2008 Spring Training Diary
Hi everyone! I am moving my blog from my My Space Page over to here. So to start it off, I am going to copy and paste all of my Spring Training entries here into a “Diary” and one GIANT blog entry! This will just get us off to a roaring start! So, here goes….Jenn’s Spring Training Diary, 2008 edition:
February 7, 2008 - Thursday
Spring Training is creeping up on us…I can’t wait! I read today on the Phillies web site that the average clothing packed for the teams 7 week run is as follows: 2,000 T-shirts, 350 pairs of shorts, 450 pairs of socks and 500 pairs of pants. Seems like a lot right? But, break that down per player, including non-roster invitees, that’s about 33 T-shirts, 5 pairs of shorts, 7 pairs of socks and 8 pairs of pants each. Seriously? That’s it? I’m bringing more than that with me for the 2 weeks that I’ll be there! But then again, I am female. And, I don’t have anyone to do my laundry for me…there is always that to consider. I despise laundry…or anything else of the domestic capacity. Yuck.
February 17, 2008 – Sunday, Autograph Adventures…countdown to Clearwater!
Counting down the days until I leave for Clearwater! I cannot be heading south soon enough…just 5 days left! So, have spent a good deal of time now preparing things to possibly get signed by players if I should be so lucky as to get an autograph or two. Mostly, I’ll just carry around photos that I have taken from the last season. I have found over the years that baseballs and bats and things of that nature take up WAY too much space in my house. Photos are compact and fit in an album, plus they are much more meaningful as it is something I created. And I am not one of those annoying people who sells autographs. I have never sold one in my life.
One month a few years back, I got like 3 autographs just from Tomas Perez alone (he got used to me standing in the same place all the time before games and would just trot on over if he saw me there waving at him…the nicest guy EVER! I miss him). I still have them all and each one has a story behind it and means something special to me. It’s a memory and I can’t sell that. I’ve got a Jimmy Rollins autograph that I’ll talk about later that is probably worth a lot of money, but I will NEVER, EVER part with it.
So I was thinking about how to get some autographs during Spring Training and hoping I get lucky because I am not very good in big crowds. I don’t like to be rude or pushy like, sadly, a lot of folks, so I tend to back off if it gets ugly and then I just get left out. But, I just don’t think it’s worth running over people, ya know? A few years back at Citizens Bank Park, I was getting an autograph from someone (can’t even remember who now cuz all I remember is what happened next!) while standing near the dugout against the fence in the Diamond Club section where I usually am before the game taking pictures. All of sudden, I got mobbed by bunches of other fans wanting autographs and couldn’t move as I was now being pushed up against the fence. I turned to look for a way out since I had gotten my autograph already and saw a boy, maybe about 10 years old and I could tell by the slight tilt to his head and mannerisms that he was handicapped in some fashion. (I have done a lot of volunteer work with disabled children and know the look well.) This boy looked very lost, ball and pen in hand, standing there with his parents, far back from the crowd. The parents, with the same lost and bewildered expression on their faces, moved their heads from side to side trying to figure a way that they might get their son an autograph without having to feed him to the pack of hungry wolves in front of them.
At this point, I figured I may as well take advantage of my position against the fence if these rabid fans were going to pin me there in order to get at this player. So, I waved to the parents and motioned to them to send the boy to me and held out my hand for him. As he inched tentatively forward, I asked him if he wanted an autograph. He nodded his head with enthusiasm and quickly took my hand. I pulled him towards me through the crowd, asking others to please excuse him and got him as close to me as I could. He reached the ball out over the fence but his little arms were just not long enough. I asked if he wanted me to hand the ball to the player for him and he agreed. I told him I’d let the player know the ball was for him and that he should wave to let him know who he was. So, I yelled out “This ball is for him!” and pointed to the kid who smiled and waved frantically. Got the autograph, handed the kid the ball, and man, you never saw a kid so happy before! He was bouncing up and down and his parents were bouncing up and down, it was a lot of fun to see. And as they wandered off examining the signature on the ball together, he looked back at me, smiled and gave a little wave of thanks. Too cute!
