Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Jupiter (Marlins)

On An Adequate Transaction 

Roger Dean Stadium
Roger Dean Stadium, 2015
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Washington Nationals vs. Miami Marlins
Roger Dean Stadium
Grapefruit League (Spring Training)
Jupiter, FL
1:05 PM

Outside the Game:
So, I woke up a little earlier than I wanted to, but I was in otherwise good spirits. I gathered up my belongings and headed out into the morning to find that my hotel office was closed, with a helpful note to go across the street to another hotel. Up for whatever, I did so, and the other hotel was run by the same family. I checked out of my actual hotel and headed out into the foggy, foggy morning.
Did I mention it was foggy? Because it was. It was to the point that I couldn't get the windows on my car clear until I turned off absolutely everything except the defoggers and had the defroster on full heat blasting. Several minutes of this finally yielded a drivable car, which was good news, because by that time I was nearly to the turnpike.

The drive continued to be quite foggy for most of the trip. It went from a low-lying fog to an all-encompassing fog, but it wasn't quite impeding travel at all. About forty minutes from my destination, the atmosphere cleared up into the regular unending sunlight of Florida, and I was on my way the rest of the drive to the stadium.

This being my third trip to this ballpark, I had it all down pretty much. I went to the prepaid lot and found a spot right by the exit, did a quick walk-around to get more photos, and then headed inside the wrong way, as we'll see.

The way out was uninteresting. I was back to my parents' condo in quite under an hour. Another emergency load of laundry quickly followed, as well as an emergency organization of the papers and nick-knacks that had acquired over the last week or so, as well as a serious shower to get the layers of sweat and sunscreen off.

Clothes and person cleaned, I took a quick trip to Walmart--god help me--to pick up another SD card for my camera (as it appeared that needing a fourth might be in order), and I grabbed some gas before dinner with my parents. The rest of the night was spent working out the logistics of the next few days and doing some serious writing. And by "writing," I mean "sitting in the clubhouse looking at funny cat pictures." I also booked a hotel for the next night in Fort Myers.

The Stadium & Fans: 
Home to center, Roger Dean Stadium
Home plate to center field, Roger Dean Stadium

Roger Dean Stadium didn't change much from my previous visits, except that as this was a Marlins home game, the crowd was mostly focused on the left side of the field, as the Marlins held sway on the third-base side.

I say that, but visiting Nationals fans easily outnumbered the Marlins faithful in the seats. It wasn't nearly as bad as when they were playing their stadium-mates, the Cardinals, but again the red jerseys were outnumbering the white and blue by any count. Even though Marlins fans have the shortest Spring Training commute in the Grapefruit League, there just doesn't seem to be a lot of fans that come to them, and even though the Marlins won the meaningless game, there were precious few rooters who gave a damn in the seats.

The lack of shade in the park really does hurt the experience, especially for afternoon games where the middle Florida sun just bakes you to a crisp well-done in a matter of hours.

At the Game with Oogie: 
Hot dog and soda

So Roger Dean Stadium has a couple of buy-in options with their tickets. You can pre-purchase parking in their special lot, you can buy a ticket to let you into batting practice early, and you go the whole ten yards and buy a pass that lets you go on the field for batting practice (for the low, low price of essentially another ticket). Because I was doing the reviews for these stadiums, and because it seemed like a nifty enough idea, I grabbed the option for my last game at the park.

Given it was the Marlins, I wasn't too enthusiastic about the opportunities, but that was before I found out that they had acquired Ichiro Suzuki in the off-season. I would definitely like to see him take BP, and I wouldn't say no to an autograph from him, either.

Which is why I was getting up so early on this day to drive to the stadium by 10 AM. The BP event is not supposed to open until 10:30 AM, but I figured that I'd need outside photos as well. Either way, I got to the stadium just before 10 AM, and it turned out they opened up for batting practice just after 10 that day. There was a little tent by the entrance, but it didn't have a sign or anything, so I just went in. I walked around for a little bit, and I saw people on the track behind home plate. When Ichiro came in and signed autographs, I asked an usher, and he said that I needed to sign in at the tent to get my credentials and lanyard. 

And so I went back out, and I got said things from the nice lady who apologized for the lack of sign. I was led to the area behind home plate, and I did get to watch Ichiro from there, but after his group was done, they went straight back to the practice fields and did not stop over. In fact, with the exception of Jeff Conine, there weren't any more signatures to be had. Eventually, we were all just baking on the track while the Nats took batting practice, and I asked to be escorted back to the stands so I could do my regular thing.

I got my hot dog, which turned out to be the same as the one they sell for the Cardinals (and, by the way, if I see a hot dog after this trip, I'm just going to scream), and I got the sausage and pancake on a stick (sausages on a stick dipped in pancake batter and served with maple syrup), as well as a pulled pork sandwich. 

