Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It's almost time for surgery...

Ethan and doggie, all tagged and ready to go in the boat bed/cart.

These things are coming out today...

The last picture (and technically the first as well) of Ethan's tonsils. He is having his tonsils and adenoids removed today. He will also get ear tubes for the second time.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Back to Bop's

We went back to Bop's today to have lunch with Wanda during her lunch break.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Night Movie

Gina and I are going to see Marley & Me with Jon and Paula.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Time to eat some Bop's

Today we ate at Bop's for the first time. I had the BBQ sandwich and a Pralines and Cream shake. We also received the grand tour, saw Bug Juice for sno-cones, drove through the world's longest drive thru and saw the dry erase door. The kids had their pictures taken for possible future use and were given their own Bop's t-shirts.

2008 Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas! We hope this note finds you all well. We have had a year full of sports.

In the spring Ashlyn played T-ball/Softball for the first time. She really enjoyed playing. Ashlyn has been in gymnastics for 4 years but at the end of the summer with encouragement from her mom, she took a break until next summer. This helped with our schedule since Ashlyn wanted to play soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter and softball next spring.

This fall both kids played soccer. Ashlyn has really started enjoying soccer more and looked forward to every game day. Ethan was excited about playing but every game needed some encouragement to get him going.

Gina and the kids are still involved in AWANA at church. Ashlyn is enjoying 1st grade and is a great reader and loves to help her teacher whenever she gets a chance. Ethan is learning a lot in Pre-K. He has a very good friend in his class and they enjoy playing together on the playground. Gina stays busy volunteering in Ashlyn's class once a week and helping with events in both kids' classes.

Mark continues to play basketball 5 or 6 times a week, sometimes at 5:30 am. He also played softball for the first time in 4 years this fall.

Baseball was a major theme for us this year. Beside Mark and Ashlyn playing softball, we went to a lot of baseball games. In March, Mark took a week long trip with a friend throughout Florida for baseball spring training. That was actually the inspiration for his document the trip. During the summer we attended a number of Jacksonville Suns baseball games and brought home a lot of bobbleheads and other giveaways. Gina and the kids took a trip to Omaha, Nebraska in June to visit two of Gina's sisters and to attend her niece's wedding. We had a great time visiting with family.

In July we took a day trip to Daytona Beach and watched the Daytona Cubs baseball team play. In August we took an extended weekend trip to Tampa/St. Petersburg. While there we saw a couple of Tampa Bay Rays baseball games. We also spent some time at the beach and the zoo. For Labor Day weekend, we went to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina guessed it...we watched the minor league Myrtle Beach Pelicans baseball team. We also spent quite a bit of time at the beach and went to a barbeque festival.

We've had a busy and fun year. We hope you've had an enjoyable year also. Our prayer for you is that this Christmas season you may know Jesus as not only the baby born in a manger but also as the Savior of the World.

Mark, Gina, Ashlyn and Ethan

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Lunch in Tallahassee

On our way to Biloxi we had lunch at Jim & Milt's in Tallahassee with Martin and Andy & family. We plan on having dinner at Big Time Diner in Mobile. We also drove the kids by our old house on Arvah Branch Blvd in Tallahassee.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Jacksonville Jaguars vs Green Bay Packers

Enjoying a little NFL action in person today...and from the suite.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Parade

We went downtown and saw Santa in the parade. The kids also made bird seed pine cones with peanut butter and played in the "snow."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fall Softball Season

I played softball this fall for the first time since leaving Tallahassee in 2004. Our church had a team. We went 6-4 (1 forfeit win) and 1-1 in the playoffs with our final game tonight. And it was quite cold the last two nights...too cold for softball in my opinion. I played OF and 3B. I really enjoyed playing CF when we only had 3 outfielders. I enjoy the challenge that presents. I hit ok, started off really cold 0-8, hot in the middle 21-29 and finished cold 2-8. We played at Hogan Baptist Church. As a side note there were a few times where I felt I was as fast as I ever was...beating out a throw to first on a routine grounder to SS and on a couple triples I had.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

New Christmas Tree

After buying and returning a 9 foot tall (ok) 6 foot wide (not ok) tree last year we finally have our new artificial Christmas Tree from Kohl's. It is 6 1/2 feet tall and just the right width where it doesn't take up the entire study.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Palin visits Jacksonville

She is speaking across the river from my office right now at the Jacksonville Landing.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Playing softball again...

