Franco’s Spring Training Update Day 4

Spring Training is under way. Since we’re not lucky enough to be down in the Florida sunshine, we still have a plan to have you covered. David Franco from Next Level Ballplayer is down in Florida for the week providing us with all the sights and sounds of spring baseball that we need. Today’s adventures include seeing the legendary Lou Brock and Bob Gibson, Pujols putting the k’s in hat trickkk, why I’m convinced that multiple people will die at Cards spring training games this year, and more. Tune in all week as Franco reports on ST exploits, and be sure to follow him on twitter or Facebook.

Franco’s Spring Training Update From FL: Day 4

What’s up DHog Nation? Day 4 went a little something like this- Woke up at a buddy’s place in Naples. I felt like I needed to diversify my team coverage, so I decide to make the treck over to Jupiter, FL to see the Cards v Mets. After a solid drive, I arrived at the Cards’ Stadium.


Overall Highlight of the day: Seeing Bob Gibson and Lou Brock in full uniform looking like they still had the itch to play.

Runner Up Highlight: Watching a 2 year old kid continuously try to take off the bullpen catcher’s hat while the parents were completely oblivious. The catcher was sitting on a bench that backed right up to the stands and it was hilarious.

Overall Low-light of the day: Having to listen to this drunk New Yorker tell my entire section what he’d do if he were the Mets GM. I tried to ignore him but that loud voice and thick accent continuously won out. “I’d trade Castillo for a bucket of used balls.” “I wouldn’t sign Pujols next year cause he’s just a greedy scrub.” “Now, that Pagan is a player. I’d do everything I could to lock him up long term.” And this went on for a solid 4 innings or so… Brutal.

Cardinals vs Mets 1:05pm
Tickets: $15. Had to pay face value for a bleacher seat, but then watched most of the game down the right field line, 3 rows back of the bullpen.
-Pujols K’d in all three of his ABs today. Has anyone ever racked up a golden sombrero (4 k’s in the same game) in spring training before? I’m sure it’s happened. Most likely to half of the D-Backs from last year. Maybe the boys at The Golden Sombrero can help us out with that research…

Back to Albert. It’s gotta be tough when every fan expects him to hit a bomb in every at bat. Every time Phat Albert came to the plate there were SO MANY different fans who would yell some version of “Hit a home run Albert.” Somebody needs to explain how baseball works to those people.
-R.A. Dickey’s knuckle ball looked pretty gross as he retired the first 7 batters he faced. All in all he gave up 1 run in 3 innings.

-The Cards’ bullpen bench literally runs right up against the beginning of a grassy hill that people can sit on down the right field line. The pitchers down there were really good sports and signed a ton of autographs for kids throughout the game. It’s fun seeing them interact with the fans.

-The Cards won 3-2 but it doesn’t count.

Was Today Senior Citizen Day?

I know there are tons of old people in Florida but when I got to the game today I felt like I just walked into a retirement home. Don’t get me wrong, I like old people (as long as I’m not driving behind them), but they were EVERYWHERE. The average age at the ball park was easily 73 and a half.

So when I walk into the game, I stood in the walkway directly behind home plate for the first few innings. In one half of an inning there were 3 high foul balls that went back in the stands.

Ball #1- Heading straight for a huge pack of senior citizens. They all are looking up. Nobody tries to catch it and the ball crashes off the one empty seat in the row and bounces around until an old lady picks it up. Nobody got hit and nobody seemed phased. I thought to myself “Man they were pretty lucky there.”

Ball #2- Same scenario. High foul pop up behind the plate heading for the stands and once again a group of old people are looking up, only to have the ball hit the back of a lady’s seat and bounce almost straight up. Let me repeat: The old lady was sitting down and the foul ball hit the back of her seat and bounced straight up to an old dude that caught it. Once again nobody seemed phase. I was like, “ARE YOU GUYS SERIOUS?! That lady almost wore a towering pop up off of her dome!”

Ball #3- Surprise surprise, the same thing happens except this time the ball was headed towards a packed section of old folks and I was convinced that finally someone was going to get smoked. I watched in amazement as the ball hit the ground between two old men, ricocheted off of a seat into a perfect Sunday hop for a grandma to catch. Everyone was just smiling and picked back up their conversations. I couldn’t take it anymore. “IS ANYONE ELSE WATCHING THIS?!?! It just can’t happen like this forever.” I watched the rest of the game down the right field line and miraculously no fans got injured.

Bob Gibson and Lou Brock

Both of these Hall of Famers were in full uniform and midway through the game walked from the dugout, past the bullpen and into what I assume is the clubhouse. They both had big smiles on their face and politely waved to the fans in my section who were giving them a standing O… If I had 10 baseball wishes, #8 would be to watch Bob Gibson pitch. Better yet, lets combine my #6 and #8 to come up with a new #4- Watching Bob Gibson pitch against Sandy Kofax. Did you follow all that?


If you want to see old person roulette, evidently the Cards’ spring training ballpark is the place to go. I’m still having flashbacks to all those close calls… It was great seeing Gibson and Brock, smiling and talking to the current players and clearly enjoying being in uniform. Reminds me of a quote from the late Dodgers great, Roy Campanella. “You gotta be a man to play baseball for a living, but you gotta have a lot of little boy in you to.” Tomorrow, I’m headed to Port Charlotte to see Rays v Yankees. Catch you guys later.


Extra Innings
While being stuck is super horrible traffic all over FL this week, I noticed a ton of the dancing advertisers. You know who I’m talking about right? The guy or gal that dresses up like a hot dog and then dances on the side of the street in order to get your business. Here are the dancing advertiser highlights of the trip so far, saving my biggest disappointment for the end:

-A dancing hot dog

-A guy doing sweet spinning stuff with a We Sell Gold sign

-Dancing gal wearing a sign for $4.99 haircuts (In my short time at the light I believe she busted out, the sprinkler, running man, AND moon walk. If I had more time I probably would have gotten a trim just because of her.)

-A dancing slice of pizza

-A chill guy wearing a sign for a coffee shop while drinking coffee

And lastly- A dude dressed up like a pancake who was really not giving his all out there. I was stuck at the same light for a solid 10 minutes watching this blueberry pancake half-ass it on the street corner. I don’t really know why but I was very disappointed with him- almost upset. YO PANCAKE GUY on the corner of Woodmont and 19th. If you’re reading this right now, “Dance like you mean it! You know you’re better than that.”