TAMPA, Fla., March 8 — Robin Trower, turning 58 on March 9, played guitar for Procul Harum on the rock anthem alluded to in this column’s title, and I thought of the song, and our pallid expressions upon our arrival in Florida, as we left our last game today. Glistening from the sweat and the sun, and basking in the glory of an end-of-week victory that rescued us from a losing trip, Sue and I braved a traffic jam caused by a concert ushering Spring Break into Clearwater, and made for the Tiki Bar. The soft sand, a mild Gulf breeze, and high but dark clouds shepherded the sun through our last spring 2003 Florida sunset as gulls swooped overhead and a lizard huddled in the corner.
Tampa, Fla., March 7 — For years, Sue and I have been playing a game called, “Find the Hidden Yankee” as teams with shifting rosters visit Yankee Stadium. Sometimes seeing an “old friend” is a cause for joy, as when it’s a player we’ve lost track of, like Andy Fox or Andy Stankiewicz. On other occasions it is filled with dread, as facing David Cone with the Sox in 2001, and seeing Ramiro Mendoza in Beantown, or Mike Stanton and Cone (once again) in Flushing will be this season, both on the road and in the Bronx.
Tampa, Fla., March 6 — I couldn’t resist the Murder Mystery title, and truthfully, no one was murdered (maybe no one even died), but we have a bona fide mystery on our hands. Putting on my Columbo, Sam Spade, Agatha Christie hat, let’s take a look.
TAMPA, Fla., March 5 — You might think it would be difficult to find any good moments in a 12-2 loss that was both ugly and over early, but my first response is to share the game time temperature: 83 degrees under gloriously sunny skies. In fact, although I was fine after a couple of innings and the ice cream cup, the heat initially drove me from my seat (20 minutes before game time). But before I continue with a Top 12 Great Things about being a Yankee fan in Tampa today, perhaps I should describe how things got so lopsided.
Tampa, Fla., March 4, 2003 — One thing you learn early when coming to Spring Training, the Yankee organization is like an army: They march better on their stomachs. There are a number of restaurants in this area that have baseball connections — the tasty but decidedly mainstream fare at Pete & Shorty’s (think White Castle hamburgers with a liquor license). The first whose hospitality we’ve enjoyed is the original Pete & Shorty’s in Clearwater, where George and Boomer lunched last year before agreeing that Mr. Wells and the Bronx belonged together, and David rejoined the rotation. There is another branch on Dale Mabry in Tampa, right down the street from Legends Field (which we’ve visited also). Continue reading
Tampa, Fla., March 3 — Baseball can be so many things to different people. To some it’s nothing more than a reason to peruse the morning sports pages over a cup of coffee. Some, on the other hand, live and die with each and every pitch. To others it provides a connection to warmer days whether they’re living in a frigid part of the planet, in the cold of winter, or in a little “dark night of the soul” of their own. It can bring a smile to those whose accustomed window to the world is a frown; or it can become an excuse for exhaustive research and study for some who barely passed their classes in school (or who didn’t).