Road Trip-Bradenton-Sanchez and Crawford



Baseball Ross and I like to take advantage of all the baseball that Florida has to offer. Over the last few weeks, GCL Phillies pitcher, Feliberto Sanchez has taken to Ross, making a point of telling Ross every time he is going to pitch. This week, Sanchez was the opening day pitcher in Dunedin and after we congratulated him on his 3 scoreless innings, he told us that he was going to pitch when the team went to Bradenton.

So after having many a day this week ruined by rain and storms we decided to head over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to Bradenton. I had never been to Pirate City. It’s about an hour from the Carpenter complex. Pirate city is a nice facility with some history.

Pirate City Administration Offices

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The only downside to the facility was the lack of shade and the inoperable vending machines. It was 88 degrees with a “real feel” of 97. So shade and a cool drink would have been refreshing.

I was glad to be there, this game was the first appearance of touted draft pick, JP Crawford.DSCN9132



In his first game, Crawford was DH and managed a little blooper down toward third that got him his first professional hit-a single.

Then, Feliberto Sanchez was in to pitch.

Feliberto Sanchez
Feliberto Sanchez

Sanchez looked very sharp. One of the things I like about him is his attitude. He’s so happy. He is likely the most friendly and gregarious player I’ve ever met and that’s not one of the most common traits of a pitcher. Sanchez is so unflappable it amazes me.

He missed a pitch and with many young (19 year olds) pitchers, it sometimes can spook them and it may take them a few pitches or even batters until they regain their composure. Not Sanchez. Next pitch was right where it needed to be and he didn’t even seem bothered.

With this great mindset I think it will help him progress.

Sanchez went five scoreless innings. As is typical for this atypical pitcher, he was smiling from ear to ear when he was done.

But was our day done?


There was a double header at Brighthouse! So off we went. After a brief stop for lunch and a little shopping, we headed back across the Skyway to Clearwater for the Threshers double header.

They dropped the first game in an extra inning and when the second game went into an extra inning, I was so sure we were going to drop another one.

BUT who was up? Carlos Alonso. He managed to drill one that brought in the winning run.

Threshers celebrate a walk off win in extra innings
Threshers celebrate a walk off win in extra innings

The GCL Phillies won, the Threshers won one of two…I guess two outta three ain’t bad?


The Gulf Coast Phillies Start the Season against the GCL Blue Jays

It’s summer here in Florida. Yesterday was supposed to be the beginning of the Gulf Coast League season with the GCL Phillies playing the GCL Blue Jays at the Carpenter Complex.

As it often happens here in Florida, we left our home just a few miles from the Complex and the sun was out and there were only big fluffy clouds. Three miles later, the sky had opened up and as we neared the Complex it was obvious that they had had a good amount of rain. The drainage culverts that were usually empty were more than half full and there was standing water in both the outfield and infield at the Complex. We were informed that the game was cancelled and that a double header would be held on Saturday at the Blue Jay’s Englebert Field. We went to a local eatery for lunch and they were without power–which may show how much worse the weather was in Clearwater as opposed to Dunedin.

Today started out beautiful, sunny and a light breeze and since we had rain last night, the temperature was good.

Cord Sandberg

Draft pick Cord Sandberg led off for the Phillies….unfortunately, he struck out. Sandberg is from nearby Bradenton and he had several fans there to see him in his first professional game. (Next week the GCL Phils will head to Bradenton to play the Pirates and I will bet that there will be a large contingent of fans to see their hometown boy. Ross and I will also hope to make the trip over the Sunshine Skyway to see Feliberto Sanchez pitch again.)

Jiwan James was up next in a rehab appearance and he singles. Followed by Tommy Joseph who was also making a rehab appearance.   There’s a pass ball and James goes to second.  Joseph walked and James to third.  Next was Nick Ferdinand…

Nick Ferdinand
Nick Ferdinand

Ferdinand hit one to center that SHOULD have been caught, but as it wasn’t  he goes to first, Joseph to second and James scores!

Next up was Robinson Torres who popped up. Next was Jose Pujols. The pitcher for the Jays throws another ball that gets by the catcher and Tommy Joseph runs home, but is tagged at the plate. (I thought he was safe, but what do I know?)

The opening day pitcher for the Phillies was Feliberto Sanchez. He’s a 19 year old out of the Dominican Republic.

Feliberto Sanchez
Feliberto Sanchez

Sanchez was impressive in his first start. By the end of his 3 innings, he gave up 2 hits, no runs, no walks, hit one batter and 2 strike outs. When he left the game the Phils were up 5-0.

