Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Defying the Punchline in Anaheim


I watched some of the World Baseball Classic as it happened. I saw the end of the Puerto Rico/Israel game that was a total disaster for a fairly-alright Israeli team, I caught a few other matches that week, and I was watching last night during the final. I think they've done a good job with it overall, and the people who are complaining about seeing their favorite players get injured because of it...why is Jose Altuve your favorite player anyway? I don't wanna talk to you.

[I do agree with the Edwin thing, but that could have happened during the regular season or postseason as well, blaming the WBC on excessive celebration is an odd hill to die on].

The one talking point I heard a lot of during the WBC, especially last night during the final, was 'Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani are two of the best players in the world right now, imagine how good it would be if they played for the same team, OH WAIT'. As if everyone needed another excuse to slag off the Angels. And yes, I will admit, slagging off the Angels is kinda fun, I get that, they've spend so much money on free agents in the last 15 years, and have done diddly squat with them. But using the whole 'how do you not win with two of the best players in the world on your team?' thing, especially during the modern era of baseball when the playoffs are longer and more difficult for the actual best two teams to meet, is a little unfair.

The Angels know they need more than Ohtani and Trout to compete, and they've certainly tried, courting Anthony Rendon, Tyler Anderson and both Loup and Tepera, and bringing up surefire prospects like Jo Adell, Reid Detmers and Livan Soto. None of this has worked. Rendon has been hurt pretty much every contractual year he's had in LA, the relievers have soured in comparison to their pre-Angels work, Adell is still trying to figure out how to compete at major league level, and Detmers, even after a no-hitter, struggled to maintain a steady pace. 

The Angels also had an incredible first month of the season, struggled after mid-May and never recovered, even if Taylor Ward, Luis Rengifo and Patrick Sandoval still provided great work. While it is exceptionally hard to build a roster with big contract pieces limiting the surrounding budget, the Guardians proved how attainable that metric is with really only Jose Ramirez getting the big money. The Angels have more money than that, and have just come across truly terrible luck. Even the intriguing ideas they've come across, like landing Tucker Davidson in a trade, or using Andrew Velasquez as a starting shortstop, don't mean much if the majority of the lineup isn't performing.

I really do think this year is the year they make the playoffs and let Ohtani and Trout play in October, mostly because I don't even know if Ohtani will be playing for the Angels at all next year, but also because i feel like all of this, including the WBC, has built towards something like this, and it'd be really disappointing if it didn't happen. 

Then again, as always, these are the Angels. So you never really know.

Monday, March 20, 2023

A Word on Second-Generationers


We're...we're really at a larger peak of sons of MLB players right now than we were in 1989, when Ken Griffey Jr., Moises Alou and Barry Bonds were running around. How insane is that?

I think this new wave of second generation major leaguers was most evident during the draft last year, when Baltimore's choice for the top 2 picks were between Jackson Holliday, son of Matt Holliday, and Druw Jones, son of Andruw Jones. Either way, a second-generationer is going first, and so soon after Jack Leiter as well. We are really well in this, and it only seldom occurs to people.

Hell, prepping a custom post today I realized the next two I had ready were Cal Quantrill and Ke'Bryan Hayes, whose dads probably squared off at some point in the 90s. 

All this at the point where Hollywood is having a nepotism crisis, saying that people are succeeding because they have famous parents, all while one of the few *good* nepo babies, Jamie Lee Curtis, just won an Oscar. In the MLB it's different because we've obviously seen people be prized because of their name basis but struggle while making their own luck, like Tony Gwynn Jr., Tony Armas Jr., Josh Barfield, Eric Young Jr, etc. The second-generationers that become huge, like your Ken Griffey Jr's, your Fernando Tatis Jr's, your Vladimir Guerrero Jr's, they only bring so much from their father and they come into their own as different, intriguing players themselves. 

As is custom for a lot of Spring Training posts, I went through the rosters and tried to find a second-generationer for each team. Let's see how well I did.

Astros: Lance McCullers Jr., he of the tipped pitches and April injuries. 

Blue Jays: Your 2019 big three, Guerrero, Bichette and Biggio. Bo and Vlad have done a nice job outrunning the legends of their fathers, Biggio has struggled. There is now the addition of Daulton Varsho, whose dad Gary played for a bit.

Braves: Just Ronnie Acuna

Cubs: Just Cody Bellinger. He's at the very least eclipsed his dad's MLB work, but man is he in danger of losing his late-2010s clout..

Diamondbacks: I learned very recently that Buddy Kennedy is Don Money's grandson, which is honestly pretty cool. Way too soon to say if he eclipses that benchmark, though.

Dodgers: Does Trayce Thompson count if his brother's in the NBA? Probably not but it's definitely important.

Giants: Little known fact, Mike Yastrzemski's dad was drafted by the Braves, and played a few years for Durham and Birmingham. Even without the Carl factor he'd be a second-generationer by proxy, though having your grandfather be a Sox hero is a plus. Also, Joc Pederson's dad had a cup of coffee with the Dodgers.

Guardians: Plesac and Quantrill, though Plesac's uncle was the reliever, not his dad.

Padres: Tatis, but also Ryan Weathers, whose dad was a reliever in the 90s and 00s. 

Phillies: Most notably Kody Clemens, who is amusingly a decent pitching option despite probably not being credited as a two-way player [thanks a bil, Manfred]. 

Pirates: Just Ke'Bryan Hayes, but that's still a pretty awesome second-generationer

Red Sox: I keep forgetting Adalberto Mondesi is with the Sox now. Like I saw some BP at Fenway South and was surprised that Mondi was there. That's how low-key that trade was.

Rockies: C.J. Cron's dad famously had a few cups of coffee in the 90s. 

Royals: Bobby Witt Jr., of course, and he's looking like he's here to stay. 

Twins: Similar to Thompson, does it count if Jose Miranda's related to Lin-Manuel Miranda? If not, you've got Nick Gordon, son of Tom.

So that is 15/30 with second-generationers in the bigs that I know about, though there are probably a bunch I'm not aware of. That is a great deal, though a lot less than I figured. With all the prospects waiting to jump in, that number's probably gonna grow in the next few years anyhow.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Spring Training Trip: Blue Jays vs. Yankees 3/14/22


The last planned game of my Spring Training trip last week threw us a curveball almost immediately.

All the other games had been 1 PM matinees, and so we figured this game, at Steinbrenner Field, would similarly be a matinee, so my dad and I trekked down from our hotel in Clearwater towards Tampa. All the while, I kept checking Twitter and was puzzled as to why neither team had posted their lineups yet.

A further check of revealed that this was not, in fact, a matinee, as we'd planned, but a night game scheduled for 6 pm. We turned around, made the day into a well-deserved beach day, and rerouted our travels.

The main downside of this being a night game was that we were felled by rush hour traffic heading into Tampa, and directed towards a back way that made our eventual entrance into Raymond James Stadium's parking lot even more frustrating than initially speculated. The good news was that we were towards the front of the massive at the Bucs' stadium, which I've never attended a game at but have head good things. 

The complex itself is, similar to Fenway South, a higher-brow baseball experience for the traveling Yankee massive. This stadium was the closest approximation to a full MLB stadium, with well-constructed stands and concourses and very professional feeling elements. You could tell they spent a lot of money on this is what I'm saying. 

The evening's game had relatively full rosters- the Jays were missing Bo and Kirk but added Kiermaier. The Yanks unfortunately were without three of the people I'd hoped to see, those being Judge, Volpe and Dominguez, but at least had a relatively full lineup with LeMahieu, Stanton, Rizzo, Donaldson and March standout Willie Calhoun. 

The night's shortstop of choice was Oswald Peraza, meaning Cabrera, Kiner-Falefa and Volpe would have to watch from the sidelines to see if he messed up. 

The most telling aspect of the matchup? The Jays were starting Drew Hutchison, famed for his years as a depth starter with the Tigers and being the Opening Day starter in Toronto back in 2015. The Yankees, however, were starting Gerrit Cole.

These, folks, were our seats. Spring Training ticketing means getting second level seats and them still being awesome because they're less 'higher in the air' and more 'further back'. Like, to me this still counts as the main concourse. These were absolutely worth it. Look at how gorgeous that view is. 

