Tuesday, March 6, 2007

I spy a Cat in the Hat

Today's game - Reds vs Devil Rays at St. Petersburg.

Batting practice was almost non-existent. Only a few made it out - I was lucky to come away with one. Bit of celebrity spotting after the game though as I was able to get Keith Olbermann's autograph and talk with him a bit. Keith was an ESPN SportsCenter anchor a few years ago, teaming with Dan Patrick for some pretty entertaining shows. Now he's got a news/political show on MSNBC called Countdown with Keith Olbermann. So after getting his autograph, I ask him about the whole Scooter Libby trial thing - basically, why was this trial only about Scooter lying when (in my opinion) the much more serious crime (blowing Valerie Plame's cover as a CIA spy) was being unpunished. Lack of enough hard evidence to make it a slam-dunk case appears to be the reason.

Then came the fireworks - I asked Keith why would Robert Novak even write about this in the first place? What good can come of exposing one of our own and essentially ending her career if not putting her life in danger? What's newsworthy about that? His response was along the lines of... "because he's a mean old bitter despicable man." Ok, Keith, now tell me how you really feel. ;-)

Sight of the Day:
Students from a local school were at the field early in the morning for a team community outreach event in honor of this being the 50th anniversary of the Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. So there's all these kids, probably 8-10 years old, sitting on the grassy berm and they're all wearing the tall red & white Cat in the Hat hats. A couple of Devil Ray players are standing there in uniform, talking about how education is important and reading to the kids from the Cat in the Hat book. And sure enough, the players are also wearing the tall red & white Cat in the Hat hats. The kids (and I) loved it.

Daily Ballhawk Totals: BP-1, HR-0, Foul-0
Spring Training Totals: BP-23, HR-3, Foul-2

Monday, March 5, 2007

That's Mohr like it...

Today's game - Twins vs Devil Rays at St. Petersburg.

Not much excitement today. North wind continues to blow making batting practice more enjoyable. And a pre-game visit to the hot dog vendor on the street corner across from Al Lang field, makes the day even more enjoyable. Husband and wife have this little push cart offering hot dogs, foot longs, kosher dogs, and your choice of sauerkraut, relish, onions and of course, stadium mustard. Not as good as the original Bertman Ballpark Mustard, served at Cleveland Stadium and Jacobs Field for well over 50 years, but pretty good.

Dustan Mohr of the Rays celebrated playing against his ex-team by hitting the only homer of the day - a line drive over the left center field wall that landed in the fenced in area. A worker picked it up and flipped it over the fence to me. Not the same as catching it mind you, but I guess I'll count it anyway. Twins win 4-2.

Sight of the Day:
Devil Rays made six errors in yesterday's game so guess what I see them doing early this morning - they're taking fielding practice! And getting a little chewed out in the process, too. I guess when your entire team payroll is in the $30M range, you can afford to treat them like a real baseball team and not a bunch of pampered superstars. When you're in the same division as the Yankees and Red Sox, it's gotta be tough to have dreams of the playoffs, but there is a lot of young talent on this team. Who knows - if enough things go right, they could pull off a real surprise in the next few years.

Daily Ballhawk Totals: BP-6, HR-1, Foul-0
Spring Training Totals: BP-22, HR-3, Foul-2

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Shine on, you crazy grandpa!

Today's game - Blue Jays vs Devil Rays at St. Petersburg.

Was definitely looking forward to the newest Blue Jay, Frank Thomas, taking a little BP today, but unfortunately the Big Hurt was still recovering from a few little hurts so he was a no-show. Seems like most of the bats for both teams were no-shows as well with very few balls hit out during BP. I got a couple of long foul balls that left the yard during the game which thanks to the concrete barricades put up in advance of the Honda Grand Prix IRL race, didn't bounce into the bay.

As I was coming back from the second one, a young couple and their small boy were leaving the game, so I flipped the ball to the kid. Well he's happy as can be and Mom spends five minutes thanking me. So just as they're leaving, I hear a "thwack!", followed by a crowd roar and then a ball hits the ground about ten feet away. Had I been a bit more attentive, I would have caught it on the fly, but was able to get it after a few bounces. So my second home run comes compliments of Mr. Curtis Thigpen of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Sight of the Day:
It's early in the morning and I'm walking past one of the parking lot attendants. Not busy yet, so he's taking it easy, just sitting in his chair, listening to some music on a little boom box. Now this guy looks like he's 70-75 years old, so you'd think he's listening to Sinatra, Mancini, maybe Perry Como, right? Wrong! Try Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon. Shine on, you crazy grandpa!

Daily Ballhawk Totals: BP-2, HR-1, Foul-2
Spring Training Totals: BP-16, HR-2, Foul-2

Saturday, March 3, 2007

We're talking 'bout practice

Today's game - No game, just Devil Rays practice at St. Petersburg.

Strong north wind blowing which means St. Pete is the place to be even if the Rays are on the road (Toronto at Dunedin). So I'm hoping whoever doesn't make the trip, stays behind for a little BP. Well, that hope is rewarded about 10:00 or so, when that familiar "thwack" starts filling the air.

Me and Sonny are the only ones there which means plenty of baseballs for both of us. Sonny is quite the local character - not sure how old he is, but he's still in good shape. Plays in about four different softball leagues so he's pretty much always in uniform. Has this telescoping ball retriever to get the balls that land in the fenced in area - pulls it close enough to the fence so he can snake a hand in there to get it out. Has a little basket on the other end so if a ball bounces into the bay, he can scoop it out before it sinks.

Sight of the Day:
On the way to St. Pete, I pass by Derby Lane, a greyhound racing park. 8:00 am and there's already quite a few cars in the parking lot. And I can't be sure, but it looks like there's a bunch of people tailgating. Tailgating? For greyhound races?? Must be some Bears fans down here on Spring Break...

Daily Ballhawk Totals: BP-11, HR-0, Foul-0
Spring Training Totals: BP-14, HR-1, Foul-0

Friday, March 2, 2007

Hey A-Rod, ever hear of Wally Pipp?

Today's game - Yankees vs Devil Rays at St. Petersburg.

Al Lang field in St. Pete is a great place for ballhawking if there's a north wind blowing. It's wide open beyond the left field wall, a little fenced in area in left-center and most of right, then open again down the right field line. And it's right on the bay next to a marina, so it's very picturesque and calming.

As for the game, after Alex Rodriguez makes an early exit like so many of the stars do for these early spring training games, some guy named Chris Basak takes his place and promptly blasts a 3-run homer to win the game for the Yankees. Hmm... could this be Cashman's backup plan in case A-Rod opts out? Anyway, I manage to run down the ball before a couple fans leaving early get too close to it.

Sight of the Day:
As always, anytime the Yankees go anywhere down here, quite the entourage accompanies them. Most teams have a bus or two and maybe one car for the coaches, but for today's game, I saw two buses, four SUVs, and an assortment of sports cars.

Daily Ballhawk Totals: Batting Practice-3, Home Run-1, Foul-0
Spring Training Totals: BP-3, HR-1, Foul-0