After a stormy Thursday night and Friday, I woke up to a bright, clear and crisp Saturday morning. It would be my last day of baseball on this trip, and the fates smiled upon me, not only with the weather, but with a good game at a great spring training park. Phillies vs. Twins at Bright House Field in Clearwater.
Bright House may be the most organized and easiest to navigate park in the Grapefruit League, at least from the media’s perspective. The parking is ample. The administrative offices are open and welcoming. I walked into the facility, which is really an office building connected to the stadium, and was greeted by pleasant smiles and efficient workers. I gave my name and a press pass appeared almost instantly. Newbies like me usually have to figure out the lay of the land at the ballpark, but the young woman at the front desk immediately pointed out the clubhouse entrance (to the left) the media room (to the right) and the press box (the elevator behind you, third floor, follow the walkway up the third base line). It wouldn’t have shocked me if someone appeared from out of nowhere to take my bag and offer me some ice water with lemon in it.
I gave the media room a miss, and headed straight to the press box. On the way there I passed several Philly employees, ranging from front office types to grounds crew. Everyone was wearing shirts that denoted the team’s recent success. Several “2008 World Series Champion” patches. Many more “2009 National League Champion” logos. Like all the ballparks I saw last week, the walls at Bright House had several framed pictures, plaques and displays depicting team history, but there were also photo collages of team employees, promotion days and the like. Who knows what it’s really like to be, say, an intern there, but the place gave the impression that it was a friendly place to work.
I got up to the box and set up my laptop. Lots of room and — what’s this? — Coke in the fridge. I know there are more important things in the universe than cola wars, but I’m a Coke guy, and I’ve been mildly bummed all week that every park had Pepsi in it. It’s not going to make me root for Philly to lose any less once the season starts, but if you’ve learned anything about me from these spring training dispatches, you’ve learned that little stuff makes a big impression on me.
Squared away in the press box I headed down to the clubhouse and the field.