A very long Friday in Florida. Let's see.
Game 2 - Mets vs Twins @ Port St. Lucie
I get up and hustle down to Tradition Field at 9:30am to see pre-game workouts, or as I call it, "gym class". And I get there and find out that gym class has been cancelled because of the day game after a night game. It also means that there is no Mets BP inside the stadium. If they took it at all, it was on their practice field. So no Mets until 12:45pm for the 1:10pm game.
The morning was a bit more exciting than that. Fans still line up to get in early. Fans still flock to Ron Darling to take photos and get autographs (including myself). Fans do the same with Ralph Kiner. Many Twins fans were inside and happy to see the Twins take BP and see Delmon Young singing (as were myself and a few other Mets fans), as they were with Denard Span and manager/ex-Met Ron Gardenhire.
And then we wait. There's that seemingly long period between the end of BP and the start of final pre-game stretching, running, and throwing. That's the time when you wait in an area and hope that the rightful ticket holder doesn't come in to kick you out. Or you plan to be that rightful ticket holder that has rights to that area. And the Mets send out some minor leagues as what some of my local friends call "the designated signer(s)". Today it was Chris Carter and Tobi Stoner. Fans call for Bay, Francoeur, and Wright. The kids are happy to see Carter, Stoner, Jon Niese, and Nelson Figueros. Some of these guys aren't happy to see adults who have the look (either by face or by what they're holding out to be signed) that they're dealers or sellers. Some of them after a certain point jumped from signing every autograph to only signing just for kids. It's all where you stand and who else stands there. Today, it allowed me to get autographs from Tobi Stoner and Nelson Figueroa.
To the game, Johan started and got hit around. The Mets lost. But nobody was injured. That second part is all that matters.
Game 3 - Cardinals vs Nationals @ Viera
On to the nightcap between the Cardinals and Nationals in Viera (about 70 miles north). It wasn't quite how I had planned. After staying late in Port St. Lucie to stalk players in the parking lot and to wait out the exiting traffic from the game, I left giving myself just enough time (about an hour) to get to Viera in time for the see the gates opened and to try to get autographs in BP. But the combination of an accident at the exit for the ballpark that took out a lane and construction setup that took out both shoulders made the last 9 miles (between exits) take about an hour itself. After trying to navigate the turns without directions and doing it off memory and the long hike from the parking lot to the stadium (much further away than I had parked at before whne I come in for BP), it was less than 30 minutes before the game and players were already out stretching.
The game itself was the Cardinals JV squad (they played in another game earlier in the day) versus the Nationals, built like a JV squad. The Nats had their big prospect going, Stephen Strasburg. He mixed his pitches and speeds well, but in his mix of pitches were 2 fastballs (including the first pitch of the game) sitting out over the plate that both cleared the wall for homeruns. By the time that the scrubs were in, the game got real sloppy, mostly in favor of the Nats, who I assume won the game because they had a 5 run lead in the 8th inning when I walked out of the cold Florida night air (I never thought I'd write that).
Monday I'll be back in Viera to Meet the Mets, and tomorrow's schedule has a Mets-Cardinals game in Jupiter with a stopover in Port St. Lucie to see the players sitting out getting their work in. The day may also have a stopover at Dodgertown in Vero Beach. Now I can barely keep my eyes open, so if this post isn't coherent or well typed, it's...................................................................
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