So, I had done my good deed for the day. And this brings me back to the J-Roll autograph…I figured one day someone would return the favor in a strange karmic turn of events. Back in September, in the hopes of Jimmy winning the NL MVP award, I made a very fancy poster to take to an away game in DC to campaign for the cause. I waved the sign around at the players during BP before the game, which prompted many fun comments. Well, on his way into the dugout, Jimmy stopped to sign autographs so I figured I give it a shot. I went over and got mauled by a whole mess of people! Even wound up with a bruise on my leg the size of a football from where some rude woman kicked me trying to get past me. Insane! I was going to give up, but this one guy who had complimented me earlier on my sign saying how professional looking it was kept shouting out to Jimmy, “Hey J-Roll, can you please sign this lady’s poster?” and pointed at my sign which I kept holding up to him, hoping he’d grab it. Now, I never shout at players or shove anything in their faces…I just can’t bring myself to do it. I just hold out the item and if they take it, great, if not, oh well! But hey, if someone else wants to yell for me, super! And this guy was NOT going to quit! He just kept repeating it over and over. And finally, Jimmy looked up and took the poster which he spent a good deal of time studying before he signed and you can see why….
A lot to see! So, now that he did win the 2007 NL MVP, and with all my fancy photos, who knows how much this thing is worth? Hee! And my husband took pictures of him looking it over and of him actually signing it, so I have that to go with it too. Pretty cool, huh? But, regardless, why would I ever part with that? No way! I put it in a frame and it is hanging on the wall with all the other Phillies stuff, which will now include a 9 foot tall Chase Utley banner. Oh, I soooooooooooooo need a bigger house!!! And as I am finishing my packing for Clearwater, turns out I need a bigger suitcase too… Oh well! Talk to ya soon!
February 23, 2008 – Saturday, Phillies Spring Training – Jenn’s Day 2 Report / Lidge Injury
Day ??…Whatever… for the Phillies – Day 2 for me! So, I made it here by the skin of my teeth. Sat on the runway, fingers and toes crossed for an hour and a half waiting for the plane to be “de-iced” and finally they let us take off! Whew! What a relief it was to land in Tampa and feel the 82 degree weather! So, I made it to Phan Fest last night and got 8 autographs…Lidge, Taguchi, Jenkins, Feliz, Moyer, Dobbs, Ruiz, and Kendrick. The event was very nice; lots of stuff for kids, but forgive me if I skipped all that and forget to report on it here. I was only interested in the autographs. I did want to get a few things at the yard sale, but it was all gone by the time I got there! Oh well! They had a fairly impressive fireworks display set to Top 40 music after the event, which was worth staying for and the weather was awesome! But the highlight for me was chatting with the players and here is how that went…
Greg Dobbs recognized me and said that the photo of us that I handed him to sign made him miss Philly and he could not wait to go back. I told him no, no, no…don’t go! I told him it is cold, snowing and icy and that I had spent hours on a plane trying to get there that day. In typical Greg, “nice-guy” fashion, he batted his long lashes at me, giving the genuine look of concern and said, “Oh, thank you so much for coming all the way out here to see us! I really appreciate it!” He’s so freakin’ nice! You gotta love him.
So, on to Kyle Kendrick who was being harassed by the guy in front of me over the TV gag from last week…So, if you are unaware or living in a hole somewhere, Brett Myers punk’d Kyle by making him think he had been traded to Japan and EVERYONE was in on it…his agent, Charlie Manual, the press, etc… It was AWFUL! And it drug on way toooooo long and was excruciating to watch. Anyhow, Kyle is really sick of hearing about it. So, this guy in line in front of me gets right in his face while he’s signing the autograph and starts yelling at him, “Hey Kyle, you’ve been traded to Japan…Ha, Ha, Ha!!!” like really loud and obnoxious, too. He’s like totally belly laughing over it and Kyle is wincing, shaking his head in disbelief and trying to maintain composure and just not make eye contact with the guy. So, I yell at the guy, apparently much louder than I thought, “Hey, just leave him alone already!” And both security guys there with Kyle look up at me, eyes bugging out of their heads, shocked looks about them and smile in wonder…like they couldn’t believe I just shouted at that guy. I couldn’t help myself…normally, I am pretty reserved, but he was just being rude! So, the guy shut up and walked away, I handed my picture to Kyle and he let out a sigh, looked right at me and in a very strong and relieved tone said, “Thank you,” and smiled. And I said, “You poor thing!” I just felt so bad for him…I really thought the joke went too far. I told him how I wanted to reach through the TV and give him a hug and he laughed. Then he posed for a picture for me and I went on my way…got a really nice picture out of it. But man, I did think that prank was a bit much…it was funny for about 30 seconds, after that, I really thought they needed to end it. Oh well! Just my opinion…
Anyhow, Jamie Moyer was the other autograph session that was very entertaining. As I walked up to hand him my photo to sign, he was telling the kid in front of me some strange story that ended with “…that’s because I am amphibious.” The kid looked perplexed, Jamie looked up at me and said hello and I said, “Oh yeah, let me see your webbed feet then.” He said, “But I am wearing my shoes!” Then after he thought for a second he said, “You know, I have said that to many people and no one has ever come up with that response.” And the girl helping out standing behind him asked how I even knew what amphibious was…I explained that I had a degree in that field. Knew it would come in handy some day! Jamie just laughed and I got another very entertaining photo out of that. I still have NO idea why he is running around telling people he is amphibious…incidentally, that refers to frogs, toads, newts and salamanders…in case anyone was wondering. So, now I am going to have to find a plastic or stuffed frog and toss it at him at practice one day just for fun.