Next to pitch for the Phils was Mark Leiter. His line 1 inning, no hits, no runs, no walks and 1 strike out.

In the fifth, Matt Soren came in to pitch and the wheels came off for the Phils. Soren looked great for the first two batters then fell apart. Soren’s final line was 2/3 of an inning, 3 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk and 1 strike out. Phils still up 5-3. Ronald Mendez came in to finish the inning and pitched the sixth and gave up a run, but it was unearned as it was the result of an error. Phils up 5-4.

In the seventh, Cody Forsythe, gave up 3 hits, one run and no walks or strikeouts. So what was supposed to be the last inning of the first game of a double header…wasn’t and not by long shot. The game ended up going FOURTEEN innings.

Ricky Bielski was the highlight of the next two innings.

Ricky Bielski
Ricky Bielski

Bielski went 2 innings 1 hit, no runs, no walks, 3 strike outs. He had good command and when he started the 2nd he got behind with a 3-0 count, he got the batter to ground out to second. What impressed me is that after that 3-0 count, he struck out the next two batters.  It was good to see that during this first game of the season. I was impressed.

In the fourteenth, the Jays managed to score and ended the game. It was a hot one, 92 degrees and sunny with little to no breeze. I called it a day. I was fried by the sun, very hot and downed almost 80 ounces of iced tea to cool off!

I left game two to more hardy folk, like Baseball Ross.

In the end, it was a day that supposed to be the second game of the season, then a day with two 7 inning games and by the time it was done, TWENTY innings of baseball were in the books…I’ll bet those guys will sleep well tonight. (Sadly, the GCL Phillies also dropped the second game 3-1)

Divergent Paths-A View of Two Brothers, Sam and Jesse Biddle

Over the years of watching baseball, especially minor league baseball, I have had the privilege of meeting players as well as their families. I met Jesse Biddle last season when the Threshers introduced the team to the fans at the beginning of the year party. I talked to Jesse about driving two hours just to watch him with his first game with the Williamsport Crosscutters two years earlier. We struck up a bit of a friendship and I wrote about it on my blog. You can read it HERE.

Jesse’s dad, David Biddle read that blog and sent me an email so we’ve also gotten to be friends.  It was David who told me about the movie, which was created by his son Conor, a filmmaker. The movie is about his brothers Sam and Jesse and how these very different brothers have both excelled in two very different careers.

I enjoyed the movie and would highly recommend it as a view into two very successful people who are driven to become the best at their chosen professions.

If you’d like to view the movie, you can see it on YouTube:

Divergent Paths-A True Story by Conor Biddle

The Arch, The Rain, The Cardinals and Cubs

I recently flew from Clearwater to the St. Louis area to visit family.  Luckily, my family loves baseball as much as I do, so we made a trip to Busch Stadium to see one of the greatest rivalries in baseball, the Cubs vs the Cardinals.

I’ve been to St. Louis dozens of times, but never had the opportunity to visit the New Busch Stadium or the old one. I had been able to see inside the old stadium from inside the Gateway Arch when I was a kid, but that was all.

My aunt and uncle with whom I was visiting, live about 35 miles from St. Louis. My cousins and I left for the game and as we pulled out of the driveway it began to rain. Well it was a deluge. It rained so hard that five minutes after we passed the neighboring town, they closed the highway as the water was high enough to stall out cars.

We drove to Scott AFB to pick up the Metrolink, which stops right at the stadium. It was raining so hard that my feet were soaking wet in the short distance from the car to the train.

Busch Stadium from the Metrolink (taken the day after the game, it was raining too hard to take one game day)
Busch Stadium from the Metrolink (taken the day after the game, it was raining too hard to take one game day)

We got to the stadium and found our seats. Then headed to the Cardinals store for souvenirs and supplies. By supplies, I mean fresh, dry socks and a sweatshirt. When we left for the stadium it was in the 90s and by the time the tarp came off the field about three hours later, it was only 67! The game had an official rain delay of 2 hours, starting at 8:05.

The new Cardinals Sweatshirt
The new Cardinals Sweatshirt

I bought a sweatshirt and socks. I was taken aback by the fact that my needed socks cost TWELVE dollars, for a single pair! Sheesh! By that time my feet were purple and wrinkled from being wet and cold so long. Since I was damp all over the sweatshirt was also quite welcomed.

