17 hours, 4 airports, 3 cities, ⅓ baseball game

I’ve journeyed to Clearwater, Florida every March since 2001 for Phillies Spring Training. I’ve slowly increased my time for each visit, seeing as many as four games. For multiple competing interests not interesting to anyone, I couldn’t make an extended trip this year. But I needed to go. My streak matters, but I’m more interested in the joy I get from the games. I had to figure out a way to go. Enter nearly-unusable frequent flier miles on US Airways.

Saturday morning, I boarded a plane at 6:30 leaving National, bound for Tampa. Seventeen hours later, my plane landed at Dulles. Sandwiched inside that time, I enjoyed three innings of baseball before the skies opened up for good, raining out the only exhibition game I could see this year. I loved it.

But first, I got to watch my favorite current Phillie, Chris Coste, play.

And since it appears difficult to find any decent recap of the three innings of a meaningless game that didn’t count, my personal system of keeping score. The Tigers:

And the Phillies:

Notice that Coste drove in the only run in the non-game with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly (to deep center). I enjoyed that, but not as much as I enjoyed the randomness of my only day at Spring Training coinciding with the book signing at the stadium for Chris Coste’s new book, . In a lucky turn of events, the rain pushed the signing to 3:30 rather than the estimated 4:30 or later if the game hadn’t ended in a rainout. That left me a comfortable margin so I wouldn’t miss my flight.

Mission accomplished.

Post Script: For Tigers fans, here’s the unfortunate outcome of this meaningless non-game for you, Curtis Granderson’s broken hand:

Brandon Inge in center doesn’t sound like an enviable short-term solution.