Ok, it’s not the end of the world, but it is the end of the “ticketed” baseball season for me, in all likelihood.
So these are all my tickets for the games we paid for this year (minus a couple that ended up in the laundry). What I have here is SIXTY-SEVEN tickets. This does NOT include all the free/unticketed Spring Training, Extended Spring Training, or Gulf Coast League games!
I think I can honestly guesstimate that Baseball Ross and I went to over 140 games this year. Ross even more than that, as there were a couple of games I missed for either illness, another commitment or when I was away on vacation.
With Fall Instructional League coming next week, I will add a couple more games to that list….
My project for next season is to buy a journal and log every game I go to. That way I will have an accurate accounting of how many games I’ve actually attended.
It’s been a memorable year. I got some of the autographs I’ve really coveted, Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz, I got to know some really great players and it’s all been one amazing year.
In the coming days I will be posting my end of the season articles….and with the year we’ve had, there’s a lot to cover….
Baseball Ross and I have lived in Clearwater for the last two years. We moved here specifically for the baseball. From Spring Training, to Extended Spring Training, to Gulf Coast League, to the Fall Instructional League and the Florida State League Clearwater Threshers, there’s a lot of baseball to see.
For the ten prospects on the list, they are players I have watched and am excited to see progress.
1. Cody Asche. Recently called up to the majors, he has always been a guy that we’ve had our eyes on. He’s a solid third baseman and has the numbers to back that claim. We watched him most of last season with the Threshers before he was moved up to Reading.
2. Maikel Franco. He started the season here in Clearwater before moving to Reading. He plays third and what we like about him is that he has soft hands. He will field the ball, taking time to catch it, then will fire it with laser-like precision. He can also hit the long ball.
3. Jesse Biddle. This much-touted southpaw certainly has what it takes. During a game in April that we watched on MiLB.tv, he racked up sixteen strike outs in seven innings against Harrisburg. He also lead the Eastern League in strike outs at the all-star break.
4. Severino Gonzalez. He’s moved around a lot this season, Extended Spring Training, Lakewood and Clearwater. Gonzalez has been both a reliever and a starter this season and been successful no matter when he’s pitched.
5. Kelly Dugan. He started the season on the disabled list but has come back to amaze. He has a bat that most people notice, but what impressed me was his arm. I saw him catch a ball deep in right field and fire it to third with pinpoint accuracy. No bounce.
6. JP Crawford. A first round draft pick this year, he’s already shown why. He started in the Gulf Coast League and has already leap-frogged over Williamsport to Lakewood. This 18 year old short stop was hitting as high as .380 before being sent to Lakewood last week.
7. Cameron Rupp. Rupp played in Clearwater last season, started this year in Reading and has already moved up to Lehigh Valley. He’s a solid back stop. He hits and is a great defensive player. While he may not be the replacement for Ruiz next year, could he be a solid back up for the Big Team?
8. Roman Quinn. This shortstop had an on-base percentage of .669 and 32 stolen bases before being sidelined by a broken left wrist. He’s one of the fastest players we’ve even seen. While he’s been a little error-prone, his speed more than makes up for it.
9. Cameron Perkins. He is a solid outfielder with a very strong arm and bat. He was hit by a pitch during a game and suffered a broken wrist. He’s returned to the team though he is just getting his timing back and looks to finish the season strong.
10. Kenny Giles. This reliever is one to watch. Last season, we saw him hit 101 on the speed gun in Dunedin. While not quite as fast after his injury this year, he still has a fast ball that just can’t be hit.
Hobby Milner-This Threshers pitcher is one to watch. He’s one pitcher we will go out of our way to see. After his first three starts of the season, he’s become one of the most consistent pitchers. With 11 wins and is tied for the most wins in the Florida State League.
Finally, our ‘Unsung Hero’ award would go to Carlos Alonso. Alonso is spending his second year in Clearwater. He’s one guy that we truly admire, we can’t think of another player who plays as hard, every single play. He’s a solid second baseman who has only had two errors all season. He also has a knack for getting on base, drawing walks and scoring runs.
