Friday, June 15, 2012

Tampa Yankees 7 at Clearwater Threshers 10 - June 14, 2012

After leaving the Mets/Rays game a bit early, I made my way to Clearwater to see another New York team on the road. Well, a New York farm team at least. The Tampa Yankees were visiting the Clearwater Threshers in the last game before the FSL all-star break at beautiful Bright House Field.

Bright House Field

Located in central Clearwater, Bright House Field is the spring home of the Philadelphia Phillies, who are only too happy to remind you of their 2008 World Series championship, as you can see below. Naming rights were bought by a local cable entity who thoughtfully provides wi-fi throughout the park, although visitors need to signup first to enjoy 30 minutes of complimentary access.

Parking is off Old Coachman Road and is $2, the first FSL park to charge for the privilege. In front of the stadium you will see a fountain with a sculpture of Steve Carlton.

Up the stairs are the main ticket windows where you have a few choices: $9.50 for the premium box seats, $7 for the rest of the seating area, or $5 for the berm. As usual, you can get the cheapest and pretty much sit where you want although there are ushers you will check your tickets in the premium area, which is generally the seats blocked by the fence below.

You can walk around the entire concourse, in fact, they state that 3 laps is a mile and you should exercise during the game. I only made one lap but enjoyed the views from different angles.

The berm area is a nice place to relax with a blanket and a few families were enjoying their time there. But you are far away from the action and I'd probably end up falling asleep out there.

Another interesting option is Frenchy's Tiki Pavilion above left field. This is a huge bar and seating area which attracts young adults looking to have a few drinks while watching the game. I attended on Thirsty Thursday when all drinks are 2-for-1, and Frenchy's was packed during the game.

For those who prefer typical ballpark fare, there are a couple of concession stands serving the usual. One is called the Bullpen Grille as it is located out behind the bullpens (which are situated on two levels as at Citizens Bank Park), the other is behind home plate but called the Home Run Grille. However, I would recommend the small cart selling Cuban sandwiches for $6.75. These were huge and far more satisfying than anything else I have had on the trip so far.

As is the case in most of these FSL ballparks, there are no bells and whistles. Concourses are wide as there are far more fans during the spring, and seats are plentiful. There was a small kids area in the left field corner but that was about the only thing remotely out of the ordinary.

I really enjoyed the atmosphere here. Fans were spread out throughout the park, but they still made plenty of noise when the Threshers were at bat. There were also a good number of visiting supporters, not surprising given that the Tampa Yankees play just across the bay. Clearwater may not be on a typical Tampa Bay tourist plan, but if you are in town, check out if the Threshers are in town and if they are, make the trip up to check out a game.

The Game

The big news was that Chase Utley (above) was on a rehab assignment so I expected a fairly big crowd, and there were just over 2,000 fans in attendance. Even then, that was less than the average as the Threshers are the biggest draw in the league, with nearly 2,700 taking in a typical game in 2012. Generally when a big-name major leaguer makes a visit to the farm to get back into shape, people come out in droves, but FSL fans are used to seeing these guys during the spring so there was little buzz for Utley's appearance.

The game itself was interesting in that runs were plated in every inning, yet only the sixth stanza saw both teams score. Austin Wright (8th round, 2011), an up-and-comer in the Phillies organization, started against Shane Greene (15th round in 2009, above) for the Yankees. Wright lasted 4.2 innings giving up 3, while Greene also yielded 3 in his 5 frames.

Carlos Alonzo hit by a pitch

Once the bullpens got involved though, things got ugly, with Cuban defector Rigoberto Arrebato the prime offender as he yielded 5 runs  to the Threshers while getting only one out. That was the difference in the game as Clearwater won 10-7, with Juan Sosa pitching two strong innings for the save.

Anthony Hewitt (24th overall in 2008 below) was the star for the Threshers, belting two homers and four RBIs, while Utley was 0 for 3 with 2 walks.


Official scoring in this game was questionable. On one play, a grounder was hit to second but Hector Rabago (18th round, 2009) couldn't get the ball out of this glove to make the throw. This was ruled a hit. Then with two out in the top of the ninth, Ramon Flores belted a shot to right-center in what looked to be a sure double. Zach Collier (34th overall, 2008) ran it down but muffed the catch, earning an error for his efforts.

The park is close to the original Hooters, which is located at 2800 Gulf to Bay Blvd. You can see the Hooters advertisement in the scoreboard shot above.

Next Up

In other news, I've got a ticket to Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Miami next week. As such, I'm making changes to the schedule to save a bit of cash. I'll be staying in the Tampa area for this weekend, forgoing the All-Star game in Port Charlotte on Saturday night and watching the Rays and Marlins in a couple of Citrus Series games. Check back Monday for an update.



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