A pleasant day at Goodyear

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It’s been a nice day so far at Goodyear. After talking to Nick Swisher, Jason Giambi, Terry Francona and after watching and pretending to scout Scott Kazmir, I feel like it’s a good time to stop being a reporter and mostly just gawk. So I’m gawking.

Bad news about Goodyear Park? The press box is impossibly small. Like, there’s room for the home writers, the team PR people, the MLB and scorer people and, like, three visiting scribes. That crowds me out. The good news: for the second straight year the Indians staff let me set up in a luxury box just down the way from the press box. My view:

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It’s way better too. I’m out on the patio in the open air with just as good a view as the press box types but with way better atmosphere.  Last year I caught a foul ball up here. It’s the bottom of the fifth as I’m writing this and no luck yet, but I’m hopeful. And if I do get one, there is no Jonah Keri here this year to guilt me into giving it to a kid. It’s minemineminemine.

The game so far: 2-0 Indians beating the Dodgers. It’s pretty inconsequential, though. It’s a split squad Dodgers team and, really, not much drama is going down with this Tribe team at the moment. It’s a far more chill day than is even typical for spring training. The highlight so far: Don Mattingly — who you can see in the dugout in the picture above — stood up an inning or two ago, attempted to put his lineup card in his back pocket, tried again, and again, and again, and again, and kept missing his pocket. So he threw it on the floor.

This guy:

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Amazingly not a scout.  I thought he might have been, as he was watching the Kazmir thing earlier and, well, looks like how I imagine all scouts looking.  Nope. Just a guy “who likes a lot of baseball” he told me. His name is Carl. He goes out to a different complex every day and just hangs around until he feels like getting lunch, he says. I want to be Carl when I grow up. He’s really cool.

Just outside the Indians’ clubhouse: Phiten necklaces, marked down!

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This is how it was with Poison albums just after Nirvana hit big.  Speaking of big:

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Love this thing. If Cheech and Chong made a baseball movie this would be a central plot point, methinks.  And now from the comedic to the absurd:

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In between the first and second inning some trainer people jumped onto the dugout and did a “90 second workout” for the crowd. They actually expected everyone to get up and exercise. They yelled things like “C’mon! You’re not gonna work off those beers just sitting there! Now 1! And 2! And stretch! And move!”

Their bodies were never discovered and there are no suspects.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.