Hope Your Plan is in Place.

 

Put February 17th into your Palm Pilot.

 

Next Thursday Phillies individual game tickets go on sale.  It will likely be your only chance to buy an individual Phillies ticket at face value all season.  If you haven’t already started building your game plan, I’m afraid it may be too late.  Season ticket plans have long been sold out.  Since then, the Phillies have been putting together mini-packages (3 games/6 games) that further chip away at the supply of individual games.  The Phillies have the entire fan base handing over money.  Want a ticket for a decent game?  Well, get ready to purchase a Wednesday night barn burner against Pittsburgh as well.  But, that’s the thing…people are thrilled to get Pittsburgh tickets.  I think the Phillies could sell out the Vet if it still existed every night.  Maybe they should look into playing a couple of games at the Linc.

The rush for tickets is just the latest indication that the Phillies have completely overtaken the city.  I’ve had several people mention to me in the last month or so that they have Phillies tickets.  They are excited about it.  They tell me about their plan, about how they got them, which games they are going to, and I think it’s great people are this interested.  I can’t remember any build up to a season quite like this one.  There are 81 regular season home games, and by definition many won’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, but people are excited about going and that puts a lot of heat on the Phillies.  They’ll be expected to come out 81 times like it is Opening Day or the day they try to clinch, because there are going to be people in the stands who are attending their one Phillies game of the year, and it’s a huge deal to them.  Quite a burden for the red pinstripers.

You can start to see the buildup in the media as well.  Especially here in Philly, where the Eagles have been done for a while, there has been a rush to get football off the stage.  Can the Super Bowl be over with already?  There was an article in the paper last week about the contents of the Phillies equipment truck that drives to Florida every year.  They listed how many plastic cups, BP jerseys, cases of gum, and everything else that was on the road for Clearwater.  It was an incredibly pointless article, aside from having some trivia, but the fans are starving for anything Phillies, even if it is just a couple quotes from the clubhouse manager.

The official reporting date for pitchers and catchers won’t come until next week, but many Phillies are already down in Clearwater.  For a lot of guys Spring Training has already started.  I heard Roy Halladay was eventually given keys to the workout complex so someone didn’t have to meet him there at the ungodly hour of morning when he starts his regimen.  There was a mini-camp in January for young players.  It was where Dom Brown got some much-needed attention.  An article in today’s Inquirer puts a very optimistic spin on the work Brown and the coaching staff did in Florida.  Naturally, the story was met with every comment imaginable from Dom Brown = Jeff Stone to Ryan Howard should have been the one in mini-camp to the belief Brown is going to shove Ben Francisco to the pine without any trouble.  While many of the comments are irrational, and many of the people behind them may have not even read the story, the point is, people are talking and people are interested, and it’s very early.

Around these parts I am going to attempt to slowly ease into Spring Training.  As much as I want to start rifling out the Spring storylines, the hopes, dreams, laments, etc, it’s important to pace myself.  You don’t want to get down to Clearwater and pull a hammy on the first day.  Lucky for me, there are plenty ready to take up the slack, plenty ready to talk baseball right now, and come next Thursday the Phils will probably be about sold out for the year, so get in line or bookmark stubhub, because 2011 is going to be a banner year for scalpers and ticket brokers.

Quiz of the Day:  Who Are They Looking At–Movie Edition.  Category: Movies.  My Score: 14/20

*For those who don’t read the directions at the site, the answers to this quiz are the names of the character the person in the screen shot is looking at.  Actor or character name both acceptable.

Tiger and Dubai.

 

Who wins the Race?

 

It is interesting to me that a week after Golf Digest posted pictures of Tiger’s stalled Dubai golf resort that Woods will be in town for his annual appearance fee grab and yet another chance to get back on track.  Woods’ design deal in Dubai was the pinnacle of excess.  A lot of players ease their way into design.  Tiger went straight to the highest bidder, selling high on his name recognition when no one knew if he could lay out a putt-putt course.  The course was supposed to be the centerpiece of a development that featured 75 mansions and 22 palaces.  Not sure what the difference is there, are you bestowed royal status if you buy a palace?  But, no need to worry anymore as the project has stalled out completely.  It’s now three partially completed holes in the middle of the desert.  I’m no economist, but I think it might be a while before this project gets back off the ground (if it ever does).  Luckily for the players and the European Tour, Dubai can still scrape together enough dough to put on their tournament.

The Dubai Desert Classic has been poaching players from the PGA Tour event for years.  It was the first event that lured players like Els, Woods, Montgomerie, etc.  Now, the entire swing through the Middle East is dotted with top-ranked players, but Dubai is still the lone stop for Woods and his appearance will offer a unique viewing opportunity. Tournament organizers have decided to pair Woods with Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer.  It is the first time the top-3 players in the World will be in the same group since the 2008 U.S. Open.

I wonder how Tiger feels about this grouping?  He had the luxury for years of not caring about the World Rankings, because he was always on top.  Now he’s face to face with the two players that have passed him, and not only that, at least one of them is on much better form.  Kaymer is only a couple of weeks removed from dismantling the field in Abu Dhabi.  You’d like to think that Tiger will rise to the occasion, and in the past, a grouping like this would have been a death sentence for Westwood and Kaymer, but now I worry about Tiger being able to keep pace.  The other two guys could be moving in for a kill shot here.  If Tiger finishes 3rd in this threesome, his golf course might not be the only thing that will never get back on track.

The PGA Tour plays the Pro-Am at Pebble this week, which is also known as my least favorite golf tournament of the year.  At least for the first 3 days the TV coverage is unwatchable, and “Celebrity Saturday,” usually drives me to do something drastic, like watching college basketball.