Monday, March 29, 2010

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

A slightly modified version of the lyrics to the 7th inning stretch tradition that I'll be singing this year.
Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd;
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don't care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team Metsies,
If they don't win, it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game.
Lyrics from Wikipedia.

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Leaving Port St. Lucie

The combination of exhaustion after 13 games in 11 days and a pre-flight insomnia has me up at 3:18am, just hours before I am scheduled to leave Port St. Lucie, Florida, ending my 7th annual Spring Training vacation. Putting aside what the Mets have done for me on the field (2 wins, 5 losses, and 1 rainout that wasn't their doing), and the 3 day break that I took from the Mets, I had a great time in Florida.

I got a good in-person look at players that we'll see on the Opening Day roster, players we wish we'd see on the Opening Day roster, and players we hope to see on the roster 6 months from now when the season comes to a close.

I had a great time traveling the Grapefruit League to familiar towns like Jupiter (Marlins and Cardinals), Viera (Nationals), and Disney (Braves - yes, I know "Disney" isn't the name of the town, and now it's not even the name of the complex, but it's easiest to describe where I was) and to towns that don't appear on my schedule very often like Kissimmee (Astros) and Lakeland (Tigers). I enjoyed spending a few days in Vero Beach, my 4th year staying there in 7 that I've been doing this, after a year's hiatus, and seeing the old Dodgertown complex on what might have been one of the last days that it beared that name. And I enjoyed my few days on what I call the "Disney Strip", named for the Vegas Strip because of all of the lights and signs for hotels, restrauants, tickets, mini golf and gift shops on Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway/US 192 outside of Disney World.

But there's no place like (Spring Training) home - Port St. Lucie, St. Lucie West, and Tradition Field. Last year's very short 3 night trip was the first time I had stayed in PSL since my first year in 2004, and I realized how much I had missed staying in town, in what is probably the only place in the country that is a Mets town without also being a Yankees town. Despite the record that the Mets put up on the field, and how good or not good the players have been at handling the fans' (and my) desire for autographs, I absolutely love coming here, driving or walking to what I'll keep calling "Tradition Field" out of habit, being at the ballpark, seeing the Mets, and seeing and talking to a ton of Mets fans - the latter two both for home and road games.

I love that the stadium, at least for Spring Training, has touches of our New York baseball experience like Lazy Mary in the 7th Inning Stretch, seeing Kevin, Gary, Keith, and/or Ron, and a beautiful mural of Mets history along the press box facade. I hope it isn't changed too much when they replace the last reference to the "Tradition Field" name.

Port St. Lucie is one of the very best places to watch a Spring Training game, at least in the Grapefruit League, where I've seen games in 12 of the 14 active stadiums and 4 of the inactive stadiums (some year I'll get to Clearwater again to see a game and I'll get down to Port Charlotte). That wouldn't be possible without the hard work of (in no particular order) the folks running the Mets Florida operations and the ballpark itself as well as the NY and St. Lucie Mets Booster club, who have a presence at every Mets Spring Training home game (as well as the St. Lucie Mets season). The Mets Booster Club does great things with the local community, troops overseas, and players. If you're a regular at Spring Training, you should check them out and consider joining. For everyone there in Port St. Lucie, thank you for a wonderful time.

To play off both the name of another Mets fan blog, and a reference from a semi-recent baseball movie...
To my Spring Family, I'll see you next year!

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spring Training Trip 2010 - Day 11

This is the final post in my series of posts recapping my daily experiences at Spring Training 2010.

Game 13 - Mets vs Cardinals @ Port St. Lucie
My last day in camp began with an early morning walk from my hotel down to the entrance to the practice fields. That takes about 17 minutes to accomplish. I got there at around 9:15am to find out that the gates won't be opening at 9:30am like we normally expect, but instead, the players will report to work at 11am and the gates won't open at all. The ballpark itself opens up at 11am. Good. 2 hours to kill. About 15 minutes of it was spent at the team store, and the rest walking around the tables set up for processing people for the Blood Drive at the ballpark this morning.

Inside after the park opened, it was more of the same. Hurry up and wait for possibly something, possibly nothing. Gary Cohen came by my end of the dugout (outfield side) and stopped for a minute or two. Today, it was mostly nothing. When the players finally did come out, Gary Mathews, Jr. signed for about 2 minutes and Nelson Figueroa signed also. For Matthews, I couldn't get down the line to get him in time - Each time I get a spot up close, the ticket holder comes and you have to move back. Then the kids get in and get priority. It's hard to argue with those. There is no line up the aisle for security/safety. I skipped Figgy because I already have him. So it ends with my last autograph, and my only one from my last weekend in Port St. Lucie, being Gary Cohen autograph. Not a bad one to get, but I'd rather have that program littered with player's autographs.

For the game, I had what some people I've talked to call "the best seats in the house". It's hard to argue with them. 2 rows back from the concourse, right on home plate. A few season ticket holders sit in that row. Great view of the game, the people walking/standing in front aren't in the way, and you're in the shade all day from that large overhang. I usually stop in front and take pictures, but today I got 6 innings worth.

For the game, well, let's skip that. Pelfrey didn't have it today. This is really starting to scare me. I think the job description for Mets Pitching Coach should include the credentials for a psychologist. Mets lose 10-5, hit up all day long.

The Mets finished 2-5 in my presence with 1 rainout. I'll give a prediction on the regular season in another week.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

1 million strong, and growing

I saw this news release in the local paper here in Port St. Lucie.
TALLAHASSEE — With a slate of eight games on Thursday, March 25, Florida Spring Training Baseball surpassed one million total attendance and now stands at 1,035,944 through 158 games for an average of 6,557 per game. The total represents only games played between Major League teams in the State of Florida.

A total of nine days and 60 games remain in the 2010 Florida Spring Training season. There have been 15 games cancelled due to rain this season, the most since 2005 when 24 games were cancelled due to weather.

