Why I Like Baseball

an online journal of baseball enthusiasm

Archive for the ‘Spring Training’

First outing of the spring!

March 24, 2015 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, Spring Training, Yankee Fan Memories

Well, that was fun.

I just took in my first baseball game of the spring. I’m not exaggerating when I say it has been a tough winter. It has been, in fact, the worst winter in the history of weather records in the city of Boston. We had both the most snow and the coldest temperatures. The result was snow banks six and seven feet high lining my street for months, as well as transit shutdowns and a lot of general hibernation.

So here I am in Tampa–where my parents retired to some years ago–to see baseball and thaw out. The weather was a mere 66 degrees this morning and that felt so warm by comparison to me that I had no hesitation to get in the swimming pool with my mother, who teaches a water aerobics exercise class here for other retirees. (The pool is heated. Oh bliss.)

This evening’s entertainment though, was provided by the Tigers and Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. (more…)

Second exhibition game at Marlins Park

April 03, 2012 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Great Ballparks, Spring Training, Yankee Fan Memories

I have now visited my 21st major league stadium, Marlins Park in Miami. For the second game in a row, we made our way to the park, this time by public transit. We’d spent the afternoon on Miami Beach for some very pleasant walking around looking at nice buildings and eye-popping cars and motorcycles and then did the Transit Experiment.

The Transit Experiment consists of using one’s smart phone to try to get somewhere. In this case, it wasn’t that difficult at all. We hopped the Route 120 bus to he Adrienne Arsht omni transit center, switched there to the free Metromover to Government Center, where we caught the Metrorail train to Culmer, where we got on a shuttle bus direct to the ballpark.

Okay, looking at that list now–bus to mover to train to bus–it seems like it was really complicated. But it wasn’t really more difficult than many of the other ballpark-via-transit jaunts I’ve taken, including Seattle suburbs to Safeco, Silicon Valley to then-PacBell Park, or even my own house to Fenway Park.

All told from when we left Miami Beach to when we reached the ballpark was just under an hour. After the game we took the shuttle back to the Metrorail to the South Miami stop which is near to corwin’s parents’ house, and his Dad came to pick us up there. From time of last pitch to walking in the door here in the Coral Gables area was just over an hour. Very decent time, and the total cost was $7 per person. (It would have only been $5 per person, I think, if we’d bought the one-day Easy Ticket before getting on the first bus, but we hadn’t and so paid $2 cash to get on there, and then Easy Ticket thereafter.)

But you didn’t really come here to read about public transit, did you? You want to know how the Marlins Park was at night.

Let me tell you, it was gorgeous. (more…)

Exploring the new Marlins Park! April 1 2012 with the Yankees

April 01, 2012 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Fans and Fandom, Baseball Musings, Great Ballparks, Spring Training, Yankee Fan Memories

The Miami Marlins know how to throw a party. As any good party-thrower knows, one of the keys is to invite lively guests. The Marlins picked a good one with the New York Yankees, who brought legions of fans to the dress-rehearsal exhibition game at Marlins Park on April 1, 2012.

Some were expatriate New Yorkers who have been in Florida for years. Some were spring training pilgrims from all over.

But the Marlins had no shortage of supporters there today, and for all the complaints there have been about the team bilking the city, the mistreatment of the local residents over parking issues, and so on, there were throngs of people in brand-new Marlins colors ready to fly their Fish flags. Many of them were hispanic families, with three (or four) generations in attendance together. If this team wins, it appears there will be plenty of folks on that bandwagon already.

The park does look a bit like a spaceship just set down in the midst of a residential neighborhood. But the first impression of the place came not from the visual, but from the sound. From a few blocks away it sounded like the biggest, loudest block party on Earth was going on, and we soon discovered why. (more…)

Night Game at “The Boss”

March 10, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Spring Training, Yankee Fan Memories

As we walked up to George M. Steinbrenner Field tonight, corwin remarked that it looked very Disney-ish. GMS Field is surrounded by lovely landscaping, fountains with man-made ponds inhabited by turtles and geese, palm trees with lights climbing their trunks, but with the bright lights bouncing off the clouds, the humid evening air blowing in our faces, and the happy anticipation… it certainly felt like Disney.

