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SARASOTA, FL - MARCH 25, 2009: This was my last spring training game. I probably should have left a couple of days earlier...
As expected, the scalpers were out in force for this game. Unlike the previous Sox game, the scalpers were accosting people in the parking lot and all around the stadium. (They were just sitting back and waiting for people to come to them at the previous game.)
However, this game was not as crowded as the earlier one. It was crowded, but it didn't sell out. Perhaps because it was a day game. Or maybe after the madhouse at the earlier game, people gave up.
Brandon Phillips was signing autographs by the right field bleachers before the game.
His wristband says Real, with a little Christian-ish cross. (I assume that's "real" in English, and not real, "royal" in Spanish.)
I was in right field again. Back to stalking Jay Bruce...
They sent Danny Ray out to play catch with Bruce again. (I didn't bother to post a photo, because Herrera never turned around. Meaning I have some excellent photos of the back of his head.)
I think the most amusing thing about this game was the people next to me, who came down from Cincinnati...and obviously don't keep up on roster changes. They expressed amazement at how little Danny Ray was, but had no clue who he was. They kept calling him "Javy." I think they thought he was the LLM.
Clay Buchholz, whom I last saw as a Pawtucket Red Sock, was on the mound for the Sox.
Funny how the ball seems to pop up out of his hand like that.
JD Drew. Our right fielder has better hair than their right fielder.
Joey Votto was O-fer in this game.
Three-way collision at first base as the scrappy, hustling Chris Dickerson races to beat the throw on a bunt. (He lost.)
It was a real pitchers' duel, tied 0-0...until the sixth.
Buchholz brushes back Janish.
The pride of Rice University ended up reaching on an error by the SS.
Buchholz threw the ball away on a pickoff attempt, and Janish went first to third (successfully this time ;-).
He just beat the throw. (You can see Janish crossing the plate in the background.)
Amazingly, Buchholz had another errant pickoff attempt. Keppinger watches in surprise as the ball sails away:
Then he leaps up and scampers to 3B.
Votto struck out to end the inning, stranding Kepp.
Dustin Pedroia still can't hit that pitch:
Sit down, Captain Varitek.
The starting lineup left the game in the 7th, and made their way across the field to exit through the bullpen.
Jay Bruce usually ignores the fans, but he was really staring at something in the stands. I mean his head was on a swivel as he walked by. He was talking to one of his teammates, but looking at someone in the stands.
I don't think it was me. Maybe the attractive and scantily clad brunette beside me. (She only had eyes for Chris Valaika, though.)
Chris Dickerson and Brandon Phillips:
Now, BP might have been looking at me. He strikes me as a guy who loves to mug for the camera. He just expects to be surrounded by flashbulbs popping. Maybe he's a pain in the clubhouse, but he's very charming with the fans.
Janish walked by very briskly, studying his shoes the whole time.
Chris Valaika warmed up in right field before taking over at SS.
Laynce Nix took over right field.
Valaika singled in the 8th.
Luis Exposito tries to field a Chris Heisey popup...
Bill Bray tries to close it out.
He gave up two walks, a single, a double, two runs...and the lead.
Chip Ambres goes first to third on Sean Danielson's pinch-hit single.
It could have been worse, if not for a nice double play. Jeff Placer flew out to center fielder Darnell McDonald, who gunned down the runner at the plate.
Last year's International League MVP, Jeff Bailey, tries to run over Ryan Hanigan.
Hanigan blocks the plate and holds onto the ball.
Sidewinder Javier Lopez closed it out for the Red Sox.
The people next to me heard his name announced, and thought it was Javy Lopez, the catcher. (The Red Sox did have an all-Javier Lopez battery at one point.)
One of the older men in my section of the stands claimed to have coached Brad Wilkerson in college. He told a story about how they played the Venezuelan team, and the Venezuelan pitcher hit Wilkerson. Wilkerson's father jumped out of the stands and charged the mound. It was a tie game, bases loaded, and there was no way it was intentional...but Mr. Wilkerson is apparently very protective of his son.
And I had another encounter with the Camera Nazi at this game. I'm pretty sure it was the same guy who told me I couldn't use a camera last year when I sat in the right field bleachers. Only this time, another staff member overhead, and made him come back and tell me I could use a camera.
I'm grateful they allowed me to take photos...but all in all, I found spring training games this year a lot less relaxed than last year. Aside from that one incident, no one said anything to me about my camera or my camera bag last year - at any ballpark. This time, they searched my bag, they measured it, a couple of times they wouldn't let me bring it in. I gather this new strictness is coming from MLB.
And it's not just cameras. They seem a lot more uptight about everything - letting people wander around the stadium before the game, bringing in things like strollers or umbrellas, etc. If it's crowded, I can see it. It might inconvenience others. But in many cases, there weren't any other people around, and the staff is still telling fans they can't sit there, can't do that, etc.
It was a lot more fun last year. If it was this way last year, I'm not sure I'd have come back this year.
I can't help remembering that report from Goodyear. That is probably the wave of the future.