The current per game average of 6,557 fans is the highest among records kept going back to the 1999 season and represents an eight percent increase over the 2009 per game average. The highest per game average attendance on record is 6,478 in 259 games of the 2008 season.

The New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies have already topped the 100,000 total attendance mark. The Yankees have five games remaining on their schedule at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa while the Phillies have four games left at Bright House Field in Clearwater.

Five teams have drawn more than 70,000 fans and have a chance at reaching the 100,000 mark. The Boston Red Sox at City of Palms Park and Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium, both in Fort Myers and the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland have topped 80,000 total attendance. The Atlanta Braves at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex and St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, have both topped 70,000 total attendance.

For daily scores and attendance figures from Florida Spring Training Baseball games, please visit

The 2010 Florida Spring Training season began on March 2 and concludes Saturday, April 3. An economic impact survey conducted during the 2009 season showed a $752 million economic impact to the State of Florida.
My count has the Mets totalling 60,031 total fans, breaking the 60,000 mark today, and an average of almost 5,0003 fans per game for the first 12 games. I account for 3 of those 60K+ fans.

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Spring Training Trip 2010 - Day 10

First, a note aside from the game. It was Gary Keith and Ron bobblehead day. GEICO sponsored it. Lynn Cohen and a small staff from were also on hand selling a small selection of t-shirts outside of no-name stadium, including one or two new designs, along with a few other items on the table. They also took part in the day's raffle with the prize being a GKR t-shirt autographed by the 3 of them. On the facebook page, I posted a picture from the table as s riddle for my readers.

It was also my first time at the stadium since the naming rights changed hands to (Digital Domain Park). The biggest changes aside from literal references and the logo on the scoreboard's video screen were the removal of every single reference to the name "Tradition Field", starting with "Tradition Field Sports Complex" sign below (I don't know how much of this had been done in time for Wednesday's game since I wasn't there; the picture was from Tuesday), except for the one on the mural on the press box/suite facade.

Game 12 - Nationals vs Mets @ Port St. Lucie
No autographs today. I knew it had to happen eventually, and it happened today. I don't care about it as much though. The back fields were open a little before 9:30am, I saw gym class, I went to watch the minor leaguers while the big club split into a pitcher/catcher fielding drill on one field and the hitters went to the stadium to hit. It looked like there were 3 minor league intra-squad games going on. I have no real idea what the teams were, or why some players wear white while others wear gray (it wasn't a division of who played on each team in these games, nor did it look like positions). Update, from, St. Lucie 2, Savannah 1 was the score and teams in one of the games.

Into the stadium and the Nationals were on the field taking BP and later a little pre-game infield drilling. Nothing really going on. I was talking with some friends rather than sitting quietly listening to the usher tell people to stay out of the aisle while nothing was going on by the Mets dugout. During the last pre-game stretching, it was more of the same. I didn't see anyone come out to sign at all.

For the game, well, it's good to be back with the Mets after the break. Takahashi started (not the Takahashi from last year). 3 innings, hit up a bit, 1 run in the 2nd, 3 in the 3rd, and the Mets were down. Wright had 2 run scoring hits early on to keep the Mets in it (good to see him stepping up - maybe he overheard me the other day being overly critical of him). Castillo hit a 3 run homer in the 7th to give the Mets the lead, but it couldn't be held. Kiko Calero pitched the 10th and gave up a 2 run homer, and was pulled after a walk. Mets lose 7-5 in 10 innings.

One more game to go, and I'm glad I don't have to sit through another attempt by Oliver Perez (inserting in Takahashi pushes Pelfrey back to tomorrow). I won't begin to guess much on the rotation and the actual order of pitchers other than Johan Santana pitching on Opening Day.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Spring Training Trip 2010 - Day 9

Game 11 - Tigers vs Braves @ Disney
One more day at Disney, and a great pitching matchup for the ESPN audience - Derek Lowe for Atlanta and Justin Verlander for Detroit. The ESPN Wide World of Sports opens 3 hours before game time so fans can watch both teams take BP. Atlanta's new RF Jason Heyward was good about signing and taking pictures with fans. He just made the club as a non-roster invitee coming out of the Braves Minor League system. I saw ESPN's crew of Karl Ravech, Rick Sutcliffe, and our favorite Bobby Valentine. Bobby and Karl were there on Wednesday too. Today Bobby signed a few autographs (yours truely was too far back in line). He gave a nice touch to a couple of young Japanese women who giggled in joy at the sight of him by speaking in Japanese to them and signing his name in both English and Japanese on their baseballs. Johnny Damon once again was a big target for some rogue Yankees fans in attendance.

One thing that I've learned over the years of going to Disney's/ESPN Wide World of Sports is that there are 2 suns in the sky. They get in your eyes and they'll burn you more than at other parks. Remember, bake for 5 innings and then come in and baste, rotate, and bake again to get evenly burned arms and knees.

A random note for today - The Maytag Repair Man (or some actor playing that role) was on hand as part of a promotion. He also sang the national anthem. It sounded like they got an actor/singer (a real good barritone voice).

For the game, Atlanta gave the Tigers a couple of runs from a throwing error by Chipper Jones (I had to mention it), Detroit lost a couple of potential runs thanks to some bad baserunning decisions (they did get their runs from some good bunting, to give you an idea of the type of day it was for Jim Leyland), Verlander ran out of gas in the 5th with the game tied at 2, and Atlanta went on to take the lead right there and hung on to win. Billy Wagner came in for the 9th and gave up a run earning the save.

Back to the Mets for the weekend.

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Spring Training Trip 2010 - Day 8

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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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Training Trip 2010 - Day 7

There isn't much to report on here. This is some of my time away from the Mets on a day when a lot is going on down in Port St. Lucie.

Game 8 - Phillies vs Braves @ ESPN Wide World of Sports
This is our 2 hated NL East rivals playing each other. The game was on ESPN. Lots of Phillies fans made the trip over from Clearwater. Game looked like a sellout and maybe standing room only. Almost 10,000 there. The entire berm/lawn area in LF was full (both down the line and in the outfield). Braves fans flock to their dugout to try to get autographs. I only saw Jordan Shafer sign. Phillies fans flock to their dugout, en masse, and early, and some were very pleased when Ryan Howard signed from the front of the dugout.

For the game, Brian McCann hit a pair of homers for the Braves, and Atlanta won 6-0 behind Tim Hudson and co., defeating J.A. Happ. Most regulars played. Not much to say. Good day for Atlanta, bad day for Philadelphia.

For the ballpark, this is the first time I've been there since the complex was re-branded from Disney's Wide World of Sports to ESPN Wide World of Sports. It's a different look that somewhat makes sense. I thought there might be an overabundance of ESPN, but outside of signage, and one of the gift shops, it really isn't any different. The buildings didn't change at all, and ESPN has added some new displays helping visitors to get around the complex.

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I'll make it official. I owe you a redesign, and some static "pages" for things like multimedia and "about me". I want to integrate the multimedia on this site with the facebook page, but that may come later.

If you read this blog and are on facebook, you should become a fan of the site (if you aren't already), by clicking here, or on the facebook button on the right side. I do post statuses on facebook that don't appear on the website. Also, we have some good discussions in the post comments (comments and discussions are welcome here too). The facebook page is up to 145 fans.

If you are a fan, a follower, or just a reader, and you have a Mets blog, please check 2 things - is the blog listed on this site in the blogroll (that list is sorted by the most recent post); and if your blog/site has a facebook page, is it listed as a "favorite" on my blog's facebook page? Let me know if I'm missing your blog in either place (When I become a fan of another Mets blog, I add it as a favorite page on facebook, and when I find or get sent a link to a new Mets blog, I add it to the blogroll here and to my feed reader).

I also have almost 1500 blog posts from Mets fans, Mets beat writers, and to read (on their sites). I fell very far behind before I left for Florida, and I haven't done very well catching up while I've been here. I hope to be all caught up by Opening Day.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring Training Trip 2010 - Day 6

I'm halfway home. I don't like that direction, but the trip is half over.

Game 7 - Braves vs Mets @ Port St. Lucie
Today saw me checking out of my hotel in Vero Beach - more on my destination in a bit - and heading down for early workouts in Port St. Lucie. Today, in that sense, was a good day. No delays opening up, no real delays in players coming out to start their day. After stretching and throwing, the group split up to do situational drills with minor leaguers playing defense on one field, pitcher fielding practice on another field, and I think they split up again from there. Full access to watch that and the minor league groups on the different fields. Security was even 20 minutes late kicking us out of the back fields. While there, Wally Backman was the only known autograph signing. It took some good eyes on my part and a recent photo on another fan's part to catch this one.

In the stadium, the Mets were finishing up BP, and then hiding inside. That's the usual game. By the dugout, it was a decent place to wait for autographs. Luis Castillo, Pedro Feliciano, and of course, Nelson Figueroa were signing. Nelson, who I can't say enough about him being a great guy in this respect, had a good reason not to sign for me. He saw his autograph (from last Friday) on the adjacent page in my program. I was a bit disappointed, but I already have a Spring Training program with his autograph on 2 different pages, in 2 different colors, from 2 different games, in the same program, from another season (I forget if it was 2008 or 2009). I didn't notice anyone else signing.

I've described the time on the practice fields, BP, and before the game as a "craps shoot" as far as seeing action and getting autographs at the former Tradition Field. Pitching today was "Mr. Craps Shoot", Oliver Perez. Watching him today, I am thinking this should be the plan for what he pitches. Pray for 5 innings. He hasn't imploded in 2 games I've seen him pitch in. Let him go 5 innings. 6 if he can. He lasted into the 5th today. So if he doesn't implode, he keeps the Mets in the game, even if they're losing, then let the bullpen hold the defecit, and the late inning offense will bail him out. It's worked the last 2 times he pitched.

Jeff Francoeur is the team's MVP. I like his work ethic. He's been "the big name" on the long road trips each of the past few days. He's playing hard, hitting the ball, signing autographs, and throwing runners out from RF. He's also not coming out of all of these games as early as the others have been. The only thing I don't like is that it makes the trade to get him look good on Omar's resume.

There was a 3B and C for Atlanta, I think minor leaguers, that should be sent down after making some mental and physical errors in like the 7th or 8th inning helping the Mets tie the game. The Mets also showed great hustle on those plays.

Mets win, and I'm writing this from a hotel outside Disney World. I'll be away from the Mets watching baseball games in what I call the Grapefruit's Northern Division for the next 3 days before heading back to Port St. Lucie for the weekend.

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Tradition Field naming rights

We saw it coming. Several blogs and bloggers posted this earlier today. I first heard it myself at the end of today's game at Tradition Field when they invited fans to return tomorrow at "Digital Domain Park". A new naming rights deal has been inked replacing the old one with Core Communities for the name "Tradition". Core Communities defaulted on their agreements, and the naming rights were terminated. Before this came out, I never even realized that there were naming rights at the former Tradition Field.

Here is the article from the local paper, The naming rights deal was signed on Tuesday. This company is bringing jobs and development to Port St. Lucie. One piece that I will quote from the article is interesting:
The new deal could enhance the experience for visitors to the stadium. [Digital Domain Holdings Chairman John] Textor said the company plans to do visual effects in both Port St. Lucie and at Citi Field, the Mets' stadium in New York.
Signage should be completely changed over by the middle of the St. Lucie Mets season. I'll report on this over the weekend if I see any changes this soon. We saw the logo on the scoreboard during the announcement for tomorrow's game (not completly realizing what it was).

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Training Trip 2010 - Day 5

For these Spring Training posts, I am underlining the names of autographs that I get each day.