Ah, Florida, which has been an exotic fantasyland in the minds of Northerners since the days of Henry B. Plant, the railroad magnate who convinced the cream of New York society to ride his rail system south to his Tampa Bay Hotel starting in 1891. But as with Disney, the magic in the Yankees isn’t in the frills, it’s somewhere in the heart. (more…)

Spring! My first day in the sun after a long winter

March 08, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Spring Training, Yankee Fan Memories

As I get older, perhaps I am starting to see the appeal of Florida. This winter in New England was long, hard, bitter, and snow-filled. When I pulled my suitcase down the steps of my Victorian-era house in Cambridge, the solid ice berms on either side of the sidewalk were still two feet high. My car was plowed into a snow bank weeks ago and the side mirror torn off by the plow, after which its battery went dead in the cold. It’s still there on the curb.

I’m not. I’m in FLORIDA. And it is HOT and SUNNY here. This is GLORIOUS.

Yesterday I went with my parents (who are big baseball nuts, too) to George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa to take in a tilt between the Yankees and Phillies. Both of these teams have chips on their shoulders, having both been expecting to meet at the Big Dance last October/November, and both jilted by the machinations of the upstart Giants and Rangers.

It was a split squad day for the Yankees, meaning that — alas — Jeter, A-Rod, Teixeira, and Cano were all on a road trip to face the Orioles. The starters who remained behind in Tampa were Gardner, Granderson, Swisher, Posada, and Russell Martin (the new full-time catcher, now that Posada is the full-time DH). Okay, so those latter five are not chopped liver, but it still felt a bit like we got the second string. Especially when the Phillies had brought pretty much their A lineup: (more…)

Another game in tweets: Pirates at Yankees

March 09, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Spring Training

Cano not in lineup today. He did extra hitting work with Kevin Long on back field. Hitting power to right field–a Yankee Stadium swing?

Cloudy and muggy here in Tampa today. Dad getting a sandwich for us to share. We have a half hour still until baseball. Mom teaching aqua.

Starting pitchers today. Sabathia for #Yankees, Charlie Morton for Pirates. Still looking for Pittsburgh’s lineup.

Spring 2010: Phils at Yanks

March 08, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Spring Training

Today’s game was one long round of “who is that player?”

This is a typical spring activity, but one would think that with modern information technology things would get easier.

One would be wrong.

I started out this morning trying to print out the rosters from MLB.com which was all well and good, but what about the non-roster players? Those are the guys you need to know the most. So I went next to SpringTraining.com and printed out lists of the non-roster players, too. But I couldn’t help but notice the Phillies hadn’t assigned numbers to them by the time they went to press… so the list could be of limited usefulness. (more…)

Another year Spring Training! Jays at Yankees

March 06, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Spring Training

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. (more…)

Spring training live in-game posts below:

March 17, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Spring Training

Mariano threw only two balls in his outing. Struck out two looking, and had one comebacker to the mound. Corwin points out that maybe one reason Mo’s arm never breaks down is he doesn’t throw any breaking pitches at all. Hm.

March 17, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Spring Training

Feels really good to see Jorge greet Mariano on the mound.


March 16, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Spring Training

Igawa got out of the fifth without giving up a run but he didn’t look good. How much of that is our expectation, I don’t know but he threw a lot of balls.

Second inning of work Igawa’s bacon was saved by an amazing but ugly grab to start a DP by Edwardo Nunez. Nunez now leading off the sixth and got a nice hand. And then beat out an infield hit.


March 16, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Spring Training

Today’s game is moving a lot slower than the previous two. Both pitchers have struggled with control. Apparently today I am struggling with typing. Must be the after effects of last night’s pilgrimage to Bern’s Steakhouse.

Lots and lots of Phillies fans here today.

Joba is still missing some of the time but he is still getting the guys out. Mid the second.

Monday Live from Steinbrenner Field

March 16, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Spring Training

Well, the USA staved off elimination in the WBC so we still have no Jeter. The thing I miss most is watching him play long toss before every game.

Looking forward to Joba today! Although he just walked the first batter on 4 pitches, then struck out the next on 3… (cue ominous music).

1:26 PM
Joba is clearly working out some kinks.

He looks a little skinnier than last year.

Yes! Got Ryan Howard looking with a man on second.

1:45 PM
Today’s game is moving a lot slower than the previous two. Both pitchers have struggled with control. Apparently today I am struggling with typing. Must be the after effects of last night’s pilgrimage to Bern’s Steakhouse.

Lots and lots of Phillies fans here today.

Joba is still missing some of the time but he is still getting the guys out. Mid the second.

