Rites of Spring Day Five: STL@LAD

Sorry for not posting last night, we had a long travel day as we drove from Tampa to Jupiter; there’s no direct way to get from the west coast to the east. Yesterday’s game at the Pirates’ camp testing our patience as more Phillies relief candidates worked their way out of jobs and nearly blew the game in the late innings. Greg Dobbs continued his reign of unholy terror on the greater Tampa area (not really, but he looks like the first left-handed bat off the bench); veteran old guy Jamie Moyer had sharp command; and Bucs’ starter Ian Snell struck out in between walking two and giving up three runs (including two on a Ryan Howard double that would have been a home run without the wind blowing in). Careful readers take note: the MLB recap of the game includes our first “crafty lefty” sighting; keep on the lookout for other such adjectival cliches as the beat writers and columnists get loose.

Today was our first glance at the unlikely World Series Champs, the St. Louis Cardinals. We drove to the idyllic Dodgertown, the Florida League equivalent of Pleasantville. The Dodgers moved into the Vero Beach facilities shortly after World War II, and it’s the Dodgers’ last year here before moving to a much more practical home in Mesa, Arizona. The place just doesn’t feel like it’s changed much since the days of Robinson and Koufax, and certainly much of the place’s mystique comes from its connection to the team’s post-war glory days.

After taking in the atmosphere for a few minutes, we found our seats and this view of the field:

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Whoa.

So we sat literally right behind hitting coach Hal McRae (he of the reporter-caused tirade) do drills with Scott Rolen, Aaron Miles, Chris Duncan, Gary Bennett and the resurrected Rick Ankiel. Duncan had a weird encounter with a teenage boy who insinuated that the slugging outfielder had slept with his sister; the whole thing cracked up McRae pretty good. Well, you know Duncan: he likes to hump things.

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