As my Spring Break winds down, I thought I'd share some of the photos that I took while in Jupiter, Florida watching the Spring Training games. It was my first experience at Spring Training and it was certainly all that I expected. I took over 100 photos during the three days I was in Florida, most of them of Cardinals players just warming up.
My trip started off pretty badly at first. We had a 7:00 P.M. flight to Atlanta, a small layover, and then a flight from Atlanta to West Palm Beach that took off at 10:00 P.M. Well, shortly before we boarded the first flight, the worker mentioned of a minor crack in the plane that would be fixed by maintenance immediately. Despite knowing the maintenance needed to fix the crack, they had us board the plane at normal time. We ended up waiting in the plane for an hour and a half before we took off for Atlanta.
By the time we landed in Atlanta, our previous flight had already been taken off. My dad had pre-paid for a rental car and hotel in West Palm Beach starting Wednesday night. The airline (Delta) gave us free tickets (which weren't really free), meal vouchers (... $6.00... Have you seen airport food prices??!!), and a free hotel stay (which also wasn't technically free since my dad was paying for the hotel visit in West Palm Beach).
So we woke up at 6:00 am, ate at IHOP using our meal vouchers (IHOP ain't cheap apparently), went to the airport and ended up in West Palm Beach at 10:00 am. We picked up our rental car, and thinking the game was at 12:00 because the online tickets said 12:00, went straight to Roger Dean Stadium. We were earlier than expected and arrived before the gates opened.
And then we got to our seats literally right next to the bullpen where the pitcher warms up. What follows is a barrage of pictures of pitchers in mid-throwing motion, players signing autographs, and players warming up for the game. All were taken by my phone which had pretty good picture, but it was sunny so it may not be the best quality, though for a phone it's pretty amazing to me.
Yadier Molina stretching before the game
Side note: How did Bryan Anderson not make the team? I guess they just announced a competition for the hell of it without the intention of actually keeping the winner of it up.
Tyler Greene warming up
Side note: I'm not sure if this is different than years' past, but he was smiling almost the entire time. He seems genuinely excited to be there and seems to fit in well with the team. And I'd like to think I'm saying this unbiased, but let's be honest here.
Wainwright to Molina - One part locked up for future, next one coming soon?
Jaime looking fly
Dan Descalso signing some autographs
Side Note: Dan Descalso was one of four players that I distinctly remember made an honest effort to sign an appreciably large number of baseballs (or hats or programs). The other two are pictured below and the fourth is kind of surprising but not really. I did not picture him doing it, but there is a good story to it which I will tell below. (Guesses are open for discussion... in your mind since no one will believe you if you post it below.)
We have Freese doing sprints, Tyler just chilling, and Furcal.... is... I'm not sure. Holliday's wondering what's going on too.
Fernando Salas warming up
Side note: Salas has brought back some interesting facial hair that I was not able to capture. I'm not exactly sure how to describe it so I won't try, but I hope he keeps it for Opening Day.
Mitchell Boggs warming up
Jason Motte signing autographs
Side note: He was the #2 person out of four. He kept coming back and signed autographs between innings. He must have made four different trips. He's definitely someone who appreciates where he is.
Kyle McCllelan signing autographs
Side note: As much as I dislike Kyle McCllelan the pitcher (overpaid, repetitive), I like him as a person - so far as I can tell at least. He signed a decent amount of autographs to. That's three down, one to go.
You do not know how much I love this photo. I've missed you, Adam.
Side note: I did not think he looked that good Wednesday as a few players hit the ball hard, he struck no one out, and walked one. I'm slightly concerned with his 9/6 K/BB ratio in 18.2 innings. I'm also sparing you 10 other photos currently on my phone including one where his arm looks detached. Yeah, not something you want to see even though it's perfectly normal.
I just love Motte's windup. It's pretty unique in my decade or so of watching baseball.
Fourth player that signed autographs was Matt Holliday. He left the game as most veterans do in the middle of the game. He was sprinting off the field and on the right field grass seats, a young child was sticking out his ball to be signed. Holliday had the misfortune of seeing the kid and, unable to resist, went to sign the kids ball in the middle of the inning. Then the rest of the kids swarmed - and I mean swarmed - to him. I swear he signed over 20 balls after he got lured in by the little kid. Holliday is the consummate franchise player in my opinion. While Pujols is a better player, I'd rather Holliday the personality and person represent the Cardinals over Pujols in that same category.