Game 6 - Mets vs Nationals @ Viera
Up to Viera to Meet the Mets. It was more like the bench Mets and AAA Mets. Jeff Francoeur seems like the good guy who makes the road trips when the others don't (pitchers aside, since Mike Pelfrey had his name called today). But I've gotten to see a lot of what's to come when the regulars get hurt, and I don't like it (Mets are 1-3 in my presence this spring).

Space Coast Stadium in Viera has a good autograph well on the outfield side of each dugout. Fans come in and crowd that area, and it's just about the only place player will sign (I found out later that the visitor's bullpen in LF is just protected by a chain link fence). And fans wait for the players to do their work during BP. And it's there where fans wait for the players to come back out to play. A few of the players were signing down by the dugout end of that pit. Of course I was on the other end of that pit. Shawn Riggans came down there (the mysterious number 73 from yesterday), but I passed because I got him yesterday. Angel Pagan was on the other end. Bobby Parnell made his way down (and I don't have an autograph from him this season). Jerry Manuel set up on a stool on the other end. It seemed like he was doing his duty (I think this goes along with the players' attitude towards signing autographs before a game that's been a theme in my posts and comments).

I did see a few St. Lucie regulars standing over by the Nationals dugout. I had also seen former Mets Manager Davey Johnson riding up to the stadium on a golf cart, so I knew he was in the building and in uniform. I knew that's why they were there, and I knew that's why I was moving over there after my Mets autograph time. They showed me exactly where to go, said to call his name, and he'd come over and sign. And that's exactly what happened. Quite an addition to my scattered collection of 1986 Mets autographs.

For the game, Mike Pelfrey pitched, and Ryan Zimmerman and Josh Willingham each hit solo and two-run home runs for the Nats. That was pretty much the story. The Mets fought back late in the game, thanks in part to some Nationals errors, but the Mets lost again. To be fair to Big Pelf, the wind was blowing very hard to left field, and all 4 homers blew to the exact same spot. It doesn't hurt the pitches themselves, but it did seem to hurt the outfielder's chances of making a play.

One other note - I did see Nick Evans taking some grounders at third base during BP. Fernando Tatis started the game at third, but Evans was getting some work there. Maybe the Mets are seeing if they can keep him on the roster as a pinch hitter and backup 3B over Tatis considering a backup 3B wouldn't play much defense behind the Should-be Captain. I'm almost 2 weeks behind reading most fan blogs and the beat writer's blogs to know if this is a topic already covered. I did make a comment on another blog on this very topic last night.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010


Saturday after the Mets game in Jupiter, I headed over to the old Dodgertown complex in Vero Beach to see what's what. The complex is still called "Dodgertown", and it's still open. In fact, nothing really has changed except that the advertising inside the stadium is gone. Jackie Robinson Ave. still intersects Roy Campanella Blvd. The Dodgertown Conference Center still stands. There was a person at the desk in the registration office that helped me out when I got there.

She said that I could leave my car where it was (not near the stadium) and walk through the complex over to the Stadium to see whatever game was going on (which she confirmed that baseball was being played there). So I got to see a little bit more of Dodgertown than I had seen in my previous visits to see the Dodgers, and I got over to the stadium and saw one gate open, walked in, and up the steps on the first base side that I had walked up so many times between 2004 and 2008.

There was baseball being played. It was a team of 14 year olds from the Jupiter area against a team of 14 year olds from the Tampa area. I looked around to see that the stadium hadn't changed. The various signs telling you where you were or what's what were left in tact, including the Dodgers logos on some. The press box and concession stands were shut down. The seating area was the same multi-colored design (yellow and red sections in the outfield, blue on the infield). Some seat colors were faded, just as I had remembered it. Advertising on the wall was no more. The Dodgers logo behind home plate was also gone. But on the field was baseball.

I think the best way to describe this was ghost-like. It wasn't a ghost town. There were about 2 dozen people in the stands plus the players, coaches, and umpires on the field. But I felt like I was walking through a ghost. Think the movie Field of Dreams, where Kevin Costner's character builds a real baseball field for what are essentially ghosts of baseball players from the past. Now juxtapose that. In Dodgertown, it's real players playing on a field that you thought was dead and gone but appears to be there.

It was quiet. No PA system. No music. No scoreboard operation (the only advertising remaining was on the scoreboard, which hadn't been changed since the last Dodgers game in 2008).

I saw a few innings of baseball, wandered around to see this glorified baseball field, and thought to myself that 2 years ago after the final game that I never thought I would be inside this stadium again, but here I was.

Ray McNulty from the local paper here in Florida has a piece on Dodgertown too. Sadly, Ray reports that the complex's name will be changed to the "Vero Beach Sports Village". Some background on the current complex - Minor League Baseball runs the place and leases the facility, and they came up with the name. The Dodgers own the name "Dodgertown".

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Spring Training Trip 2010 - Day 4

Game 5 - Mets vs Astros @ Kissimmee
Almost a complete washout. I'll get on the Astros for that in a second. There is no BP on the stadium field. The tarp was out. Rain in the forecast, so the grounds crew was prepared. The Mets were taking gym class out in LF (the visitors clubhouse is in RF and the Astros clubhouse is in left, but the tarp's staging area is in right). A little stretching, a little throwing, and out to the Astros' back fields to do some sort of work. No interaction with the fans at all. Not much of a chance for it.

And then we wait. Tarp comes off the field. A few small rain drops. Then just cloudy. And a few more small rain drops. And then just cloudy. And the tarp goes back on the field about 45 minutes before game time. So they tell us there's a delay, and the radar map shows something blowing in. OK, they'll wait for it to come and go, and then start the game. So we wait. They announce that the game will be delayed.

At about 1:30, Jerry Manuel comes out from the clubhouse to the Mets dugout, with the tarp still on the field. So it looks like either whatever it is that's coming isn't anymore, or they'll go on in spite of it (and I saw a radar map, it didn't look good). They get the field ready, the players come out and stretch. We see that Jeff Francoeur was the only real starter coming to the game and the rest was prospects and minor leaguers (Tejada, Martinez, and Ike Davis aren't such bad names to have out there) behind Jon Niese.