...on a team from church. This is the first time I've played since Spring/Summer 2004 when we lived in Tallahassee.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

FSU vs Colorado

Gina and I went to see the Seminoles play the Buffaloes this afternoon/evening here in Jacksonville. We were in my boss' suite. FSU won 39-21.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Upwards Soccer Season Begins

A is playing once again and this is E's first year playing soccer or any organized sport for that matter. A had her first game at 8 am and E was at at 10 am.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Happy Birthday A...Now let's poke some holes in those ears.

As agreed for her 7th birthday, Gina took A to get her ears pierced today. They went to Piercing Pagoda at the Avenues Mall after school. One present she received that she had been wanting for a while was a Razor scooter. Grandma & Grandpa Lunsford came to visit and brought A's cousin Autumn. We enjoyed pizza and brownies for dinner.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mayor Peyton's Book Club

E and the rest of the family attended the kickoff for the book club at Hemming Plaza and the Main Library. The book club is for kids in Pre-K. A also participated in the program a couple years ago. They used to give kids a backpack and mail a book monthly. This year the bundle includes all the books upfront and a tote bag. I suppose it is an effort to reduce costs. Back when A was in the book club, E actually received a backpack.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A & E's Birthday Party

We broke out the waterslide in the backyard for the birthday party this year. Many of A & E's friends were able to celebrate with them. Instead of presents for themselves, the kids decided (E easily, A with a minimal amount of prodding) to have their friends bring shoeboxes filled with items to donate to the City Rescue Mission. The CRM gives "Shoeboxes of Love" to people they assist as Christmas presents.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Mini Family Vacation 3 of 3 - Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

We took a Labor Day weekend trip to Myrtle Beach, South Caroline (now we can add another magnet on the frig to the states we have visited. On Friday we had lunch at Hardees and Subway in Brittons Neck, SC. Dinner was at Michael's Pizza.

On Saturday we went to the Beach, Boogie & BBQ competition. The kids were not very cooperative for some reason even though there were inflatables, games and other kid friendly activities going on. We rode on a boat around the "lake", looked at some classic cars and ate some barbecue. Later in the afternoon we went to the beach. There were a lot of waves. Speculation was it was from a tropical storm way further south. That night we saw the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Braves A club) play the Kinston Indians. The team had a Dinger and Deuce (mascots) bobblehead giveaway. And Ethan was given a ball by one of the ushers in the OF bleacher area. He got it when Ashlyn, Ethan and I decided to walk around the stadium. Again, after getting zero baseballs at games during my life that makes 4 this summer.

Sunday started with breakfast at Mammy's Kitchen and then the rest of the day at the beach. Dinner was at T-Bonz Gill & Grill.

Before we left for home on Monday we went to the shops at Broadway at the Beach. We purchased some candy at River Street Sweets and bought our keepsake trinket from Love From the Carolinas. We also at Goodberry's Frozen Custard.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Last Suns Home Game of 2008

I went to the baseball game tonight (had a free ticket left to use) and lucked out in getting the Hank Aaron photo ball giveaway by going to the rarely used left field gate. The Suns beat the Birmingham Barons 5-4 in 10 innings. It was an exciting game to close out the home schedule for 2008. Each team scored 3 runs in the 1st inning and then no one scored again until the 10th. The Suns tied it at 4 with a 2-out HR in the 10th. Then they won it with a bases-loaded single.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Pre-K begins and then catching another baseball

E had his first day of Pre-Kindergarten at MPP. He is going from 9 am to Noon, Monday through Friday. We also attended VPK orientation.

