Posted on 25. Feb, 2009 by in General Baseball.

 

Hall of Famer and Chicago Cub great Ernie Banks once said, “It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame… Let’s play two!”  Well, I took that quote literally today and started my 2009 Professional Baseball season by watching two games.

boston-boston-college-final Game One took me to the City of Palms Park for the 19th overall and 17th consecutive meeting of the Boston Red Sox and the Boston College Eagles.  The Red Sox beat the NCAA Division 1 ACC member last season 24-0, but thankfully this year’s contest was a bit closer.

Boston Red Sox Ace Josh Beckett started and threw two shutout innings and gave way to five Red Sox relievers who held the Eagles to one run on five hits for a 7-1 victory in seven innings.  The Boston College Eagles struck first scoring a run in the top of the fourth before the Red Sox scored six times in the bottom of the 5th.  Red Sox shortstop prospect Yamiaco Navarro added a solo homer in the 6th to finish off the scoring.

GAME EXTRAS
-    Prior to the game, Johnny Pesky was sitting in a chair outside the Red Sox Clubhouse in front of the batting cages talking to some family members.
-    Boston wore a red version of their home batting practice/spring training jersey with the red hat.  None of the Red Sox have names on the back of their jerseys.
-    David Ortiz signed autographs for about eight minutes for some lucky Red Sox fans.
-    Hometown hero Rocco Baldelli received a HUGE ovation when he was introduced and during his first at bat.  Only designated hitter David Ortiz received a bigger one.
-    Highest jersey number worn by any player that got in the game was Boston Red Sox outfield Bubba Bell, wearing number 99.
-    During parts of the game it felt like many fans were really rooting for Boston College to do well.
-    I am not sure what it was, but the ball just had a different sound to it during the game.  Not as much of a popping sound as usual, but more of a zipping sound.
-    I really felt cheated as this game only went seven innings.  I thought baseball was made to play nine!

STADIUM QUIRKS- City of Palms Park
-    Although parking was very close to the stadium, placing us in a grass field outside the front gate, I thought the $7 was a bit steep.
-    The teams batting cages (four of them) are down the left field line, just feet from the Red Sox clubhouse.  This also allows fans access to watch the players as they walk in from the player parking lot to the clubhouse.  The team’s World Championship flags are placed above each cage.
-    The Red Sox bullpen is also placed next to the cages down the left field line with five mounds for pitchers to throw off of.
-    Backing up right to the left field wall is another full size field for drills, practice or even another game.
-    FOOD ALERT- Aramark runs all the concession stands at the ballpark. I had nachos that I felt were properly priced at $4, but were nothing special.
-    BATTLE OF THE SODAS: City of Palms Park is sponsored by COKE.
-    There is a large standing room area along the third base line that fans can try to obtain autographs before the game starts.
-    There is only one lawn at the ballpark, which is down the right field line.
-    There is only one set of general admission bleachers which is down the right field line behind the lawn.
-    Palm Trees surround the length of the outfield behind the wall.
-    There is NO Green Monster at the park.  If this is the Red Sox spring training home, and they are practicing to get ready for the season, shouldn’t there be?
-    There is NO radar gun on the scoreboard, which can get annoying when you really want to see what a pitchers velocity is.
-    It is called City of Palms Park, but it is al Wilbur “Billy” Smith Field.
-    The Boston Red Sox dugout is located on the third base line.
-    There is a Ted Williams statute out front of the mark, an identical one that is also in Boston outside Fenway Park.

hammond-stadium

Following the game, I drove about 10 miles across town to Hammond Stadium to watch not only the Grapefruit Opener but also the Mayor’s Cup opener for both the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins.  The Mayor’s Cup is a trophy given to either the Red Sox or Twins at the completion of their five game spring training schedule.
Hammond Stadium was a sell-out of 7,849 fans as Tim Wakefield and Glen Perkins started for their respective teams.  The Twins took advantage of a Brad Wilkerson error and some Wakefield wildness to jump out to a 3-0 lead.  They would go on to win the game 5-2 as Red Sox reliever Billy Traber would give up two more in the eighth.    The Red Sox two runs would come in separate innings on RBI’s by Jeff Bailey and Jeb Lowrie.

GAME EXTRAS
-    This game was an official sellout, but there were lots of ticket scalpers found outside.
-    Boston wore a navy blue version of their road batting practice/spring training jersey with the navy blue hat.  None of the Red Sox have names on the back of their jerseys.  I do not think this is common for MLB teams to have home and road batting practice gear.
-    The Minnesota Twins wore their regular home white uniforms with the pinstripes that they wear during the season. Each player also had their name displayed on the back.
-    There was a large dancing orange that jumped around the field before the game.
-    With the sun going down, it was a bit chilly at the stadium with a slight wind blowing to left field.  I was so anxious to get into the game, that I forgot to take a sweatshirt with me, and I paid for it later on.
-    Was standing outside the stadium watching a few players work on a side field before the game started.  Relief pitcher Pat Neshek was signing autographs, so I figured why not. He has a really cool signature. Former manager Pat Kelly was also there signing for fans.
-    One of the coolest thing about spring training baseball is the variety of fans you get at every game as a number of people, myself included, will travel the state seeing different teams and different games.
-    This game was televised on the new MLB Network, so of course it started a few minutes late.
-    Two free grapefruits from Sun Harvest Citrus were given out as you exited the ballpark.
-    A moment of silence was held for former Twins owner Carl Poland who just recently passed away. The Twins will also were a patch in his honor of their uniforms this season.
-    When Red Sox second baseman, and reigning American League Most Valuable Player, Dustin Pedroia stepped to the plate in the first, hundreds of flashbulbs went off from the stands.
-    Both Red Sox and Twins players were announced with any awards that they won last season like all-star game appearances, silver slugger awards, gold glove awards, etc.
-    Twins outfield Michael Cuddyer has a gun…I wouldn’t try to take an extra base on him.
-    Always wondered how hard it is for players who faced Tim Wakefield and his 64 miles an hour knuckleball to adjust to a hard thrower like Justin Masterson bringing it at 95 miles an hour in the next at bat.
-    You can tell spring training is a laid back atmosphere when you have players running wind sprints in the outfield while the game is going on.
-    You can tell the fans are not in baseball shape yet as many easy foul balls were dropped.

STADIUM QUIRKS
-    Parking at Hammond Stadium was a much more reasonable $5 and there were plenty of spots on site.
-    Each row in the parking lot was named after a Minnesota Twins great.
-    The walls of the male bathrooms were hand painted with cool designs.  My favorite was the one that had the song, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” throughout.
-    These sites are ticketing.
-    There was NO general admission bleacher.
-    The first two rows behind home plate from dugout to dugout were “premier” seats and had the option of being waited on to order food and drinks to your seats.  Never seen this at a spring training stadium before.
-    The Minnesota Twins home dugout was on the third base line.
-    The scoreboard at Hammond Stadium is brand new this season.
-    Like the City of Palms Park, Hammond Stadium is equipped with free WIFI.  Big time!
-    BATTLE OF THE SODAS: Hammond Stadium is sponsored by PEPSI.
-    There is a radar gun reading on the scoreboard in left center.
-    The Twins have five mounds in their bullpen down the left field line.


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