin their “Ransom should start at third instead of Planco” campaign.

  • Jose Contreras
    came in to pitch. Between him, Thome and Raul Ibanez, there were three guys in the game older
    than me. That doesn’t happen too much these days.

  • Pat Neshek came in to pitch for the Twins. His windup and delivery is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
  • I decided that I had had enough of catered press lunches, so I went out onto the concourse during the game to grab something to eat:

Horsemeat and Velveeta.JPGThat, my friends, is a horsemeat and Velveeta sandwich from Delco’s. Old Gator can pretend he doesn’t like them, but I think he’s just trying to start arguments. Either that or he’s crazy. Best ballpark food I had all week.  Oh, and the stuff in the cup? Um, something must be wrong with the color on my camera because I was drinking soda. Yeah, that’s it, soda. Any resemblance to Yuengling is completely coincidental. I was working after all, and you certainly can’t drink a tasty, tasty beer while working on a sunny Saturday afternoon when there’s a baseball game happening. No siree. That would be wrong.

Game ended with the Phillies beating the Twins 5-4. It was over in a cool 2:28 (would have been 1:57 if it weren’t for Bastardo and Tolbert). Between the size and modernity of the park and the overall quality of play in the game, I left feeling jazzed, stoked and otherwise hyped for the regular season to start. Spring training is wonderful, but bring on the games that count.

  1. Jason @ IIATMS - Mar 15, 2010 at 11:07 AM

    {keyboard drool}

  2. Old Gator - Mar 15, 2010 at 11:12 AM

    Arrrrggggghhhhh! The linings of my retinal capillaries are hardening just from looking at that pestilential concoction.
    .
    I can hear you cackling like an old witch with a vibrator when you embedded that thing in your blog. I don’t forget this sort of thing easily, and life is very long.
    .
    Unless, of course, you do something beaucoup unwise to shorten it. Like eat one of…of…those.

  3. bigcatasroma - Mar 15, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    Nothing like some Phillies love from a Braves fan! CC, Clearwater is nice. Makes me look forward to the season – I wonder if sabermetrics can ever incorporate those “intangibles” like “goofiness,” “fun-loving” and “they look they are always having a good time playing with each other” in terms of WAR or VORP or season wins. Because, though I don’t like me some MSM, they talk about how much fun these Phils seem to like playing with each other, and that that adds several wins a year. I’m really not a believer in that kind of thing, but with this group, there may be something to it . . .

  4. Jonny5 - Mar 15, 2010 at 11:20 AM

    Nice! You did good Craig. Why have you left out the part about the Phanatic trying to sodomize you? He’s a serious Pervert. BTW, MMMM Beer and cheese steak…. What’s kinda funny now that you bring up old Gator, Wouldn’t that attendance number be the tops for the “Feesh” during regular season? And now I’ve officially fallen in love with your spam blocker. This time tops it all. “the chronic”. I shit you not.

  5. Darryl - Mar 15, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    Craig, sorry I missed you on Saturday. Great stuff about Bright House – I’ll get them to post your stuff – the staff will love it. See you next time.

  6. Rays fan - Mar 15, 2010 at 12:00 PM

    You get to go to my home state to bask in the sun and enjoy Grapefruit League games. I, on the other hand, got sent by my employers to central Ohio for a week of mind numbing meetings and cold, “liquid sunshine.” The universe is officially off-kilter.

  7. The Common Man - Mar 15, 2010 at 12:02 PM

    Mmmmmmm…Yuengling. That takes me back.

  8. Anebriated - Mar 15, 2010 at 12:12 PM

    That is a new intro for JRoll. He used “I’mma Be” last season.

  9. Joe L - Mar 15, 2010 at 12:25 PM

    That Dr. Nick anecdote has already made my week, and given me faith in the common decency of man.
    Holy smokes! You need booze.
    You won’t feel a thing – until I jam this down your throat!
    You don’t have to make up stories here. Save that for court.
    The coroner? I’m so sick of that guy.
    Calm down sir, you’re going to give yourself skin failure.