1:54 PM
Just wrote “failed pitch out” in my scorecard. Nunez stole second on a pitch out but the catcher had butterfingers.

Yesterday’s trivia quiz was tricky. Who was the first Yankee batter announced by Bob Sheppard? I will answer next inning…

They put the shift on Howard and got the ground ball but didn’t get him out because he hit it too softly.

The guys sitting behind us played high school baseball with Kevin Cash. So we hope he gets in the game. Lately we’ve seen Cervelli and Montero though.

Bruney pitching now.

Oh, and the first Yankee batter announced by Bob Sheppard was Jackie Jensen.

Cody Ransom looks really good today on both offense and defense. Now if he was 23 instead of 33 he would be a hot prospect.

Nick Swisher uses Jimi Hendrix as at bat music and Joba has AC/DC.

Oh no. Kei Igawa.

Igawa got out of the fifth without giving up a run but he didn’t look good. How much of that is our expectation, I don’t know but he threw a lot of balls.

Second inning of work Igawa’s bacon was saved by an amazing but ugly grab to start a DP by Edwardo Nunez. Nunez now leading off the sixth and got a nice hand. And then beat out an infield hit.

The Yankees broke it open in the 6th, sending 11 men to the plate. One of them was Kevin Cash, making our friends happy. Cash hit a pop foul on the first pitch that ended up just fair and ended up in the seats. RBI ground rule double.

With such a big lead, Igawa gets another inning.

Cash was on deck last inning so we grilled his pals over whether he was always a catcher, that is, did he always have those ham hocks for legs? Or as corwin put it, “catcher’s butt”?

Apparently he was a third baseman until after he went pro. “but he always walked funny, like he’s wearing high heels.” His pal also pointed out Cash might be the only guy who has won all three World Series, Little League, College (FSU), and MLB (Red Sox).

Cash is on again on another lucky pop! Flubbed by left fielder for two bases.

It is 11-0 Yankees.

March 15, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Spring Training, Uncategorized

Huge hand for Jorge. He has been DHing so it is not like he hasn’t played but still.

Wow, Jorge beat out an infield hit! And because they were holding that speed demon on, Damon’s grounder became a hit instead of a double play. And then he tagged and took third on a foul pop! Apparently while having his shoulder fixed, Posada got new legs.

Sunday at George M Steinbrenner field

March 15, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Spring Training

[Blogging Live via the Steinbrenner Field Wifi]

The weather is perfect again today. 81 degrees, breezy, and we were just treated to a special forces parachute drop.

With any luck, we’re about to be treated to Jorge behind the plate and Pettitte on the mound.

[I've now consolidated all the live blog posts into a single post.]

1:09 PM
Amusingly, Posada is leading off.

1:29 PM
Huge hand for Jorge. He has been DHing so it is not like he hasn’t played but still.

Wow, Jorge beat out an infield hit! And because they were holding that speed demon on, Damon’s grounder became a hit instead of a double play. And then he tagged and took third on a foul pop! Apparently while having his shoulder fixed, Posada got new legs.

1:42 PM
The first outbreak of the Let’s Go Yankees chant came in the second inning after a nice two strike clap. Pettitte then ended the inning with a K.

What is it with pitchers getting hit here? Yesterday one of the Astros got hit in the hand with a line drive. Today Glen Perkins of the Twins just got hit with Matsui’s broken bat and fell right off the mound. It was the third out so they took him right out. It looked like it hurt.

Swisher just lived up to his name and struck out on 3 pitches.

This game is flying along. Like yesterday, which had no walks, this one is walk-free. We are halfway through and only one hour has passed.

Phil Coke did his part with two perfect innings. As we said in the Maple Street Press Yankees Annual, Coke would be wasted as a situational lefty. The annual is on sale now, FYI.

Coke started to lose it in his third inning of work with two outs. He allowed three line drives on a row, then walked a guy. Dave Eiland made a visit, and he got a dribbler out of the next guy to end the inning. Nice job.

Posada out of the game.

Injury visit

March 14, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Spring Training

Hideki Matsui just hit a comebacker that knocked pitcher Alberto Arias from the game. The Yankees couldn’t do anything with him as it was, as he struck out the side in the third.

Burnett has continued to impress. Four inings so far and not a single baserunner. The ‘stros are looking weak and foolish against him. This makes us feel good, to say the Least.

Blogging live from “the Boss”

March 14, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Spring Training

So, today is my first spring training game. Renaming Legends field to Steinbrenner Field, the Yankees also made some renovations.