So, Day 2…went to my first practice this morning and began firing away with the camera!!!! Had to learn to use manual focus through chain link fence with the new camera…have to say, I did pretty well…Chase Utley is great incentive to learn quickly! I shot off about 450 pictures in an hour…ok, seems like a lot, I know…but in my defense…the rain was on the way! So, I was making up for time I was fairly sure I was NOT going to have later…turns out, I was correct! Get to that later….
Anyway, the team comes out, the coaches yap at them in a large group, then the scatter and stretch for a while. Then, the scatter off to 4 different fields and do drills. Some guy announces over a loudspeaker to the fans what time batting practice will be, where the potties are and where one can find food. The fan viewing area reminds me of a science experiment. I felt like a rat in a rectangular cage. It’s like a mad scientist going, “If we put the good food in this corner (Utley and Burrell), the bad food in this corner (Eaton, call-ups), mediocre food, corner 3 (pick a player – I hate to call out anyone here!), and HIDE certain other key players (Rollins, Howard – never saw them), then, where will the people go and in what percentages? Will they stay in one place, mill around looking for missing players, travel from one spot to another…hmmm???” Weird.
Well, there was one not so fun incident which I caught on film in its entirety! Brad Lidge re-injured his knee! And don’t let the reports or lack thereof fool ya…it looked pretty bad. I was shooting him pitch on rapid fire at the exact moment it happened. Got the whole thing, the pitch, the conversation with Coste, the trainer, Dubee, him pointing at the knee to show them where it hurt, showing them how he threw the pitch when it happened and the test pitch he threw afterwards with Utley looking on too. After that, they took him off the field limping and he was done. NOT good. That’s all I can really say there…NOT good. I tried to ask Charlie about it afterwards but he was not going to say anything. He just smiled and asked me how I was and what was new. Then we talked about the rain and I told him to make it go away!
Well, as you may have guessed, it did not go away! Shortly after that, it started to pour and they called practice. So, I went to the ballpark store and shopped! I e-mailed a couple of news people to see if they wanted any of my Lidge photos…who knows? Doubt it, but figured it didn’t hurt to ask incase this turns into something big. So, that’s all the news for today! I will post some more photos as I have more time…remember, I am on vacation! Going to nap and then head out to the nightly beach festival for some fun! The rain has finally passed… Yippee! Talk to ya later!
February 25, 2008 – Monday, Phillies Spring Traning Update 2
Having a great time here in Clearwater…let’s see…took tons of photos yesterday! Got autographs from Chris Coste, 2 from Tom Gordon (he just kept hanging around), Ramon Henderson, Jimy Williams, Dickie Noles and Dallas Green. Went on a boat ride to see dolphins afterwards which was cool…we stopped at a small island where I snagged lots of seashells. Got back to the hotel slightly red and exhausted…whew!
Today, off to practice again early where I got MASSIVE autographs as someone informed me I could hang around the fence after practice as the players left and get some there. Duh …did not think of that before. So, by the end of the day, I wound up with Geoff Jenkins, Chris Coste again, Milt Thompson, JC Romero, JD Durbin, Tom Gordon again, Charlie Manual, Ruben Amaro, Pat Gillick, Eric Bruntlett, Jason Jaramillo, Tuffy Gosewisch, Lou Marson, Mike Cervenack, Jason Donald, Valentino Pascucci and Greg Golson. Not bad for one days work. So that’s 7 guys on the 40 man roster, 6 call-ups, 2 coaches and 2 staff (1 ex-player). Yippee! Still no Utley, Rollins or Howard…but, one can dream…
I overheard Ruben Amaro talking to Jimy Williams today about Brad Lidge at about 12:30pm…he said, “I just got the news on Brad’s surgery. It went very, very well. As well as it could have gone.” So, he seemed please about that. Just an FYI. By the way, has anyone noticed that Kyle Loshe is STILL unsigned?? Funny, eh? Guess he was asking for WAY too much. Maybe he’ll smarten up now and take whatever he can get which may now fall into the range of what the Phillies are willing to pay? Sure beats unemployment, I would think.
Something fun to think about (or, maybe not so fun….)…I have been wondering if the front office was going to begin to panic about Ryan Howards “future” salary demands if he won this arbitration. Anyone have any thoughts on this? Think they may trade him after this year to avoid the same mess of a raise next year? Well, I can tell ya, they worked Greg Dobbs pretty hard a good portion of the day today shadowing Howard at 1st base and kept Bruntlett at third with Feliz. Just a wandering thought in my silly brain…
Ok, so this last section, I would like to call, “Phillies Spring Training Observations of a Thirty-Something Hormonal Female…” Please enjoy a laugh at my expense…
· Geoff Jenkins looks exactly like Randy Wolf – I do miss him
· Jamie Moyer is kinda hot…even for an old dude!
· I can’t stop taking pictures of Chase Utley’s back side, shameful as this is…I just can’t help it. Sorry if this offends anyone.
· A man in line for autographs at Fan Fest the other day looked at the picture I was holding of me and Greg Dobbs and said to me, “Wow, he really is a good looking man, isn’t he?” Let me just say this…if a grown man can make this observation out loud, darn straight he’s hot!
· Why does Pat Burrell always have a wedgie? Photo anyone? Got plenty…
· Grumpier Old Men – Part 3, the sequel: coming soon to a theatre near you. Starring Pat Gillick and Mike Schmidt. (Do these 2 ever smile? Seriously?)
· I still don’t get all the spitting? The guys I see doing it are chewing gum, not the nasty stuff, so why all the spitting? Can anyone explain this to me?
· Someone should explain to J-Roll that a baseball bat does NOT double as a golf club / putter. Ok, maybe you had to be there to get this one…just use your imagination…
· Shane Victorino never stops smiling…how refreshing!
· I think Charlie Manual is pregnant with Angelina Jolie’s next child. She and Brad will adopt him and teach him how to pitch in a third world Hispanic country.
Have a great day!!!
March 1, 2008 – Saturday, Spring Training Update – Phillies Fall to Yanks but Jeter makes everything all better…
So, today Adam Eaton had the start for the Phillies and did not look much different than last year, sorry to say. Actually, with the exception of John Ennis at the very end of the game, all of the pitching today looked pretty sad. Utley was old faithful as usual with another double, as well as Howard and Ruiz who saw most of the production today. Newcomer Golson smacked a homer which just barely dribbled over the left field wall. Other than that, it was all Yankees, including a very entertaining A-Rod homer…how often am I going to see one of those, after all?
So, despite the lackluster Phillies performance, there is always the shining Derek Jeter smile to brighten ones day. I swear, I have never seen anyone smile so much in my life. I shot about 500 pictures of the guy during batting practice and he is beaming in every one of them. Oh, to be that happy… And so freakin’ adorable! Got some nifty action shots too…
I stood right next to Alex Rodriguez for a while too…he set up his tee-ball warm-up thingy right next to where I was standing to take pictures and I have to say, he is actually not as big as I imagined. Tall, yes, but not quite as bulky as I thought he’d be. Just a random observation in the steroid era… He is a cutie too!