  10. Old Gator - Mar 15, 2010 at 12:26 PM

    That’s nothing. You should hear the things my current wife whispers to me when…well, you know, she’s British and that’s as close to talking dirty as they get when they’re as well brought up as she is.
    .
    That attendance number is pretty close to three times the attendance at Joeprodolsharklife Stadium for a weekday afternoon game in the Scrooge McLoria era. Most of us would have seen the EYP’s (Exciting Young Prospects) in the spring training games so we wouldn’t be likely to pay to see them at midseason when they’re rushed up to the big club, as it were, to replace a seasoned former EYP who’s just been salary-dumped someplace before the July trading deadline. We’re going to try to enjoy Dan Uggla, for example, until then – for me, the hard swinging strikeout remains one of the most exciting plays in baseball – but we do know that there’ll always be some kid coming up behind him, and anyone else who gets any good at what he does, whose departure will break our hearts anew in a few years.
    .
    Speaking of which, Feesh-Aureoles got rained out over the weekend, so there goes my annual ritual first game at the ballpark for this year. Ah well, I’ll probably catch a few, especially the Citrus Series games on June 11-13 at the Tropicana Dump with TF (I gotta remember to bring my Nardil to ward off anxiety neuroses over that stupid blimp), Shittyfield and perhaps Wrigley this summer (if they come up with a killed or weakened prion vaccine first). I remain more or less on strike about lining Scrooge McLoria’s pockets by buying tickets to Joeprodolsharklife Stadium while he’s still running the team like a one-day-only sale at K-Mart. I make only one exception: when my lawyer buys the tickets. No one would believe me anyway.

  11. gumbercules - Mar 15, 2010 at 12:27 PM

    The two things I miss the most about no longer living in PA – Yuengling and cheesesteaks. Of course this game was in FL, but you get the drift. Anyway, screw you Shyster. I’m jealous.

  12. YankeesfanLen - Mar 15, 2010 at 12:53 PM

    OK, now I know that Old Gator is just being cantankerous with the “horsemeant and velveeta”. He’s just dissatisfied, as am I, about not being able to duplicate the lucious “secret sauce” that must be a concoction of oil, salt and butter that is lathered on, which can only be properly digested by a 16 oz, dosage of Yuengling.
    I’m beginning to think you personally make up the spam blockers:
    :”detaches His”, I don’t think so.

  13. Rays fan - Mar 15, 2010 at 2:51 PM

    That’s Tropicana Unique Facility. Still picking on our poor, unloved squashed toadstool!
    If you like a good used bookstore, be sure to visit Haslem’s–it’s right near the unique facility.

  14. Madhatters - Mar 15, 2010 at 4:11 PM

    J-Roll and his neverending playlist of plate walk-up music. He went through a whole Jacko thing last year after July.
    Here’s hoping Chase changes Kashmir (it’s been 3 years, I think your wife is satisfied) & J-Werth drops that lame Sex On Fire song

  15. Old Gator - Mar 15, 2010 at 7:42 PM

    Len, you see that photo of the obstructed view from the pressbox? That’s merely a metaphor for what’s going on inside Craig’s carotid artery at this very moment, courtesy of that horrible thing he ate for lunch – washed down, no doubt, with that Coke which, when you read the can, consists largely of an assortment of fertilizers for his tumor garden.
    Replying to comment from Rays Fan: Thanks, I will make a point of it. BTW note that this year’s Citrus Series games in the Dump will be played on June 11-13 and wild razorbacks, Florida panthers, mutant monitor lizards and boatloads of drug-addled Marielitos couldn’t keep me away. You, TF and I have to arrange something for this year.
    .
    I can’t tell you when the games down here will be because I’m not entirely confident about what they’ll be calling the stadium in three months.

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