But this evening is different. I am here not as a neutral observer, but as a passionate alumnus of Florida State University. So please excuse any homerism I may display.
Built in 2004, Brighthouse Networks Field is a beautiful place to watch a ballgame. Among it's many amenities, the park features a concourse that circles the entire stadium and a tiki bar in left field. Seating, however, is a bit pricey, with "berm" seats (i.e. beyond the outfield, in the grass) costing $9 and regular stadium seats costing $18. Combined with the $7 parking fee, trips to see the Phillies can get expensive. Alas, I tried to show my old FSU ID card and get in for free as I would in FSU's Dick Howser Stadium, but the Brighthouse Field staff wouldn't let me in until I paid.
With Tampa one of the closest cities to Florida State, there were plenty of FSU alumnus and fans present. More so than Phillies fans. I would say FSU fans outnumbered Phillies supporters 2 to 1. Even the mayor of Clearwater is an FSU alumnus. All of this Seminole pride gave the game an almost Tallahassee-like atmosphere. Especially when the PA broadcast the Star Spangled Banner performed by the FSU Marching Chiefs and then repeatedly played the Seminoles' War Chant and other FSU-related songs throughout the game.
As for the game itself, I was pleasantly surprised to see the Phillies playing starters Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard. Honestly, seeing Burrell, a former Miami Hurricane, take on the Seminoles didn't really surprise me, but I was excited to see the Phillies' other stars, even though it all but guaranteed a Seminole defeat.
On the mound for the Phillies was Kyle Drabek, son of former major league pitcher Doug Drabek. Wow, I officially feel old.
Things started well for the Seminoles as lead-off man Tony Thomas hit Drabek's third pitch of the game out for a home run. Just like that, it was 1-0 Seminoles. Apparently the Seminoles were coming out swinging. Perhaps they could pull out a win.
In the bottom of the first, reality re-entered Brighthouse Networks Field. A walk, an error, and a three-run home run by Chase Utley put the Phillies up 3-1 and reigning NL MVP Ryan Howard hadn't yet stepped to the plate. Howard walked, Burrell doubled, and the score was 4-1. Ouch.
As the game went on, for every run the Seminoles scored, the Phillies added two, including two more home runs. By the 7th inning, with the score 11-4, both teams began emptying their benches. Knowing a seven-run inning against professional pitching was likely not going to happen, Florida State put in many of their younger players, the freshmen and sophomores. Surprisingly few fans from either side left during these riveting last innings.
With the game coming to a close, however, and the score remaining in the Phillies' favor 12-4, many of the fans began to file out. Despite the Seminoles' early spark, they could not overcome the Phillies' offensive firepower. Although enjoyable in atmosphere and environment, the local college versus major league team games are, as expected, usually lopsided in score.
Although I was disappointed to see the Seminoles lose, I was happy to see spring has sprung and baseball has returned from its winter hiatus. Next stop: