Spring Training, Day 7: Phirst time in Clearwater

I hadn’t been to a Spring Training game in Clearwater since sometime in the 1980s. Put it this way: the last time I saw a game here, Mike Schmidt was the starting third baseman (and he made two errors in the game!). 

So obviously this was my first time covering a game in Clearwater, and my first time at Bright House Field. They got it right. Compared to the other big-ish, new-ish facilities in Florida (Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals/Marlins, Braves), I think it’s entirely fair to say that this is the one with the most charm, the most feel. 

There’s local flavor, with stands for Clearwater’s own Frenchy’s and Pete & Shorty’s. There’s hometown Philly flavor, with cheesesteaks and a Tony Luke’s stand and places where you can get Yuengling and Victory beer. 

You would not confuse BHF with any other spring stadium, or with any other team’s facility. That, to me, says a lot. Good place. 

Today’s game in a nutshell: Both teams kicked it around a bit on defense, especially the Phillies. But Philadelphia hit the stuffing out of the ball, and that was more than enough. Ryan Howard hit a homer that left the ballpark. Domonic Brown, Jose Bautista and even Mark DeRosa went deep.

Quote of the day: “I feel like every year, everybody says it’s a big year for me.” — Colby Rasmus (look for a Rasmus feature tomorrow at BlueJays.MLB.com)

Player of the day: Howard, for that one swing. He absolutely obliterated the ball, which may well have landed on the highway outside the stadium. Off a lefty, no less. He’s fun to watch right now.

Miles driven: 26 so far today, 739 for the trip

Miles run: 0 today, 13 1/2 for the trip

Roadside sight of the day: I saw a bald eagle sitting on top of a streetlight on highway 60 on the way to the park this morning. I dunno, some of y’all may say “meh” to that, but it put a spring in my step for most of the day. A bald eagle. Awesome.

Starbucks visits: 1 today, 7 for the trip

Up next: Tomorrow morning I check out of my Tampa hotel and begin heading east. I’ll be visiting my favorite remaining Spring Training facility, Tigertown, tomorrow, then spending the first of several nights in Jupiter at the end of the day. I’m on columnist duty, so who knows what I’ll write.

Ballpark music note: They brought it pretty much all day today. Some well-chosen 90s alt-rock, some well-chosen hip-hop, but the highlight for me was Cheap Trick’s “Surrender.” General life rule: it’s always good to hear “Surrender.”

And, finally, the playlist:

We’ve gotten to the top-15, right around one of the two dividing lines in this list. There was  line between 16 and 17, and there’s another one between 5 and 6. Most of the albums I have between 6 and 15 are, if not completely interchangeable, not all that far from it. There was a lot of stuff I liked this year. (And for an explanation of what in the world I’m talking about, see Friday’s and Saturday’s posts.)

Jack White, “Love Interruption” (Blunderbuss, No. 15)
The Gaslight Anthem, “Handwritten” (Handwritten, No. 14)
Craig Finn, “New Friend Jesus” (Clear Heart Full Eyes, No. 13)
Purity Ring, “Belispeak” (Shrines, No. 12)
Lucero, “Like Lightning” (Women & Work, No. 11)


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