Thursday, April 4, 2013

My Spring Training Photo Essay - Part Three

Game three featured quite a treat. We would get to see the Dominican Republic Team play against the Phillies in preparation for the World Baseball Classic tournament, which would kick off in a few days time. In future news, the Dominican Republic won the World Baseball Classic in steamroller fashion: they didn't lose a game the entire tournament. This was not a surprise after seeing them play in person.

Sitting directly behind the DR dugout, we had a great vantage point of the field and the excitement that is Dominicans watching their countrymen play baseball (even if the game doesn't count). The Dominican fans were very loud, very animated and very excited to be here. It led to some slight racism on the part of white people. They seemed genuinely upset that people were yelling and cheering so obnoxiously in Spanish. Also a point of blatant jealousy: the Dominican players were throwing balls and other memorabilia into the crowd at an alarming rate and not a single item (NOT A SINGLE ITEM) went to a white or non-Spanish-speaking person. In fact, two separate groups of gentlemen seemed to each collect a good half dozen balls. Whether they knew the players personally and just happened to be sitting close is up for debate. Either way, Team DR loved the atmosphere and spent a lot of time chatting with fans nearby. It was pretty fun and refreshing to see.

Today's starter for the Philadelphia Phillies was ace Cole Hamels. Above is a photo of how Hamels felt about himself prior to this afternoon's game. He was cocky as hell, standing on one foot and all, knowing he's untouchable. After all, he is the best pitcher on a team that has Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. 

What Hamels may not have been aware of was the roster he was about to face. The lineup of the Dominican Republic team was so stacked, most All-Star games have less star power. Here was the starting nine with a quick description to accompany each player:

Jose Reyes (stud)
Robinson Cano (stud)
Edwin Encarnacion (stud)
Nelson Cruz (borderline stud)
Hanley Ramirez (stud)
Miguel Tejada (former stud)
Carlos Santana (borderline stud)
Ricardo Nanita (some Dominican guy)
Alejandro De Aza (future stud)

Bobby Cano and the rest of the Dominicans had confidence. But even they didn't know what type of show they would put on this afternoon. Here are some of the numbers from the early innings: Cano collected three hits, including a home run; Reyes hit a home run, a single and stole a base; Tejada went 4-4 in his first four plate appearances; Encarnacion had three hits to his name; Hanley had four hits, three went for extra bases, one was a home run and he knocked in three. Poor Nelson Cruz was the only man not having fun. He managed to be the final out in each of the game's first three innings.

Here is a photo representation of how Cole Hamels felt after his outing. His cockiness long gone, Hamels instead is resigned to staring off into the distance from his place behind the bars that Team DR seemed to place all around him. Hamels' final stat line: 2.2 innings pitched, 8 earned runs, 12 hits allowed. Ouch.

The only things more newsworthy than Hamels' day was Jose Reyes' beard and Phillies' sorta-prospect Darin Ruf. Ruf, of 'Spring Training Photo Essay Part One' fame and the future of the Phillies (according to someone, somewhere) went 0-4 with three strikeouts. 

This Dominican Republic team looked unbeatable, foreshadowing of how the actual WBC would play out. DR final stat line: 15 runs on 28 hits. 

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