Sunday, March 9, 2014

As American As Baseball, Root Beer, Puppies and Naps

There is a reason that baseball rolls around every year when it does…during the spring…when promises of warmth, sunshine and flowers coincides with promises of batting championships and league pennants and World Series rings.

The bleakness of winter is, for the most part, behind us…and the boys of summer dust off their bats, rosin up their gloves, and take the fields, as anxious as the fans to dive headfirst into a new season….

After arriving in beautiful and sunny Fort Myers yesterday afternoon, we couldn't wait to don our own baseball hats and head off to our first Spring Training game today - a match-up between the Minnesota Twins and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Am I fan of either team?

Heck, no.

But, I AM a fan of baseball…so it was actually rather relaxing to head to a game and not worry about who was going to win.

We arrived at the ballpark about two hours before game time, thinking this would allow us to beat the crowds. Oh, silly us. We forget how passionate Spring Training fans are…upon arrival, it became apparent that not even a FOUR-hour head start would have helped.

Outside Hammond Stadium, my son and daughter pose for their traditional pic:

It's traditional, because these two kids have posed like this outside baseball stadiums for years and years. Instinct, I guess.

One of the joys of Spring Training is the intimacy…the players are up-close and personable, including batting practice. We were able to walk right up and enjoy the Twins taking a few swings:

This is actually right outside the stadium, on a separate field…but it's something you would NEVER find in a major-league ballpark during the regular season.

After watching some of the guys take some swings, we meandered into the stadium, where we quickly found our seats. We were ten rows behind the Phillies' dugout, and we had an awesome view of their batting practice, as well:

Since we had some time to kill before the game, Daughter and I did a selfie:

But, wait a minute…there's a problem. A "good" selfie (but really, IS there such a thing? I digress, however) should include the background of where you're at, so you'll remember the event. We had not taken our selfie with the ballpark in the back - so we decided to take another one. We had just stood up to take it when an elderly gentleman behind us asked if he could help us and take the picture for us. Not wanting to seem rude, we shrugged and handed him our camera. I thought it was hysterically funny when I got home and discovered he'd held his finger down on the camera shutter forever, so we came home with a TON of photos:

That's just some of them. I think there were three more pages of photos. Gah.

They weren't too bad, but my baseball hat cast a rather dark shadow on my face…which could actually be a good thing. Hee hee.

Son and Hubby take their batting practice a bit more serious…no "selfies" for them - they were intently watching the field:

Soon, it was time for the National Anthem. A little girl, who couldn't have been more than 10 years old, walked out on the field with a microphone, began singing the anthem, and proceeded to KNOCK IT OUT OF THE PARK. Seriously, her voice sounded like a 35-year old operatic singer - the crowd was blown away and gave her a resounding standing ovation that lasted a few minutes. What a moment.

Then, Play Ball!

It soon became very evident that this was going to be a pitcher's duel…with little-to-no offense. By the fourth inning, I think there was a total of three hits. Gah. I hate scoreless games. I like a bit of action. I want to see singles and doubles and homers and stolen bases. Instead, all we saw were outs.

Speaking of action, every now and then a breeze would kick up, as evidenced by the flags in left field:

Hey. After air-conditioning, swimming pools and sunscreen, breezes are the fourth-best invention EVER in the state of Florida. We learn to appreciate them, especially while baking in the sun in the grandstands of a baseball park. Because, sure enough, it began to get even hotter, and I discovered this unwelcome sight:

Ack. No breeze. A Floridian's worst nightmare. Perhaps a cold drink is needed.

I do have to admit that the World's Best Root Beer can be found at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers. We discovered this little gem when we first began coming to these games a few years back - and it may or may not be the reason we keep coming back to the Twins games:

I've seriously never found a better Root Beer - it's cold, refreshing and just the right sweetness…and it's gluten-free, to boot, as it proudly says right on the lid. Woot!

All good things must come to an end…the game ended in a 1-1 tie (and yes, ties are allowed in Spring Training), so we jumped in the car and decided to pay a surprise visit to my parents. And the fact that we timed our visit perfectly with dinner was a pure coincidence. Really.

It's a good day when you see your son passed out on Grandma's floor, with their dog, Snickers, cuddled up next to him with her favorite toy:

Seriously. How cute is that? Baseball…puppies…naps…does life get any better???!!



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