Posted on 26. Feb, 2009 by in General Baseball.

 

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No need to hit the panic button yet, but the defending World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies are 0-2 to start the Grapefruit season.  The Phillies dropped their home opener at Bright House Field 6-2 to the Toronto Blue Jays.  A crowd 5,795 saw the Phillies take an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 3rd, but Phillies reliever, and former Cincinnati Red, Justin Lehr gave up two solo homers in the 5th to put them behind 2-1.  The Phillies would tie the game 2-2, before giving up four runs in the top of 8th to give the victory to Toronto.
I was very impressed with Bright House Field and think it is the best one in Florida, with only a few left for me to see.  They really did a great job designing this stadium and giving it a good atmosphere.   See below under “stadium quirks” for some specifics.

GAME EXTRAS
-    It was Opening Day for the Phillies this spring and the mayor of Clearwater presented the Phillies with a key to the city.
-    One of my favorite parts of the game was the two ball girls that were placed down the foul lines.  They were Hooters girls.  Not sure if this was a special thing, or if they do that every game, but pretty funny to watch them with a glove chasing down foul balls.
-    Four military personal jumped out of an airplane onto the field before the game. The first had an American flag attached to him and the second had a Phillies World Championship flag.
-    A highlight video from the 2008 playoffs was played on the scoreboard before the 1st pitch.
-    Since the Phillies were playing Toronto, both the US and Canada National Anthems were performed before the game by a pretty good singer with his guitar.
-    The Phillies wore their red spring training jerseys with white names on the back and red batting practice hats.
-    The Blue Jays had on their black spring training jerseys, with no names on the back and black spring training hats.
-    A large World Series Championship flag flies high in right center field.
-    Being Opening Day, all the players were introduced and lined up along the foul lines.
-    New Phillies outfield Raul Ibanez got a large cheer for his first at bat, but not as large as obvious crowd favorite Ryan Howard.
-    World Series MVP Cole Hamels signed autographs for fans down the left field foul line for about 45 minutes before the game started.  He was joined at times by many other Phillies including Brad Lidge and Jamie Moyer.
-    The World Famous Phillie Phanatic was in attendance at the game.
-    Both coaches for the Phillies and the Blue Jays sat in MLB lawn chairs on field level.
-    Only in spring training do you pitch to Ryan Howard with two out, runners on 2nd and 3rd with first base open and rookie John Mayberry Jr. on deck.
-    Former Dayton Dragon Randy Ruiz doubled in his first at bat coming into the game as a first baseman in the later innings.
-    With the Boston Red Sox coming on Saturday night, an usher told me that are expecting “the largest crowd in the history of the field and trying to fit 10,000 fans in.”

STADIUM QUIRKS
-    Parking was $7 and it was a hike to the stadium.
-    Full 20 ounce bottles of Vitamin Water were given out before the game as you approach the stadium.  That is awesome, except for the fact that you are not allowed to bring them in, causing many people to throw them right away. I sat outside the stadium and ate my foot long turkey Subway and drank my Vitamin Water before heading in.
-    BATTLE OF THE SODAS: Coke is distributed.
-    Very surprised that there was not a “Philly Cheese steak” stand in the stadium.  But there is West Shore Pizza which is brought down from Philadelphia.
-    There is a “Tiki Bar” in left field that is very popular with the fans.  They are asked to go there following the games where live music is performed with plenty of drinking.
-    The Phillies home dugout is down the third base line.
-    The bullpen is multi-level with the home team using the top, and the visiting team using the bottom.  The interesting part is that both teams sit in between the two bullpens together.
-    If one of my favorite things were the Hooters ball girls, then my other favorite things were the beer sellers at the stands  throughout the entire stadium.  They must only hire those girls based on looks because they were all pretty!
-    Every seat in the ballpark had a cup holder to use.
-    There are both seats and luxury boxes on the second level of the stadium.
-    The Phillies administrative offices are down the left field line with some of the offices overlooking the field.
-    There was no working WIFI in the stadium for fans to use.
-    There is a large lawn or berm area that runs from left center field to the right field foul line.
-    I was amazed how little the protective screen behind home plate is.
-    There is no radar gun for fans to see, but they do have a running temperature in view, like we really want to see how hot we are throughout the game.
-    The most popular concession stand in the stadium seemed to be the “Beers from around the World,” which had over 70 kinds of beer.
-    If I had to pick a downside to this beautiful ballpark, it would be that fans do not have the same access to players like most other spring training parks.  The batting cages and practice fields are not easily accessible and visible from inside the park.


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