Saturday, March 28, 2009

Game 2 in the books

Picking up the recap of Day 1 from last night...

Game 2 - Nationals vs. Mets @ Port St. Lucie
It was on to Port St. Lucie for game 2. Arriving at the ballpark (after a brisk 15 minute walk from the hotel) at 3:30pm for a 7:10pm game. Over to the team store to see what t-shirts they had in stock. i needed something to wear for Saturday and Sunday.

We don't get into the back fields until 4pm. Different from prior seasons, the team is warming up on the practice field who's centerfield is adjacent to the centerfield from the big stadium (they had always used the one adjacent to the clubhouse and parking lot). fans were allowed to go deeper inside the complex to see the team. after gym class (streching), they broke up into groups for different drills. I looked like fans were allowed to stay inside until 5pm, instead of 4:30pm which I had remembered. But they're working, so nobody signed (I have gotten one autograph out there during this point from Korean import Jae Seo in 2004, and teammates got on him for it afterwards).

Into the stadium, where several thousand fans got to watch the Nationals take BP, and mostly ignore the fans (to be fair, it was all our fans on the Mets side of the field), and then just sit and wait with music playing. Waiting until the point in the night when the Mets make an appearance to ignore the fans. It's getting kind of crazy who we usually don't even get acknowledged. sometimes they say they have to work (which is usually true).

I've gotten an autograph at every Spring game I've been to except for Legends Field (where it's strictly forbidden) and a few rainouts. I always knew that streak, if/when it ends, would end at Tradition Field. so i have to sweat out another long night trying to find an opening during the game for an autograph.

it's on to dinner time, picture time, and in the background, first pitch. Our ace, Johan, going in the game. For time's sake, it's a quick game. I got my "nighttime" photos, my real italian ices (best cold treat in the Grapefruit league), and got to watch a very fast ballgame. it moved on the pace of about 4 innings per hour, with Johan going 7 of them.

I know my only shot at an autograph is in the bullpen, late in the game, so it's now a matter of getting around the ushers to find a seat down there. Good ol' Nelson Figueroa was down there, and promised me an autograph after the 3rd out (i asked during a pitching change. i know they can't do it during actual play). but, at the inning change, he had to go to work warming up the right fielder and blocking for the guys throwing in the bullpen. no luck. After the game, a rare signing in the bullpen, Darren O'Day. He stayed for at least a few minutes and signed, so i could finally go home without having to stalk the player's parking lot.

Mets win 4-1, Johan goes 7, K-Rod made it interesting in the 8th (oy), and Feliciano in the 9th. I can't wait to catch the archived broadcast to hear Keith and Ron solo (although Kevin Burkhardt was in the ballpark).

End of one long day at the ballparks.