I drove into town on Saturday afternoon, one of the first signs to greet me was “Wing Training” a clever pun on words from the local Clearwater Hooter’s Restaurant who didn’t seem to have a shortage of customers, even some who dined outside under umbrellas in the 85 degree gorgeous day.
Yes, it may have been ‘Wing Training’ but what I was in search of was of course Phillies baseball and Spring Training. I set right off for the field, knowing of course what I would see. I wasn’t alone, a few people were already scouting out the stadium grounds, and the ground were pristine as usual, but we got a glimpse of a field being watered and big iron gates indicating that this stadium was indeed closed. It was a serene looking scene, a sort of undisturbed paradise of baseball in a state of suspended animation.
There wasn’t a sign on any door, even the stadium store- baseball closed down and it seems like everyone disappeared out of town. Players have the choice of either staying in Clearwater for workouts, going to Philadelphia, or going home. I’ll go to the stadium in the morning to see if any players elected to stay here in Clearwater to workout. The New York Yankees appeared to be staying the course, voting to stay as a group in camp to work out. I’ll be stopping by Yankee camp in Tampa during my stay to see what’s happening with them too.
Baseball may have left town, but many, many, people didn’t especially at the beaches in Clearwater Beach just a short drive from the stadium, the city was packed full on a Saturday with plenty of people on the beach and lining up at restaurants and bars in the city. It’s Spring Break for colleges (extended since many of them will not reopen for at least a few weeks beyond the normal break) and plenty of folks on vacation. There may be a pandemic going on, but you wouldn’t know it here. Yes, there are many people who come here for Spring Training but only a small fraction of us make up the tourist base down here where the Phillies have trained since 1947. It’s only the second time that Spring Training has been interupted in the last 50 years, the last time coming in 1972, when a work stoppage/strike caused Spring Training play to stop.
It amazes me that the Phillies didn’t send out a letter to anyone who bought Spring Training tickets, keeping them advised of what’s going on, I know some info exists on the main site, but baseball is in the entertainment industry, to not let customers know what is going on is simply bad business. (Update, as of 1:37 PM I finally got an email from the Phillies) They haven’t communicated anything to ticket holders about refunds, or anything. Imagine if you ran a business like that? There are thousands who make the trek to Florida and many more even who live here in Florida but no one has been updated.
Some Pirates will be still at Spring Training Sunday in Bradenton, in this tweet by Jon Heyman:
On Sunday, the Pirates will for the second time, professionally sanitize and deep clean the facilities at LECOM Park in Bradenton. Approximately 40 MLB players, along with members of the coaching staff, are expected to remain in Bradenton to utilize the facilities starting Monday— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 15, 2020
It seems like everyday there is a new direction that is being given by various sources, it’s not like it’s the Bubonic Plague we are dealing with, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to the news. The sky is falling and since an organization like the WHO declared this a ‘pandemic’ dominos have been falling and taking various business entities out of business for now. Life must still go on though, don’t sequester yourself to a life of hiding from a virus. Be cautious and safe, read official information, and check on loved ones. Read blogs like this one, and Matt Veasey’s RingTheBell site for some neat infotainment while the baseball stoppage is on, best of luck and be healthy!