Pancake on a stick

I loaded up on water, and I made a trip out to the Cool Zone, which was open to the public for this game after they held a staff had a meeting. To be fair, the zone was quite cool, and since I was sweating it out in the sun again today, I decided to spend most of the pre-game time up to Ass-In-Seat to be cool in this zone.

I was situated right past first base in the last row on the lower deck. And I had some interesting seat companions. To my right were a father and some from Atlanta, and to my left was a group of displayed Phillies fans. And yet, no one was murdered. The father and son were an agreeable sort, and we talked about baseball for a while before they asked me to take a photo of them, and they departed around the seventh inning.

The Phillies fan to my left was a former baseball coach who retired down here. He had never made the three-hour drive over to Clearwater to see the Phillies, but he attends the games in the several stadiums in the south-east. We talked a lot during the game about disparate topics, and we thoroughly enjoyed the game as it played out in front of us. He was not a bad sort of person for being subhuman scum that should be eradicated from the face of the planet in a righteous cleansing.

And again, I won the program autograph game. I found a signature in my book and went out to the fan relations booth to get my prize. It turns out my prize hadn't been called yet. They were just announcing random names and ads without page numbers, so I just flipped through the entire program until I saw the autograph and went to claim my prize. I got a goodie basket of things branded with a local community college and had my picture taken for my trouble. My seat-mates were similarly underwhelmed with my haul. 

Winnings, such as they were

I did not win the 50/50 again.

The Game: 
First pitch, Nationals vs. Marlins
First pitch, Nationals vs. Marlins

This meaningless Grapefruit League contest pitted two NL East rivals, the Washington Nationals and the Miami Marlins. In something that would not be repeated many times in the real season, the Marlins managed to hang on for a pointless late-inning win.

The game started slowly, with Washington going in order. The Marlins, for their part, only got a two-out double in their half. The Nationals again went in order in the second, but Miami got on the board with a leadoff E5 that was subsequently driven in by two more singles, giving them the 1-0 lead. Washington again went in order in the third, while the Marlins again brought in a run with a leadoff double that went to third on a fly out and then was driven in with a single, doubling the lead to 2-0.

The Nationals finally got going in the top of the fourth, tying it up with two runs on a leadoff single, a ground-rule double, a stolen base, and a ground-out. It was Miami's turn to go in order in the bottom of the fourth. Washington struck again in the top of the fifth with a leadoff homer to right to grab a 3-2 lead, while the Marlins wasted a one-out triple in the bottom of the frame. The Nationals only had a walk in the top of the sixth, while Miami tied it up at three again with a leadoff homer to right in the bottom of the frame.

Washington went in order in the seventh after the swap-out, and the Marlins stranded a walk and a single. The Nationals only had a single in the top of the eighth, but Miami went on a run. They scored two runs on five ground balls, four of which went on for hits, leading to two runs and leapfrogging them to a 5-3 lead. The game was not yet over, as in the top of the ninth, Washington started the top of the inning with a homer to dead center to close the game to one run, and with two outs, a two-base error by the replacement centerfielder put the tying run on second and the winning run at bat, but another fly ball to center was successfully caught to seal the meaningless 5-4 Marlins win.

The Scorecard: 
Nationals vs. Marlins, 03-18-15. Marlins "win," 5-4.Nationals vs. Marlins, 03-18-15. Marlins "win," 5-4.
Nationals vs. Marlins, 03/18/15. Marlins "win," 5-4.

The scorecard was part of the $5 full-color magazine program. It was in the centerfold, taking up nearly the entire two pages of the spread, except for a small strip of header text. The paper was semi-gloss magazine paper, but it wasn't awful to write on with pencil. It was definitely an above-average scorecard with a lot of space to score. Each batting line had a space for a replacement and a summary line at the end of the batting row, and there was an inning statistic at the bottom of each column. The scoring squares were blank with no back printing. The pitching lines were under the batting lines, with plenty of space for pitchers. Catching lines were next to each pitching line. Those catching lines had two columns next to them, and only one was labeled for passed balls, so I assumed the other should be wild pitches. There was a box area at the bottom of the batting totals for game totals.

There were only a couple of weird plays. In the bottom of the second, there were runners on first and second, there was a strike-em-out-throw-em-out DP 2-5-4. In the bottom of the eighth, with runners on first and second, there was a bunt attempt that lead to a 1-5 putout.

As with most Spring Training games, there was the great switch out, with both teams starting the sixth inning and mostly finishing in the seventh for their entire lineups. Both teams swapped out every single player. Of personal note, Ichiro pinch-hit a triple on the bottom of the fifth. Although the Marlins stranded him, it was good for the soul to see.

The Accommodations: 
I was spending the night at Chez Hide-A-Bed again with my parents. Knowing the extremely early morning the next day, I endeavored to hit the hay at an hour that my parents would approve of, if they would ever get out of the living room of the condo.

2015 Grapefruit League

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