Saturday was the day we made our annual journey to Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex near Kissimmee to watch the Atlanta Braves, a trip my family has made every year since 1999. This one turned out perfectly, as the Braves slaughtered the New York Mets 121 in front of over 10,000 fans, including my Bravesloving parents and myself, who all have an intense dislike for the Mets to say the least.
Josh Anderson hit the game’s only home run, a surprising eighth inning pinchhit threerun shot over the right field wall, where it was caught by a Braves relief pitcher. Jeff Francoeur had that new batting stance working, going 23 with a threerun double into the 385foot power alley that nearly went over for a grand slam. Left fielder Brandon Jones went 24 with a walk, two RBI and two runs, though he did slow down defensively during the late stages of the game. Top prospect Jordan Schafer progressively improved, striking out his first two times up (on a total of five hard swings and zero contact) before drawing a walk and driving a single to center field.
Of course, the pitching was all about future Hall of Famer Tom Glavine, who made his first Major League start in this year’s Spring Training. After his welldeserved standing ovation prior to the game, he hit on all cylinders and corners, throwing strikes to everyone he saw. He pitched three scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out Daniel Murphy looking at a vintage Glavine changeup. It was also great looking at Peter Moylan in live action after he missed most of last season. He threw one inning, giving up one hit and nothing else.
Some personal notes from this game:
In the later innings, a group of Mets fans in the back row (I was in row J of section 215, which runs through row M) tried starting a “Let’s Go Mets” chant. I shouted them down with “Braves!” everytime they went to say Mets, until they just gave up. Even when one told me to “shut up,” I fired back “you shut up, you’re in my stadium!” Which perfectly echoed my sentiments. Go to Port St. Lucie or Citi Field if you want to chant the Mets up. Not in our house.
The “Let’s Go Mets” chant later started on a larger scale, but it did nothing to fire up that team (which put up less effort than the fans did) and some scattered Braves fans shot it down.
There were, as we expected, probably a few thousand Mets fans in attendance. I believe the majority supported the Braves, but the turnout for both teams was significant. I have never seen Champion Stadium that full of people.
Dale Murphy, the twotime MVP and Hall of Famecaliber Braves legend, delivered the lineup card for his old team prior to the game. He took in the largest reception of the afternoon, needless to say.
After the game, I ate first at Stadium Bar & Grill, where I had a quarter pound burger with fries and apple juice. It was better than I expected, but I still went on up the road to Old Town and Flipper’s Pizzeria, of which I have heard rave reviews. One sixmeat pizza later, and I had a rave review of my own. Then I stayed at Best Western Lakeside, which was surprisingly quiet, and returned home today.
The Mets turned the tables today and beat the Braves 121 in Port St. Lucie, while David Price and the Rays soundly defeated the Yankees 50 in Port Charlotte. The Rays have announced that, as expected, B.J. Upton will not be available for the first week of the season. In perhaps worse news, Fernando Perez will now be out 4-5 months with ligament damage in his fielding wrist. Injury bugs aside, it looks like the Rays and Braves may both have good seasons on the horizon. Until next time, go Rays, Braves and whoever beats the Mets.