Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday is Autograph Fun Day

Game 6, day 6, March 20, 2011 -- Mets vs. Marlins @ Jupiter

So I get myself moving to get to the ballpark early. There's nothing good in the Cardinals/Marlins team store. One of the sales clerks there said that the Marlins fans had bought up almost everything Marlins, and I could see that there was a ton of Cardinals stuff there. If you know Spring Training, something about that just doesn't add up. So I don't have a Marlins Spring Training 2011 shirt for my collection (I try to get one for every team that hosts me during my Spring Training tours, along with one or two Grapefruit League shirts).

And I'm at the ballpark early enough to watch the Mets and Buffalo Bisons taking batting practice. No place for them to hide. Except that they stay on the field and don't come over to the fans along the dugout or bullpen. If you know Roger Dean Stadium, it should be fairly easy to get an autograph, but the players need to do their part. This group of backups, reserves, and Buffalo players didn't do that. Instead, they had to hit or had to field. I need to pay closer attention to teams that sign during BP to see how they do it and still not miss work.

I did notice a few things which I posted on facebook. The radio voice of the Mets, Howie Rose, made a rare Spring Training appearance today, to call the game on WFAN. He's busy all winter calling Islanders games on TV, and somehow, the team always comes to nearby Sunrise to play the Florida Panthers on a weekend during Spring Training. So Howie was there. The other thing I saw was that Mookie Wilson, back with the club as first base coach, was wearing his familiar number 1. People were asking about that as early as Friday afternoon when Luis Castillo was cut. I don't know if he had switched for Saturday's game since he made the trip to Disney and I was in PSL.

Anyway, I really got to the ballpark to see very little. Right before the game, for the games in Jupiter, it's fairly easy to get autographs from players along the wall between the dugout and bullpen. Players are more willing to sign. I got a spot on the wall and the fans started calling out players and coaches. Terry Collins was the first, along with Justin Turner (new in the mix for 2B and with the club for this game). Josh Thole also made the trip even though I don't think he played (he was an extra catcher in the bullpen) and signed. Not bad. My best single-game collection based on numbers this year.

The game was a classic pitcher's duel, with new Met Chris Young going 6 shutout innings and the Mets giving him no support. Scoreless and in the hands of the bullpen in the 7th, things changed (I feel like I'm giving the game highlights on Mets Extra). Bobby Parnell let 2 runners on and got 1 out before being removed. Non-roster invitee Mike O'Connor came in and this was the turning point of the game. O'Connor basically put himself on the cut list giving up 2 inherited runners (giving Parnell the loss) and 3 of his own. Not helping matters was a botched run-down by Daniel Murphy, playing first base at the time. Murphy might really be a clutz in the field. I actually walked down to the shady area of the ballpark after O'Connor was pulled.

Mets lose, 5-0. I'm starting to see enough about the Mets that by Wednesday, I might have a prediction for the 2011 Mets.

After the game, I decided to head over to the gated area in the back of Roger Dean Stadium where the visiting players busses come in and out of the ballpark. Players will sometimes stop and sign there. For the Mets, that will draw a nice sized crowd. And it beats sitting in my car in traffic as the roads around the ballpark swell up when everyone leaves. Willie Harris stopped and signed for everyone, and with a bigger crowd, Chris Young signed for just about everyone too. Both seemed like real nice guys.

And I go home with 5 Mets autographs, and none of them are really "bad" especially considering the group that traveled with the club today.

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