The game quickly began, and any worries of Gerrit Cole's lack of tack usage holding him back were quickly extinguished, as the man looked absolutely dominant in his first inning. Despite some later slip-ups, Cole looked pretty confident overall. The trick with Cole is him not getting too overconfident, as he'll start throwing lay-ups after a while. Inevitably, one of those later lay-ups became a 3-run homer from depth 1st baseman Rainer Nunez.

However, it wasn't an especially pitiful outing compared to Drew Hutchison's night.

Okay. So Hutchison gets up there against the top of the order, right? Throws two pitches to DJ, he hits a home run. Walks Stanton. Gets Rizzo on base with a scorcher. Then Donaldson, his old teammate, gets up, and Donaldson murders the ball, with a 3-run bomb that, for the time being, restores some level of Yankee faith in him. 

THEN HE WALKS CALHOUN. Then he gives up a hit to Peraza, albeit a fielder's choice that nails the much slower Calhoun. And then Estevan Florial gets up, the guy that will most likely be making the team as a centerfield option...and Florial is now the one that lights Hutchison up.

So, to recap, Drew Hutchison gives up 3 home runs, 6 runs overall, doesn't strike anybody out, the only out is underneath an actual hit, and this is a team he won multiple games for in 2015. When he got pulled, I think a lot of the Yankee fans waved.

And so that was the cushion my team sat on for a bit. Look, we're not perfect, Rizzo made an error at 1st, Cole gave up that aforementioned softie to the 1st baseman, later on he gave up an RBI to Daulton Varsho who, now that I'm thinking about it, looked really damned good in both games I saw him in. 

But at the same time, there's enough of this team that still works. Michael King and Wandy Peralta looked excellent in relief. Calhoun eventually smoked a double and made sure that the crux of the lineup came away with hits. Oswald Peraza evened the shortstop race with a homer of his own against Tom Hatch. This is a team that's managed enough depth, even with whatever shenanigans Rodon and Cortes have gotten into.

It was around this point that I was glad that this was a night game. If you can do lights, and make it look good, and it's not too cold, then it's alright by me. And this was a very cool night game overall. We were positioned around a lot of friendly Yankee fans, including one from South Carolina who talked about meeting Catfish Hunter. Yes, more nice Toronto fans as well, even as they were getting battered. 

By the eighth, Junior Fernandez was giving up a homer to a Yankee deep minor leaguer. At that point, we had the cushion to head for the car. 

The Yanks won this one 10 to 3 against a Jays team that had won every other game I'd seen them at. I was expecting this team to disappoint me, as they had last year at the Stadium, but the bats came through thanks, mainly, to Drew Hutchison. Either he was tipping his pitches or he's just plain cooked. 

Ending the trip on a win was an excellent cap on a great week in Florida. We got some nice games in, saw some great players, some cool early season stuff, and had an excellent time. 

Not sure when I'll do Spring Training again. I'll keep you all posted. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Two Rack Packs of 2023 Topps Series 1 [Finally]

I was in a place the other day where I not only had enough saved up to get some baseball cards, but there were actually baseball cards present. I won't divulge where this was, nor how much the price was hiked up...but I went with it. It was Series 1.

Obviously I'd seen a lot of this on the blogs for the past month or so, but it'd taken me this long to have any in hand. I got 2 rack packs, and until I figure out eBay selling and/or make a breakthrough with work, that'll be enough. 

Pack 1-

101- Tyler Mahle
My first card of the year was a guy I'd seen pitch only a few days prior. He got chased, yes, but he's still a nice pickup for the Twins if he keeps at Cincinnati-era pace. 

I've probably said as such, but I have come around on this design. I wish it wasn't so fragrantly the photo day icon images that were being used, as they're not too interesting, but I like so many design elements that it counteracts that. 

73- Jon Gray
322- Luis Urias

215- Wander Franco
22- Clayton Kershaw

Two big pulls from a base perspective. As is evident on Kershaw's, full career stats are in play on the back, much to my amusement. 

