After a decade and a half of trekking back and forth across the country, I think I finally have perfected this spring training journey.
Tired of being relegated to the corners of the outfield by season ticket holders, I decided to fight fire with fire this year and use season ticket holders to my advantage. Instead of waiting with the herd for single game tickets to become available, I went to Stub Hub early in the winter months and picked up some seats that a season ticket holder couldn't use. For about the same price as the corner, I sat two rows behind the visiting dugout. Probably the best seats I have been in, bar none.
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They can say that there is not a bad seat in the house in spring training ballparks all they want. But that doesn't mean all seats are created equal. These seats were outstanding, and I highly recommend to anyone who is thinking about a spring training visit do the same thing.
It was a great vantage point from which to watch Chris Carpenter carve up the Nationals hitters. Unlike previous spring outings, his command looked sharp. He struck out three of the first four batters he faced with good velocity and sharp breaking pitches. He struck out six overall in five innings and gave up only three hits. Carpenter's spring scoreless streak was snapped. But both runs were unearned, so his ERA remains at 0.00.
Talk about a guy getting your hopes up...
The scariest moment in the game came when a batter squibbed a ball between the mound and first base which Carp tried unsuccessfully to field. His momentum carried Carpenter into the base path in front of the Nationals runner with his fragile pitching arm exposed. Fortunately, there was no collision. But I almost swallowed my hot dog whole.
Nationals outfielder Lastings Milledge gave the best indicator of Carpenters stuff when he tried to check his swing after chasing an offering that broke low over the plate. When the umpire rang him up, Milledge grinned and shook his head vigorously in agreement of the call.
After Carpenter left the game, rookie hopeful Colby Rasmus helped out 2007 Cardinals minor league pitcher of the year PJ Walters with a nice running grab into the right centerfield gap.
At the plate, Brendan Ryan, Rick Ankiel, Chris Duncan and Yadier Molina led the offense with a pair of hits apiece. Albert Pujols continues to slide with an 0-for-three day that drug his average down to a mere mortal .294 for the spring.
I took some pictures at the ballpark that I'll post later. A crabby two year old dictated that we come straight to the hotel after the park for a much needed nap. So I haven't even had time to unpack the equipment yet. I guess it's a lot of work looking cute while eating crackers.