Then tonight we went to our last Jacksonville Suns (AA) game of the season as a family. It was photo ball giveaway night. This is the last year the Suns will be affiliated with the Los Angeles Dodgers. We sat in the homeplate box seats between home plate and the Suns dugout on the 3rd base side. After the team warmed up the pitcher for the night, James Adkins a 6'6" lefty, got my attention and wanted to give a ball to A. We were about 8 rows or so up and he threw the ball to me although it was high and wide. I did manage to catch it and after never getting a ball at a game we managed to get 3 this summer. The kids also spun the prize wheel ($1 per spin) and won. Then we got "lucky" and the prize was another Suns lunch box from a few years ago.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Tropical Storm Fay

A ended up having no school due to the storm starting Wednesday (8/20) through today (8/22).

As for me I left for Destin Thursday morning for the annual fantasy football weekend. One of my college friends and league mate flew in from Washington DC Wednesday night. Luckily we made it out of Jacksonville before they closed the Buckman Bridge (I-295 over the St. Johns River) when the wind speeds hit 40 mph.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Saturday, August 16, 2008

E's New Bed

We bought E his first "big boy" bed today at Sam's Club. It is a twin and he was very excited to get it set up in his room. For now the box spring and mattress are on the floor as we may buy a trundle or drawer set to go with it.

Suns Game

At the Suns game today Ethan spun the prize wheel and won a Suns lunch box. It was a promotion giveaway from a couple years ago.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Last weekday before school starts on Monday...

We attended A's 1st grade orientation and met her co-teachers, Mrs. H and Mrs. P.

Then E shared with his sister about going to the beach so we made our way to eat lunch at Wendy's and then headed out to Jax Beach.

After that, we went to Sam's followed by Walmart. At Sam's we found a good deal on a new twin mattress and box spring for E. As a 4-year old, you need a big boy bed!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Back to School Splash

Instead of having a Fall Festival around Halloween this year our church decided to hold a "Back to School Splash." Over 470 children registered at the Splash.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

E's Birthday Lunch of Choice - Taco Bell

I don't know the last time I went to Taco Bell, but I know I have not eaten there since the kids were born. E and A received coupons from the summer reading program at the library, and he wanted to go there yesterday for his birthday. Since Grandma and Grandpa Lacey were visiting, and for everyone else, I talked him into pizza for lunch on his birthday with the promise that we would go to Taco Bell today for lunch. Dad had leftover pizza but E and A enjoyed their hard tacos...but not so much the bean burrito.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Happy Birthday E!

The 8/8/08 birthday. The big present was his new 16 inch bicycle with training wheels. Grandma & Grandpa Lacey were here to celebrate, and we went to Al's Pizza.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Mini Family Vacation 2 of 3 - St. Pete Beach

Thursday 7/31 - Monday 8/4
7/31 Prime Outlets in Ellenton, The Children's Place, 8 items for $20.75 including tax; Hickory Hollow BBQ
8/1 4th Street Shrimp Store in St. Petersburg
8/2 Original Pizza in Treasure Island, Sicilian crust
8/4 Beverly's La Croisette in St. Pete Beach for a late breakfast; bought football and baseball mini-pennants for E's room
5 day/4 nights; Mobile, AL LL baseball team; Treasure Bay Hotel across road from St. Pete Municipal Beach
Rays games, Upton bobblehead, lunchbox, sold out Saturday, walked around looking for tickets was ready to leave but A implored us to keep trying...did and still wound up with bobbleheads after being directed to a gate that still had some.
8/2 & 8/3 Rays games

Saturday, July 26, 2008

That was a full day!