Francoeur signs for a bit. Other players are called over. Frank Catalanotto signed. Lot of kids over by the Mets bullpen area with me. One of the Mets backup catchers with a number 73 on his jacket signed. The roster on shows 2 catchers with number 73. I think it was Shawn Riggans.

The game itself, as much as there was one, was played in steady rain. The Astros got a run and 3 hits off Niese. And then the game was stopped. Fans left. I stayed. It was wet. After about 45 minutes, the game was called. Roy Oswalt and Jon Niese were both wasted. I'll get most of my money back (thanks Ticketmaster). Too bad for the Astros. The game was sold out with standing room only. The professional autograph seekers may have gotten lucky and get a refund.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring Training Trip 2010 - Day 3

Read on to see why I have a picture of Jerry Seinfeld

We start this adventure with a stopover in Port St. Luice at Tradition Field to see a bit of the open workouts (for those players not attending the game in Jupiter) before heading down to Jupiter myself. What I saw was a lot of fans with the look of expression when pondering this question and answer:
Fan 1: What time do they open the gates for open workouts?
Fan 2: They open at 9:30am.
Fan 1: But it's 9:48am and the gates aren't open yet.
Fan 2: Ya, I know.
After 30 minutes of that, I gave up and went to the team store to do my shopping, and came back to find the crowd had moved from one locked gate in the parking lot to the next locked gate outside the fields. Goodbye Port St. Lucie, I'll see ya on Tuesday.

Game 4 - Mets vs Cardinals @ Jupiter
On to Jupiter and the Sea of Red. Those Cardinals fans are plentiful in Florida this time of year. And all wearing their universal colors - red and white. In Jupiter, they let you in during the visiting team's BP session. There, we go to see that the Mets left their biggest names at home and went with a bit of a scrubs lineup. But the kids are sometimes better at signing autographs for the fans. The two that did did so from inside their dugout and the fans all crushed along that wall trying to get what they could get. I tried to get in but I just refuse to push my way around or contort my body to get into a good position (I almost blew out my knees, ankle, and back doing that Thursday night).

BP ends, players go away to their hiding place to get ready for the game, and fans start coming into their seats, which pushes autograph seekers (kids, dealers and collectors, and the innocent fans) out. On a good day, we're not left with any assholes and it's not so bad. Today, the only asshole was the usher clearing the entire front row for a family of 6. We stayed and swarmed around the family. They didn't mind. Thursday night, some people had said, the Mets players were "forced" to all come over, for as many that did (about 8 in total) and sign. Today, it was nothing like that. Only those that wanted to come and sign did so. Nick Evans is a good kid for that. Razor Shines is not, because he said what we were all thinking - if he signed for the 2 kids, he'd have to sign on the entire wall, so he wouldn't sign for the 2 kids. I think he did end up signing for them and maybe 2 or 3 others.

In Jupiter, it's easy to get autographs from either the Marlins or the Cardinals opponents from the LF bullpen. It's also crowded when a big name team like the Mets or Cardinals is in town. Today there was both. Of course, who in the bullpen do you want to get an autograph from? Relief pitchers and extra catchers, especially for the Mets on the road, are not at the top of my autograph list. But catching candidate Chris Coste was nice enough to sign in between innings after his playing day was done. I could have had more if I chose to, but I didn't choose to.

For the game, John Maine started and went 4 innings. There was no radar gun display on the scoreboard, so I couldn't see exactly how the speed was (unlike watching Stephen Strasburg in Viera last night). But at times, it didn't look like he had his fastball. He got hit up a bit early in the game, but it wasn't a terrible outing. I think he has a lot of work to do, and maybe an extended Spring Training would do him well after all of the time NOT pitching in the past 2 seasons. I had heard something earlier in the Spring about his lack of innings since 2007 being a bit of a rust issue now.

Later in the game, Florida opened up their lead, the Mets scrubs mounted a 9th inning comeback, topped off by a shot to Left Centerfield by Ike Davis to tie the game with 2 out after the Mets manufactured 2 runs earlier in the inning. Kiko Calero comes in to pitch the bottom of the 9th and gives up a HR right back, and the Cardinals win.

Backing up to batting practice, we had a real celebrity in the house today. Jerry Seinfeld had his family at the ballpark. They arrived down the third baseline via golf cart, stopping off right in front of where the autograph crowd was standing. They got off, went over by home plate to watch BP, and when the Mets were done, they got a security escort up to probably a private suite to watch the game. He politely declined a few autograph requests.

But I got this picture as he was walking back.

And in honor of, I give you today's Manuel's Musing.
As soon as the game ended, all of the beat writers hoped onto the field from the standing room area by the Mets bullpen in LF. They were there to intercept Jerry Manuel on his way back to the Mets clubhouse in LF. This is where the Jerry Manuel quotes in Spring Training come from some days.

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Spring Training Trip 2010 - Day 2

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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Friday, March 19, 2010

Spring Training Trip 2010 - Day 1

This starts an 11 day series on my Spring Training trip for 2010...

Game 1 - Mets vs Marlins @ Jupiter
Mets win. Bay and Francoeur each hit 2 run HRs. Mets didn't get a baserunner until the 5th. Oliver Perez started, didn't pitch horribly, but didn't pitch great. He got somewhat rattled in 2 different innings with balls that got past David Wright at 3B leading to Florida runs. But he didn't completely unravel.

From a fan experience with the Mets, something that I'm keeping an eye on, there were tons of Mets autographs if you were in the right place outside their dugout. First, let me mention that because this was a doubleheader day in Jupiter (Cardinals, the other tennant, played at home earlier in the day), there was no BP on the main field. The Mets didn't make an appearance of any kind until the stretching/throwing period right before first pitch, so I didn't get to see anything there at all. Pridie, Wright, Francoeur, Carter, Evans, Bay, Ike Davis all signed in that one area. Some longer than others moving up and down the line. I was a bit too far outside that good spot for most of it. Lots of kids there, and a lot of pushing. All I got was Ike Davis. I had also gotten Dan Warthen at the other end of the dugout when he first came out. I was pleased with how much the Mets were signing before this game where they were the visiting team. I just wasn't in the right place for most of it. I really should have known better since I went down to that spot at 5:30 when the gates opened.

I'm tired. Long day of about 12 hours from my apartment, to the airport, in the air, through the car rental, early to Roger Dean Stadium for BP, then the game, and an hour long drive up to Vero Beach. Doubleheader day for Friday. Maybe a few pictures after I get back from Saturday's game if I don't find my way to Dodgertown. If you're going to the game tomorrow, I'll be wearing my black Santana jersey with the faux Shea Final Season patch on it, and probably my GKR hat.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

It's been 4 years

Can you believe it? It was 4 years ago today that a television network focused primarily on the New York Mets, our beloved team, launced on television sets around the region. No more playing second fiddle to playoff hockey and basketball on SportsChannel/FSN New York and MSG Network. No more having no identity. We had a channel all our own.

I remember the day the network went on the air. I asked my dad to tape the first few hours for me since I was in Port St. Lucie far away from any television set that would show the launch (actually, with the TV production trucks there to televise the game, I probably could have gotten a sneak peek of the first program). It was beautiful night at Tradition Field that Thursday night.

Fans were ready to welcome SNY into our existence with signs (I remember one very big one that later got on seen on TV). Fans were ready for a new era of our longtime radio voice now working on Television (how many people at the time would have recognized Gary Cohen by face without TV exposure). Fans were ready to welcome back Ron Darling to the family to work as a studio analyst and part-time game analyst. Little did we know that Ronnie would end up winning a NY Emmy award as a game analyst and catch the eyes of the people at Turner Sports for their upcoming MLB coverage. And fans were ready to anoint Keith Hernandez as the new lead analyst, moving him up a few notches ahead of Fran Healy and Tom Seaver. Boy are we glad that move was made.

There were new faces (Matt Yallof, Ron Darling, and Chris Cotter) on Mets coverage replacing some longtimers (Matt Loughlin, Fran Healy, Tom Seaver, Dave O'Brien, Ted Robinson, and the new radio voice of the Mets, Howie Rose). But fans were ready.

Over the past 4 seasons, SNY has proven to be top rate with their dedication to Mets telecasts. SNY has proven to be top rate with everything else they've produced as well. They embraced Big East sports and Rutgers Football, becoming the official home of the Big East in the New York area. Their newscasts are the best in NY (well ahead of what MSG used to produce - yes, I know that they're the only 30 minute local sportscast in NYC).

Who was the original sideline reporter for Mets telecasts when SNY first went on the air 4 years ago? It's NOT the reporter in this picture, but this is one of the fans with the sign.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring Training Report - March 14

From Kevin watching Sunday's game in Jupiter
1. Johan looked good. He had his changeup working, which is important. Nice pickoff at second base too. It's good to see they work on this stuff in spring training.

2. Maine was awful. He was all over the place, and got lit up. Not much more to say other than he doesn't look ready to be a started right now.

3. Calero's first outing was rocky at best. He loaded the bases and got out of it, but it was not smooth at all.

4. Igarashi did well in an inning, a few days after being smacked around by Boston.

5. The Mets are doing what they always do. Get a runner to second with no out, or to third with less than 2 outs, and don't score him. They are, and have been the last few years, terrible in fundamental baseball.

Thanks again Kevin.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spring Training Report - March 13

Here is Saturday's report from RememberingShea's correspondent down in Port St. Lucie, Kevin Goodman, for the Mets vs. Detroit at Port St. Lucie. Some of my thoughts are at the bottom.
Perez looked good, but the detroit lineup only had 2 regulars. Even so, he mowed down the first 9, and was on his way to 4 perfect innings, when he got flustered over a weak hitter fouling off a few pitches and walked him, and the next batter. He then got out of it.

Takahashi looks good. He doesn't throw hard, but he misses bats and gets guys out. HIs motion seems effortless, so I doubt he would have trouble going deep into games. I think he would do ok as a 5th starter. I feel he would be wasted in long relief as he wouldn't pitch that much.

The homers in the 7th were all wind aided. Matthews shot was nice, but it would not have been out without the wind. Even Castillo got into the action with an RBI single. Note that the Mets had Wright, Bay, Murphy, and Francouer batting in succession. I ma not sure the Mets have even had 4 white guys batting in a row under Omar. And of course to start the 7th, it was homer, hbp, single, homer. Only the Canadian didn't get a hit, but rather got hit. Haha....the point was ruined when he homered 15 minutes later.

Mejia is wild but throws really hard. Nobody really looked comfortable, but they were able to know when he was going to throw fastballs and locked in on them. His off speed stuff, if his fastball is working, looks to be unhittable, kinda like Benitez when he was locked in.

One funny note: Omar was sitting behind home plate, about 5 rows back. In the second inning, a foul ball came right to him, he reached for it with both hands, and dropped it. I think if anyone know it was him, there would have been some boos.
Thanks Kevin. This sounds like the "good Ollie" that we all hope for, except that, as usual, something flusters him and he usually becomes unravelled. Credit the catcher for settling him down. What we can all hope for is that in 5-6 days when he pitches again, he pitches solid, gets flustered, and the catcher can talk him off the ledge again, so that maybe we have a working formula. Personally, I don't need a headcase like that on my team though. For a Mets team that struggled hitting HRs last year, I'll take a wind aided HR or even one misplayed by the LF. In the box score, it's still a HR, and 4 in the inning, and can get a team out of a funk in the regular season.

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Mets Tradition?

I got a comment on the facebook version of this site saying that the Mets have "never established tradition". I know that's not true, but I am having a hard time thinking of what a "Mets Tradition" is. And I'm not thinking of Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie (at least not in this respect).

So help me out folks. Name or describe a Mets Tradition...

