We're back from Florida. Here are some quick thoughts on Spring training and the trip.
- If you get a chance, go on down for Spring training. It is like watching major leaguers in quaint minor league settings at minor league prices. By the late innings you are watching mostly minor leaguers so get there early.
- If you get a chance to go to Disney World (or get forced by your spouse to take the family) DON'T
. Too damn expensive and too damn crowded. Skip it!
- The BP station at the Williamsburg, Kentucky exit gives out free coffee at 3 AM.
- Every major road within 50 miles of Orlando is under construction. Reaching 10 MPH was considered a major milestone.
- Over the course of the last week or so we traveled about 2,500 miles and used just over 100 gallons of gas. If gas is 50 cents higher than it was 6 months ago then that means the trip cost about an extra 50 bucks. Don't get me wrong, I want cheaper gas (or milk, or whatever), but 50 dollars difference for over 2,500 miles isn't that big a deal.
- There are a lot of lousy drivers going north and south on I-75. You can usually identify them by the "MICHIGAN" printed on the top of their license plates.
- I kept telling myself that Spring training performance means nothing. Small sample size, yada, yada, yada. Having said that, several things stood out.
1. Andrew Jones is locked on. Wow! He hit two laser shots well over the outfield wall at Chain O'Lakes Park.
2. I've frequently maligned Ronnie Belliard's defense but he made a play on every ball hit his way this Spring including several spectacular ones. However, his double play partner, Jhonny Peralta seemed to have limited range at shortstop. I see a lot of grounders going between Peralta and Boone this season.
3. The Indians have a very strong bench. It will be difficult keeping Jose Hernandez out of the roster after he had a great camp. A side note, my eight year old made a comment in the first inning of Thursday's game that "if the next guy gets on then Hernandez could hit a grand slam." Before the next guy made an out and ended the inning, I informed him that Hernandez wasn't really much of a power hitter. Well, Hernandez lead off the second inning with a homer. Then as if determined to make me look even less reliable he went on to hit two more homers. In my defense, Hernandez did say afterwards that he never previously hit three homers in a game at any level.
4. Jorge Cantu did not get the Devil Rays second base job by default after Robbie Alomar retired. He earned it on merit. He will go cheap and be a bargain in some fantasy leagues. I only saw him in one game but he looked ready.
5. The way the schedule worked we ended up catching three games against the Tigers. Not impressed. Their big off-season addition (Ordonez) didn't play in any of them.
6. Thursday's game reaffirmed why baseball is the best sport. It had everything. The game started with lousy pitching in the first inning as the Tigers took a 5 run lead. The game also featured good pitching as the Tigers were held hitless for seven innings. The game had it's share of offense as the Tribe clawed back to take the lead. The game had drama as the Tigers tied the game in the top of the ninth with a homer off of Riske. And finally the game had a happy ending as Cleveland loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth and then won the game with a sacrifice fly.
All in all, it was a great trip.