Spring Training, Day 18: And on that note, we cue the music

Today was the last full day of my Spring Training 2013 odyssey, with a Braves-Cardinals game at Roger Dean Stadium. Tomorrow morning I fly back to NYC, where I’m told it’s still chilly. 

It’s been a tremendously entertaining, if draining, three weeks, and it’s been great to be back at the ballpark. Whatever my job may require of me in the coming years, I hope it always includes a significant chunk of time actually at baseball games. It’s where I belong, and it’s great to be reminded of that.

Among the impressions that stand out…

* Chris Archer still stands as having given maybe the most impressive pitching performance I saw. Boy does he have some stuff. It’s got to be nice to be able to send a guy like that down.

* Matt Carpenter really looks pretty OK at second base. In short, if he hits like he ought to, the defense will be good enough to play him. I can’t say I expected that. It’s a tribute to him and the coaching staff.

* Most impressive players I saw were Jason Heyward and Bryce Harper. Two guys who just absolutely smoke the ball and are also fairly freakish athletes.

* Evan Gattis is just a hitter. He may or may not break camp with the Braves, but put aside the novelty factor. He looks like a guy who will hit at the big league level.

* Lakeland is still the best place for a game in the Grapefruit League, at least until and unless somebody goes to Vero Beach. Clearwater is the runner-up, for my money.

* Best concession item? Duh – Taco in a Helmet, Port St. Lucie.

* Best meal of the trip? Another no-brainer. Leftovers Cafe in Jupiter.

* Best beer? Green Flash Hop Odyssey Black IPA, at Yard House in Jupiter

Today’s game in a nutshell: Matt Adams’ eighth-inning RBI single broke a tie and gave the Cardinals a 5-4 win. Mike Minor was very good for four innings and then rocky in the fifth. Joe Kelly was quite solid, though not against exactly an A lineup. And Oscar Taveras made a very nice catch to end the game.

Player of the day: Braves outfielder Jordan Parraz was 4-for-4 with an outfield assist.

Miles driven: 4 today, 1654 for the trip

Miles run: 2 1/2 today, 28 for the trip

Starbucks visits: 1 today, 18 for the trip

Up next: A flight to Laguardia, dinner with my wife, sleeping in my own bed, and then the Drive-By Truckers in concert on Saturday night.

Ballpark music note: At about 11:05 am, with the gates already having opened, and the Cardinals taking BP, they played “Battery” by Metallica. That was decidedly unexpected. And very cool.

And, finally, the playlist:

Today is a sad day for me. The Boston Phoenix is closing up shop after decades of being an absolutely fantastic publication. I read it religiously every week when I was in school, for news analysis, local insight, music and arts coverage, and all kinds of fantastic writing and journalism. It was an example of how good an alternative news weekly can be, and its loss will be felt. So in a hat-tip to the Phoenix, it’s a playlist of Boston-area music from when I was in school. Thanks to everybody there. You did great work that mattered to a lot of people.

Letters to Cleo, “Pizza Cutter”
Aimee Mann, “That’s Just What You Are”
Morphine, “Cure For Pain”
Belly, “Feed the Tree”
Buffalo Tom, “Summer”


1 Comment

Green Flash is one of the supremely under-rated breweries. Kudos on your kudos.

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