I know it has taken me a long time to get back to our Adventures in Clearwater. I’ve had a lot of writing to do in my real job lately and I’m just written out so I decided to share the rest of our journey in pictures.
I hope you enjoy the trip.
Immediately upon our arrival it became clear that, “Tito, we’re not in Gladwyne any more.”
And as you may remember, before we even left the airport we met our first phellow Phillies travelers.
They were off to catch a game in Tampa before heading to the Phillies Clearwater camp and we were off to get our wheels and hit the road.
As we headed for our hotel in our flashy red car, we saw ‘signs’ of things to come.
Finally we arrived at our hotel. Not exactly red but a cool pinky color that even I couldn’t miss when I went walking and had to find my way back 🙂
And once inside it was clear that Phillies Spring Training baseball was the biggest show in town.
But we still had a couple of days before the game so we enjoyed some of that Florida sunshine. Actually it was a little chilly for those spoiled Floridians but we enjoyed every minute of the sun, sea and sand.
OK, OK, I know I got a little carried away there but it was my birthday trip so give me a break.
But now it’s time to PLAY BALL!
There’s nothing quite like your first glimpse of the ballpark, Spring Training or not. The last time I was at Spring Training it was Jack Russell Stadium so our first look at Bright House Field under a bright blue sky with flags flying was quite a sight.
And welcome us they did.
Now I will admit that I do have a friend or two at the Phillies but who knew what was coming. We arrived early to see some batting practice. Why else do you go to Spring Training, right? But instead of heading for the stands we got the best seat in the house. In fact we weren’t sitting at all but standing ON THE FIELD. And who was our welcoming committee?
That’s right, the big guy himself, General Manager Ruben Amaro making his way down the row of fans lucky enough to be on the field. His next stop was our little group. He put out his hand and said, “Ruben Amaro, nice to meet you. Thanks for coming down.” I think he wanted to get Girls Best Phriend’s take on his off-season moves but we had “bigger” fish to fry.
And I mean big as in “the Big Piece.” Ryan Howard looked lean and mean. He bent; he stretched. What torn Achilles?
Then, done with his work in the cage he slung his bats on his shoulder and headed off. But that smile told us all we needed to know.
Even the men behind the mikes took a break from the booth. I was thrilled to chat with one of my favorites and when I asked Scott Franzke the secret behind the chemistry he has with color man LA, he animatedly replied, “I’m not really sure and I try not to think about it too much.” That works for me.
But, wait a minute. Who’s that back there?
Could it be a rare sighting of the Phils reclusive second baseman?
Yes, I think it is. “Chase Utley, you are the man.”
And then there was fan favorite Carlos Chooch Ruiz. He’s playing now but unfortunately he’ll be paying later,
And as is the case in every Spring Training, there are men sharing a field together who in the end may be fighting for a single roster spot.
And we can’t forget to mention the ballpark food especially this unique item.
But don’t worry, you can always find the old standards as well.
And watching it all was the Skipper himselfCharlie Manuel.
A man with a one year deal. A man, fans hope, with a plan to put this team back on top.
And there was something magical about this day in the sun, a feeling of destiny surrounding this team that some say is running out of time.
It was a feeling felt by even the youngest among us,
that maybe, just maybe, this year the baseball Gods will be on our side.
A special thank you to J, John, Bonnie and Debbie, and you know who you are.
And all my thanks and love to the very special young man behind the camera.