Monday, March 9, 2015

How Can We Diarize a Spring Training Game?

Sunday marked the first full Yankees Spring Training game I've caught. I decided that writing a running diary might be a nice way to entertain myself while players like Cito Culver batted. Here are my thoughts, about the game and about the upcoming Yankees season in general:

The YES Network opens with graphics of Yankees whose numbers have been retired. Next year, we'll probably be watching old Pat Kelly highlights during this segment. (And No. 14 will deserve the honor.)

The camera gives us a look at Florida's 75-degree, obnoxiously sunny weather. Michael Kay tells us it's a "perfect day for baseball" at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Well, here in the Bronx, it's a perfect day to sit on your ass and watch baseball on TV.

Kay and Ken Singleton discuss the fact that today's game will mark Alex Rodriguez's first at third base since 2013. That should make this game at least a little more interesting than a typical Spring Training contest.

As YES heads into a commercial break, Kay tells fans to stay tuned: "Lineups! First pitch! Baseball!" I did miss that.

Kay tells us Yankees record is a hockey-esque 3-2-1. Meanwhile, Bryce Harper isn't in the Nationals' lineup, but Kila Ka'Aihue is. Shane Victorino needs to surrender the "Flyin' Hawaiian" nickname to this guy immediately.

Adam Warren takes the hill for the Yanks in his second start of the spring. Warren is competing to be the team's fifth starter coming out of camp. Considering the precarious health situation of much of the Yankees' pitching staff, he'll definitely get a shot at making his mark on the season. Steamer projects him to perform just above replacement-level, but if he can maintain his solid peripheral stats from last year while pitching extended innings, he'll be a valuable contributor.

On Warren's first pitch of the game, Tim the Toolman's illegitimate son Michael Taylor smokes a home run to left-center. Can you forget those optimistic things I just wrote about Warren?

A-Rod will bat fifth for the Yankees and Nick Noonan will hit ninth, opening the door for me to make a bunch of Caddyshack jokes to myself. Noonan!

Doug Fister will start this game for the Nats. If I were a Tigers fan, my remote would be flying at the TV right now.

Carlos Beltran steps up to the plate as the Yankees' No. 3 hitter. I'm pretty sure his place in today's batting order is just a result of the team not taking this exhibition game too seriously. Wait, what? That's his projected lineup spot for the regular season??? In 2015???

Mike Carp's beard is looking LEGIT!

Nationals catcher Jose Lobaton swings and loses his grip on the bat, sending the lumber flying into the stands. The bat hits a lady, and he allows her to keep it as a form of payback. Also, Reggie Jackson jumps out of the Yankees' dugout to sign a baseball for the retiree. She should have held out for more: maybe a lifetime supply of Reggie! bars?

Ken Singleton passes along a rumor that Masahiro Tanaka might start Thursday's game against the Braves. I'm nervous already.

With one out in the second inning, A-Rod gets under one for a pop-up down the right-field line. The ball lands between two Nationals fielders for a ground rule double. Gosh, A-Rod catches all the breaks.

Michael Taylor with another hit. Taylor looks pretty skilled, but Tim the Toolman is still upset that his son isn't playing for their hometown Tigers.

Sideline reporter Meredith Marakovits is talking about CC Sabathia's "degenerative knee issue." Michael Kay points out the CC has been calling it his "bum knee." Jesus.

They're still talking about CC's knee, and Kay just compared it to Amar'e Stoudemire's. Great.

A-Rod makes a pretty nice-looking backhand play at third. Remember when that wasn't a surprise?

Jose Pirela lines an opposite-field double to right. Pirela figures to be the Yankees' main utility guy this season. The 25-year-old slashed .305/.351/.441 at AAA last year, and it would be great if he could bring even 75% of that production to the big-league club this year.

Pirela scores on an infield single by Brett Gardner to tie the game at one. Things are really heating up in Tampa, both on the thermometer and on the field.

Brian McCann leads off the fourth by punching a single to left to beat the shift. Singleton tells us the catcher's been working on that all winter. Could that really be a thing? I hope so, because McCann has now hit well below-average on balls in play for the past three seasons. The Yankees really need him to produce like the McCann of old in 2015.

Nats lefty Sammy Solis throws over to first to check on McCann, who had zero stolen bases last year. Here's a way to pick up pace of play: Make it illegal to attempt a pickoff of a runner who stole zero bases the previous season.

A-Rod strikes out on a hanging curve. This is 39.

Dellin Betances -- a prime candidate to outperform his projections once again -- comes on to pitch for the Yanks. Meanwhile, Joe Girardi throws on a head-set to talk to the announcers.

Girardi confirms that Tanaka will pitch Thursday night. Hypothetical Post back page: PRIMA NAK-TA

Betances strikes out the half-brother of Brad, Randy, and Mark with a filthy curve. Michael Taylor may be able to hit a fastball, but Girardi calls Betances' hook "the old equalizer."

YES gives us some camera shots of boats in the bay on this beautiful Florida day. Singleton notes that "this is the reason people live in Florida or move to Florida." Well, people live here in the Bronx for the bodegas and the crime. So there.

With a nice scoop at first, Ka'Aihue saves Ian Desmond an error. I just looked it up, and Ka'Aihue was born in Kailua. The Flyin' Hawaiian, baby!

Beltran with another groundout. Your 37-year-old No. 3 hitter, Yankees fans!

Baseball America's top-ranked Yankees prospect, Luis Severino, enters the game. I can just imagine that No. 91 being retired in 15 years. Severino struck out almost five batters for every one he walked in 113 innings last season in three levels of the minors.

Severino picks up a swinging strikeout on the high, stinky cheese.

Nationals first baseman Matt Skole drops a throw at first base, allowing Jonathan Galvez to reach safely. That's what the Nats get for removing Ka'Aihue from the game. Hooey, I tell ya!

A fan in the stands makes a beautiful play on a foul ball. The fact remains that he's a 40-year-old man who brought his glove to the game.

Severino just picked up his third strikeout. This guy should be a pleasure to watch for the next few years.

I'm eating a grilled cheese.

I'm sure I didn't miss much, considering that Culver -- who wears No. 96 -- just checked into the game as a pinch-runner.

Ben Gamel steps into the box with a huge hunk of tobacco protruding from his cheek. It's refreshing to see a young guy who chews like a champ.

Trent Garrison, who spent last year at A-ball, bats for the Yankees. It must be tough for someone who grew up with South Park to have the last name Garrison.

The burly Spencer Kieboom steps up to the plate for the Nationals. Every SportsCenter anchor is hoping this guy turns into a great slugger because of the wordplay opportunities presented by his last name.

When does the Rangers-Blackhawks game start?

With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Kyle Roller rolls a single into center for the Yankees. Rally time, everyone!

Top prospect Aaron Judge slaps a single into center, pushing Roller to third. High-leverage situation here. I gave up biting my nails for Lent, but I can't help it right now.

Cole Figueroa pulls a single to right, scoring Roller to give the Yankees the 3-2 lead. No tie today, baby!

Jared Burton comes in to try to close it out for the Yankees. It's comforting to have a guy with such a nice mustache on the team, if only for a few weeks.

Burton gets Cutter Dykstra -- son of Lenny -- to pop out to end the game. Yankees win.

Michael Kay signs off with a trademark "Seeya!" It'll be nice to hear him actually say it for a Yankees home run. Still, it's good to have baseball, the Yanks, and springtime back in my life.

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Follow FranT on Twitter at @frantweet and follow Brian Kavanaugh at @btkav

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