Damn Daylight Savings Time.
Thanks to our new and improved daylight savings time I went to bed late, got up late, and left for Lakeland, Florida late. My destination: Joker Marchant Stadium, spring home of the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers' opponent: my favorite team, the New York Mets.
Due to my late arrival, I failed to see the top of the first inning. Perhaps you are noticing a trend. I tend to be late quite often. However, the biggest difference between this instance and my previous late arrival for the Dodgers-Nationals game was that where in Viera I missed nothing but the first pitch, this time I missed the Mets scoring three runs in the top of the first. When I asked a fellow onlooker how the Mets scored, he simply said, "They came out hitting." So since that's all I know, that is all I can pass on.
Before I get started in writing about what I did see of the game including today's lineups, I want to say Joker Marchant Stadium is perhaps one of the finer spring training ballparks I have been to this spring. Granted, it's a small sample, but I really liked Joker Marchant. According to Spring Training Online.com, the Tigers have spring trained in Lakeland since 1934 and played in Joker Marchant Stadium since 1966. So there is quite a bit of history here, and it shows. Although it has been revamped through the years, Joker Marchant has still hosted a who's who of baseball legends such as Al Kaline, Jack Morris, Willie Horton, and Sparky Anderson for the home Tigers, and Roberto Clemente, Bob Gibson, Johnny Bench, and thousands upon thousands of other names and no-names for the visitors.
Contributing to this list of superstars, has-beens, and never-will-be's are today's contestants. Pitching for the New York Mets, Aaron Sele. His opponent on the mound: Tigers' starter Mike Maroth. Knowing both of these guys have been legitimate major leagure starters for quite sometime, I knew I was in for a decent game.
Although the starting pitchers were both qualified major leaguers, the Mets' lineup could hardly boast the same. As they often do during spring training, the Mets were playing two games today, with half the team in Lakeland and the other half in Port St. Lucie hosting the Florida Marlins. Due to the nature of the split roster, none of the Mets starting lineup made the trip to Lakeland. Instead, Sele was supported by numerous top Mets prospects such as Lastings Milledge, Fernando Martinez, Carlos Gomez, Anderson Hernandez, and Ruben Gotay. Just a guess, but if the Mets were the Kansas City Royals or the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, this would probably have been their major league lineup.
The Tigers, on the other hand, didn't have all their starters in the lineup, but they had quite a few, including Sean Casey, Carlos Guillen, Ivan Rodriguez, and Placido Polanco. Also playing for the Tigers were ex-Mets Timo Perez and Vance Wilson, spare parts for the late '90s Mets.
Despite now being long in the tooth, the ex-Mets struck back in the 4th, as both Wilson and Perez reached base before a double by Tigers 3rd baseman Kody Kirkland drove home Perez. Wait a minute, Kody Kirkland? That should be a female porn star name, shouldn't it? My guess is he probably has a sister named Kourtney and a brother or sister named Kasey. Anyway, after 4, it was Mets 3, Tigers 1.
Do you want to know what I like about spring training? Do you want to know what makes spring training great? The casualness. Only in spring training do you see groundskeepers stop grooming the field to break out into a dance performance to YMCA. Five middle-aged white guys with protuding waistlines breaking it down in front of thousands. Of course, the crowd cheered. You would never see that at a major league stadium. But back to the game ...
Although the Mets were churning out minor league pitchers and hurlers trying to find a spot on the roster, the Tigers followed Maroth with Zach Miner, Alfredo Ledesma, and Guitar Hero Joel Zumaya. Lucky the minor league Mets scored when the did.
In the 6th, with the Mets up 4-1, the revenge of the ex-Mets continued as Timo Perez hit a Jorge Sosa pitch over the right field wall for a home run. Mets 4, Tigers 2.
Speaking of Perez, it's random complaint time. You know who I can't stand? Obnoxious Mets fans that bitch and complain about everything. No one holds a grudge like New York fans. I know, I know, I can be that fan on occasion. But after Perez homered a Mets fan a few rows down from my seat chastized Perez for a baserunning blunder he made during the 2000 World Series. First of all, Perez was a rookie in 2000 and barely played before August. Second, the 2000 World Series was nearly seven years ago. Let it go, man. Let it go.
As the last remaining innings drew to a close, the Tigers brought in Fernando Rodney to mow down the last of the Mets' lineup. I was a little too far to see, but I hope Rodney was issued a hat that fit his head this season. His hat always seemed three sizes too big during the World Series. Whatever his hat size, Rodney did pitch well, as did his Mets counterpart, Willie Collazo, thanks to a spectacular crashing-into-the-wall catch by Milledge in the bottom of the ninth. Your final: Mets 4, Tigers 2.
(P.S. Although I previously wrote that I would be attending the Yankees-Pirates game on March 10th, I have to apologize. I did not go. My most sincere apologies to any of my readers who may have been looking forward to my write-up on this game. I failed you. It will not happen again.)