Game 1, day 1, March 15, 2011 -- Nationals vs. Mets @ Port St. Lucie
Just a few notes...
Mets went with their regular 8, except for Willie Harris in RF, in for the injured Carlos Beltran. Chris Young started on the mound. He didn’t overly impress me, but the numbers looked good. Castillo started at 2B and had a mental mistake not covering first on a potential inning-ending 3-2-4 double play. He caught the ball, but was well behind the back (and Harris was backing up down the RF line). The next batter grounded back to Davis at first, inning over, and no damage. Oliver Perez came in one batter into the 6th and did a decent job. The Mets ended up winning the game.
I had heard little bits that the autograph situation in Port St. Lucie was a little better than in years past, but still a "craps shoot". I ask because I ask every year when I first arrive at what is now Digital Domain Park. But there's a new regime in camp this year, so maybe things had improved. I still blame the old regimes for the downfall of Mets autographs in Spring Training. Anyway, the Mets were already out of sight when I entered the ballpark at 10 after 5 in the evening. So little hope there other than to stake out a spot, or decide to wander. Nothing interesting on the Nationals side. One or two players were just hanging out in the dugout, ignoring fans. I think they were players. They weren't in any type of uniform, but they looked athletic. Kids were shouting names and they didn't respond. Two or three players came out for interviews for some sort of TV. Josh Thole was one and Scott Hairston was the other. Both by the home plate side of the dugout where the angle is tough to really stand ground and reach over. I was on the other side when Thole was out signing and missed him. I hadn't left yet (out of frustration) when Hairston was out signing. Without pushing or shoving (per the usher's insistence, and my own rule), I was able to get one. OK, not a bad start to the short autograph collection season. I think we have Scott Hairston on our club - his brother Jerry, Jr., plays for Washington and was in the game too. Or do I have them mixed up? After my first crack at dinner (I hadn't eaten since breakfast at Newark Airport), I went to join my dad in our seats over on the terrace section right along the rail with the regular 3rd base seating (basically between the far end of the photo box and tarp on the left side and the home plate from the bullpen). Good place to take pictures when the Mets players come out to stretch right before gametime. And to my surprise, David Wright hears and acknowledges the calls of a few young fans nearby and comes to sign autographs. While he signed my program (first Wright autograph in several years), I asked him if they were continuing the bowling. I would have liked to watch, but he said "unfortunately", they were done, and since I had just arrived in town (really about 3 hours earlier), that math didn't add up. But we know he liked it and the fans seemed to like the idea of it.
And now it's late, and there's an early departure for game 2 at Disney on Wednesday.
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