Spring Training 05: Tales from the Grapefruit League

Game 1
Sunday, March 6, 2005
New York Mets (ss) vs. Atlanta Braves
Disney’s Wide World of Sports, Kissimmee, Florida

This country is filled with Waffle Houses. If your waffle is looking for a home, there are just so many places for it to rest on the interstates south of Washington, D.C. As we drove from southwestern Pennsylvania to Atlanta, Georgia, to Boynton Beach, Florida, we certainly saw our fair share of Waffle Houses.

The best one, though, was in Central Florida. This Waffle House had sustained some hurricane damage last year, and a few of it’s letters were missing. Instead of a WAFFLE HOUSE, this restaurant promised an ALE HOUSE. Those two establishments – a roadside diner and a pub – just couldn’t be any more dissimilar. I was amused. But anyway, on to the Spring Training 2005 road trip.

The premise is simple. For spring break, three of my friends and I are traveling around Florida. We started out on Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. After driving until 4 a.m., we reached our first stop: Atlanta. We spent Saturday in Atlanta, left the fine city at 7 p.m., and arrived at the Best Value Inn on the outskirts of Orlando at around 2:45 a.m.

On Sunday, the baseball began. We drove down to Walt Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in Kissimmee, Florida, to witness the Atlanta Braves play host to half — and not really the good half – of the division-rival New York Mets.

We couldn’t really ask for better weather; it was 75 out with hardly a cloud in the sky. We sat on the lawn berm along with hundreds of other fans. We were surrounded by Mets fans although there were plenty of Braves fans on hand and quite a lot of people sporting Red Sox gear. (Cough, cough, fair-weather, cough, cough.) We also ran into the Swarthmore College women’s lacrosse team. What are the odds? We go to a school with 1500 other people, and many teams, both college and high school, train at Disney’s complex. We managed to find the one with our friends on it. It’s a small world.

While we were hanging out with our friends and just soaking up the sun after driving away from the cold northeast winter, John Smoltz’s first start since June of 2001 unfolded in front of us. Smoltz look pretty good. He threw two scoreless innings while surrounding just two hits. While he faced arguably the Mets C team with a batting order of Chris Woodward, Miguel Cairo, Cliff Floyd, Andres Galarraga, Victor Diaz, Jason Phillips, and Aaron Baldiris, Smoltz had good command and was able to keep the hitters off balance. Yet he only threw 28 pitches so it’s hardly any more than if he had been closing. It will be interesting to see how his arm strength and stamina hold up over six or seven innings.

In the end, the Braves won 8-7, but it didn’t really matter. By the time the 8th inning rolled around and Kelly Johnson drove home Brayan Peña, the winning run, off of Bobby Keppel, we weren’t seeing anyone you’ll see at the Major League level this year. But that’s not what Spring Training is about.

Spring Training is about proving your worth, and we saw plenty of that. Andres Galarraga, a venerable veteran trying to win a spot on the Mets’ roster, went 2-for-3 with a towering home run off of a very unimpressive Zach Minor. We saw excitement. Brian Jordan fell just a double – and another plate appearance – short of the cycle. And we saw prospects. Andy Marte doubled in his first at-bat of the game.

Overall, it was just a great day. We sat outside and watched live baseball for the first time since October. We got some sun and just hung out while a bunch of kids our age tried to show what they could do – hit and field – and could not do – throw many strikes. It was a true Spring Training game.

After the game, we drove down I-95 to Boynton Beach, Florida. We’ll be here until Friday. Our next game is Tuesday. We’ll be traveling north to Vero Beach to see the Los Angeles Dodgers host the Florida Marlins.

