Should we go or not to go to the game was the question for us on Monday. We had work to do but friends from back home were in town to see a few Phillies games and we wanted to say goodbye to them before they left so we decided to go to the Phillies-Red Sox game. It was not arguably the worst spring training game I ever attended it simply was the worst one. The Phillies lineup generated all of three hits in nine innings and Joe Blanton was ineffective in giving up five runs in five innings to the BoSox. Needless to say Baseball Betsy and I quickly sought another alternative for our afternoon baseball watching. We found a game taking place just beyond the Tiki Bar pavilion in left field.
We found a beckoning picnic bench just to the left of the scoreboard at Bright House and pretended we were sitting in the second level of the right field stands at Citizens Bank Park and dreamed we were watching the Phillies stars of tomorrow play today. In front of us through a screened fence was the right field of Schmidt Field. The AA Phillies were playing the Yankees AA farm team. There we sat with our back turned to 10,724 other Phillies fans who were watching the worst, most boring spring training game major league game imaginable. You could easily hear that the veteran dominated Phillies were just going through the motions of another meaningless spring training game until opening day of the regular season. The crowd never cheered the whole nine innings and every time I looked up at the big scoreboard to my right all I saw were goose eggs for the Phillies. Below us Phillies players who game out of the game were able to leave early during the game. A constant stream of them were leaving the clubhouse to start up their cars to get as far away from Bright House as they could before the game ended.
Despite what was going on behind us and down in front of us in the parking lot, the AA game on Schmidt Field was interesting. It was a well played game where the double AA Phillies were playing with determination and hustle. Left fielder Jiwan James lined a double. Tyson Gillies stoked a single up the middle and stole a base. Cesar Hernandez was getting hits all over the place and making plays at second. It was actually an exciting game as the AA Phillies were putting it to the hapless Yankees unlike what the big team was doing to the Red Sox which was next to nothing.
I love watching great defensive baseball and the AA guys put on a show for us. Center fielder Tyson Gillies ran down and caught a long fly ball as he approached the wall in right. Right fielder Brandon Tripp barely moved as Gillies came zooming out of no where to take an extra base hit away from a hapless Yankee. I gave Tyson a big shout out over from Bright House. I was quickly informed by a nearby fan that he could not hear me any way but I knew better. Cesar Hernandez pulled off a spectacular 6-4-5 double play as he made force out at second on a ground ball hit to short, then faked a throw to first only to turn and throw to third to get the runner who had made a too wide of a turn. Late in the game Derrick Mitchell came in to replace James in left and caught a long fly ball down the left field foul line and gunned down a tagged up runner from second with a beautiful one hop strike to third for the old 7-5 double play.
The plays by Gillies, Hernandez and Mitchell were major league plays that took skill, hustle and determination somethings that were woefully missing by the Phils the entire game in their 6-0 loss to the Red Sox. Thank God mercifully the Phillies major league game took only a little over two hours to play but we had a great time watching the AA guys go all out to defeat the Yankees over on Schmidt Field. Maybe we can only dream that some day these AA guys will replace the aging veterans who went through the motions Monday and we won’t have to pretend that we were at Citizen Bank Park as they defeat the Yankees.
To me the Phillies are in desperate need of an infusion of young players on their 25 man major league roster to bring the excitement we saw Monday on Schmidt Field to CBP but it is not going to happen this year. Scoring runs for Charlie by the boys will be like pulling teeth this year especially with Utley and Howard out. Only great pitching and defense will keep the Phillies in contention as long as all of the thirty and forty something year old veterans who make up most of the major league roster are able to stay healthy and do not break down during the season. If they do GM Ruben Amaro Jr. may have no choice but to go young as he is being forced to do with 22 year old Freddy Galvis at second. Freddy, after his double today, is leading all Phillies this spring training in extra base hits and RBIs. Ruben no doubt finds that hard to believe from such a young player who has yet to play an inning in the major leagues.