Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy Saint Paddy’s Day!
The Annual Spring Training Trip Is Off to an Auspicious Beginning!

OK, let’s talk some spring training baseball!

So, in January I order my tickets getting almost exactly the seats that I want. Since I always go to the Saint Pat’s Day game, this year I splurge and order a kelly green Phillies cap from the official Phillies team store. I made my reservations at one of my favorite hotels very close to the stadium. All was right in the world.

The day (today) dawned with a torrential downpour in Valodsta. The weather app said 90% chance of rain in Clearwater – but I’ve got my green baseball cap that I can only wear to ONE game — today! Surely the skies will clear by the time I drive the four hours to Clearwater …

I say my homefront goodbyes, fill the Soul up with gas, drop Moxie off at the kennel, and hit the drive-through for a large Mickey D’s coffee. It’s 8:20 AM, the game starts at 1:05 PM and I’m trying to generate reverse rain dances in my head!

OMG, but did it rain — ALL THE WAY!

So, I finally make it to the thin strip of highway called the causeway that takes me across the bay to Clearwater. All around me – empty beaches, empty outdoor restaurants, no joggers, no bikers – just very slow drivers giving me plenty of time to think about what to do this afternoon, because there will obviously be NO baseball!

Leaving the causeway and entering the eastern edge of Clearwater, I decide to go ahead to Bright House Field thinking, beyond hope, that the Phillies may have lost their minds and still intend to play the game.

At times like this, my thoughts turn to lots of wishful positives: my seat is under the overhang and the rain probably won’t get to me; the players get paid a lot of money and what’s a little water to them; and most of all – I really want an authentic Philly Cheese Steak for lunch!

As I approach the field on Old Coachman Road, I see several things that fill my heart with joy. There are people in green Phillies garb walking, in the rain, towards the stadium. Speaking of the stadium, I look from afar and, lo and behold, the stadium lights are blazing – my hope soars! The policeman (in heavy rain gear) directs me into the parking lot where I shell out my ten dollars and receive my non-refundable parking ticket with instructions to display it on my dashboard. They would never make me pay ten dollars to park if the game wasn’t on! All is right in the world!

Did I mention that it was still raining?

I’m directed by several rain-gear clad parking attendants to a soggy spot that, by my careful calculations, was the farthest one from the stadium.

But the lights were on, the fans were here, I had my ticket, AND I had my brand new green cap! I snatched my hooded jacket from the back seat, put on my cap, covered it as much as possible and opened the door ready to fight the rain all the way to the field.

At that moment, the best omen of all appeared. As I turned to begin my watery trek, there stood the free shuttle ready to transport me (dryly) right to the entrance gate. Now I knew we were going to see some baseball. There might be a rain delay, but I was willing to wait until the cows came home! Afterall, I had a new green cap!

I wasn’t even concerned when, upon alighting from the shuttle, there seemed to be a line of people walking AWAY from the gate. I transferred my ticket from my jeans pocket to my jacket pocket, trying to keep it as dry as possible, ready to have it scanned and then make my way to my seat.

Then the ticket guy broke my heart! The game had just been cancelled! But, ,,, but, … I, … I just drove four hours in the rain to get here, AND I bought a green cap! He just nodded and pointed to the line forming at the ticket windows where we could process a ticket exchange or refund.

I waited patiently in line and found out that my ticket would be good for another game this spring (not possible for me) or a game next spring. Once next year’s schedule was out, I could mail my ticket to them with my choice of games and they would send me a replacement ticket. Oh well, …

I decided that I would not wait for the shuttle to take me back, but allow the rain to drown my sorrow and walk all the soggy way back to the Soul! The selfie that accompanies this saga captures a moment from that walk of disappointment!image

(I meant this expression to reflect my extreme disappointment.  Unfortunately, it turned out to be a Miley Cyrus impersonation!  Sorry …)

Needless to say, when I got to the car, I was soaked. So was my CAP! The good news is that I’m sure it will dry out by next spring!

So, I checked in to the hotel, turned on the TV to watch a spring training game from the exceedingly dry Cactus League in Arizona, and sat listening to the rain pelt the window.

Tomorrow is supposed to be my beach day. The weather forecast says 73 degrees with intervals of clouds and sunshine. We’ll see …

Then Wednesday, I’ll drive over to Dunedin, FL to watch the Phillies take on the Toronto Blue Jays – if it doesn’t rain!

Keep your fingers crossed for me. -Jim

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