Jim Crikket provides us with a second report from the spring training trip that has the rest of us jealous — while keeping in the back of our mind that when he goes home, he goes home to IOWA.
Bradenton is only 30 miles from where I’m staying in so I could have slept in a bit. I decided, though, to set my alarm for 6 am to turn on the Boston/Oakland game from Japan. The alarm went off at 6, I turned on the TV, reset my alarm for 9, and promptly went back to sleep. I did wake up in time to watch the 9th and 10th innings, and I guess that was the important part, anyway.
This is the second year that I’ve gone to a Pirates/Twins game in Bradenton, where the Pirates train. I like the place for two reasons. First, it’s an old fashioned neighborhood ballpark in the middle of a residential area. You park in various lots around the ballpark rather than in some massive lot. The Bradenton Boys & Girls Club got my $5 for allowing me to park in their lot 2 blocks from the stadium. Second, ticket prices are very reasonable by comparison to pretty much anywhere else. (Hmmm, I wonder why).
I don’t buy my tickets in advance so I end up buying from one of the guys hawking tickets near the ballpark entrances. The Twins game Monday was sold out so you can imagine what I had to pay for a ticket one row up from the dugout. But in Bradenton, it’s a bit more budget friendly… or at least it SHOULD be. If you aren’t stupid. But, me being me, it wasn’t all that cheap either.
I bought a ticket 22 rows up from home plate for a couple bucks less than the face value of the ticket and went inside to watch the Twins take BP. That’s when I realized there are only 22 rows in the bleachers (which are covered). So I’d purchased a top row ticket in the shade on a day with a stiff breeze blowing in and temps about 60 degrees. Nope. Not gonna sit there.
So I left, despite the posted warning that I would not be readmitted … and I bought ANOTHER ticket. This one down the left field line but only 5 rows from the field and well out in to the sun where I was certain to add to the prior day’s sunburn. All together, I paid about 1/3 less for my TWO Bradenton tickets than I did for my one Monday ticket in Ft. Myers. But still. Dumb. I mean, it’s not like I couldn’t see the covered grandstand from outside the stadium. Ah, well, live and learn.
So, yes, once again, the grass was green, the sky was blue, the beer was cold … and the Twins lost big to an inferior team. But Kevin Slowey looked great for 3 innings and should have gotten out of the 4th without giving up those 3 runs he got nicked for. I mean… on the one hand, even I thought that line drive to CF was going to get knocked down by the wind so when Craig Monroe misjudged it and it went over his head, I probably shouldn’t say much. But on the other hand, unlike Craig, I’m not getting paid a couple million dollars to judge line drives.
Just saying, don’t read too much in to Slowey’s line on the day… he deserved better.
On the positive side, I did feel guys were hitting the ball better today. Michael Cuddyer doubled down the LF line for the second straight day. But before that, he just ripped a line drive in the first inning that Bautista went up in the air and stabbed and turned in to a double play, as Nick Punto clearly thought (as I did) that Cuddyer had a double down the line. (Again, it’s one thing for me to misjudge those things and another for a multi-million dollar base runner to do so.)
All in all, another nice day in the sunshine at a ballpark. Can’t let a little thing like getting beaten by the Pirates dampen the spirit. Unfortunately, I’ll be missing the game Wednesday because I do need to work at least one day this week. Thursday afternoon, however, I need to drive from St Petersburg to Orlando so I’m planning on stopping in Sarasota on the way to catch the Twins and Reds. (OK, so Sarasota isn’t really “on the way” to Orlando… but it’s not 1,000 miles out of the way, either.)