I think I burned my ear.
Hello and welcome to another Spring Training! I’m in Tampa all week, and with any luck I’ll also be stopping by Lakeland. I’m not working on any high-powered books or articles at the moment (the YANKEES ANNUAL just came out so that is all done!) so this week I get to be just a fan, and sit in the stands and eat all the hot dogs I want.
Well, actually, I’m on a diet, but you get the idea.
Today’s fun in the sun took place at George M. Steinbrenner stadium, the place formerly known as Legends Field and still called that by many locals. Last night as my mother drove me from the airport to their house north of the city, we passed the brand new Steinbrenner High School. The Steinbrenners have been big philanthropists in Tampa, which is why you’ll see the New York Yankees logo on police cars and the like. (I imagine some poor Red Sox fans getting busted for being drunk and thinking it must be some kind of conspiracy…)
My mother couldn’t come to the game today (she was at a Haiti fundraiser), so I had an extra ticket to get rid of before the game. I milled about with some scalpers near the parking lot, but as game time drew nearer it was obvious no one wanted to buy just a single ticket. A scalper near me was also trying to sell just one ticket.
Finally, he approached me. “You’re selling one, but do you have two? How about this, will you trade me your two upper level seats for this one lower level seat which is a much better seat? It’s like fourth row.”
I looked at the ticket. It was for row DD, section 117. I knew from prior experience that would probably put me in the sun, and given that it’s only in the low sixties today in Tampa, that sounded like a plus. My regular seats are in the shade. Also, I knew row DD, when behind the dugouts, is the first row, not the fourth. I went for it. He was happy and I was happy.
Sure enough, my seat was right behind the Blue Jays dugout. As such, I decided not to “live tweet” the game, because I needed to be paying attention for foul balls. I got to my seat and had gotten out my regular paper scorecard just as the National Anthems began.
Canada’s anthem is really pretty, isn’t it? (Apologies to anyone who is sick of it right now; I didn’t watch any of the Olympics so this is the first time I’ve heard it since the last time I saw the Blue Jays.)
Observations from the game:
Every single Yankee is on the rail, watching the game. They are rapt as A.J. Burnett gets in and out of trouble. Burnett looks like his usual self, meaning he’s getting some swings and misses here and there… but is too prone to giving up the walk. This time it’s with two on, two out, and a 3-2 count, he walks Lyle Overbay. Argh. He escapes by popping up the next batter (Jeremy Reed) but has thrown a lot of pitches. Worse, every ball that has been hit has been a rocket.
AJ goes 2-0 on his former catcher Jose Molina. Then gets a swing and miss, and eventually a soft grounder to short. He’s the only guy Burnett really has looked “good” against, though. Snider, Bautista, and Hill all hit ropes off him. Sitting this close–we’re only about 110 feet from the batter–you can really hear the crack of the bat. I’m sure A.J. hears it even louder. He gives up two runs and is yanked after Hill’s RBI single.
On comes Amaury Sanit, a pitcher I’ve not only never seen before, but never even heard of. No one else in our section has heard of him either. He escapes by luck, serving up a deep drive to Adam Lind that Granderson hauls on on the warning track.
Sanit gives up a leadoff hit and is gone. On comes Boone Logan, the lefty who came from the Braves with Javier Vazquez. I’d been hoping to see him, and they bring him in to face two lefties in a row, Overbay and Reed. He gets Overbay to live to first, doubling off the runner (nice play Miranda) and then Reed to ground out.
In spring training, not only can you hear the crack of the bat better, you can hear everything else better, too. The crowds are pretty quiet, and even the scoreboard music doesn’t sound like much during the innings. As such, you can hear what everyone around you says. Behind me there were two kids. One of them said, “I don’t understand why it’s called a dead ball. The ball isn’t ‘dead.’” His friend: “It just means no one can run.” First one again: “That’s morbid.”
Then Alex Rodriguez adjusted his anatomy, as ballplayers are wont to do, prompting a guy behind us to yell, “Yeah, Alex, it’s still there.”
Francisco Cervelli led off the bottom of the inning with Zach Zinicola pitching for the Jays. He tried to duck away from a Zinicola pitch and got it squarely on the noggin. Worst helmet hit I’ve seen since the Clemens/Piazza beanball. It sounded like a salad bowl, dull and plastic, and the ball kangarooed high in the air. Cervelli went immediately to all fours, both the umpire and Molina bending over him, and then didn’t move a muscle for a while. Trainer and coaches coaxed him to his feet after a minute or two and then he walked off the field, but upon checking the Twitter feed of YankeesPR later in the game we learned he had a concussion. Ouch.
Boone Logan looks pretty good. He threw a live fastball that he was able to spot on the outside corner for a strike, and he gave the Yankees their first (and only) one-two-three inning of the day. E
Ever notice when Jorge Posada wants a pitcher to really listen to him, he touches him on the chest while they’re talking? Sometimes repeatedly. (I get the feeling sometimes Jorge wants to smack them in the face to make them listen… but only sometimes.) He kind of taps them with all his fingertips splayed, sometimes in different spots on their chest. I’d think maybe it was some kind of signal except I haven’t picked up any pattern to it.
I also noticed from this angle that when Jorge wants to see eye to eye with a pitcher who is taller then him, he backs the guy down the back of the mound until their eye levels match.
Jorge’s throwdown to second looked really good today after every warmup. However, seconds after I made note of that, he overthrew third base on the around-the-horn after a strikeout. Hey, it’s spring training.
Overheard in the Yankees half of the fourth:
“So I was watching Antiques Roadshow and this guy had a Hank Aaron bat. it was awesome, the bat had all the bruises from the balls hitting it.”
During A-Rod’s second at bat: “$100,000 a day, hit the ball!” (He then struck out.)
Albaladejo is apparently Spanish for “awful.” When Jonathan Albaladejo took the mound in the fifth, it was still a game, 2-1 Jays. When he left, he had faced nine batters, given up seven hits and one walk, and the one out he recorded was a line drive that Miranda miraculously snared! Five runs. That was pretty much it for the realism of the game. The biggest cheer of the entire day was for Dave Eiland when he came to take Albaladejo out.
After that, most of the regulars came out of the lineup, and it was a parade of second stringers. We did get to see Andrew Brackman pitch, the former college basketball star who has been in the Yankees system for a little while now. You could tell it was Brackman right away because of all the comments from people in our section along the lines of, “****, this guy’s tall.” He did give up a two-run homer, but the score hardly mattered at that point. We were also impressed by the fielding of Brandon Laird, the man who took over third base after A-Rod left the game. Laird is the brother of the catcher Gerald and made several nice plays and strong throws to first.
In the end the Jays had 16 hits, the Yankees only 5, but the shade and chilly didn’t reach us until the ninth inning, so I really can’t complain. It was all of 45 degrees in Boston today, and I’m not sorry I’m not there right now one bit. Nor am I sorry that I’ve sunburned my right ear (the sun was on that side of me all day).
Next game is Monday! I may live tweet it from @whyilikebb, or look for my next writeup here on Monday night!
(Did you enjoy reading this blog entry? Please consider buying me a hot dog.)