I played basketball at Fruit Cove Baptist Church this morning. Gina, A and E participated in the ASK outreach event at church hosting refugees from Iraq, Africa and some other countries. We took our family picture for the church directory which is our first professionally taken family photo in some time and maybe only the 2nd one ever. Then we went to the Suns baseball game early and received the bobblehead giveaway (#1 parrotthead/Jimmy Buffett). Next it was a picnic dinner across the street before the game at Metropolitan park. A brief stop over at the Jacksonville Jaguars practice fields to watch some of training camp followed. At this time E asked why the girls didn't have anything over their stomachs (cheerleaders). Finally it was back to the baseball game. And for the 2nd time in 9 days...after never getting a baseball at a professional game, this lady at the Suns game walked up to Gina and I and asked if A and E were our children. Upon confirmation, she gave us the ball for them since they were so well-behaved.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A's Last Day of Gymnastics

Well since I remember, even going back to when we lived in Tallahassee, A has participated in gymnastics on a weekly basis. Today was her last session for the summer, and she is going to skip it this fall and spring to play soccer, maybe basketball and softball/t-ball. She has enjoyed going and especially likes the teacher she has mostly had for the past year or so, Ms. Tonya.

Asleep at Publix

Grocery shopping with Dad. But this is obviously not very interesting even with us getting cookies.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Volunteering at the City Rescue Mission

On Sunday, July 20th, we had our first volunteer experience as a family. We had contacted the City Rescue Mission about opportunities and at this time volunteered to help with food service at their McDuff campus. The McDuff campus is where the CRM offers more long-term recovery programs. During the week, they serve a lunch and dinner meal but on Saturday and Sunday they only serve dinner. We arrived shortly before 4 PM and awaited our assignments. There seemed to be some confusion, and we started wondering if we would be able to help with anything. Finally, the boys ended up on the food line and the girls were the dining room cleaning crew. E would hand me a tray to then put rice and and veggies (field peas and green beans) on while the girls wiped down tables and swept the floor when needed. Unfortunately, I forget to take a picture of me in the same outfit as E. We were glad to be able to help and the kids did a great job as well. The people there seemed to really enjoy seeing them there to help. We look forward to volunteering at the CRM again.

Friday, July 18, 2008


The first baseball I've ever tracked down at a professional ball game. I happened to walk out the stadium to take a picture and was coming back in through the LF gate. I heard the crowd roar...thought that's a well hit ball roar and just watched the fence line. Next thing I knew, a ball flew over. No competition to get it but I still jogged over to right center area and there it was sitting under a motorcycle.

Jim Adduci, OF for the Cubs hit it. I got back to the seats behind homeplate and Gina was like how did you get that.

Single A - Florida State League

We visited Angell & Phelps and took the tour to watch them make chocolate, have some samples and make some purchases. After dinner at Aunt Catfish's in Port Orange, we are ending our Daytona day trip by watching the Daytona Cubs vs Ft. Myers Miracle (Minnesota Twins affiliate). They had a Jeff Samardzija (former Notre Dame WR) bobblehead giveaway. Tony Thomas who played for FSU last year is also on the Daytona team.

The ballpark is named after Jackie Robinson. This is where the first integrated professional baseball game actually took place.

It's a quaint old park with a manual scoreboard.

Back At The Bottom!

203 steps to go back down...

Atlantic Ocean

..And driving on the beach.

We made it...and it is high.

Here we go...

Ponce Inlet, FL

Just south of Daytona Beach...Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in Florida and 2nd tallest masonry lighthouse in the nation.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Suns Game

We went to a baseball game tonight. They had a bobblehead giveaway. The Suns were playing the Mississippi Braves. They were actually playing 2 games due to a rain postponement after 1/2 inning last night. Clayton Kershaw who was recently up with the Dodgers pitched great for about 7 innings and the Suns won 6-0.

Lowe's Build and Grow Clinic

Daddy and the kids went to Lowe's free clinic this morning and made a dune buggy. We were able to hammer nails and sand down our buggies to make them smooth. It was fun and right away the kids asked when we could come again. Lowe's has the clinics every 2 weeks. The kids had the buggy they made and received a certificate and Jimmy Johnson dune buggy patch.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Metro Diner, Zoo & Picnic

Ate with the family at the Metro Diner for a late breakfast this morning. It was the first time we've been there. It was very good. After that we went to the zoo and had a picnic at the playground area...where the raccoons were getting into the trash.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July...