Ok, so I will quit fawning over the Yankees…back to the Phillies…so, after seeing 3 games now, here are some general observations. I am sooooo not yet impressed with Geoff Jenkins offensively. And I am sooooo hoping that changes. He hits the ball on the ground directly to the second baseman EVERYTIME! A perfect double play ball. In fact, he hit into a double play in each of the first 2 games and the only reason he did not today was because either no one was one base or the man on base was on second and not first, taking the double play scenario out. But, he still hit the ball in the SAME spot, in the exact same manner both times at bat today. This is very troubling to me….
3rd base…so far, I really like the pick-up of Pedro Feliz…he has been good on both sides of the ball with a very consistent bat. He also seems to be good with the fans, very friendly and seems to blend well with the team…giving him the thumbs up!
5th spot in the pitching rotation – and the winner is….in my opinion, I think the Phillies ought to roll the dice and take a chance on the Aussie dude, Travis Blackley. He looked good when I saw him and I am just going on a gut instinct with this one. Besides, if we give him back to the Giants, I just KNOW he’ll kick butt for sure…isn’t that the way it always goes? Ok seriously, I think Eaton still has issues, JD Durbin is still an inconsistent head case, Chad Durbin looked real shaky the other day, Benson won’t be ready, the younger guys…none of them look ready…what’s left??? Ya know? Well, let’s see the Australian a few more times this Spring and see from there anyhow…
Ok, that’s all for now…I am sleepy! Talk to you all later…
March 7, 2008 – Friday, Phillies Spring Training Update – home again…
Sad to say, back in Delaware once again… Not all bad though, I did miss the family so it was nice to see everyone again. Well, here is a small re-cap of what I thought about my first visit to Phillies Spring Training…
It was awesome! Ok, so I guess I should be more specific… Well, for a REAL baseball / Phillies fan, this was an amazing experience. I say it that way because I saw plenty of people there who knew very little about the sport or the team who were only interested in getting Ryan’s or Jimmy’s or Chase’s autographs and who were willing to knock down anyone who got in their way to do it, and were then totally dismayed if they didn’t get it. And that is the ONLY reason they were there. These people were not having any fun… I did not get any of those autographs, and of course, would have been thrilled to, but did not feel liked getting trampled by the pack of angry wolves frothing at the mouths to get it, so I passed on jumping into the pile to attempt it. And still, I had a GREAT time! And I still walked away with 46 autographs at the end of my stay there. They were not all star players, but I don’t care. I wanted souvenirs and keepsakes from my trip, not items for sale. And even better, I got to know the personalities of some of the younger players a little bit and who knows where they may be in a few years? You never know where the next J-Roll will pop up… It was especially cute to see the reaction and smiles on the faces of the younger minor league guys when I called them by their first names…they were SO excited that someone actually knew who they were! Then other fans started huddling around me to ask me questions and ask me what the players names were as they walked over so they would not look silly when asking for an autograph. I felt like Mamma hen…
So, it was a great time to see young players, but also a great time to see the seasoned players actually receive real coaching. Watching Chase Utley work with Steve Smith on his swipe and tag technique was truly something to behold. Or seeing Chase try to bat right handed…there’s something you don’t see everyday. And probably won’t again judging from what I saw… Watching Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard practice how to run down a guy trapped between bases…that was priceless! And what great fun to see Mike Schmidt hit grounders to the infielders and coach them on their fielding skills. Now, only a person who truly appreciates baseball would find all of this entertaining. The rest of you are sleeping in your soup right about now…zzzzzzz….
And the games are fascinating as well… There is always the drama of who will or will not make the team, seeing younger guys thrilled about being on the same field with the “star” players, seeing how the coaches move certain players around in different positions, etc… And just seeing everyone play in a more relaxed atmosphere, meeting other baseball fans, and hanging out in the Florida sun…very cool!
So, that’s that. Back home, back to reality…back to reading the news on web page. Speaking of which, today’s report says Adam Eaton now complains of back pain. Seriously? What next for this guy? Do you ever just get the feeling that this guy really does not want to pitch? I mean, he gets paid either way, right? Or, is this all just an excuse for his crappy pitching. He says the shoulder is great, but now his back aches. I am beginning to think that instead of an Orthopedist, he needs a Psychiatrist.
