It began on St. Patrick’s Day in the parking lot adjacent to Bright House Field on Old Coachman Road in Clearwater. It ended late Sunday night on a flight from Tampa to Philadelphia, the culmination of what had been a very good week at Phillies Spring Training.
If you didn’t see the pictures of the Phillies Faithful that came out to the tailgate on March 17, take a look. We thank everyone who joined the celebration with a Guinness, a hot dog, and a picture or two. Phillies fans packed the house to beyond capacity, just as they have been doing all spring, against the New York Yankees. Clad in their green jerseys made famous by Tug McGraw, the Phils came away with a 6-2 victory behind five solid frames from Joe Blanton.
Offensively speaking, Jayson Werth nailed a three-run home run into the Tiki seats in front of Frenchy’s. The sun was blazing (so much so, I left Clearwater with sun poisoning – but that’s another story for another day), although it was just about 65 degrees . It was a beautiful game day and game itself. It was amazing to see the fans supporting the team here in their glory years.
After a day by the pool on Thursday, complete with a Corona and the Villanova game at the Bar, it was back to Bright House for our second game of the trip. Baltimore was in town for the Friday night affair, one that became rather chilly as the sun escaped behind the third base gate.
Staying cold were the Phillies bats throughout the game, as they mustered up one measly base hit en route to a 2-0 loss. It wasn’t until the 8th inning when John Mayberry saved the no-hit bid from becoming a reality. Mayberry is one of several young Phillies who have looked solid thus far. Thankfully, he spared the team embarrassment. Of course, those who posted up by Frenchy’s bar were blissfully unaware of the work being done on the field, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone is in Clearwater to live it up and it certainly looked like the masses were enjoying themselves fully.
The pitching was not the issue that Friday night, or any night prior for that matter. The Phillies hadn’t given up more than four runs in a game in nearly two weeks. But, again, it’s hard to take stock in everything you see in ST.
Saturday was a somber day, as Villanova went down in flames, losing to St. Mary’s. Well, somber for a few minutes as the Pool Bar continued to flow, and the pool itself stayed a refreshing 82 degrees. All was well again – almost. Over in Lakeland, the Phillies – led by Roy Halladay on this day – fell to Detroit 3-0, running their scoreless inning streak to 20 innings.
Sunday, the final leg of the nearly-week-long jaunt, wouldn’t it rain? We missed out on the Sunday 1 p.m. game against the Orioles so we would not miss our flight home. The game eventually began around 3 p.m., but it was too late; we were on our way to TPA. The Phillies lost 5-4, anyway.
Still, there’s no complaining about any trip to Clearwater. Was the weather perfect? Far from the usual Florida standard in March. Did I get burned beyond belief? Yes, and I should know better due to my ghostly white appearance. However, you can never go wrong with a nice week of relaxation with Phillies baseball in the background.
- Domonic Brown: He hung out by Frenchy’s during one of the games, and stood out like a sore thumb in what looked like a velour coat. He signed autographs as the fans embraced. Cool scene.
- Brad Lidge in Target: We ran into him just before our flight on Sunday. Didn’t appear anyone else realized who he was. Coincidentally, I let the man be as he purchased his items and (hopefully) headed back to Bright House Field.
- Pitching Staff: Can you really say anymore about the arms? They’ve been superb for two weeks.
- The Pool Bar: Friendly staff. Cold drinks. All good.
- My forehead: It looks like I placed a hot iron on it.
- The Offense: Up until yesterday’s nine-run explosion against the Yankees, it had been a a rough weekend.
- Length of Trip: It sucks having to go home, doesn’t it? I wish I could have stayed an extra day or four. If you’ve never been to Clearwater on a Phillies trip, make it happen next season. You will not be let down.