The time had come for the grand finale of my 2006 Spring Training road trip. And what better way to cap it off than watching the Yankees play the Braves. Well I could think of a few better ways I suppose, but I digress.
I arrived at the park early today, and thank God I did. I was one of the first to the press box and secured a prime seat so that I could actually SEE the game tonight! As I mentioned the other day, the box at Disney's stadium is not the best. But forget the view for a moment. I was just happy to have a seat. Since the big bad Yankees were in town, there was about five times as much media as a normal spring game.
I went through what I now consider my pre-game ritual. I took the elevator to the basement, walked through the tunnel, passed Joe Torre and the Yankees coaching staff in the hallway and entered the field through the Braves dugout. The Braves were once again taking batting practice. I took in BP while I relaxed on the dugout steps. I pictured myself as the manager of the team watching intently as my players strode to the plate. I know, pretty corny, but I can dream can't I?
The sellout crowd filtered in and the field became full with members of the press. I'd say about 90% were from out-of-town...many from other countries...yes, other countries! I thought to myself, this is nuts! It's an exhibition game, not the World Series! I guess I really did underestimate the draw that the Yankees are.
It didn't hurt that New York brought Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon, Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, Hideki Matsui, and Jason Giambi I suppose. And once the Yankees came out for batting practice, there was no doubt why the crowds were here. If the players (or kids) in Atlanta think they are popular among the masses, all they need to do is look across home plate at the big boys from New York. I hate to say it, (believe me, I really hate to say it!), but the Yankees are intimidating. Heck, they intimidated me, and I'm not even playing!
I have watched hundreds of baseball games over the past few years and attended a bunch more in person, including the All-Star Game last year in Detroit, but never have I seen a player get so much attention and be in such command of a crowd like Derek Jeter. It's difficult to even explain. It's almost like he's royalty. Frankly, it's a little sickening! :)
Here's the link to tonight's photos (and for those of you who are Derek Jeter fans, these are for you...grrr!) - Spring Training - March 27, 2006
Game News and Notes
- Tonight's game pit Yankees starter Shawn Chacon against the Braves Jorge Sosa.
- Sosa was wild and shaky, allowing 4 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks through 4 innings.
- Chacon looked sharp early for the Yankees showing good velocity and mixing in some great breaking pitches. He struck out six Braves while holding Atlanta scoreless through the first 4 innings before giving up 5 runs in the next inning +.
- A-Rod took Sosa deep in the third inning for a 2 run homer.
- Adam LaRoche had the big hit for Atlanta connecting on a 3 run shot.
- Todd Pratt got the start for the Braves at catcher this evening.
- Mike Remlinger, believe it or not, struck out the side in the 5th inning.
- The Braves picked up the victory in the end, 5-4.
- Jason Giambi's head looks like it's grown again...you can infer what you want from that statement.
- On the other side of the coin, Chipper Jones looks a lot thinner.
- Johnny Damon playing for the Yankees is just wrong!
- As much as I dislike them, New York's lineup is pretty damn scary...but then again I could probably put together a scary lineup with $250 million. Go ahead, let me have it Yankee fans!
- The Braves better start thinking again about having Sosa in their rotation. Can you say no to a John Thomson trade?
- I know I said I'd like to know where the women are that like baseball. Well I think I know now where they are...following the Yankees! Oh well. Too bad.
- Joey Devine is quickly becoming one of my favorite players. He's one of the nicest kids I've ever met, he's a great competitor, and he's not afraid to go after hitters. Now I just need to get him to stop calling me "Sir."
- I also got to meet new Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell before the game today, and the man is a real class act. He just commands attention when he speaks. He's come a long way since his days as a pitcher with the Mets.
- Another new addition, Edgar Renteria, will be just fine with the Braves this year. He looks a lot more comfortable than a year ago with the Red Sox.
- There were literally 30 members of the media (mostly foreign media) around Joe Torre as he spoke to the press during pre-game warm-ups.
Sadly, I leave Florida tomorrow as I return to New York and the real world. Boy, I can't wait!
I'd like to thank all of you out there who have read and commented on my Spring Training journals. I really appreciate it. I'd also like to thank the staffs of the Braves, Nationals, Indians, Tigers, and Astros for all their assistance. They were all a great help!