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Spring Training Report - March 11, 2010

RememberingShea has a correspondent down in Port St. Lucie following the Mets for about a week. Kevin Goodman is his name, and this is the report he sent me for Thursday, March 11, 2010, for the Mets vs. Boston at Port St. Lucie. Some of my thoughts are at the bottom.
here are my thoughts from the game against the Red Sox yesterday.

Hard to tell how the fans felt. It was rainy and there were a lot of red sox fans there. Certainly since the the cost of the game was double what it normally was, they expected it to be packed. It was pretty full, but not packed.. Maybe that had to do with the rain.

Anyway, it was nice to see all of the same stuff, from food to concessions to activities. The PA system is brutally bad. It all sounds like mumbling. They need to replace this. It was nice seeing John Franco roaming around though.

On the field, they looked bad. A lot of swings and misses before the rain delay. Pagan had a chance to set himself correctly on Cameron's sac fly, but instead he caught it flat footed and had no chance to challenge Pedroia at the plate. That bothers me. I don't think Matthews makes the same mistake. They gave up 3 runs in the first, and nobody was surprised. In fact, no fans were even yelling or heckling. This was new for me. FYI, I was sitting 3 rows back from the Mets bulllpen.

They are lifeless at the plate. Castillo could put you to sleep, and they look like they have no plan up there. Just as hard to watch as September of last year. With Reyes out for possibly two months, the only reason to watch a game is Wright.

Pelfrey was catching way too much of the plate with his pitches and was getting hit hard. I thought he was going to get out of the first after he loaded the bases and struck out Big Papi. I really thought he was going to get a DP from Drew, but no such luck.

Feliciano looked bad. Way too many pitches to get hitters out. Maybe he doesn't trust his stuff yet.

Igarashi was brutal. I watched him warm up in the bullpen, and I kept wondering why he was throwing only fastballs. Well, it's b/c that is all he throws. He got into the game, threw only fastballs to the backups after the rain delay, and got spanked. Even the outs were hard outs.

There is a guy named Cervanek. He looks like a player. He had good numbers at AAA last year. But they are Murphy-ing him. He is in infielder, but they put him in LF and he is lost.

I am not going to Ft. Myers today, but I will see them again tomorrow. More to come.
Thanks Kevin. I was at a Mets-Red Sox game in PSL a few years ago, and Red Sox nation was traveling in full force that night (part of another road trip with Vero Beach and Dice-K the next afternoon). It's a shame for the teams on the Treasure Coast that Boston visits that some games have been rained out (today's Sox game in Jupiter was washed out and the game I was at in Vero Beach was also a washout). It was funny that you mentioned the PA system because I could hear it on TV. They've also had Shea's/Citi's Alex Anthony in the past but not this year.

Kevin, I hope the team plays better for you on Saturday (where those of us up north can watch on WPIX) than they did on Thursday. Saturday should also bit a bit more normal with the Tigers coming to town and not the traveling Red Sox nation.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

7 Days, 7 Spring Trainings

I leave for my 7th Spring Training vacation in 7 days, and including the one other year in which I attended a few Spring Training games, I can look back on 7 years of seeing Spring Training in person.

Back when I was a bit younger, in high school, I made it to my first Spring Training. It was the first year that I was in a school with a March vacation instead of February and April, and my dad saw the great opportunity to take me to spend a week with his parents outside of Fort Lauderdale. Part of our plans was to head over to see the Yankees (before they were the "hated Yankees" or "the Skankees") in Fort Lauderdale and to make the long drive up to Port St. Lucie to see the Mets. I had no camera to document what I saw. This was back before the renovations that brought the right field berm, left field terrace, and the moniker "Tradition Field". The ticket stub and program are both in my respective collections along with all the others over the past 23 years. Not much to say about the game - no memorable players on the 1995 Mets, but in March of 1995, it wasn't even the real Mets - it was the replacement players. And that was my first Spring Training.

On to Spring Training as a vacation, which for me started in 2004 seeing an ad on and getting a very wise idea in my head, one that has dominated me since (okay, that might be overkill).

Just a week the first year, following the Mets, but squeezing in 3 non-Mets games over the course of their off day (a Sunday night game after the Mets Sunday day game, a road trip to Disney on the off day Monday, and a day game before seeing the Mets resume play Tuesday night). I saw the orange BP jerseys, Kaz Matsui, Aaron Heilman, and a kid named David Wright coming in for late innings at 3B. I stayed in St. Lucie West and got to know the town a little bit. My how it's grown since then (I know the locals will tell me stories from the late '80s when the Mets first arrived). I also started to fall in love with Dodgertown. It was all new to me.

2005 came and I decided to go for a blowout trip and try to see every ballpark in Spring Training at the time. I came close. Fort Myers was like a little island on the Spring Training map and I didn't make it down there, but I circled the rest of the state (and bought a few t-shirts that showed the sights). I started with the Spring openers and home openers Viera, then Dodgertown and PSL the next day, and then the Cards in Jupiter. I actually got a seat in the first row right behind home plate for that first game played by the Washington Nationals, right on the screen (I determined that I was just off camera from ESPN's telecast). That was the year I had to escape New Jersey a day early because of a late February nor'easter, but that's a story for another day. After my weekend in PSL and almost getting an autograph from the Straw man, I headed out to the Gulf Coast to check out the other ballparks. Boy, it seems like yesterday, but it's now 5 years since that trip. After making the rounds in Dunedin, Clearwater, St. Pete & Tampa, Sarasota, and Bradenton, it was on to the I-4 corridor to Meet the Mets in Lakeland and Winter Haven, and a final day in Disney and Kissimmee. A few rainouts and many t-shirts later, my second trip in just under 365 days had come to an end (even with 3 rainouts, I only had 1 day without baseball being played). I also decided on about the 13th day that 12 days was long enough.

