Baseball Among the Cows
of Spring Training adventures in Florida)
the other day I noticed that I had to flip over my calendar to the month of
March. This had to come to me as
quite a surprise, considering that I had spent much of February in bed with
various aliments such as bronchitis, minor surgery and something that Mrs. L.
probably caught it from one of the kids, there’s a lot of it going around.”
I catch something, there’s always a lot of it going around according to Mrs.
L. Funny thing, though, I don’t
remember any my kids returning from deepest Africa, so I wonder where the kids
picked up roto- virus.
you were wondering whether or not I was sick on draft day, take a look at my
draft picks. You are all very
I emerged from my cocoon of self-induced stupor, and took a look around, yep
there were the signs; Indian Hawthorne lavishing displaying their white flowers,
(despite the best efforts of my children to pick their seeds last fall), our
Charlie Brown tree sprouting tiny nubs of leafs and, of course, my neighbor
mowing his lawn three times a week.
placed a thoughtful finger upon my chin and declared, Holy Cow! It’s time for
deftly mortgage my weekends to Mrs. L. though the end of September (remember, I
have three kids) and sat down to the USA Today to determine which game to attend
on my first free weekend.
choices were available, LA versus the Mets in St. Lucie or the Marlins versus
the Astros in Kissimmee. Now, I
wasn’t interested in either LA or New York, however I had never been to St.
Lucie and since the ride was over an hour to the stadium, I called ahead.
was some trepidation on my part; I have learned from experience that the Spring
Training complexes tend to reflex their teams’ attitudes.
Upon the second ring, a pleasant female answer the phone and we had a
splendid conversation until I asked about tickets for today’s game.
only seats left were in something called the upper deck.
I instantly became weary, ‘cause upper decks in Spring Training are
about as rare as an enjoyable trip to my in-laws.
I told her I would like to purchase a ticket; such was my appetite for
baseball. All of a sudden, her New York upbringing leaped out from its
hiding place and announced, “I can’t take ticket orders over the phone, so
if you want a ticket, you’ll have to come to the stadium, and hurry.”
quickly dialed up the Astros. A charming Texan drawl answered the phone.
I believed I startled the young woman by asking if there were still
tickets available. Apparently, I
was the only human south of the Mason-Dixon Line to think that Florida versus
Houston would sellout.
fact, she was so helpful that she explained exactly how much I would be fleeced
so in order not to startle me upon my arrival to the venerable Osceola County
Stadium. I am, according to my
sisters, one of nature’s great cheapskates.
She was very apologetic; “Seems like everything goes up every year.”
glanced at my watch, layered myself with so much sunscreen that I resembled one
those swimmers ready to challenge the English Channel, fueled up ole Shakey and
off I went! The drive from my house
to Kissimmee is about 50 miles, most of it on an old 2-lane highway, 35 miles of
it without a stoplight.
this road almost made Reader’s Digest 10 Most Dangerous Roads in America.
However, at the last minute, it was dropped from the list, apparently,
drivers in Boston became indignant at this thought and generated a few more
moralities to bump us from the list. Due
to safety constraints, and the fact that engineers cannot leave an enjoyable
ride alone, the road will become four lanes next year.
I’m shocked, because it will ruin a great drive through orange groves
and cattle ranches and that it will cost 100 million ducats (see paragraph
arrived at the stadium, paid my four dollars for parking, mumbling all while,
and then I’m sent into this side lane for parking.
My spot frankly looked like trouble, involving backing out upon leaving.
I realized this is my penance for questioning why I must pay four bucks
to park in a field that hasn’t needed mowing since Labor Day. I get out of the car and head for the ticket window.
the good Lord above only has two simple requirements of me while upon this
earth. One is to spend some time
with all of the stupidest people on earth, and two, to always pick the wrong
line. I’m sure by now you’ve
guessed the punch line.
being Florida and not Chicago, there are only four ticket windows, and only one
of them is selling tickets for today’s game.
The others are handing out will call or tickets for future games.
How many people are willing pay 4 dollars parking
on game day only to purchase a ticket for next week’s game?
line for our window is not long, only about 7 people.
The problem being, the four gentlemen in front of me had been waiting
since early February to purchase tickets to the Braves game and decided Hey!
since we’re still here and paid for parking, let’s go to today’s game.
other holdup was an older lady that had to review each seat location
individually, and then decided to lecture the teenage girl in the window about
the faulty wisdom of not accepting her credit card for the cost of the
many years of attending games by myself, I have learned that single ticket
purchasers have unusually wide selection of seats to choose among.
My only request was to be placed on an aisle.
happily exclaimed, “I have a seat directly behind home plate, third row.”
that near an aisle?” I asked.
aren’t you lucky to get this seat.”
um, thanks, but is it near an aisle?”
dollars change and here’s your ticket.”
102, Row C, Seat 8, that doesn’t sound near an aisle,” I meekly exclaimed.
turned to her supervisor or grandmother, I wasn’t sure which, “I sure gave
him a great seat.”
then became very wary, because, at that moment, Grandma gave her a high-five.
I went into the stadium, bought a program, three bucks, 40 pages, with exactly
37 and ½ pages of ads. Purchased a coke in a tub the size to make a Kentucky
moonshiner envious and headed to my seat.
showed an usher my ticket and he pointed to my seat, yep I was directly behind
home plate, right next to the camera and radar shed you always find in a
stadium. Problem was that I had to
climb over 7 people with the combine age of 807 to get to the seat.
usher turns up his hearing aid for this.
that’s your seat, ain’t it a great one?”
it isn’t, there’s seven people I have to climb over to reach it.”
Other ushers stop what they are doing, as in an EF Hutton commercial.
they will. Look at this coke, do
you think I’ll make through the game without getting up?”
understand if you have to go to the bathroom and will move for you.”
this moment, Jose Lima discovers the conversation and motions over the rest of
Astros to get a better view.
looks to me that those people haven’t stood up since the Carter
hit a nerve with this; I’ve found the one guy in Florida that actually voted
for Carter. “Well, that’s your
about I take another seat?”
the usher starts quoting rules about sitting in the wrong seat.
Mind you it is 10 minutes for game time and the stadium is less than half
is heard from the Astros on the field.
you what,” the usher whispers to me, “Sit over here, they haven’t sold
that seat to season ticket holders.”
I take my new seat, and by the sixth inning, I have had to move more times than
a MASH unit. The usher is nowhere
to be found, off taking his afternoon nap, I presume.
you may think that this is a long introduction and I have yet to discuss the
actual ball game. Well, you see, it
wasn’t much of a ball game. The Marlins scored enough runs to make your average XFL team
blush and the Astros couldn’t find their third hit until the 9th
get to see Billy Wagner mow down the Marlins, one, two, three and I did come
away with the impression not to touch Jose Lima with a ten foot pole this year.
You see, it’s not often a manager pulls his starter early in spring
training because he gave up three dingers..
Final score, Marlins 17-1.