Some notes from the game, which the Cardinals won 9-5:
- In the second, Tyler Greene made a diving stop to end the inning. My dad, who is a fan of Schumacher, said that "I love Schumacher, but he would not have made that play." Despite differing thoughts on most players, somehow we agree that Greene should get a chance. (Though he wants Greene to raise his average to .270, which surely won't happen)
- In the third, when Wainwright gave up three runs, they gave an error to Jon Jay. Well he threw it decently and it hit off the runner so the ball went towards the dugout and the hitter went to second. No runs actually scored because of it - he would have been safe anyway. Just another example of how stupid errors are.
- Tyler Greene hits a home run in the 5th inning - and wins my whole section free milkshakes from the Burger Bar. [Which we went to on Friday night - amazing milkshakes, they had the vanilla beans in my vanilla milkshakes. I had a burger with smothered onions, cheese and a unique BBQ flavor - it was great. Only issue was that it was a bit pricey with burgers costing between $12 and $17 dollars not including drinks.] Anyway Greene also ran out a weakly hit grounder between the pitcher and the foul line.
- Phil Coke came in with the bases loaded and walked Dan Descalso. Then he almost walked Shane Robinson. Talk about control issues. Robinson popped out of course. I don't think I've ever seen a clean, good hit from him.
- Matt Carpenter drives in OBP-machine Eugenio Velez (who singled to get on raising his average to .143) with a triple. Carpenter is pretty fast. (Later reinforced when he ran out a double and got to second fast in Friday's game.
So Thursday's game against the Marlins was skipped in favor of the beach. Actually, we didn't have a choice, we took the tickets available. We were, however, happy to spend that day at the beach. Anyway, after checking out of our hotel, we went to Friday's game against the New York Mets. We were on the visitor's side which was like 30% Mets fans. It seemed like more thanks to a minority of them who were loud, drunk, and annoying... and kind of funny. I only took a few photos in this as I had a different seat. Right behind the Mets dugout. Better seats on a technical level, but I enjoyed being by Cards players more. Here are the few, the proud:
Greene on third base - after getting hit by a pitch, one of his many qualities.
Side note: I am President of the Tyler Greene fanclub so if it seems I am biased, well I can assure you I am as unbiased as Fox News.
David Wright coming off the field. I took a few pictures of Mets players coming to the dugout. This is the only one that came out good. Also the Mets' team has like four recognizable players, one of which (Ike Davis) was sitting. Another (Lucas Duda) isn't known by the average fan either.
A stadium official tossed this game-used ball to my brother.
Notes from Friday's game, which the Cardinals won 4-3.
- Man did Kyle Lohse look good. Even when he missed, it looked good. He was hitting the corners, fooling hitters, and throwing lots of strikes. He ended up with seven strikeouts and one walk.
- Staying on pitchers for the moment, I've never seen Salas look worse. He walked the first batter he faced, went to 3 balls on the next. Matt Tuiasosopo doubled getting a pitch right in the middle of the plate. Next batter ropes a single into center and Salas finished without recording an out.
- Funny moment: Victor Martes is pitching with runners on the corners with Mike Baxter up. Someone in the back yells "Double play ball" and the loud obnoxious Mets fan yells "Not a chance." The next pitch - literally second after he says that - he grounds into a 3-6-4 double play. Hilarious.
- Matt Carpenter doubled and homered during this game. Which means I saw him double, triple, and homer while I was in the stands - but not single. Ironic, perhaps, since he's not known for his power but his ability to get on base - which to be fair, he DID get on base a lot.
- Funny moment #2: Mets fans had taken a liking to an older photographer named Morris who looks like he baked under the sun. When he walked off around the 8th, he got what amounted to a full blown cheer which was humorous. It was partially hilarious because Morris didn't smile at all. The other photographer looked like Mitchell from Modern Family.
- Adam Melker came and pinch-hit for some reason. He didn't have a name on the back of his jersey. He had not recorded a plate appearance in Spring Training. Of course, he raked a RBI double to give the Cardinals the fourth run in their 4-3 win.
Concluding paragraph where I sum up my article, however I have nothing to say so I'll just put up this useless sentence. Here's an unrelated poll for public opinion!