From our nation's oldest city, St. Augustine, FL.

Added 7-13-08...Ethan also learned how to eat a chicken leg for the first time. We don't necessarily have fried chicken very often so we realized he had not eaten it off the bone when he tried to out the fat end of the leg into his mouth like and ice cream cone.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Took an elbow from someone on my team playing basketball Saturday (6/21) morning. So much for helping him defend his man. You could hear the crunch as it broke my nose. One of the guys commented about how bad it sounded. I've taken a few days off from playing but plan to be back at it tomorrow. I think I'll just shoot driving to the basket.

Done With This Project

I finished painting/staining the kids swing set on Sunday. We used a redwood color stain. The play set looks like new, and it is nice to see the water bead up. Completing this endeavor took a while since it seemed every time I would get started, the weather would turn bad. Even though it was rained on before it had time to dry a couple times, it didn't seem to mess anything up.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Trip for Carmen's Wedding

Gina and the kids went to Omaha, Nebraska for Carmen's wedding. They flew out on June 14th and returned on the 23rd. Gina's parents picked them up at the Kansas City, Missouri airport and drove to Omaha.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A & E Swimming Lessons

They started swimming lessons at Swimming Safari on June 1st and finished up today.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Now I have a reason to keep the landline phone...

Kindergarten is over, summer vacation is here, the girl has already given her dad a hard time about having to go to work all day...and tonight her friend Diana called to talk. 39 minutes and 57 seconds she was finally off the phone and wondering why I wanted to know how long she was actually on the phone. One day she can look back here and read and know that this is when the talking on the phone truly started. I'm not sure our cell phone minutes would survive between both girls in the house.

And this followed dinner tonight when I told A that she needed to use up more of her words with her mom during the day. She had a lot to say at dinner.

Friday, May 30, 2008

My Kindergarten Teachers

School is almost over so let's have an ice cream social. Mom and Dad came to enjoy some ice cream with all kinds of toppings...chocolate and caramel sauce, cookie crumbs, sprinkles, gummi bears, M&M's and more.

In the picture with A are her teachers, Mrs. Sanford and Mrs. Chambers.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The last day of preschool...

E had a spring program his last day. Mom and Dad were there to watch. He did a great job and was quite excited. His music teacher was Ms. Brenda, and it was announced that this was her last year as she is going back to nursing full-time. E really enjoyed music this past year.

After the program we went back to his room to pick up some completed projects, take pictures and say goodbye to classmates and teachers.

Next year E will return to the same school for Voluntary Pre-K (VPK). He will go 5 days a week (1/2 day). He went Tues/Thurs this past year.

Then E, mommy and daddy went to lunch for daddy's birthday which is today as well.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

What do you think about my hat?

The girls went to a pool party so the boys snuck off to have lunch at Hardee's and then to buy a few things at Wal-Mart...but not the hat.

Friday, April 18, 2008

I just set up a

I just set up a account, so I can post voice messages to my blog. listen

Powered by Jott

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Official Rainout

The game was officially called at about 8:40 PM. They could have called it an hour ago when they put the tarp back on the field. We had to sit and wait in order to get our rain check tickets.

The kids got to do one of their favorite, if not their favorite, things at the ballpark which is to spin the prize wheel. They each brought $1 to purchase a spin. The girl won a home plate box ticket for a future game ($12 ticket). The boy won a soft ball to play with...although I thought it should at least have the Suns logo on it. I guess they will have to keep spinning to win 3 more home plate box tickets so we can all go for free.

Another rainout..?.

The kids and I decided to come to the Jacksonville Suns baseball game tonight. The Suns are the Double A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was replica hat night so now we have our own Suns hat. Unfortunately the game was supposed to start 45 minutes ago. They were getting the lines chalked and then pulled the tarp out...they were taking it off when we arrived.

Gina is having a scrapbooking weekend with some ladies at our church.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Jacksonville Suns 2008 Opening Night

The kids and I attended the Suns season opener. We met Howard at the game. This was the 3rd straight night of baseball for me. The Suns won 6-3 against the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx.