214- Graham Ashcraft RC
50- Mookie Betts
293- J.T. Realmuto

I agree that there are too many rookies in the set, but at the very least a good majority of them are people that played a big enough part in the second half of the 2022 season, like Graham Ashcraft. Also nice that star cards aren't too rare, especially JT.

34- Zack Thompson
80- Tanner Rainey
277- David Villar RC

158- Kris Bryant
175- Liam Hendriks

Maybe it's because he was injured for most of last year, but it's still very weird to see Bryant in Rockies colors. I really hope Hendriks makes it to the mound at some point this year, he's awesome. 

12- Jeffrey Springs. Not showing his picture, not even collecting his cards. Ya done goofed, pal.
255- Cal Quantrill
257- Yadiel Hernandez

218- Jhoan Duran rainbow foil, unnumbered. I still don't see the point of these, and of making gold numbered cards rarer, but Duran is filthy.
88 Topps Brendan Rodgers. Pleased they finally did these, even if there are slight font issues. 

Stars of MLB Wander Franco
Stars of MLB Bryce Harper
Good subjects, but for a 'multiple-per-pack' insert, I would have preferred the 88s, honestly. This is at least cool design wise, but there are others similar, like 2019's Stars of the Game or 2018's Legends in the Making, that are more memorable to me.

226- Michael Harris II RC
One of the big rookies of the first series. And one hell of an image for it, too.

194- Josh Staumont
220- Cubs TC
292- Rangers TC
113- Dodgers CL
174- Mariners CL. These team cards and checklists are cool, but they feel like filler sometimes.

32- Jordan Montgomery
162- Isiah Kiner-Falefa
Even if I knew they had Gumby photos available, his card still looks photoshopped. The good news is both these cards show variance in the types of headshots we can see, like Montgomery's in-game shot and IKF's slight tilt. A little change-up goes a long way.
IKF's smug smile here says something along the lines of 'hey Anthony, you're really good and all but you know I'm making the opening day roster and you're not, right?'

37- Josh Smith RC
76- John Winckowski RC
105- Seth Beer

278- Aaron Nola
179- Carlos Rodon
290- Max Fried
Three of the best pitchers in the majors in one pack. Plus, Nola and Fried might actually pitch in the first half!

90- Korey Lee RC
286- Ezequiel Duran

53- Dylan Cease
236- Shane McClanahan
Two pitchers who had incredible 2022s start us off. I really hope Cease can sustain this. McClanahan too, but, y'know, division rival.

232- Ian Happ
13- Giovanny Gallegos
163- Miguel Vargas RC

21- Max Scherzer
313- Cal Mitchell
Scherz is Scherz. Mitchell I saw as an A-baller and have some pride in, even if he's not very good in the majors so far.

74- Tarik Skubal
171- Mychal Givens. I'll say this, the reliever presence in this set seems like an improvement.
132- Gavin Sheets
204- Manuel Margot
269- Steven Matz

182- Nick Pratto
68- William Contreras
Pratto's rookie is a decent pull. Contreras' is a great card even if it is already outdated.

66- Brandon Crawford
154- Jonathan Aranda

Home Field Advantage Bryce Harper.
I...had a reaction to this one. Didn't think I'd end up pulling one of these, so the fact that I do and it's the hometown superstar is...a huge deal. I love so much of this card. Rocky's boxing gloves, man. Penn and Franklin. As a Philadelphian, I wholeheartedly approve. As a Phils collector, I'm even more grateful. 

88T insert of Matthew Liberatore
Stars of MLB Rafael Devers
Stars of MLB Gerrit Cole
I still don't exactly see the point of bringing the rookies that aren't sure bets into the inserts but Topps is doing their thing. Good to get a Cole, seeing as he was on the mound when I was in Tampa [more on that later].

303- Checklist
190- Checklist
326- Checklist
I mean, the checklists do at least point out how well-done the photography in this set is. I just think the contractually-obligated MLB logo takes away from it a bit.

4 dupes from last pack including the Harris RC
191- Caleb Smith, who I believe just got demoted by the Pirates, which is an insult in itself.
49- Mitch Haniger
276- David MacKinnon

45- Gerrit Cole
87- Ethan Small RC
There's Cole again, given his own hero number. 