There are new ribbon boards for video. And there is Wifi!

So I am sitting behind home plate and typing this on my iPhone.

Burnett looked really good in the first, punctuating his inning with a strikeout. His stuff DIVES. Change and slider?

Now Aaron Boone is at the plate for the Astros. He got a nice hand from the crowd when he came to the plate and a nicer one when he grounded to second.

More as it goes!

Winter Is Officially Over

March 14, 2009 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Spring Training

Winter is officially over, because I’m on the plane to Tampa as I type this. My words look calm, but the excitement is bubbling as I look around me and all of a sudden everything seems to be about baseball. We arrived at Logan Airport with enough time to grab a meal before boarding, and corwin and I ate at Jerry Remy’s bar/restaurant. (Yes, they have a hot dog on the menu which they call the Remdawg, though the food was actually quite good). While sitting at the bar, just ESPN, the Deuce, and NESN weren’t enough, so I showed him the MLB At Bat app I have on my iPhone and read him an amusing article about how Mike Mussina dropped by Yankees camp. Then we went to our gate and in the hallway to our gate was a photography exhibit, Red Sox Then & Now.

I didn’t have time to read the plaque, but some longtime fan of the Red Sox has been taking/collecting photos at Fenway Park for years and years. I would have lingered over them but we spent a little too long lingering in Remdawg’s, and as we walked up to our gate it turned out we were among the last stragglers to get onto our flight. (Of course, people were being so slow to put their things into overhead bins that as it was, we still stood on the jetway in the freezing cold, waiting to get into the plane anyway.)

Now we’re on the plane, and it is equipped with XM Satellite Radio, which means I am listening to the Yankees vs. Red Sox from Fort Myers! It’s currently 7-4 Sox, neither Chien Ming-Wang nor Tim Wakefield were good, and I slept through most of the third and fourth innings so now I’m not sure who is pitching.

We’re landing in Atlanta soon, and then carrying on to Tampa. If I can grab some Wifi there I’ll post this and post again later. We’ll be seeing four games in a row at George M. Steinbrenner Field (formerly Legends Field) and I’ll be reporting here at WHY I LIKE BASEBALL on all of them.

Waiting For Spring Training…

December 19, 2008 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, Spring Training

(Originally posted on February 20, 2000. Reposted to new site on December 19, 2008.)

I’ve said before how I “can’t wait” for the season to start. (Or even for Spring training to start!)

But now I know I have it bad. Well, not that I didn’t know before, but yesterday I went to new extremes for my baseball fix. I knew that Mariano Rivera, Yankees closer, had his arbitration hearing Thursday, and that the answer would be delayed until Saturday. Yesterday I diligently checked my usual spots, several times, The Sporting News online, majorleaguebaseball.com, etc… and still no posting of the story. Many of the stories that run on these sites come from the Associated Press. So I went straight to the AP site, and voila, not one but three articles about it…! Ahhhh, at last.

(In case you don’t know, Rivera lost, and as a result will only make $7.25 million dollars next year, be the highest paid closer in baseball, and has the highest salary ever awarded in arbitration, even though he lost. His agent wanted $9.25 million. Rivera’s was the last deal the Yankees needed to wrap up in core players–everything else from here on out is what non-roster and minor league guys will make the team during Spring Training. But that’s not important right now.)

Anyway, teams are working out on sunny fields across Florida and Arizona, and there’s snow on the ground in Boston. It’s fourteen days until I leave for Tampa!

Going to see games at Spring Training is something that, when I was a kid, I never thought I would get to do. We would see little news bits about it on tv, and for some reason I had it in my head that only a few really special people ever went to Spring Training. Now I realize it’s the special few who either live in Florida, or who can surf the Internet for tickets months in advance, take time off to fly down there, and, as the Nike commercial says, “Just Do It.” There are serious advantages to being an adult and not a kid anymore…

Here’s what I’m going to do over the next fourteen days:

  1. Print Out Blank Scorecards (just in case)
  2. Print Out Spring Training Previews on the Opposing Teams
  3. Launder My Yankees Shirts (I own two, both Xmas gifts this year) & warm weather clothes
  4. Visit Mapquest and get driving directions to all the ballfields
  5. Fax Rick Cerone (Yankee Press Relations) re: freelance article I’m working on
  6. Check for any last minute available Braves or Red Sox tickets
  7. Load laptop with web connection software (so I can keep checking majorleaguebaseball.com while there, and add entries to this journal!)
  8. Read Tampa area restaurant reviews (gotta eat sometime!)
  9. Pay Cell Phone Bill
  10. Find Cat-sitter
  11. Confirm Reservations
  12. Gloat to friends
  13. Find sunglasses
  14. Rub hands with glee

Oh, sure, before I go, I’m also going to put in about 140 hours at my desk, plus some 20-25 hours working at the tae kwon do school. And I’ll probably sleep about 100 hours, too. Nothing important, in the fanatics’ scheme of things.

March 17, 2008: Another winner!

March 17, 2008 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Spring Training

The Yankees beat the Red Sox today. Yeah, sure, you can say it was only spring training and that the games don’t count and that if it were a real game, for example, Andy Pettitte probably would have pitched more than 3 1/3 innings. But it was the Red Sox, which always adds excitement, and it was St. Patrick’s Day, meaning that the crowd looked rather like it had sprouted moss overnight, in addition to looking somewhat rusted, thanks to all the red jerseys that appeared for the matchup. It felt even more like a real game than the day before.

The theme of today was pitching. Pettitte did not give up a hit until the third inning, while Boston’s starter, Bartolo Colon (yes, that Bartolo Colon) did not make it out of the first inning.

Colon looked very sharp against leadoff hitter Johnny Damon, but maybe Damon is suffering from the allergies that have hit over the past two days as the pollen count has spiked near 11 (on a scale that goes to 12). Colon simply could not locate his fastball for a strike, and after walking Wilson Betemit, the number 8 batter, was lifted having given up four runs.

Julian Tavares took over, got the final out, and then gave up three runs in the second on a two-run Abreu blast, which followed sweetly after Jeter had been hit by pitch, and a sharp Giambi double over Dustin Pedroia’s head and a Matsui single were all it took to make the score 7-0. After 9 Yankees had come to the plate in the first, eight batter in the second, meaning Pettitte had more than 20 minutes to sit, two innings in a row.

He was not as sharp in the third inning, having trouble finding the strike zone from time to time. And he wasn’t helped by Damon who lost a ball in the sun that went for a double. Andy gave up two runs in that rally, one on his own wildness as a pitch in the dirt scooted between Posada’s legs and allowed the runner on third to score, and in the fourth he gave a solo homer to Kevin Youkilis. Still, compared to both Colon and Tavares, he looked brilliant.

Heath Philips, one of the many lefty control pitchers to get an invite to camp, took over, and did not pitch well, giving up another run on four hits, while both outs he records were both line drives to second, snared by Cano.

Everyone else for the Yankees pitched great. Jonathan Albaladejo, Billy Traber, Brian Bruney, and Scott Strickland kept the Sox in check, limiting their offense to two hits over the final five innings and no more runs.

All in all, a very pleasant afternoon.


Jeter has always had some interesting rituals associated with his game, like rubbing Don Zimmer’s head and having Joe Torre hold his bat in the dugout. (Which makes me wonder… who holds his bat now?) This year prior to every at bat he seems to have adopted a procedure by which he uses the tick of pine tar, and then throws it at Bobby Abreu, usually hitting him in the stomach.

It being a Red Sox-Yankees matchup, there were plenty of “mixed marriages” in evidence, and the Yankees, perhaps in a diplomatic move, invited an acapella group from Yale University to sing the National Anthem. (Though the boys were all wearing Yankees’ caps, no doubt provided by the team). Sitting in front of us was a man and his full grown son, both wearing Red Sox hats. But when Jorge Posada came to the plate, the man called out “Hip Hip!” starting a rousing round of Hip-Hip-Jorge. His son turned around and tried to take the man’s hat away. “Now now!” he said, grabbing the hat back, “I’m from Rhode Island! I’m allowed to root for both teams if I want!”

Every inning in baseball is almost universally preceded by the first baseman tossing grounders to the other three infielders while the pitcher throws eight warmup pitches. After the final pitch, the catcher throws down to second as if catching a base stealer, and then the inning can begin. Well, at the start of the second inning, Robinson Cano was chatting away with Jeter all through the warmup tosses, and when Jorge was ready to throw through, Cano wasn’t in place. He waved his arms until Cano got in position and then threw down. Before the third inning, once again Cano missed his cue to cover second and Jorge, apparently fed up with waiting, just threw the ball into center field.

P.S. My interview with David Cone is up at Gotham Baseball magazine, here.

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