2006 was filling in some blanks left by the rain (but filling them in with nice sunny days and Mets games) mixed with a couple of WBC games in the Disney area (say what you will about the concept and execution of the tournament, but seeing the Venzuela fans rooting on their team was a fun experience). Thne it was on to my new regular vacation home (area) in Vero Beach. I finally got it right getting in a couple games in Dodgertown (easily the best park in Spring Training) mixed with the real home ballpark in Port St. Lucie and a few days in Jupiter, home of the daily Spring Training game (can't go wrong there). The locals and regulars in PSL were starting to look familiar. No more mapquest on most days. And I was in PSL on the night that SNY launched 4 years ago (more on that next week). I also found my stride with the duration of the trip and the idea that you can fly down in time for a night game if you find a ballpark near a major airport, and you can do the reverse. That's an easy way to squeeze in more baseball.

2007 brought on the quest to complete the circle around the Grapefruit League, seeing the Red Sox and Twins in Fort Myers on what I call my "side trip". A stopover in Fort Lauderdale on the way to Vero Beach meant that I had now seen every team in their home ballpark (at the time; as I had previously seen the Yankees in Fort Lauderdale). On the Treasure Coast, it was more of the same - stick with what works - bouncing between Jupiter, Vero Beach, and Port St. Lucie, with an occasional game in Viera, which had become one of my least favorite ballparks. It was also the return of my now traditional doubleheader (doubleheaders are another good way to squeeze in extra baseball) starting in Jupiter and ending in Port St. Lucie.

2008 marked a sad end to Dodgertown making a few games in Vero Beach be my "side trip". I was there for the finale. Jupiter, St. Lucie, and Viera filled in most of the other blanks on my schedule. I was able to squeeze in a hockey game in Sunrise during the trip, a first for me having a 2 sport doubleheader, and I was able to combine baseball and airports twice on that trip, also getting a chance to say goodbye to the Indians' crappy facility in Winter Haven. In Florida geography, I haven't been north of the Tradition Field complex since then.

In 2009, I considered myself lucky just to be there. A new job in January pretty much meant that I couldn't take 8 vacation days in March, but I managed to squeeze in a long weekend, staying in Port St. Lucie for the first time since 2004. That trip was well documented on this blog. No Dodgertown made for an easy schedule of Jupiter, 2 games in PSL in less than 24 hours, and a final game in Ft. Lauderdale (close to that stadium's final Orioles game before they moved), and back home.

What will 2010 bring? With Florida's east coast losing 2 teams in 2 years, and Florida losing 3 overall in that time, the choices are more limited. There are only 3 ballparks on the east coast now, when once upon a time, there were as many as 5. For me, I'm heading to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter to Meet the Mets right from the airport on Thursday, and then I'm staying in Vero Beach for a few days while I bounce around between Viera, Kissimmee, and Jupiter for Mets road games, and of course 2 Mets home games before I head off to a side trip for a couple of days at Disney and Tigertown, and then a final weekend staying in PSL. I'd go for longer, but the schedule before I arrive wasn't too appealing to me, and I have to leave when I am in order to be home for the start of the Jewish holiday of Passover. 11 nights is good enough, but I wanted to make up some from last year.

Next on my list, at some point, is to get back to the west coast. The Rays have moved to Port Charlotte, making it the only ballpark I haven't been to. The Orioles are in Sarasota, where I saw it as the Spring home of the Reds (the 3rd team in less than 25 years). The Red Sox are planning something new in Fort Myers. And I was rained out in Clearwater at the then-2 year old stadium in 2005 and never got back (consequently, it was the only day that I was in Florida and never saw a baseball game or the inside of an airport). I've also been told that my now-retired father will be joining me for part of my 2011 trip, so I need to consider that in the plans. The paths between Port St. Lucie and Jupiter and Viera can wear out pretty quick, which is where side trips or a new tennant at Dodgertown can come in handy.

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Baseball's Chiropractor

So much to read. I've fallen behind on my blog reading (again). I leave for Florida in a week for 11 days of Spring Training.

Meanwhile, Bud Selig is considering another "radical" realignment. Read the story from SI's Tom Verducci here. Naturally, the MetsPolice jumped all over it with Shannon's own idea for a radical realignment. Both are interesting.

Speaking of the MetsPolice, Shannon's offshoot group, The Blue Cap Army, is planning a meet up at Citi Field for Opening Day. I won't be there, but if you're going, sign up here.

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Ralph Kiner is still alive

Well, it's always good to say this from early Spring Training broadcasts every year. I've heard that Ralph will be on the broadcast on SNY in the 3rd inning.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tradition Field will be no more

From covering Florida's Treasure Coast comes this piece of news.

Core Communities terminates Tradition Field naming rights contract. Core Communities is the builder of the Town of Tradition, and this is something that's been brewing for some time now.

The name "Tradition Field" went into effect on February 18, 2004, and coincided with renovations to the ballpark (adding the left field terrace and right field berm, and moving the scoreboard behind the LF wall). It was set to run out in 2013.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Spring Training 2010 is here

Back when I was a bit younger (we'll call it the late '80s and early-mid '90s, a time when I wasn't quite a teenager), I remember running home from school on the day that Spring Training games finally began, or at least the day of the first broadcast on WFAN (for some reason, I had no, or chose not to use, a walkman). I would look forward to hearing the voices that I knew meant baseball for the first time after the long offseason.

On the eve of the fist Spring Training game, I bring you two treats.

First up is a 1 minute audio clip from the Mets first broadcast on WFAN from Spring Training 1998. I won't say any more, other than the voice is forver the voice of the Mets...

Second is about 6 1/2 minutes in length, coming from another 1998 Spring Training game. This one is most of half of an inning from a road game against St. Louis in Jupiter's inagural season. The play-by-play voice again belongs to Bob Murphy with Gary Cohen along side.

I invite any readers to submit or link to their own Spring Training audio and video from the 1980s and 1990s.

There is also a bonus audio clip on the facebook page for Remembering Shea that was posted as a teaser in advance of this post.

Leave a comment or drop me a line at DyHrdMET [at] gmail [dot] com.
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