296- Cristian Pache
67- Travis Swaggerty RC
110- Randal Grichuk

So, not especially showy save for that Harper insert, but a nice array of base and fun details from this set. I'll try to get more when I can, and I'll see if I can build team sets and get the guys I collect. There's fun ideas here, and I think Topps can survive on this for the rest of the year. 

Monday, March 13, 2023

Spring Training Trip: Blue Jays vs. Phillies 3/12/23


Crossing the causeway into Clearwater, I'd happened upon the unfamiliar territory portion of the spring training voyage. Fort Myers held two stadiums I'd been to before and knew fondly. The Tampa metro area held two I'd never been to, and was very excited to attend.

Clearwater, where I am currently staying, is very nice. It's got the air of a spring break destination, but it's also got some homey touches that I like. Those causeways and long, straight roads are odd for my northeastern sensibilities but the beaches have been nice, and tonight I had one of the best, and spiciest, burritos I've ever had. Today, for the record, was my off day. I could have gone to the Jays' park in Dunedin if I wanted to, but I needed today to veg, sit on the beach and recover. 

BayCare Park was decked out in the proper '22 Champs regalia. I was able to fetch a '2022 National League Champs' pin for something of a bargain, and the fans seemed to be riding high on things. My dad's friend Al, who is a Clearwater resident yet had never made it to a game here, wasn't sure if these were bandwagoner fans or true Phils faithful. I told him with Philly sports fans you can never be too sure.

The park is on the cozier side, with some cool architecture along the upper level, a lot of space for fans to lie out on the grass, pretty low-key concessions [with Hatfield hot dogs] and minimal upstairs seating. The fan turnout was extremely high, so we were all packed into our row like sardines. 

The good news was we had a pretty full game on our hands. The Jays brought their starters, unlike the Sox game, and had Bichette, Springer, Chapman and Varsho on hand with Yusei Kikuchi starting. The Phils were mostly depleted by the WBC, but at least had Marsh, Hoskins, Bohm and Castellanos with them, as fifth-string starter Bailey Falter got the start.

These were our seats. First level, main concourse, right near Rhys. Even if we were technically on the Toronto side, there were a ton of Phils fans by us.

And, yes, the Jays were warming up right by us. #5 is Espinal, #25 is new Jay Daulton Varsho, Merrifield I think is next to him, and Bo is all the way on the left. My friend Benny's a Jays guy, and he really likes Bo, so I was sending him Bo updates all day. 

Most of the joy of this game was seeing everybody again. Bohm had 2 hits. Yes, he also still can't play 3rd base very well, but he had 2 hits. Falter K'd 3 before unraveling. But the unsung guys were arguably even more valuable. Dalton Guthrie made a spectacular catch in right and got to work at the plate. Jake Cave continued his hot spring with 2 more hits. The home run came not from Hoskins or Castellanos but from Josh Harrison, looking to make the team this year after famously missing camp before the 2020 season. Harrison gave the team a nice spark during the later innings, and added a few runs to the cause.

Ultimately, the Jays are working with a fuller roster right now. George Springer had a huge homer to start things off, and Varsho, Bichette, Chapman and minor league DH Zach Britton [no relation] all had strong days at the plate. Kikuchi, regardless of his 2022 struggles, K'd 3, and allowed no runs despite 4 hits and 3 runs. The bullpen, including Erik Swanson and Junior Fernandez, shut the Phils down for the most part.

Speaking of bullpen, I got to see two of the most-anticipated Phils acquisitions for my money, being Gregory Soto and Craig Kimbrel. Soto allowed no hits and made it look easy. Kimbrel started strong and gave up a run. Kind of what I figured for both of them. The Jays ended up winning big, which is also what I kinda figured.

Of the three games I've attended thus far, this one took the longest and dragged the most, perhaps owing to some sloppy play on the Phils' part. While the other games were closer to 2 hours 30 minutes, this one easily crossed the 3 hour mark. It was at least nice to see how Philly did things, and they do things well, but it was a hot day to be packed in there. 