The Redbird Club
The Redbird Club

We had gotten seats in the Redbird Club. It was pretty sweet. There was an indoor area that was air conditioned and had several places and types of food to pick from. The walls were decorated with replicas of famous Cardinals like this one:

Stan Musial
Stan Musial

This is the view before the game from our seats.

The View of the Arch (and me)
The View of the Arch (and me)

The rivalry between the Cards and Cubbies is one of the greats of baseball. It lived up to its history. We had controversial calls, the Cubs manager was tossed from the game, the WAVE and in general was a great experience.

After the Storm in St Louis
After the Storm in St Louis

With the delay and the train ride, we finally got home after midnight. It was a long night, but I sure had a great time.

Pre-All-Star Party comes to Dunedin

The All-Star Game has come to Dunedin, my home town. Ironically, this could have been my first ASG in my home stadium, but I had a family reunion to attend in St. Louis so I will not be there. It will also likely be the last as the Blue Jays have put the town on notice that they want a new stadium with adjoining practice fields or they may move the team.

That being said, I have the best husband in the world. (I may be biased)

He went to Edgewater Park this evening to partake in the festivities:


As there always are in Dunedin, sister city of Sterling Scotland, there were bagpipes included in the festivities. (They take their bagpipes seriously here, there are drum and bagpipe bands in the middle and high schools as well as several competition bands at the adult (town) level, they are even featured in an upcoming Florida Vacation Council commercial)

Then the players signed autographs…my husband, the wonderful guy he is, got me all of the Threshers:

Maikel Franco

Carlos Alonso

While I couldn’t be there, at least I’ll have something special waiting for me when I get home.

Yappy Hour

If you’ve been reading my blog you’ll have noticed I adore my dogs which makes me LOVE anything I can do where they can be included.

This week—Yappy Hour. It’s basically bark in the park. I have 2 shih tzus–a 12 1/2 year old named Maggie and a 6 year old named Veronica. Both are included in the famous “Dogedin” mural in Dunedin where we live:

Veronica is the white one on top and Maggie is the white one below her.

Unfortunately, it was extremely hot so we had to leave Maggie home in the air conditioning. At her age, she is stressed by the heat.

Veronica loved the game. She even remembered how to get from the parking lot to the stadium from last year.

Here are some pictures:

Veronica sitting in my seat.

Veronica watching Hoby Milner pitch.

She only lost interest after Hoby was done 7 2/3 innings after the game began. She really seems to enjoy watching.

It was a fun night capped off by a Threshers win.

How many other sports allow your “fuzzy children” a chance to participate?

This is just another reason why baseball is great.

Brian Gump Retires

You know, when you first start seriously following baseball, especially in the minors, there’s always a couple of guys that for one reason or another you take a liking to and follow as long as they play. If you’re lucky, you may even get to know them a little bit.

I really started to follow minor league baseball in 2010. It was the first time we really started paying attention to Gulf Coast League Phillies. One of the guys that caught my attention was Brian Gump.

Brian played right field and at first, it was his name and flaming red hair that caught my attention.  You can always tell the guys that are out there for the love of the game. Brian was one of those guys and that love was the main reason I loved to watch him play.

That year, the GCL Phillies won the championship and Baseball Ross and I were there. It was Ross’ birthday, Brian went 3-5 with 2 doubles and 4 RBIs. His performance really stuck out in my mind.


Fast forward two weeks, Brian was promoted to Lakewood to help them in the South Atlantic League finals. Ross and I were back from Florida and we took a few days and drove to Lakewood. We watched as Lakewood won that championship with Brian on the team.

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He spent 2010 and 2011 in Clearwater.

Sadly, the Phillies left him go last year. It was a surprise to me. He went on to spend 2012 in the Independent League with San Rafael and St. Paul. This season, he went to Trois-Rivieres in Montreal so that he could pitch.

Yesterday, he announced his retirement from baseball.

I’ve always respected the way he played the game, full out and with a love of the game that was there for all to see. Before walking away, he pitched, which he said was something he always wanted to do and when things didn’t work out the way he hoped, he left the game, knowing that he had left it all out on the field, he’d done all he could and walked away with grace.

He was a part of FOUR professional championships in his career and no Phillies team at any level has won a championship since they released Brian. Coincidence?

I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know Brian a little since he left the Phillies and regret that I didn’t get to know him when he was here. He’s also quite an elegant writer. His announcement on his blog about his retirement made my eyes, err, water for a while.

If you’d like to read it, you can click HERE.

I’d like to wish Brian all the best of luck in the future, I’ll miss seeing him play.