Before I go into the game itself, I have to admit, whenever I go back to Space Coast Stadium I always have that "Luke Skywalker" feeling. Remember when Luke and Obi-Wan Kenobi prepared to leave Luke's home planet in the original Star Wars and Luke says "I'm never coming back to this place," only to return in Return of the Jedi? Well, before I left for my time in the military, went to college, and embarked on my career, I grew up in Melbourne, FL - then the spring home of the Florida Marlins. I watched the Marlins' inaugural talent take the field even before their first official game. I cheered wildly for players like Jack Armstrong, Rob Natal, and Chuck Carr. So going back to the Melbourne area for a ballgame is a homecoming of sorts.
In 2003 the Marlins moved to Jupiter, Fl. and the Washington Nationals moved to
Although I didn't arrive until the second inning, I didn't miss much, as the score was 0-0 until the top of the third. In the third, the bottom of the Dodgers split squad lineup pieced together a walk, a double, and a base hit against Nationals starter Jason Simontacchi, scoring one. Simontacchi calmed down and got the next batter, Juan Pierre, to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. The ease in which they got Pierre leads me to think either Pierre is losing a step or the Nationals double play combinations will be better than some people might assume.
Speaking of the Nationals players, playing for their split squad was Tony Womack, Austin Kearns, Ronnie Belliard, Nook Logan, "Showtime" Larry Broadway (yes, you heard that here first), and the Nationals sole superstar Ryan Zimmerman. Fans across the park were dressed in Zimmerman garb, some even had University of Virginia shirts on. From the looks of things, Zimmerman is high on the Nationals' public relations radar as well; his is the only jersey for sale in the whole park.
In the bottom of the third, the Nationals' split squad tied the game with a home run by catcher Juan Brito, who I mistakenly kept calling Juan Primo, Benicio Del Toro's character in The Fan. The Nationals' Juan proved to be just as much the superstar Primo was as Brito would again strike in the 4th, driving in two with a double, putting the Nationals back ahead after the Dodgers tied the game at 2. At least from this game, I am making the bold statement Juan
Towards the middle innings, I did a little wandering around the ballpark. Among the guests I saw was Major League Baseball ambassador, Dodger Legend, and rumored adult companion purchaser Tommy Lasorda. In all honesty, I really wanted to say hello to Mr. Lasorda, but felt that if I did, my next question would be what kind of girl on girl porn he prefers.
Of course, as the game continued, the Dodgers and Nationals began emptying their benches, inserting numerous players with no-name jerseys and wide receiver numbers. Among the no-name Dodgers was infielder Chin Lung Hu, to which I overheard one fan say, "You gotta like a long chin ho." I never said Space Coast Stadium was frequented by the most politically correct people.
In the bottom of the 7th, the Dodgers continued the no-name parade, this time inserting a pitcher who will probably be bagging groceries by May. After walking the ever-dangerous Juan
After the Nationals added one more run, they sent closer Chad Cordero to the mound. I understand Cordero needs work like every other pitcher, but sending in a major league closer to finish off the unnamed refuse of the Dodgers bench seemed a little unfair. Even if one of the unnamed Dodgers was former Florida State second baseman Marshall McDougal, who did manage a single. After McDougal, the remaining Dodgers went down in order and the Nationals pulled out the 6-2 victory behind solid spring pitching and the powerful bat of Juan
Next stop: Bradenton, Fl., spring home of the Pittsburgh Pirates.