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My Day in the Sun

NostraDennisMonday, March 19, 2007
By NostraDennis

As Bob Murphy loved to say, it was a beautiful day for baseball. Not a cloud in the sky. A Saturday afternoon in Florida at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie. The Mets. The Nationals. Baseball like it oughta be when the score doesn't count. Fortunately, this score didn't count. As Mike recounted already, the Mets were thoroughly trounced by the Nats, 13-1, and their split squad teammates traveled to Fort Lauderdale for the privilege of losing almost as badly, 9-0. But the score wasn't the story for me. I wasn't going to let my first trip to a Mets' spring training game at their home field get ruined by thirteen piddly runs, eighteen little hits, and a handful of Mets' errors.

Tradition Field is a neat little ball park, save for two annoying flaws. First, only about a third of the seats are sheilded from the sun, and my fair Irish-German skin really needed it. I know, cry me a river - I'm fully aware of how many of you have bad backs from shoveling thick, wet snow for the last 48 hours. My mild redneck sunburn was a small price to pay, even though I spent most of the game underneath my grey hooded sweatshirt. "Hey, look. It's Eminem in section 212!". Second, the PA system can only be heard and understood from between the third base and first base bags. The crowds and left and right field got nothing more than an unintelligible echo, and might as well have been listening from the parking lot.

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Your intrepid blogger NostraDennis at Tradition Field
(more pics at bottom)
My buddy Johnny Gunnz and I got to the park just as the gates were opening at 11 am. Every ticket taker, usher, and vendor in the Mets' employ sounded like he or she lived in Brooklyn or Queens, which they probably did until they retired and moved to Stuart, or Fort Pierce, or any one of the surrounding retirement communities. From the left field foul line where we eatched batting practice, we caught glimpses of El Duque running sprints in the outfield. Not too bad for an old man. Pedro Feliciano was shagging flies in left, and tossing the occasional ball to a fan (the phrase, "Please, Mr. Feliciano" seemed to work best). Glavine and Maine and Pelfrey were taking batting practice on the adjacent field, while The Jacket looked on from beneath the shadow of the clubhouse between the two fields.

I drooled at the official press ID of the New York magazine writer who left his pre-teen son in the left field stands while he "had to do some work - I have to interview that coach, Mr. Peterson. I'll be right back." If it wasn't St. Patrick's Day, I'd be green with envy anyway. Maybe in my next life.

Though this was a split squad game, we were fortunate enough to get the "A" team - virtually all of the Mets' projected starting lineup. Reyes, Wright, Beltran, Alou, LoDuca, Green, Franco at first base, Valentin, and the pitcher's position. Oddly, the DH was not in effect for this game. It probably wouldn't have mattered, as the "A" team failed to bring their "A" game. TWO errors by Reyes, one on a fairly pedestrian foul popup that prolonged an inning and led to three unearned runs.

One of our seatmates was a retired gentleman who admitted he was a Yankee fan who couldn't get Yankee spring training tickets. His good-natured needles started stinging as bad as my ever-growing sunburn as the 1-0 deficit became 6-0, then 7-0, then 13-0. We took park in a sarcastic standing ovation for the Mets' lone run, created in the eighth inning by Endy Chavez and four guys with no names above their uniform numbers.

Chan Ho Park solidified Mike Pelfrey's position in the starting rotation, and Jorge Sosa seconded that emotion with two more dreadful innings. Park's off-speed stuff was getting strikeouts, but it seemed the Nats' hitters were waiting on his fastball and smoking it, getting either hard hits on the heat or strikeouts (mostly looking) on the curveballs. Good innings from Feliciano and Wagner after it didn't matter.

I've met my new favorite non-Met, and it turns out he used to be one. A kid about nine years old asked one of the Nats for an autograph before batting practice, and instead, Jorge Toca slid the kid one of his bats across the top of the dugout. I must confess I don't remember Toca from his cups of coffee with the Mets in '99, 2000, and 2001, but I love catching major leaguers doing nice things.

I think I might have to make this an annual outing. Next year, though, I'm buying early, and getting seats in the shade.

Click on any of the thumbnails below to see a larger image:
Billy Wagner pitchingPedro FelicianoOrlando HernandezNats at the batting cageOliver Perez

About Dennis McCarthy: I was born in the Bronx in 1960, but moved to Long Island four years later. I became a Mets fan in '69, thanks to my Aunt Ellen, who still lived in the Bronx.   Read More -->

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Comments (4)

I enjoyed your piece, Nostradennis.

You did violate one Southern rule of grammar, however, one that was beaten into me as a sprout growing up in Tennessee: never use "mild" before "redneck."

Gosh, we're rough on the ones that love us.

dd - Thanks for the tip. I've only been here 12 years, so I'm not Foxworthy fluent in Southern just yet.

Besides, Florida isn't REEEALLLY the South, due to all the damned Yankees who've settled here.

Hee-hee...I said "Damn Yankees"...

PS - I apologize to all for the guy with the fat belly vogueing in front of the Tradition Field sign. I'd say it looked soooo gay, except I'd be maligning homosexuals everywhere if I did.

Nice shirt!

hey very nice but can you email me a picture of a mets sweatshirt with david wright's last name on da back

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