FSU vs. Phillies

Photo courtesy of newstimes.com

Before you go assuming that a gal who writes something titled The Blonde Side made some super heinous mistake saying an NCAA baseball team played a pro team, take solace in the fact I know what I’m talking about. At least this once. Especially since I was there.

I should also note, that on a game schedule with 58 games for Florida State, only one of them is denoted with a “!” and that of course is this one.

Yesterday I had the chance to attend the Philadelphia Phillies first Spring Training game of 2012 at Bright House Field in Clearwater, FL against none other than my Florida State Seminoles. It’s not everyday you get to watch your favorite college team play the 2011 National League East champs in beautiful sunny 79 degree weather to kick off the season.

Many MLB teams pit their first game against a local (or in this case semi-local) team which does a lot for both teams and is an exciting atmosphere to take in a game. Yesterday’s game marks the 12th time Florida State has faced a major league team posting a record of 2-10 (including yesterday’s loss). Their only two wins come from beating the NY Yankees (1978) and the Atlanta Braves (1981), but the squad usually fares pretty well against these pro teams.

The experience breakdown for this 2012 Florida State squad has 17 players returning combined with 17 newcomers. The team is comprised of 7 seniors, 7 juniors, 2 redshirt sophomores, 3 sophomores, 1 redshirt freshman, and brand-spanking new 16 freshman. The Seminole baseball team is no stranger to wins and big games with 49 NCAA appearances, 20 CWS appearances and 5 ACC titles under the belt.

The fans appeared pretty evenly split at Bright House, but I can assure you when those garnet and gold pinstriped underdogs did something good, the crowd went wild. Even the crowd dressed in their Phillies garb. Case in point: when senior RHP Adam Simmons struck out big-leaguer Jim Thome (who recently just rejoined the Phillies organization) at the plate, the crowd went bananas. I’m talking Gwen Stefani B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

Another notable difference in a game like this? Seeing a collegiate pitcher hit a pro at the plate and then mouthing “sorry”. No where on a Major League mound will you see that sort of conciliatory emotion. It’s kind of refreshing to see, at least at the start of the season. I too have had many a smiles watching guys like Vincente Padilla terrorize batters and conversely, guys like Nyjer Morgan charge the mound or drop an F-bomb in the batter’s box.. Or four.

The Noles pitching and defense held the Phillies scoreless through 5, and then tied it up in the 7th after FSU capitalized and scored a run on a wild pitch. Like clockwork, the fans in the crowds started cheering:

F-L-O-R-I-D-A S-T-A-T-E / Florida State, Florida State, Florida State / wooooo!

The game definitely heated up in the 7th when senior RHP Mack Waugh got called for a balk and

FSU Head Coach, Mike Martin (photo courtesy of Zimbio)

Florida State head coach Mike Martin (currently in his 33rd season with a FSU record of 1673-577-4) went out to “talk” to the umpire which got fairly animated to say the least. It was the first standing ovation of the day.

How Martin didn’t get booted from the game was beyond me, but the guy was fearless and genius and I’m now a forever fan. Martin, no stranger to FSU or the game of baseball, graduated from Florida State in 1966 and went on to be drafted in the 25th round by the NY Mets later that year.

The Phillies eventually went on to win the game 6-1, where I’m sure all 4,399 fans at Bright House Field can vouch for the valiant effort put forth by the boys of Florida State.

Side note: something I learned – Spring Training games can end in a tie. Maybe that’s where Donovan McNabb got confused a few years ago?

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