I went to my first Spring Training game yesterday. The St. Louis Cardinals were playing the New York Mets at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla. and I went with my friend Brenda and her son Zachary. Brenda and I are old college friends and she lives in Boynton Beach, just a stone’s throw from Jupiter. We had seats just behind first base in the lower part of the second level. It was a pleasant day, though there were a few sprinkles just before the game, they dissipated quickly. Brenda has a broken foot, so navigation for her was interesting, but once we were seated, we were ready for the game.
Jake Westbrook was the starting pitcher and he had a good day, going 6 innings without giving up a run. Rather than give a recap of the game, however, I am going to relate to you what the box score won’t tell you. Sit back and enjoy.
Roger Dean had a raccoon visitor. Those of us who were sitting behind the first base dugout didn’t get to see the little critter, but we did get to enjoy the reactions of the fans sitting behind the third base dugout who did. The screaming, the jumping up and running around and the general mayhem that lasted for at least 5 minutes. I was amazed the players could play the game while that was going on. But they seemed to be oblivious to it. They have probably seen it before. I assume the critter was either caught or run off, because things eventually died down, but it was fun while it lasted.
David Freese had an interesting day. He let two bats fly into the stands on two separate occasions. The first one just skimmed the top of the visitor’s dugout. Strikeout number one. Several innings later, he let another one fly, this one landing among the group of fans who had been earlier treated to the critter. Strikeout number two. I didn’t see where it landed, but Brenda said it hit a woman on the back who was trying to duck. I assume she was OK. At least she can say she got clobbered by the bat from the World Series MVP. If she got the bat, she could sell it on ebay. Or keep it if she is so inclined.
Have you ever had someone sitting near you at a game who barely watched the game but talked incessantly? Did you want to turn around and smack them? Yes, we had one of those. A man who was attending with a group of women and proceeded to talk nonstop about everything but the game. And when he did talk about the game, he was wrong 75% of the time. While I am sure seeing Sylvester Stallone and Angie Everhart in South Beach 20 years ago was thrilling for him, I was not the least bit interested in hearing about it for 10 straight minutes. Nor was I particularly thrilled with his ruminations about why Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman left for the clubhouse after the 6th inning when they don’t do that at Busch Stadium. It’s Spring Training, sir, they can do what they please. It’s also OK for the opposing players to run sprints on the outfield track during the game. No, they don’t need security to get them off.
See, you can’t get this kind of thing from a box score, now can you? As for the game, it got exciting in the 9th inning when the Mets tied it up with a HR by Jordany Valdespin off the left field wall. The good guys took the lead and the win in the bottom of the 9th on a single by Jon Jay, scoring Adron Chambers from 3rd. And the guy behind me didn’t have to wait and see if they go extra innings in Spring Training after all.
On the way out of the stadium, who walked right by me but Mike Shannon. And I didn’t have to go to South Beach to see him.