It’s the All Star Break, official middle of the season and I looked at my stack of used tickets and was amazed. This isn’t even ALL of my tickets.
I vowed to keep them all just to see how many games I went to and while this is almost all of them, there are a few missing. A couple disintegrated in the wash and I lost 2 spring training tickets as well.
BUT this doesn’t include all the FREE games in Spring Training, Extended Spring Training or Gulf Coast league! It also doesn’t include at least 3 rain out games where we went but the games were postponed–those tickets will be given to friends so they can turn them in for another game.
I think I am going to do what a buddy of ours does, he buys a journal at the beginning of the season and he jots down every game he goes to, the date, teams and which players were there. I may stick my tickets in the journal as well.
I’ve only missed a handful of Threshers home games either due to illness or being out of town. Just think how huge the pile will be by the end of the season! The pile will also not include all the Fall Instructional games we’ll likely see.
For all those people who thought I’d be bored when I quit my job…I say “HA!”
Back in Baseballtown, it was good to be home. There’s something special about First Energy Stadium, to me. I love it’s brick, the way the players have to cross the concourse to get from the locker room to the field, the BEST hotdogs in all of baseball, the ostriches.
Ok, I’m not sure I like the ostriches. There’s a whole load of reasons and I’m not really into the “rebranding”, but I’m not going into that now. Let’s just look at this picture of a large bird in a little truck and leave it at that.
I really had a good time. I got to see my favorite players, Derrick Mitchell, Jesse Biddle, Kelly Dugan, Austin Wright, and Seth Rosin before the game.
Derrick Mitchell led off. Now before I start, I want to go back to two years ago this week. Back then Baseball Ross and I lived in Harrisburg, PA and we went to a lot of games in Reading. I had talked to Derrick Mitchell that night and had complimented him on his home run the night before and asked him to hit one for me for my birthday. He laughed and said, “It doesn’t work that way.” Well that night it did. He hit a home run for me for my birthday. I always tell Derrick that that was one of the coolest birthday presents I had ever gotten. (If you want to read the blog from that night and see the video, you can click HERE)
So Derrick was up to bat and then…it happened (again) he KILLED a ball right over left center near the 370 sign.
Another homer…and what is this week??? That’s right, my birthday. After the game, I saw Derrick, he had remembered that my birthday was this week and he even said, “I felt really good after that first one, I’d have hoped to hit you a second for your birthday.” It blew me away, that he could remember! (And people wonder why Derrick is my favorite.)
I also have to mention a funny thing that happened after the game…I was talking to Derrick as I mentioned above and a kid about ten years old kept interrupting while Derrick and I were talking. When Derrick left to go back to the locker room, we said our goodbyes and he gave me a hug. The kid then looked at me and asked me if Derrick was my dad! (ROTFL) Considering that I had been feeling, err older since it is my birthday this week, that kid really made me feel good.
I got to see Kelly Dugan and Maikel Franco in their Fightins uniforms for the first time as well…
Another cool thing that happened was that I got to visit the press box. I had the privilege of becoming friends with a talented local writer who kindly invited me to visit him in the press box. It was my first time in a press box during a game. I found it quite cool and was grateful to have had the chance to check out the game from that very different perspective.
Something that Ross and I love is the Berks hot dogs. When you see as many games as we do, you get stuck eating a lot of food from the concessions. Over the years, you get to appreciate the places with good food and loathe others where the food is not palatable. I love the concessions in Reading. The Berks hotdogs are the best in baseball.
Reading lost that night, but while I wish they had won, I still had a great time. I saw my favorite players, had a homer hit for my birthday, saw my new friend in the press box, saw my favorite usher and had a great hot dog. We saw a beautiful sunset (picture at the top of the page).
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.
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.
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.
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:
This is the view before the game from our seats.
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.
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.
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:
While I couldn’t be there, at least I’ll have something special waiting for me when I get home.
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.
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.
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.