The last game of the spring training season in Clearwater is always bittersweet. The month rolls by way too fast, though it helped this year that I didn’t mark the days by lining them out as each one passed on the calendar.
But there it was, on March 27, that the Phillies welcomed the Pirates to Spectrum Field, with a smattering of Pittsburgh fans making the trip up from Bradenton.
Of course one of the most difficult decisions is deciding what to wear to the game, particularly one with the distinction of being the Pharewell to 2018, and my selection was a tribute to the old stadium.
Of course some fans preferred to show their pride over other sports teams in the metro Philadelphia area. Didn’t see any Flyers gear this year, but plenty of Sixers, Eagles and Villanova gear to go around. Philly Philly!
The starting lineup markered onto the board yesterday looks like it could be the regular one for these 2018 Phillies, who stand a Fightin’ chance of being competitive this year.
There was some special guests at the ballpark yesterday for the Phinale, including Ella’s Flat Stanley who joined the Phanatic remotely for his last dance.
Speaking of the Phanatic, great job yesterday by the Big Phella doing his “Where’s Waldo” impression from the first row of Frenchy’s Tiki Bar.
It was a gorgeous day at the ballpark yesterday, sunny and in the low ’80s, so brilliant that some fans broke out the Mike Schmidt beekeeper hats to shield their necks from the sun.
Things weren’t as sunny for Jake Arrieta, the Phillies newly acquired ace, who struggled on the mound from the get-go.
Josh Bell put the Phils in an early 3-0 hole with a wicked shot onto the berm in left center, as it looked like Arrieta was throwing batting practice. But none of this is a surprise, given how far behind the rest of the staff he is in his spring training tune-up.
Arrietta departed after 3, but the Phils came back to tie the game 4-4. Then the players with #90 and above came out en masses, a unique feature of the last game, when warm bodies from the Clearwater Threshers enabled Phils’ regular to hit the showers early. It Simon Muzziotti and Zach Coppola put the Phils up 5-4, before Edgar Garcia gave it back, sending fans home with a 5-5 tie after 9 innings. It’s fair to say that we won’t see Muzziotti, Coppola, or Garcia in Philly any time soon, although they may earn a trip to Arizona next year.
Well it’s time to take leave of the sights, sounds, and rhythms that are so much a part of the intimacy of spring training, and prepare to see Aaron Nola open the season on Thursday afternoon in Atlanta.