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First time to Spring Training, a walk in the park

Hearing the words 'play ball' followed by a semi-exuberant cheer, that is followed by an almost audible hush is the first noticeable difference from sitting in a midsummer's game at Fenway. The fans are sprawled out across blankets and the stands, soaking in the sun and waiting for some Red Sox baseball. The families laying on the grass seats remind me of Civil War pictures of women and children setting up picnics to watch the oncoming battles. The anxiety for some of a baseball game involving the beloved Sox come late September is a distant cry from the laid back atmosphere found in Fort Myers.

The sporadic clouds that provided some cooling shade during pre-game warmups have faded and the sun is shining down on the crisp grass of the outfield. As Dustin Pedroia races out to his corner the words 'CrushA!' escape my mouth and sound like I am in an empty stadium yelling from twenty feet away. This whole quieter, more peacuful ambiance I was finding in Florida was going to take some getting used to. Now every comment I had for the players would be heard most assuradly by someone on the field, along with spectators near and far.

The first inning started off unceremoniously with two runs being scored before you could say 'hey I haven't seen a Cracker Jack guy here.' Rocco Baldelli looked somewhat sluggish as he chased after a ball, hit with barely any warning track power, off the bottom of the wall. All the while Brad Penny vs. Fransisco Liriano was shaping up to be a matchup for the ages. That was, until Liriano was chased out of the Spring Training game with 7 runs scored on 3 hits.

As the sun shifted in the sky and the shadows began to creep over homeplate a move was necessary and seats were procured behind the Red Sox dugout. Sidenote: just before that me and my sister saw and talked to (even if he had no idea who we were) a math teacher from our old high school, Mr. Pender. A real gentleman this guy was, wearing his old school Oakley's with the bright orange lenses. The game was finished out in style with Devern Hansack pitching 3 great innings of work. His stuff as of late seems to be indicating that he might be able to finally crack the bullpen and help out. He has always had the ability, the consistency was his real achilles heel.

As soon as the game ended Tito sauntered over to the ever beautiful Hiedi Watney and gave her his quick breakdown of how the game went. Now while I am not a Terry Francona basher, I will say that it was kind of puzzling as to why he could not even lift his head or hand in acknolwedgement of the fans that waited quietly while he talked and shouted his name when he was through. You have people yelling your name for a good reason, not to many people get to experience that. All in all however my first, of hopefully many more, Spring Training games was a beaut, and we clinched the Mayor's Cup too, now if we can just build on this.

oh and for the fans...

- Brian Mac


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