Saturday, February 03, 2007

Baseball on Groundhog Day

TALLAHASSEE -- Phil the groundhog didn't see his shadow yesterday. That supposedly means an early spring.

I didn't see my shadow yesterday, either. But you couldn't deduce anything about an early spring, even if I'm here to watch baseball, on a chilly, overcast day at the ballpark.

The Tennessee Volunteers opened up the season here at Dick Howser Stadium against the Florida State Seminoles. It's an auspicious start to the year, as the Vols fell yesterday, 9-2, in a game that never was close.

It's warmer than home (58 degrees at game time), but with the wind and no sun, it's cool. I'm up in the press box staying warm. Dustin Mynatt and Dewayne Lawson are braving the elements. They don't get too cold, they say.

Came down here to watch Halls High grad Jeff Lockwood's collegiate debut. He goes hitless in his first outing, but says later it's all good. He's just ready to hit the field again today and win one against a team that doesn't lose much.

A press box wag tells me during the game that the Seminoles have only lost two home series and have never had a losing season in the history of the program. That's consistency.

Tallahassee is a cool college town. But the roads are terrible. It's almost as if the city has literally outgrown itself. Traffic is stalled at 3 p.m. on a Friday afternoon as we make our way to campus. It's about as bad after the game.

Tell ya, though, there's something rejuvinating about baseball, even on Groundhog Day. When both teams ran onto the field yesterday, I felt like a kid again, full of the hopeful expectancy that comes with opening day. It doesn't dim much despite the UT loss.

I just hope Phil is right. I'm ready for an early spring.

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