As we were leaving the game, I asked the kids if they wanted to go to the Suns game on Saturday night. They both gave a quick and enthusiastic answer...Yes!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Florida State vs Jacksonville University

Blurry picture took place on the campus of JU. 2nd of 3 straight games this week. FSU won 7-5. FSU broke a 2-2 tie in the 7th with a steal of home and then scored another run on the same play as a result of a wild pitch. Buster Posey caught and then came in as the closer in the 9th. He still had a lot on his fastball and worked very quickly. And he caught the UF game yesterday as well.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Florida State vs Florida

At the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville...last year this game set a record for attendance at a college baseball game in the state of Florida with over 12,000. This year there were around 7500.

The whole family went along with a friend of mine from Tampa, Howard, who is in town on business.

FSU won 10-2 after getting drubbed by UF in the game last year.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Our Easter Outfits?

The Hulk and a pirate in their Easter best!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

At bat at Albert Field

I ended up not missing the 2nd game of the season while on my spring training trip. It was postponed due to weather conditions.

This picture was from the Lady Bugs versus Surfer Girls on Saturday, March 15th.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Spring Training Rankings

On the trip home, Jamie and I decided to rank the stadiums in 3 categories, 1) spring training experience (proximity to players, autographs, nostalgia), 2) best ballparks (look and feel of ballpark, concessions, souveniers) and 3) major league prospects. We then combined the rankings to determine the overall best spring training team visited during the trip (lowest score being the best). Here are the rankings.

Spring Training Experience
1. Los Angeles Dodgers, Holman Stadium (Dodgertown), Vero Beach
2. Cleveland Indians, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven
3. Pittsburgh Pirates, McKechnie Field, Bradenton
T4. Philadelphia Phillies, Bright House Networks Field, Clearwater
T4. Toronto Blue Jays, Knology Park, Dunedin
6. Tampa Bay Rays, Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburgh
7. New York Yankees, Legends Field, Tampa
8. Florida Marlins, Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter

1. Philadelphia Phillies, Bright House Networks Field, Clearwater
2. Pittsburgh Pirates, McKechnie Field, Bradenton
3. New York Yankees, Legends Field, Tampa
4. Florida Marlins, Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter
T5. Toronto Blue Jays, Knology Park, Dunedin
T5. Tampa Bay Rays, Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburgh
7. Los Angeles Dodgers, Holman Stadium (Dodgertown), Vero Beach
8. Cleveland Indians, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven

Major League Prospects
1. Pittsburgh Pirates, McKechnie Field, Bradenton
2. New York Yankees, Legends Field, Tampa
3. Philadelphia Phillies, Bright House Networks Field, Clearwater
4. Toronto Blue Jays, Knology Park, Dunedin
5. Los Angeles Dodgers, Holman Stadium (Dodgertown), Vero Beach
6. Cleveland Indians, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven
7. Florida Marlins, Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter
8. Tampa Bay Rays, Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburgh

Overall Combined Rankings
1. Pittsburgh Pirates, McKechnie Field, Bradenton
2. Philadelphia Phillies, Bright House Networks Field, Clearwater
3. New York Yankees, Legends Field, Tampa
4. Los Angeles Dodgers, Holman Stadium (Dodgertown), Vero Beach
5. Toronto Blue Jays, Knology Park, Dunedin
6. Cleveland Indians, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven
7. Florida Marlins, Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter
8. Tampa Bay Rays, Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburgh

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The end of the road...

At 8:30 pm on Saturday, March 8th the 2008 Spring Training expedition concluded.

1123 miles later (very close to my estimated guess of 1100 prior to the trip) we safely returned to Jacksonville. We had a great time, saw some neat parks and look forward to another spring training experience down the road.

I will be posting our rankings of the parks in 3 categories in a day or so...we had to have something to do on the trip home. The parks will be rated by the spring training experience (access to players, practice, autographs and atmosphere), best ballparks and major league prospects.