Advertisements

RSS River Ave. Blues

  • Sunday Open Thread October 22, 2017
    The first open thread of the offseason. Yuck. At least this one came much later than the last few seasons. It’s been a while since the Yankees went into the offseason feeling like a team on the rise, not a team trying to hang on to past glory and figure out a way to stay […] The post Sunday Open Thread appeared first on River Avenue Blues.
    Mike Axisa
  • Glow and Grow October 22, 2017
    Before we begin, a sincere thanks to you, dear readers, for following along during the season and the playoffs. We all appreciate your day in, day out support and couldn’t do any of this without you. Please continue to read, share, and support the–frankly–great work that goes on here. Yankees Only.  Reflection and feedback are […] The post Glow and Grow appe […]
    Matt Imbrogno
  • Astros 4, Yankees 0: Game Seven loss sends Yankees home for the winter October 22, 2017
    All great things must come to an end. The incredibly fun and better than pretty much everyone expected 2017 Yankees season came to a close Saturday night, with a 4-0 loss to the Astros in Game Seven of the ALCS. Houston will take on the Dodgers in the World Series. The Yankees are heading home. […] The post Astros 4, Yankees 0: Game Seven loss sends Yankees […]
    Mike Axisa
  • 2017 ALCS Game Seven: Yankees at Astros October 21, 2017
    So here we are again. Another win or go home game. The Yankees have been through a few of these already this postseason. Except unlike the Wild Card Game or Games Three, Four, and Five of the ALDS, a spot in the World Series is on the line tonight. The Yankees and Astros are playing […] The post 2017 ALCS Game Seven: Yankees at Astros appeared first on River […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Thoughts prior to Game Seven of the 2017 ALCS October 21, 2017
    For the fifth time in the last 18 days, the Yankees will play with their season on the line tonight. They are a perfect 4-0 in elimination games this postseason, and tonight’s Game Seven with the Astros will determine who moves on to face the Dodgers in the World Series. I am weirdly not nervous. […] The post Thoughts prior to Game Seven of the 2017 ALCS app […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Astros 7, Yankees 1: Yanks can’t solve Verlander, Astros force Game Seven October 21, 2017
    What, you didn’t think winning the pennant would be easy, did you? The Yankees and Astros are going to a Game Seven. Justin Verlander shut the Yankees down again in Game Six of the ALCS on Friday night, then Houston’s offense tacked on a bunch of insurance runs late to put the game out of […] The post Astros 7, Yankees 1: Yanks can’t solve Verlander, Astros […]
    Mike Axisa
  • 2017 ALCS Game Six: Yankees at Astros October 20, 2017
    For the first time since the championship season of 2009, the Yankees are one win away from going to the World Series. They fell behind 0-2 in the ALCS before storming back to take a 3-2 series lead. Beating up on Dallas Keuchel in Game Five the other day was satisfying. Very satisfying. The series […] The post 2017 ALCS Game Six: Yankees at Astros appeared […]
    Mike Axisa
  • The best way to beat Justin Verlander in Game Six could be swinging early in the count October 20, 2017
    Tonight the Yankees have a chance to advance to the World Series, and they’re in this position because they beat up on Dallas Keuchel in Game Five. Keuchel shut the Yankees down in Game One, which he’s done throughout his career, but the tables were turned in Game Five and he didn’t make it through […] The post The best way to beat Justin Verlander in Game S […]
    Mike Axisa
  • The Yankees are one game away from the World Series thanks to their pitching staff October 20, 2017
    In just a few hours the Yankees will look to clinch a spot in the 2017 World Series. I still can’t believe they’ve made it this far. They weren’t supposed to contend this year. They weren’t supposed to come back from down 0-2 to the Indians. They weren’t supposed to come back from down 0-2 […] The post The Yankees are one game away from the World Series than […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Mailbag: Tanaka, Otani, Thomson, Gleyber, Judge, Bullpen October 20, 2017
    We’ve got nine questions in this week’s mailbag. And later tonight, the Yankees will look to clinch the American League pennant. Amazing. Anyway, RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com is where you can send us any questions. Many asks: Does Tanaka’s great postseason make him more likely to opt-out? It could, sure. That said, teams have […] The post Mailbag: Tanaka, […]
    Mike Axisa

Blog Stats

  • 62,569 hits

%d bloggers like this: