Friday, March 07, 2008

Spring Training update

Wow, this week has flown by. I'm sunburnt, which is a bit odd because I usually don't burn, at least not like this, even if it is my first time in the sun since about October.

Yesterday's game versus the Yankees was great. The Reds batted around in the first inning off of Wang, who couldn't even finish the inning. Yankees fans littered the sold out stadium; some of them were real fans with Bronx accents and some of them were frontrunner bandwagoners, but all of them got their due. Of course, Jeter, ARod, and Posada didn't even make the trip, but that doesn't matter, because the Reds got six runs off a real Yanks starter.

The weather was still crappy but not as crappy as Tuesday when the game was called after 4.5 innings. Yesterday it only rained enough to think about getting out a rain poncho but it dried up and was rather pleasant aside from the cloudy darkness that hung over the stadium. It's hard being down here near all of these great beaches and not be able to use them, but being sunburnt from the Tigers-Phillies game on Wednesday, that might be a good thing. Sky looks the same this morning.

My impression of Reds Spring Training is probably skewed because I went to the Indians game with 5500+ people on Wedensday and 6000+ yesterday. Today I'll see them take on the Pirates, so I'm sure there'll be plenty of empty seats despite the fact they made those of us who wanted Yankees tickets buy this game, too. I lost count of the number of Yanks fans yesterday who asked if I wanted to buy their tickets for today.

So what is Spring Training like, you might ask. Well, the first two or three innings are pretty normal. When the Bats and Lookouts start pinch hitting in the third and fourth innings, things start to get a little strange. Sure, guys like Rosales and Janish may have a future with the Reds, but they aren't the real Reds right now. I know a thing or two about the Reds' system, but it seems like half of the stadium has no clue who these players are.

Aaron Harang pitched well (as usual) yesterday, but it was strange to see him come out after three innings. He still gets the win, though, because rules are bendable during Spring Training. Just as the game on Tuesday was a complete game after four and a half innings, yesterday's game length was a bit unusual. You don't read about it in the box, but yesterday with the Reds up 12-8, the top of the ninth ended and the Reds had won. People got up from their seats and headed for the exit (those who remained). Suddenly, the PA guy announced that they would still play ball in the bottom of the ninth. Chris Dickerson ended up hitting a three run homer and the Reds scored another for a total of 16 runs, though the last four didn't officially count. Seems like Baker just wanted some of his guys to get some ABs.

Autographs aren't as easy to get as I had imagined. In fact, the only current Red I have is Jeff Keppinger. He said he accepts his role as utility infielder but really wants to be a starter. I like that guy. The other Reds I got were gems - Eric Davis and George Foster. George gets his own ball; Davis signed the Keppinger ball, but it's still Davis' ball because he signed the sweet spot. I got Bobby Abreu's ink on a ball with two Yanks' rooks - Colin Curtis and Austin Jackson. Ellis Burks, now an Indians coach, signed my mesh Indians cap. Chris Snelling and Pete Laforest signed a squishy Phillies ball I brought along. I'll see what I can get today - there must be a trick to it I don't know about.

Above all, though, I have to lament even the thought of the Reds moving away from one of the most beautiful beaches in the world - Siesta Key - to the desert. Yes, Ed Smith could use a face lift (and yesterday they had to shut down the restrooms because the water pressure was gone), but time and time again I've heard people say they just can't make the extra 1600 mile drive down to Arizona. Seems to be a club of people here who come down every year. I can see how one can become addicted. Despite the rain, when I think about the ice and snow back in Ohio, I have to look down at my shorts and flip flops and smile.

More to come...

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