Game 9 - Blue Jays vs Tigers @ Lakeland
Lakeland is a large small town about half way between Tampa and Disney World. The ballpark is old, but it shows that the Tigers have been there for a long time. It's not a bad ballpark, just not new or terribly modern. But it can be a great place to watch a game. There is a fairly large berm/hill spanning all of left field and out to the batter's eye in center. Great to be there during BP to try to pick up a few baseballs. It is also a bit unique in that there is a big screen, sort of an extension of the normal screen between the dugouts, beyond 1B protecting the box seats. it's on the 1B side only, on the outfield side of the dugout, and extends for about a section and a half.
There are some interesting rules during BP though. The partk opens 2 hours before the game (that's normal), but autographs for the home team are only on the outfield side of that screen, which extends maybe 1 1/2 sections in the infield boxes before the clubhouse. so there is a bit of room. The Tigers today didn't feel like signing as they went into the clubhouse. Reliever Phil Coke was an exception, signing anything that people threw his way. The usher for that area came over around 11:10am while the Tigers were hitting to tell us ahead of time that Fans have to leave the area at 12pm, which is while the visiting team is still taking BP. That means you can't stand in that area to get autographs when the players come out to stretch and run before the game starts, unless you have that seat. It kind of takes a lot of the autograph opportunities away. I don't know if I like that rule, but they need to be fair to the ticket holders. I am thinking of writing a post when my trip is finished about different stadiums in the Grapefruit League and their policies.
The game itself was someone one-sided after Dontrelle Willis of Detroit gave up a run in the first. He settled down and the Tigers pulled together 5 runs, including 2 in the first on the game's first base hit. Tigers won 5-1 using a split squad.
Game 10 - Tigers vs Nationals @ Viera
The nightcap brought me back to Viera on Fireworks night. This was Johnny Damon and Detroit's B squad in town, with several sightings of Yankees fans, t-shirts, and/or jerseys to root him on or boo him (I'm not sure if the boos came from Nats fans or not). Detroit's squad for this game didn't sign anything during or right after BP, and it looked like they did a very small number of autographs before the game. I saw nothing at all on the Nationals side. I really wasn't into the autographs for this one.
For the game, Detroit jumped out early with 5 runs off of J.D. Martin and never looked back. He settled down but Washington couldn't muster much offense and Detroit struck for a couple late runs to win 8-2.
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