This isn’t just a spring game. It’s live baseball! It’s been like four months, man!

The quote I used for my headline? It was easily the best comment of the night at Taps Fish House and Brewery where Seth and I decided to go for a late dinner in the bar Saturday. We were giddy from the live baseball treat of the afternoon – and scoring opening day tickets that morning! – wanted more and figured it wouldn’t take much effort to sweet talk the Taps bar staff into putting the Rockies/D-Backs game on one of the TVs. It didn’t. Our favorite bartender, the Angels fan who pumps us for details every time we hit Taps after a ballgame’s, eyes got huge when we asked for a channel change. “There’s still a game on! I thought I missed them all today.”

Well thank goodness for the MLB network’s delayed airing because I think all of the baseball fans in the bar were in the same boat. No one apparently thought to put the game on before we arrived, but the minute it was on the TV half of the eyes in the bar were glued to it…and it’s not like there were any Rockies or D-Backs fans in the bar, just a bunch of baseball starved locals. The headline comment came shortly after that from a guy sitting at one of the tables behind us. One of his friends chided him for paying so much attention to the game and this was his response, delivered loudly, with a great deal of passion and a sweeping gesture at the screen. We at the bar, several bartenders included, responded with approving hollers.

It was a great evening. Out with my husband, an honest to goodness game at the bar, good food, tasty beverages and a lot of baseball fans to talk to – from the friendly, talkative Red Sox fan beside me, to the Angels fans on both sides of the bar who echoed our boo when he used the term “rebuilding year” in reference to the Halos. In many ways, Taps is my ideal game day bar. I would spend more games there if I didn’t also spend so much money there every time I go.

* * * * *

So imagine my excitement about the Angels/Dodgers game today! Meh. As it turned out, I would have been a lot happier if they had aired yesterday’s game instead. Today the Angels gave the starters and most of the second string the day off and let the kids have a work out. Alas, against the Dodgers first string, the kids were not alright. I’m aware that this is the nature of spring training. It’s more about giving everyone a workout, giving the kids some experience and a tryout and working through any issues before the season starts than it is about winning. But still, 5-0 ouch.

With the spirit of spring training in mind, I think there were a few important take aways. First, Kaz was throwing hard and throwing strikes! Even in the first inning and Scott Kazmir is prone to rough first innings. Granted, the Dodgers hit him – five hits and three earned runs in the two innings he pitched. But I think this was inconclusive, and I am not inclined to make excuses for Kaz. I think if he had the Angels starters behind him, that stat would have been better, more like two or three hits and one run. But you never know. I want to see more before the season starts but the fact that I do want to see more at all is positive. Maybe…maybe…well, we’ll see.

Here are some other thoughts I had watching the game. Bobby Wilson is taking spring training very seriously and looked strong both behind the plate and at bat. His increased speed and agility was a bright spot in the game for me. Hank Conger on the other hand looked rusty. I’m not really worried. I’ve seen him do a lot better than that, but if he wants a shot a starting catcher he needs to pick up the speed on his throw down to second a lot. I don’t know what to think of Mike Trout. He hit a nice solid single in the first inning and made one catch in center that his speed made look a lot easier than it was. Other than that, however, he looked like he kind of phoned it in, which I don’t like. But it is just one game. Mark Trumbo needs a lot of work at first. He made some good plays and some really clumsy ones. He’s wearing Mike Napoli’s Angels’s jersey number 44 this season and between the homerun yesterday and, alas, the lack of performance with runners in scoring position today, this seems appropriate. Fernando Rodney’s rustiness looks suspiciously like right where he left off last season.

Watching this game, it was obvious that, like most teams, the Angels have a lot of minor league players who will never be major league players. Andrew Romine, on the other hand? I liked his instincts when he came up this September, sliding across third with the ball to get the seemingly impossible force out. He had a good solid hit today and made one nice diving play at short, his throw just missing getting the speedy runner out at first. I look at him and think, interesting, maybe in a few years? Suffice to say, I need to see a lot more of spring training and the kids – and some of the veterans – need to play a lot more before I form stronger opinions. Fortunately, this was only game two and tomorrow the regular starters are supposed to play. And it’s all still exciting. In the words of random Taps bar guy, these aren’t just spring games. It’s live baseball! It’s been like four months, man!

8 Comments

Haha, love that headline :) Congrat s on scoring Opening Day tickets! The energy at an opening day game must be awesome. But for now, I’m stuck in high school…
Catherine
http://chisoxblog.mlblogs.com/

Love the headline/comment! Sounds like most everyone there was glad to see baseball as well.

Ron

http://strictlycubsbaseball.mlblogs.com/

That headline’s a winner, Kristen!

I did follow yesterday’s Dodgers-Angels game via AtBat2011. Ouch for the Halos! I know Kaz was slightly off from two years ago in Tampa, but to get roughed up like that in Spring Training is not how you’d like to get back on track. Though, I did catch some of the clips from PrimeTicket’s coverage on MLB.com – as Duke Snider tributes. Proof there was TV coverage of the game…somewhat.

– Randy
http://heirloom.mlblogs.com

Catherine – Thanks! You know, this will actually be my first Opening Day. Usually they are weekday games and at my old job there was no taking time off for such a thing. This year, it’s a Friday night game and I am thrilled to be able to go. I’m sure you’ll get to go to a White Sox Opening Day one of these years – maybe make a late spring pilgrimage of it when you’re in college. :)
Ron – Yeah, everyone was pretty excited to see a game but the one guy’s reaction was one of the best I’ve heard in a while.
Randy – Thanks! The original comment was so perfect in its joy and timing that it had to be recorded. Sadly, in some respects, that was a better outing than I’ve seen from Kaz in a while. He didn’t hit anyone. He didn’t walk anyone. And he pitched mostly strikes. I want to see if he gets hit this hard with the regulars backing him up. I’m not entirely certain one of the first two runs would have gotten on base if the regular starters were playing and there was at last one other play after that where I thought Aybar or Kendrick would have pulled it off. Then again, it might have been more of the same even with the regular starters.
Kristen
This is a very simple game…

I actually watched some of the game on the MLBNetwork. It was good to watch baseball no matter who played.
–Mike
‘Minoring In Baseball’
http://burrilltalksbaseball.mlblogs.com

Taps sounds like a decent place. And MLBN and MLB.tv have both changed my life in recent years… for the better. Cheers to that!
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/
http://mtrredstatebluestate.com

So the Angels have a Romine too? One of the Yankees prospects is Austin Romine, a catcher. Maybe they’re related? Taps sounds like Cheers. I’d go there too.

http://www.janeheller.com/confessionsblog

Mike – I completely agree!
Jeff – It is a good place. But yeah, MLBN, etc. have made life much simpler and a lot happier.
Jane – Yes, Andrew is Austin’s older brother. I don’t think anyone really knows your name at Taps but they recognize faces, drink orders and, apparently, baseball conversations after a while. It’s the one place where I know that no matter what the Lakers are doing that night, they will happily let me have one TV for baseball.
Kristen
This is a very simple game…

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