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.
Your intrepid blogger NostraDennis at Tradition Field
(more pics at bottom)
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.