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Big League Stew contributor David Brown is in Florida this week for a spring swing through the Grapefruit League. He'll be posting throughout the day — both to the Stew and his Twitter feed — plus he'll also be filing a report each night from his day's action, complete with photos, videos and observations. His trip continues to Dunedin, winter home of the Blue Jays, who are the first team to face Alex Rodriguez since the you-know-what started to hit the fan.

Hey Stewies!

Opening day in the Grapefruit League! Seems like yesterday the Phillies and Rays were skating around the infield at The Bank during the World Series. Well, the off-season has been turned off.

Maybe it was the sunny weather, the laid-back atmosphere of Dunedin, or the snowbirds from Toronto just being polite, but the reaction to Alex Rodriguez I witnessed from the fourth row on Wednesday was pretty muted. Not that different from a regular-season game, relatively speaking. Bud Selig was right to not fall into my trap!

Folks booed and jeered, and a few came up with some good lines — even if A-Rod makes it too easy — but Grant Field (at Dunedin Stadium) had so many Yankees fans that the overall reaction was mixed. It wasn’t even sold out. It looked like scalpers were going home with blocks of seats, though some fool paid nearly 50 percent above face for $21 seats — just to be close. It was well worth it.

My favorite lines from fans included:

• "Make him pee!"

• "Where’s your cousin sitting?"

• "He was buying everyone shots at Ocean Prime last night. I like Nick Swisher already."

• "I’m wearing ‘Driven,’ too, Derek!"

I thought the cousin line was in jest but, amazingly, Yuri Sucart showed up to the game and left with A-Rod! Blood is thicker... and stupider. Maybe they were going to meet Bud Selig’s CSI guys together? Anyway. Carpooling. How green of them.

In this original BLS video, the crowd reacts to A-Rod coming to bat, plus a bonus: his base-on-balls.


It's not even a PG-13 atmosphere, unless you take some of the ambient comments in the crowd the wrong way. Rodriguez was lucky to debut in Dunedin, I say. Wait 'til he goes to Ft. Myers, where the Bostons play. NC-17 all the way.

* * *

It's Pin Lady! I love this lady's cap. It's a good amount of pins, but they're well-spaced and not overwhelming to the hat's surface area. My favorite pin is the one that resembles the U.S. flag. Oh, the No. 3 Ruth one is good, too. That's Shelley Duncan in the on-deck circle. Below, a photo sequence that Margaret Bourke-White would have been proud to shoot.

* * *

Here's the pitch. A-Rod imagines Selena Roberts' face on the Rawlings.

A-Rod's in mid-season form. Note the blurry likeness of the ball in the upper-left corner of the shot.

Top hand comes off; looks like he got most of it.

Yeah, he got all of that one.

* * *

We're really cooking now. No, really, I am sunburned big time. More from Dunedin soon and then Wednesday Thursday: a visit to Rays camp. Hope to speak with Carlos Pena. Might talk finance.

— Dave


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