Until then, don't forget to move your clocks forward tonight.

On the road heading home...

Jamie's New Discovery...

...He had the coffee a few times and added a donut the last time after the Tigers/Blue Jays game.

And that's a wrap...

8 baseball games minus 1 rain out, 1 hockey game and 1 week later and it is done.

Blue Jays score 1 run in the 8th to beat the Tigers 4 - 3 on a bright sunny, windy and chilly day

Now to figure out the best way from Dunedin to I-275 for the trek home.

Oh yeah, we have to find a Dunkin Donuts.

Top of the 9th

Home team is winning so this could be the last three outs of the trip. Boys of Summer is playing on the PA.

Today's attendance

Announced as 5510...a sellout. Top of the 7th with the score tied 3 - 3. We are now shaded by the roof so it now feels much cooler.
2:53 pm

The last game

Detroit Tigers @ Toronto Blue Jays from Knology Park in Dunedin. High temp is in the mid 60s with gusty winds. Wind is blowing out to left center. Sitting in the sun feels much warmer. Our seats are down the right field line. About 1/3 of the way down.

We've already seen a couple homers in the second inning. One by Mike Hessman and Scott Rolen.

Small, nondescript park. Looks like there is a full house on hand.

Dunedin appears to have a small, old town feel to it.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Game 7 Cancelled.

And then the rain finally came. The game was officially canceled around 7:55 pm. Oh well, at least we get a mug! And we will have to get the form to complete to request a future spring training game...for this year of course. Not sure how much good that will do us.

Fireworks before the game...not a good sign.

We were treated to the first fireworks display in McKechnie Field history.

Tarp Picture

Recurring theme of late...

First ever night game at McKechnie Field

Cincinnati Reds @ Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton. Both teams have split squads as they played each other in Sarasota this afternoon. Game time was set for 7:05 pm for the first night game in McKechnie Field history. But right now the tarp is on the field waiting for a band of thunderstorms heading this way. It is 7:38 and it has rained yet. We could be done with the festivities and into the 3rd inning by now.

The Pirates have trained here for 40 years.

We received a commemorative mug upon entering the park tonight.

Nice old, stadium with a great atmosphere. We are sitting on row 17 almost directly behind home plate. It is covered so if it does rain we should stay dry at least until we leave.

I visited the Pirates facility here back in the early 90s and they have done a lot of improvements since. That day the team was on the road and a lot of starters stayed behind. It was back the last time Pittsburgh was good. I watched the players hit in the batting cages that day. I took a picture of Doug Drabek and obtained autographs from Jose Lind, Doug Drabek, Bobby Bonillia and Barry Bonds. There is a story to go with that one. I actually have two autographs from Bonds that day. He didn't like his first one, scribbled it out and then luckily (I guess) signed again. It was the only one he signed while walking to his car. There were only about 6 - 8 people wanting him to sign, but he couldn't spend 3 minutes.

Now it is 7:46 rain, no game. We could be heading into the fourth inning.

And that's the ballgame...

No rain, beautiful day. Astros win 9 - 5 over the Yankees.

Now on to Bradenton for the Cincinnati Reds @ Pittsburgh Pirates and the first ever night game at McKenchie Field. Game time is 7:05 pm. Hopefully we will stay dry as rain is in the forecast. But so was it for today


10,524 for today although that is obviously tickets sold not actual. But it is a large crowd.

Picture is of A-Rod's AB.

Score is tied 5 - 5 with the Astros batting in the top of the 7th.

More Yankee starters...

Robinson Cano started at 2B and Jorge Posada just entered the game for A-Rod at DH.

Foul ball alley...

The score is tied 2 - 2 in the top of the 5th. We have had about 4 foul balls come in our general direction.

Andy Pettite started the game and received a nice reception when announced and when leaving with 2 outs in the 3rd.

Mariano Rivera pitched a very quick 4th inning.

Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Melky Cabrera started. No big names made the trip from Kissimmee for the Astros.

