This year's Florida Report has an Old theme, but a New wrinkle. THIS year, Al has brought a TEAM with him to South Florida and Baseball International Tournament 2006. As you read the reports and check out the box Scores, you'll see Al could have called his Team, 'The Usual Suspects' (hmmm, come to think of it, we could have!) But, he chose the name Nor'easters. And HE said it was GOOD, and HE made it SO!
Since we had this planned since, at least, last Summer, the logistics went smoothly. Eveyrbody had their travel arrangements, we had our lodging set; all we had to do was GO and play. It is impossible to describe how truly great it is to leave New England in the middle of the Winter, and in a few hours, find yourself in South Florida, in a Slick Baseball Complex, with 120 other like-minded baseball players. I couldn't wait to see the guys start playing on these fields, having a truly great time.
As usual, this trip would involve playing 7 games in 4 days, this time at the Cincinnati Reds Spring Training Camp-Complex in Sarasota Florida. But as soon as we landed, we all headed to the Complex. WE, had a 'practice' field. We would share it with Harvey's team, a guy you might have heard about. A scrimmage, YESS!
Most of us found our way to the Scrimmage field, with Icehouse and Duse, who drove down, getting there first. Unfortunately, none of us thought to get some pictures. But after a 2 hour practice game, we worked out the kinks that travel has a way of giving you. We headed the the 3 Hotels where we were staying, and got ready for our first Team Nor'easter meal, at a pretty good local restaurant.
After downing Grouper, Calamari and Conch Soup, we headed back to Chez Americinn. Al and Pres, Supe and Bullet, Duse and Icehouse, and 2-Tee, Nails and Ryan, in the "Bordello" next to the sauna and swimming pool.
The Hammer's and the Mahan's were out on Long Key with the celebrities. Tomorrow, the Games begin, 7 in 3 and a half days.
Thursday Morning 7:15 Anericinn Cafe
Most of the team has assembled, 2-Tee has his table and newspaper, and a game face. The boys are getting a little nourishment, cereal, waffles, orange juice, toast. Everybody has a personal breakfast style.
We pile into 2 rental SUVs and off we go to the Complex. It's a short drive, and nobody except Al and Icehouse ever pays the slightest attention to where we are going. It might as well be Al and 5 dogs in the car. Later we made Supe in charge of knowing when to take a right to the ballpark.
We arrive at the parking lot behind Field #2. and pile out, even Bullet is smiling. The Game is at field #2 which is about a 3 minute walk past perfect baseball fields. We circle around the backstop and place our gear in and around the dugout on the first base line, check out the perfect baseball field waiting for us, take some quick pictures and start getting loose. The other team is filing into their dugout. Al gets the lineup ready. THIS, by the way, is the only day that wasn't in the 80's. Today will be the high 60's mostly. Clear, cloudless, blue sky.
Both teams have taken infield, the umpires are ready, the NOR'EASTERS take the field!! Geezus!..we're playing!
The team we are playing is the Cincinnati team that, I believe, won the Tournament Title last year. Rick's first pitch is ball 1, then he gets a strike. On the third pitch the Cincinnati batter hits a 3 hopper up the middle, Supe gloves it, tosses it to Hammer and we have recorded the first out. It's real now. Rick gave up a harmless single to the next batter, but 2-Tee was on. Man, was he. More on "The Ricky" later.
Mike Mahan was The first batter ever for the Nor'easters, and poped up a 1-0 pitch. 2-Tee singled and
Not much more needs to be said, except that, like every other game we played, the top of the Nor'easter order was unconscious. Our 2-3-4 guys were 10-11, with 7 runs scored and 7 RBI. 2-Tee pitched a 6 hit shutout as well, Ricky was en fuego. The umpires called the game after 7, mercy rule. We all were stunned that the game was over; it seemed like we played for 5 minutes. Man, were we in a good mood. I knew that no amount of Fluffy hyperbole from the past year would prepare the Nor'easters for the sheer fun they would be having for the next 4 days.
Let's just enjoy some pictures...
GAME 1 BOX SCORE
Picture Gallery Game 1, Thursday January 19, 2006