So, why exactly are the Phillies so “that shipped has sailed” on Kyle Loshe? Yes, his agent turned down their offer back in January. But that was then…this is now. And right about now, Mr. Loshe should be desperate for work and really beginning to question his agent… Why have we not signed him to at least a one year deal here? How many more aches and pains does Eaton need to throw out there before the front office sees we need an insurance policy? And never mind the 5 spot…even if they think Blackley and / or eventually Benson will fill the hole, what if someone in spot 1-4 goes down with an injury? Hello? Insurance Policy? Is anyone thinking over there??? Hey, I need a real job…hire me!
March 17, 2008 – Monday, Phillies win one for my Birthday!
Thank goodness for Brett Myers pullin’ one out for me on my Birthday yesterday! Whew! It’s been gettin’ ugly out there in Clearwater. Seems like since I left, they can’t win a game! Maybe they just miss me? I should go back! Hee! Ok, well, here’s hoping a performance like yesterday is what this team needs to jump start the Spring and get this team on track. Hate to say it, but when they let Aaron Rowand go, this is really what I was afraid of…these guys kinda layin’ back and looking complacent. He was the loud, in your face, leader this team really needed and NO ONE has stepped into that role. You can’t expect Utley to do it…it is not his personality. Rollins? I don’t know…yet to be determined I guess. But whoever it is, someone seriously needs to dump a bucket of ice down the pants of these sleepy players! Wake up people!
We have seen NOTHING off the bats of Rollins, Jenkins and Utley this Spring…all hitting below .200. Victorino not much better at .231, Burrell .235. It’s been all Howard, Feliz, and Dobbs, who sadly, is not even in the regular line-up. And I can’t even go into the pitching without cringing …we have now bumped Kyle Kendrick to our No. 4 starter in favor of Jamie Moyer who is 45 years old, now the No. 3 starter. Don’t get me wrong, you all know I LOVE Jamie….but, I think this does speak volumes about the lack of confidence in Kyle right now who was projected to be the No. 3. Not a good sign.
Said it before, will say it again…JD Durbin needs to go. I do not know what the coaching staff sees in him that they keep him hanging around? Will be curious to see how Chad Durbin does today. Blackley had a few shaky outings, but looked good yesterday as a closer…I think if nothing else, he will make a solid bullpen piece. Still really like him. Adam Eaton looked better, but I will always be the skeptic on that one….
March 25, 2008 – Tuesday, Phillies Update – cute Jason Donald story…
Ok, so after Jason Donald had a MASSIVE day for the Phillies in his mini-call up on Sunday by hitting TWO three run homers, I feel compelled to tell a very cute little story about him now. I had actually just finished telling this story to my sister-in-law the night before who was over visiting so it was really funny to see him playing in the game the next day, let alone hitting two 3-run homers, and right in front of Dallas Green, who looked on with great interest.
I met Jason at Spring Training this year and thought he was a very sweet kid right away…First time I met him I pretty much just got my autograph and moved on. Second time, he was with another player and I was not totally sure who the other guy was. So, to be sure I got both autographs, I decided to be cute about it and made a BIG deal about Jason so I could politely ask the other guy who he was and get his autograph too, figuring he wouldn’t mind so much as long as I knew at least who one of them was. So, it went something like this…
I said hi to Jason really loud and smiled big, explained that he had already signed my team ball but that I had something else for him to sign and gave him a baseball shaped notepad sheet. I then quietly explained to the unknown guy that I’d like him to sign my team ball and asked if he could please tell me his name…he sheepishly said he was Brad Harman (which is kinda sad that I did not know, cuz he IS on the 40-man roster and Jason is a non-roster invitee so POOR Brad had to be mighty embarrassed here…sorry dude!!). Brad signed the ball and then look perplexed as I fawned over Jason some more going on about what a great game he had, blah, blah, blah… and watched as Jason’s smile got bigger and bigger… Let me tell ya…you never saw a happier guy! He paused before he signed the paper, smiling, and asked exactly where I wanted it signed. And I am thinking, is he serious? It’s a round piece of paper that looks like a baseball…how cute that he even asked… So, I tell him anywhere he’d like and explain that I am going to put it with one of the photos I took of him during the game. He then snaps his head back up at me and grins, his eyes get real wide again and he tells me that he thinks that’s a great idea. How adorable! Rookies are fun.
So, while I did feel bad for humiliating poor Mr. Harman there a bit in front of the rookie, it was very cute to see a minor league player have a small thrill and feel important for a few minutes. So, I’ll bet he felt a whole bunch more of that on Sunday!