Game 6: Houston Astros @ New York Yankees

Astros @ Yankees from Legends Field in Tampa today. Picture is from Monument Park which displays all the Yankees retired numbers the same as Yankee Stadium. this is the largest stadium. It seats 10,000 and has the same field dimensions as Yankee Stadium. It's going to be a warm one...over 80 but a strong breeze blowing. We are in section 219 about 1/3 of the way down the left field line.

Howard (a friend of mine from Tampa) is joining us for today's game.

The story behind the suite

As noted in the previous posts today, we ended up in a suite at today's game. Here's how that happened.

We went to this restaurant/diner that it open for breakfast and lunch). The name of the place is Lenny's. It is just off US 19 in Clearwater. It was recommended by a friend of mine who lives in Tampa. So we get to Lenny's around 10 am. There are people waiting, but as we walk up to get our name on the wait list and say there are 2 of us, the host said we could sit at the bar right away. So that is what we did.

Lenny's is a neat place with lots of Phillies memorabilia. It is about a mile from the ballpark. As we are finishing out food, an elderly woman sits in the last seat at the bar next to Jamie. All the staff know her and Jamie says to me that he has to find out who this woman is. So he asks. She replies that she owns the restaurant. Her name is Ms. Judy.

A conversation ensues with us telling her we are going to see the game. She asks where we are from and we tell her Baton Rouge and Jacksonville. Jamie then mentions that he grew up in Biloxi and I reply the same. She then says she loves us guys since Biloxi is her place. She goes to the casinos every 3 months and will be going in another month. Lenny was her husband and he started the restaurant. Her son, Dan, now runs it. They moved to Clearwater 27 years ago and Lenny passed away 16 years ago. Ms. Judy is originally from New York City. The restaurant also caters breakfast, lunch and dinner for the Phillies and Blue Jays during spring training.

Jamie then went to pay his bill and during that time, Ms. Judy says they have a suite at the stadium and invites us to it. She says she will give us her son's number and we will need to call him when we are ready to come up. So after getting our picture taken with Ms. Judy, we get her son's number and then Hank's who is the person who handles things at the suite. We also saw one of 4 or 5 clocks on the wall which is set to Biloxi time. They also put "interesting" signs on the marquee (as you will see).

The last neat thing was that Lenny's girls (wait staff) have breakfast platters named after them. Jamie had the Lorraine and we found out later that she was our waitress. And she is the one who took the picture of us with Ms. Judy.

So that is the story about how we ended up in the suite.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Game is called...

At 3:08...6752 in attendance. Rays officially win in 5 innings 6 - 4.
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And then the skies opened up again...

We are changing the Rays name to the Rains. The Rays are the only team we are seeing twice and it has rained on them both times...and with lightning and thunder included this time.

5 innings have been completed with the Rays leading the Phillies 6 - 4. Much more offense then other games so far with 3 homers including a leadoff homer to start the game by the Phillies.

Good to be in the suite...

It's been raining off and on for an inning or two. Saw one lightning bolt but the game continues for now.

The view from the luxury suite...

We've sat in the outfield, we've sat in the berm and we've been standing room only. Today was scheduled for the berm but here we are sitting in the suite just to the 1st base side of home plate with food and drinks included. Not bad for a $10 ticket.

Oh yeah it's the Tampa Bay Rays @ Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater. Bright House Field is by far the nicest stadium we have visited so far. The stadium opened in 2004 and still looks new.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Good eatin' BBQ

Hickory Hollow in Ellenton is excellent home cooking bbq. We planned to try it Monday night on our way to St. Pete from Jupiter but it was closed. So after today's game we decided to head there with a little route detour instead of sitting in Tampa rush hour traffic on I-4 and I-275. It was an excellent decision. And there was a rooster and a peacock in the parking lot. There also appeared to be an early bird discount.

Half way through our schedule...

The Braves beat the Indians 4 - 1. Dean lost a no-hitter for Atlanta with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th. The hit was a hard line drive single off the wall in right field.

3:35 pm 3-5-2008