We have been anticipating this game for a couple months now, but first things first. Time to get up, drink some coffee, watch some news, and as we like to call it, get around for the day. I woke up late, a reoccuring theme this week, darn time change. So I am feeling somewhat rushed this morning.
By the time I get up, Bruce is already up, full of coffee, and preparing our snacks for tailgaiting. We like to take a cooler of snacks and water, so we don’t have to purchase overpriced ones, another plan of ours to enjoy life with minimal expense. It can be done, one just has to work at it.
We are allowed to take a bag, and some unopened bottled water into the stadium, last year you could bring unopened snacks as well, but new security measures do not allow it. Security or money? C’mon I fail to see how my unopened bag of pretzels poses any more of a security threat than my unopened water, but ok, whatever…
We get everything ready to roll, pack up the truck and head inland about 45 minutes to the city of Lakeland FL, and Joker Marchant Stadium, spring training home of the Tigers. After a quick stop to pick up some beer for our tailgaiting, we enjoy the backroad drive.
It is already busy even though we arrive an hour early. Tiger’s baseball is huge here, and the Yankees are no slouch, so it’s packed, a sold out game. We enjoy some snacks, some people -watching (one of my fave hobbies, people are such fascinating creatures!) and a cold one before we head in.
We make it a point to come to spring training at least once a year when in FL. We usually come when there is a split squad and an un-Yankee team. We paid premium dollar for this game, $15. Once cleared through security, we take a wander around the stadium to check it out. They have been doing renovations for the last year, and it looks fantastic.
The berm, a large grassy hill off the outfield, is where our “seats” are. I say “seats” because there are no seats in the berm. If you are a sitting type, you can bring a blanket to toss on the grass. If you are like us and enjoy standing and wandering, they have installed a ledge around most of it up above the grassy area, where you can catch a lean and have a place to set your drink.
We always buy cheap seats. Why? We never stay in them. It’s just way more fun, for us, to walk around and explore. And the seats are mostly in full sun here. And the sun always is blazing here in Florida.
There are a few food vendors on the berm, a full bar, and several beer stands. They have also installed a large roof over the area to provide shade. Which is a blessing every time we attend a game it is hot, hot, hot. We grab a beer, find some shade out beyond centerfield, and the National Anthem begins with the beautiful American Flag waving in the wind. The National Anthem always makes me tear up, I don’t know why. I guess I am more patriotic than I would like to believe.
Game on! We watch the first few lackadaisical innings, me enjoying my beer and people watching, occasionally remembering to watch the game, and Bruce happily chatting with some gentleman about stats and such. This is generally how it goes. Bruce can easily talk to anyone, he has never met a stranger, and it’s ok with me. I talk (listen) to him a lot! It gives me a chance to wander off into my own mind, breathe, and enjoy the sun on my face.
When I am in these moments, I really want to be in the moment, and use all my senses to enhance the experience. Seeing the packed stands, the beautiful stadium, the bright blue sky. Hearing the fans, the kids, the announcers, the cheers, the crack as the bat meets the ball. Smelling the popcorn, the hot dogs, the sweat. Tasting the beer and popcorn. Feeling the warm sun on my skin. Try it sometime. Try it now. You can do it anywhere.
The game remains so-so. Not much happening. We finish our beer and move on to check out the other side of the berm. Seems even the crowd is somewhat subdued. Usually there is general rowdiness going on, but I am seeing none of this today. Security is very tight, and everytime it looks like someone is going to cut loose, they crowd around him or her. Geez, it is St. Paddy’s day. Lighten up little.
We did find a friendly officer, I guess we didn’t pose too much of a threat, who saw us struggling to take a selfie. He was kind enough to help us out. Thanks Officer Rose of the Lakeland police force.
The Yankees score a few runs, the Tigers do not. We drink our water, wander, get another beer, enjoy some chats, and the game is over. It is a multi-pitcher no-hitter. Yankees win. It might be a long season for the Tiger’s if someone doesn’t light a fire under their ass. We will be attending a regular season game with the Tampa Bay Rays in April. I hope to see a better performance. Win or lose…it’s always a good time.
The state of Florida has very bad traffic, and very bad drivers. And it’s St Paddy’s day. We were going to hang around Lakeland, but it just didn’t seem like a great idea today. We headed back to Tampa, to our favorite dive bar, Koozies, for a St Paddy’s day feast of wings and seasoned fries. They offered us corned beef and cabbage, but when I go to Koozies, I simply must have wings. They are the best I have found, and I have had wings in many states and places.
The sun in the heat of the day, combined with a full belly, and a few beers, left us feeling drowsy. We decided to conclude our day with a movie at home, Grumpy Old Men Part 2. I love that movie. Walter Matthau, oh you are the best. Then it’s nighty, night.
Happy Birthday Grandma D. I love you….