I still enjoyed the game, and I enjoyed the Phils' complex in Clearwater. I bet it's gonna look real modest compared to where I'm going in Tampa tomorrow.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Spring Training Trip: Red Sox vs. Twins 3/11/23

The previous day's events at Fenway South gave an idea of one kind of Spring Training experience, a kind of well-tailored, well-curated replica of a Boston experience with a lot of pomp and circumstance. It was nice for what it was, but there were limitations. 

Yesterday's game at Hammond Stadium was...a slight bit cozier.

Look, I'd been to this one before, and even in comparison to 2017's JetBlue Park, this was still my favorite. Just a lot more hands-off, and giving people more freedom to do what they want and have a low-key time. It's tailored to a different type of fan, the Minnesota fan, the nicer, more laid back type, in comparison to the rough and intimidating Boston fans.

Plus, unlike Fenway South, we actually had some time to traverse the backfields. 

That, folks, is Byron Buxton, who was taking some reps and drills despite not playing in the game that day. Buck was under the watchful eyes of lots of Twins fans, and he spent about four minutes signing for everybody at one point. There were a few different signers, people like Randy Dobnak and Matt Wallner. I didn't get any autos this time around, and I didn't bring anything to sign.

We were also right by the batting cages, where we saw a few different people taking BP, including Grayson Greiner. And as one of the alumni coaches, Tony Oliva was there giving advice. At one point he was only a couple feet from us, talking to some lovely Minnesota fans in front of us. You have to soak it in at that point. There's a Hall of Famer and legend, just talking to fans like it's nothing. My uncle thought he saw Justin Morneau helping out as well, but I wasn't sure it was him. 

We also saw a bunch of Twins taking fielding drills, like Kyle Farmer, and a bunch of pitchers practicing on the backfields, like Bailey Ober and Josh Winder. It was a very low-key, respectful environment, and we felt at home there.

This was the first year of the Twins' new uniforms, and the first year of a new organizational look for them, without Miguel Sano, Luis Arraez and Gary Sanchez. It was a team I had some high hopes for, but even with the Red Sox in town that day, I wasn't sure if they could make anything happe

We got some pretty full rosters across the board for this game. No Buxton, Vazquez or Correa, but people like Miranda, Farmer, Kepler, Taylor and Jeffers, who would be playing major roles for the Twins. Plus, a strong pitching duel between Chris Sale and Tyler Mahle, two pitchers I'd seen before. 

These, folks, were our seats. Up a bit, yes, but behind home plate and in the heart of the action. Plus, we were covered, and shaded the whole time. This is not the best view I've had of this stadium, as last time we snuck in on a colleague's seats by the visiting dugout. But it was pretty damned good.

This was actually a pretty solid game, compared to the slog that was Friday's. Sale was sharp through 3 innings, his stuff is still as nasty as ever, and no Twins could get to him substantially. Mahle fared worse, allowing a few runs early before getting pulled for a reliever in the second.

At the start of the third inning, a new pitcher emerged...looking a hell of a lot like the starting pitcher.

Apparently in Spring Training you can put pitchers back on after pulling them. So after Baldelli took out Mahle, he was able to put him back in so he could get another inning of work. Yes, Cole Sands would come in afterwards and end his day for good, but...I guess the Twins really wanted to make sure Mahle got his reps in.

Having a good portion of Sox personnel meant also seeing some big name relievers, like Ryan Brasier and, as pictured above, Kenley Jansen, who did fairly well given an inning of work early. Joely Rodriguez was the one who had the worse day, as his rocky fifth inning led to Ryan Jeffers and Michael Taylor making some contact, including a Jeffers homer. All of the errors the Twins made earlier, including some fumbling Jeffers had behind the plate and a few infield boners that made me wonder if they were paying attention during those earlier drills, didn't feel as bad now that the team was actually playing well.

The eventual lead the Twins would take was also thanks to starters like Jose Miranda and Kyle Farmer, and would make for a calmer atmosphere in the fairly chummy Minnesota-centric stadium. It shouldn't surprise you, however, for me to note that Joey Gallo went 0-3.

The rest of the game flew by, with some great relief pitching rounding things up and leaving us with a worthy Twins win. Which means, folks, that the first two Boston Spring Training losses of the season were games I attended. Again, you're welcome.

Today I arrived in Clearwater and caught a game. I'll write that one up tomorrow. 

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Spring Training Trip: Blue Jays vs. Red Sox, 3/10/23

Flying into the Tampa airport out of Philadelphia meant taking a plane voyage with a bunch of Phillies fans bound for Clearwater. Already wearing Phillies garb. While that would eventually be us, it would be a few games before my dad and I would embrace our Phils-fan-ness. There were a few more further stops in the southern portion of Florida that would take precedence.

And that is why I found myself pulled up to Fenway South, surrounded by Sox and Jays fans. 

The way I'd always worked when I'd done Spring Training stuff was at least knocking out the stadiums where my uncle lived, down in Fort Myers, and venturing beyond if need be. The good news is that my uncle lives near two Spring Training stadiums with great bases. The bad news is that one of them is the Red Sox' stadium. And so that's where we started.

I had been to the Fenway South complex 6 years ago, the last time I'd been down for Spring Training. Since then they'd won a ring, good for them and all. The Sox' whole thing down here is recreating the Fenway experience for Bostoners that made the trek down, and that includes getting Kayem hot dogs, Del's italian ice, lobster roll...and being frustratingly elitist when they shouldn't be. We got there about 2 hours before the game began to traverse the backfields and catch minor league BP, and ten minutes after we got there they told everybody to clear out. I don't know why, I don't think they knew why. But we got like...10 minutes. A little bit of Adalberto Mondesi taking BP, a few minor league drills, some other Sox things. And then, okay time's up.

Last year I was at a rock concert in Philly, and the doors didn't open til 30 minutes before the first act because the venue had been booked earlier that afternoon for a speaking engagement featuring Michelle Obama. Delaying proceedings and being crappy to the public in that instance I can understand, because you've gotta provide extra time for security and things like that, that's fine. But what in blazes would have been wrong with having fans in the backfields after 11 AM? What's the crime there?

So instead we saw the visiting team's warmups in the stadium. Which wasn't much of an issue. The only major leaguer that seemed to be in on this was Tom Hatch, but the youngsters always seem to help.

Something evident by that statement is that the Jays, being a couple hours away from base camp, didn't bring many peak guys. The only person in the lineup I'd heard of, other than starter Zach Thompson, was Wynton Bernard, who I only knew from his stories of being a lifetime minor leaguer. These were the scrubs. By comparison, the Sox at least had Arroyo, Duvall, Dalbec and Refsnyder. The Sox...don't really have a great team this year. Taking away Devers, who's doing WBC work, Turner and Story, both hurt, and Hernandez, they don't have much of a lineup really.

What was nice was that Corey Kluber was, in fact, on the mound for the Sox, which I was excited for, as he's always been one of my favorites. the very least has not lost his ability to strike out opposing batters. In the first inning he had some Ks, and did pretty well for himself. Around the 3rd and 4th innings the Jays started getting to him, and the scrubs managed 2 runs off of him. 

At the same time, Thompson went 3 innings without allowing any hits. It was the exact opposite start that I thought we'd be getting.

Being honest, the rest of the game flew by, not only on account of the pitch clock, but it also wasn't terribly interesting. None of the notable Sox did much, though Duvall was responsible for a hit or two. The Jays had good moments but I didn't know who any of them were. Raimel Tapia had some nice plays in the outfield but didn't last long in the game.

What was nice was that where we sat, which was up a bit and in the shade, was very much Jays fan territory, and everybody around us was really polite. There was a family behind us from Nova Scotia, a few Quebecois folk in front of us, and lots of 'soarry's and 'aboat's. I wasn't complaining, especially during Sweet Caroline.

The game itself wasn't much after the Kluber inning, as the Jays wrapped it up 2-0, without letting the home team do anything. What was interesting was that prior to this game, the Sox were undefeated in Spring Training, and so I was in attendance for their first loss of the season. Which was nice.

The following day would also feature the Red Sox, albeit on the road. I'll tell you about whether or not they won that one tomorrow.